Category: Renovations

Project Spotlight: Family Room Makeover

Andrew and Kate purchased and moved into a beautiful old stone home. The previous owners had added a family room to the end of the home. Andrew and Kate desired to update the interior of the 1980’s family room addition to blend with their circa 1779 home and become a space the whole family could enjoy.

The home needed a renovation to bring the family room closer to matching the architectural style of the stone home. The stone fireplace, which is the anchor in the room, was enhanced with a wall of cabinetry. The carpeting was removed, and wide plank distressed flooring was installed to coordinate with the original home. Reclaimed wood was hand-selected to encase the ridge beam, and beams with wooden pegs were added. Also, crafted from the reclaimed wood, the sliding barn door accentuates the entry from the kitchen into the family room.

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6 Most Important Qualifications for Choosing a Home Builder in Lancaster

Choose a home builder

When you’re ready to get started on building the house of your dreams, the first step is to choose a builder in Lancaster. However, how do you find the right person for the job?

Before you shake hands with a home builder, check that they meet or exceed all of the following qualifications. Careful vetting of the company you hire will make all the difference when it comes to your satisfaction with the entire experience — from start to finish.

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What are the Advantages of Hiring Home Builders in Lancaster PA?

Advantages of Hiring Home Builders in Lancaster PA?

Building your own home is an exciting, exhilarating adventure. You get to create a house that suits you, your family, your needs, and your lifestyle.

You won’t have to compromise on what you want, nor will you have to endure a lengthy house search that results in a lot of “maybes” and “almosts” but doesn’t result in finding a home that hits every point on your checklist.

Building your own house and trusting home builders in Lancaster, PA is truly the only way to get exactly what you want. There are plenty of other great reasons to choose this option, though. Find out what they are and discover why hiring a home builder in Lancaster might be the right choice for you.

How Home Builders Can Make Your Custom Build a Dream

Hiring a custom home builder takes quite a load off your shoulders when it comes to getting your house built. There are lots of ways these professionals make the process easier on you, not to mention provide a better end product, which is a huge deal.

Your House Will Be Truly, Genuinely Custom

Sometimes, “custom” can mean different things, or the term is used loosely in the industry. Some businesses and contractors only offer one design that comes with options for you to choose from.

With the right Lancaster home builder (like us), however, “custom” means “custom.” They will work with you to build the house of your dreams according to your desires, needs, and specifications. Your house won’t be cookie-cutter; it will be uniquely yours.

Thankfully, the Headache of Renovating Won’t Be in the Cards

When you choose custom home builders in Lancaster, PA, you won’t have to renovate anything for a long, long time after you move in. The house will be built just the way you want it, so it will be move-in ready and according to your standards. You won’t have to change a thing once it’s built, because the builder will make sure your lifestyle and needs are taken into account with your home design. You will get to enjoy living in a home that was built just for you.

Pennsylvania Home Builders Have Connections and Buying Power

Were you to tackle home building on your own, you would probably get charged full price for sourcing all of the necessary materials and fixtures. Home builders in Lancaster, PA, on the other hand, will have existing relationships with suppliers from years in the industry – this means they can source everything for your home and probably cut a deal, too.

To put it simply, Lancaster home builders are who you should turn to if you want a custom home. They can make the process easier with less stress, not to mention save you money.

Learn more about our custom home building process.

A Kitchen Design Recipe for Foodies


While most consider eating a necessity, you consider cooking an art and your kitchen a studio. Most homeowners rate building a kitchen as one of the more important decisions in their interior design process, but for the foodie, the kitchen is the heart and soul of your home.

A foodie will spend more time using a kitchen than the typical homeowner, so it’s essential that design is equally focused on the weight of functional use over mere aesthetic qualities. This factor will drive creating a space that incorporates the usability of a commercial kitchen into the intricate beauty of residential design.

7 Ingredients for Kitchen Design: A Recipe for Foodies

1)      Ingredient Storage: Accessibility is everything to the home gourmet chef. Purposefully locating convenient storage areas will help cooks find even the most obscure ingredients in a short amount of time. Open shelves in a walk-in pantry, interior-lit cabinets with open or glass fronts, built-in herb gardens, and quick-access ingredient drawers or racks allow the chef to find and transfer the essential ingredients to their respective workstations.

2)      Tools & Gadgets: Creating uniquely organized storage solutions for utensils, cookware and kitchen gadgets is key. Preferences will vary on whether these items should be visible or stowed away nearby within their own compartments or drawers. Locating these areas conveniently near workstations will save the cook time and aggravation when searching for the right tool.

3)      Surfaces: Choose countertop, cabinet, appliance and backsplash materials that can be easily cleaned and will withstand increased usage versus a typical kitchen. Design countertop edges to reduce spills from dripping down to cabinets below. Don’t neglect the impact that lighting will play on illuminating surfaces. Incorporate overhead and under-cabinet fixtures to improve work area visibility.

4)      Sinks & Faucets: Depending upon the use, it may be a great idea to install an additional sink and water source at more than one location in the kitchen. Separate prep areas may have increased functionality if fitted with areas for soaking or washing, versus transporting items back and forth across the kitchen. Install detachable faucets to create more versatility in cooking and cleanup.

5)      Waste Solutions: Be sure that your disposal preferences are considered in kitchen design. Strong beliefs about what to do with waste should lead to the inclusion of compartments for composting, recycling, disposals, compactors and traditional refuse containers. 

6)      Appliances: Whether traditional appliances or an added supplement, carefully consider these options in the kitchen. Appliance prices are often driven by durability and features. Determine which features are worth spending the money for.

a)       Ranges & Hoods: Gas heat will provide the most control. A varying range of BTUs will provide flexibility for different cooking tasks. Always take into consideration the limits and requirements for exhaust hoods and design with the appropriately sized hood for the space and home, installing them at the ideal height over the surface.

b)      Ovens & Warmers: Not only do features drive cost, but insulating capabilities of doors and exteriors are essential factors when choosing the right oven, so not to lose heating power. Explore if the popular double oven is the best choice for your needs. If space is limited, substituting the second traditional oven with a convection or microwave oven, or a warming drawer, may serve a greater purpose.

c)       Dishwashers: If you use a lot of utensils and larger cookware and prep items, you will want them to be clean for your next cooking task. Choose a dishwasher with creative options for utensil drawers or holders and that also allows for adjustable spaces for large bowls and pots.

d)      Refrigerators & Freezers: If there isn’t room for a larger side-by-side unit, or if supplemental cooling options are needed, utilize a portion of cabinet space for optional built-in cooling drawers or small freezers.

e)      Miscellaneous Appliances: Your specific cuisine interests may also drive the additions of features such as rotisseries, woks and other enhancements. Discuss the usage frequency of these items and determine where they rate in design priority over other, more crucial elements.

7)      Inspiration: Even though function can win over aesthetics in designing a foodie kitchen, discover what fuels your culinary passion. Strategically add windows, art, décor and music devices to be your muse for your next greatest creation.

Passionate thought and attention to preparing the perfect meal is what separates a foodie from a recreational cook. Your heart should beat with the same enthusiasm about designing the space where you create your masterpieces. Let us help you design a space that inspires your gifts and fuels your passion for food! Bon appetit!

Outdoor Living Spaces

Outdoor living spaces continue to be one of the fastest growing segments of residential construction.  More than ever before, homeowners are seeing their backyard as an extension of their home and are converting their outdoor space into comfortable living areas. Covered decks and patios, outdoor appliances and fire pits continue to increase in popularity.

We all look forward to heading outdoors and enjoying the warmer temperatures now that spring has arrived.  What better way to enjoy those warm summer evenings than in your own beautiful outdoor living space.  Metzler Home Builders can help you create an outdoor oasis to meet your needs and to complement your existing home.  Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about your own new beautiful backyard!

Choosing the Right Home Builder

So you’re in the market for a new home and searching for that perfect home builder?  No matter what type of home you are searching for be it a condo, townhouse, a subdivision or custom-built home; look thru the tips below to help you find your perfect builder for your home.
Make a List of Possible Home Builders once you have decided on the type of home you want.
  • Create a list of potential home builders by reaching out the your local Home Builders Association.
  • Looking thru the ad section of your local newspaper you can find and learn more about which builders are currently building in your area along with the types of homes being built and prices.
  • Reach out to local real estate agents who can assist you in your search.
  • Friends and relatives are great for asking for recommendations.
Do Your Homework now that you have a list of potential home builders, time to start asking questions and make sure you take along a notebook to jot answers down.
  • Conduct an interview with a list of questions you have
  • Visit some of the builder’s recently built homes.  When visiting homes that are recently occupied by the new homeowner and they are outside approach them letting them know you are considering buying a home from the builder and ask for their experience with the builder.  Consider visiting several to get a few opinions.  Ask questions like: Are they pleased with their new home?  Have you had any problems with the builder coming back to fixing any issues and were they promptly taken care of?  Would you buy another home from this builder?
Look for Quality and Value.  Visit new homes, home shows, open houses being hosted by the home builder or realtor.  These are great opportunities to look at homes in a furnished or unfurnished environment to see the quality of the home.
  • Look at the quality of the construction; carpentry, carpeting, flooring, trimwork and paint.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get specific, and take notes.  Never hesitate to ask questions.

Universal Design in the Kitchen

Some consumers are confused about what Universal Design is. While it is not strictly for the handicapped, Universal Design can be of great benefit for someone who has mobility and accessibility issues.

What is Universal Design?
Universal Design is design that is suited for all family members. No matter what the age or ability, it ensures that all family members can effectively use the space.

When we begin designing a space with Universal Design in mind, we think about how effortlessly and easily a task can be done. The goal is to minimize lifting, reaching and stooping – basically avoid any movements that have the potential of causing a person to become off-balance and hurt themselves.

You never know when life is going to throw you a curve and someone in the house ends up with a broken leg or temporarily confined to a wheelchair, or when you may need to care for a loved one in that situation inside your home. Universal Design helps you plan for every stage in your life – from younger ages to your golden years.

Universal Design in the Kitchen
In certain areas of your house, Universal Design can play a larger role in keeping your family safe and also enhance accessibility. Your kitchen is one of those areas (the bathroom is another).

Here are 7 Universal Design features to consider for your kitchen:

Faucets & Hardware. Does the faucet on the sink and the hardware on your cabinetry meet the “closed fist” test? In other words, can a person work them with a closed fist? Often older family members have arthritis or other issues that make it difficult to grip.

Offset single-lever faucets are ideal because they can be operated with one hand and do not require the person to reach behind the sink. Another option is an electronic touchless faucet that can be activated with the wave of a hand.

Flooring. Choose a flooring surface that is slip resistant and comfortable. When selecting tiles, in this instance, a smaller tile is better because it has less surface area (which minimizes slipping); or you can select a non-slip flooring like cork, which also provides some cushion – making it more comfortable to stand on. Also, there are products on the market that can be applied to tile or stone flooring that don’t take away from the appearance, yet add a tread to prevent slippage.

Counters. Design kitchen countertops, including the island, at varying heights. This allows family members who may need to sit to easily prepare meals, and further allows young children to be “helpers” at your side. From an aesthetic perspective, the variety of height also gives the space depth. The counters should also be solid surface for clean-up ease.

Clearance. You may want to give additional consideration for knee space at the sink, cooktop and meal prep areas for a seated option.

Storage. Select cabinetry where the items inside are reachable – such as pull-out draws for pots, pans and dishes, and pull-down shelves for overhead cabinetry that make it easier to find what you are looking for. Slide-out shelves, particularly under the sink, keep everything in its rightful place and minimize stooping/reaching to find cleaning supplies.

Lighting. As we get older, our eyesight starts to fail, so integrate plenty of overhead and under-cabinet lighting into your kitchen remodel, and select on/off switches that pass the “closed fist” test. Additionally, if you can, try to include more natural light (windows or skylights). Studies have shown that natural lighting has profound positive psychological benefits, especially for family members who can’t get outside as easily as they’d like.

Appliances. A number of appliances on the market today fit the Universal Design criteria and look phenomenal. When comparing appliances, it is smart to choose ones that have front-mounted controls, to eliminate reach. Here are some other items to consider when picking out specific appliances.
Microwaves – Drawer microwaves, as opposed to over-the-cooktop ones, are simply safer. It is much easier to slide something hot out of a microwave drawer than it is to lift it out from overhead. These are also convenient for younger family members who may be old enough to safely work the microwave but wouldn’t be tall enough to reach one that is higher.
Refrigerator – Side-by-side refrigerators/ freezers, particularly ones that have a gallon-sized storage shelf on the inside door, are ideal.
Dishwasher – Consider a dishwasher drawer you can load from the top.
Oven – Choose a wall oven that has a swinging door (similar to a refrigerator door) instead of one where the door hinges down to open.
Cooktop – Pick a cooking surface that is flat, which makes it easy to slide heavier pots and pans. You may also consider choosing a magnetic induction cooking surface because it doesn’t activate until you place the special cookware on top of the burner. Not only does it greatly reduce the chance of burns, but it also cooks faster.

When contemplating remodeling your kitchen, think of these Universal Design features you can add that will keep your kitchen approachable, comfortable and durable for all family members.

What Is Your Square Foot Price?

As a new home builder, we get the “What is your square foot price?” question quite often. If you have ever heard the term “loaded question,” this certainly applies for us as home builders.

But in our case, as a true custom home builder, we believe this is probably an even more difficult question for us to answer than for a large production builder because they typically only build pre-determined floor plans and offer a limited number of options with set prices.

At Metzler Home Builders, we like to say that we build homes of all shapes, sizes and for all budgets, and because of this philosophy, it is basically impossible for us to have a one-word (or number) answer to the square foot price question. Our answer is going to be much more complex because of all the variables that go into the cost of building your customized home.

In this article, we will attempt to break it down in simple terms and highlight some of the major factors in determining the cost of your new home.

“UP vs. OUT”

In terms of cost of building, one of the first things we discuss with clients is that it’s cheaper to build “up” than “out.” In the most basic terms, Metzler Home - What is Your Square Footage building a two-story home is going to be cheaper per square foot than building a one-story or ranch-style home. The biggest reason is because with a ranch home, getting the square footage you want all on one level requires a larger (or more sprawling) foundation and also more roof area.

The most cost-effective plans for new homes are often two-story designs with simple roof lines and a minimum number of offsets in the exterior walls. More corners, angles and offsets designed into your home generally equates to a higher cost per square foot. This often becomes a delicate balance, as it is also what gives a new home its “curb appeal.” However, there are many ways to dress-up a home’s exterior appearance even if it is simple and efficient in design.


Another factor to understand about building a custom home is that not all square footage is created equal. Basement square footage can be Metzler Home - What is Your Square Footage finished at a lesser cost than the rest of your home. The same applies to potential bonus space over a garage. It is because essentially the “framework” or shell of that space is already created with the foundation or framing of your home, and you are only paying for the finish trades to get the usable space that you want.

Another misconception is, people sometimes assume that if they are over budget with their home plans, they can just cut out a few feet here or there. They calculate the savings by: (the square footage x the cost per square foot). Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple. While decreasing your overall square footage will help, it usually doesn’t equate to the savings most would like to see.

A better approach to saving money on your custom built home is by taking a hard look at your amenities, and often the kitchen and bathrooms are where you spend the most. It may actually be a smarter choice to reassess the quality of finishes rather than sacrificing square footage. You can always upgrade your kitchen countertops, flooring or bathroom fixtures in the future, but you probably won’t put an addition on to make your living area or bedrooms a few feet wider after the house is built.


Metzler Home - What is Your Square Footage

Another reason why the “What’s your square foot price?” question is so difficult to answer is because everyone has different expectations regarding the level of finishes in their custom home. Some may be happy with hardwood flooring in the foyer of their home, and carpet and vinyl throughout the remainder; others may want hardwood throughout their home, included the bedrooms. While this is just one example, you can see how this scenario can be applied to flooring, kitchen cabinets, countertops, vanities, plumbing and lighting fixtures, fireplaces, paint and trim finishes … and more.

Additionally, exterior finishes can cause the price to vary just as much as the interior finishes. Vinyl siding is one of the most affordable options for the exterior of your home, but masonry products such as brick, stone and stucco, while great options, will also add to the cost


Your lot can also be a big component of the overall cost of building your home, and when it comes to custom home building, it can have just as many cost variables as what you are putting inside your home.

Here are a few factors that go into this cost:

  • Is the lot served by public water and sewer, or will it require a well to be drilled for water supply and a drain field for your septic system?
  • Will the house be situated close to the road, or will it be set back a few hundred feet resulting in a longer driveway with more excavation and paving costs?
  • Will your home be located in the woods, requiring tree clearing and topsoil to be imported so you can establish a nice yard?
  • Does your lot have an approved storm water management plan? The regulations have recently changed, and depending on the plan that has been or needs to be designed, this can add considerable cost to your project.

All of these “land-related” items can swing the square foot cost considerably, and make it especially difficult to estimate the cost of a home prior to knowing the location of where it will be built.


In recent years, we have built basic spec homes ranging from $90/SF to large custom homes that were $250/SF, so you can see why the question “What is your square foot price?” is a difficult one for us to answer – we don’t want to mislead you.

We work hard to give our clients the best idea of costs we can based on the design of the home, their expectations for finishes in the home and the land where the home will be built. We use all of these factors to approximate cost per square foot; however, our best option is always to get firm pricing from our subcontractors and suppliers and deliver a contract price that spells out exactly what is included. This is part of our fair and honest approach to designing, pricing and building your custom home.

The Basics for Picking Out Your Kitchen Sink

If you are planning a kitchen remodel (or building your custom home), one of the items you’ll consider is what type of kitchen sink you want. Believe it or not, the kitchen sink will speak volumes to the look and feel that you are trying to create and play a significant role in the overall functionality of the room.

Here are some kitchen sink basics you need to know when making this selection.

Sink Materials

Sinks are made from different materials: stainless steel, cast iron, fireclay and composite. Let’s take a look at each one.

Most of the sinks that you will find in stores are going to be made of stainless steel. When considering a stainless steel sink, remember the lower the gauge (16 gauge is thicker than 20 gauge), the more resistant it will be to heat and dents.

Cast iron sinks are extremely durable and are not prone to staining; however, you will find that these kitchen sinks will be more expensive to purchase and install (because they are so heavy).

For those who want to create a classic kitchen look, a fireclay sink may be a top contender. It is created when clay and glaze are fused together after being fired at an extremely high temperature. The result is a very hard and extremely durable material. It resists chips, heat, acid and discoloration, so it will withstand heavy use over time.

Another possibility is a composite sink. These come in a variety of colors so you can match your sink to the other elements of your kitchen. These sinks are durable and easy to take care of.

Selecting Your Sink Style

Before you select your kitchen sink based on looks, consider what you will be doing with the sink first. This should greatly help you determine which style is the best for you.

The single-bowl sink is a wonderful option if you do not have a lot of space. It can also be a great choice if you have large pots and pans to clean. For those who love to cook, the double-bowl sink may be the right style because it affords you different bowls for multi-tasking, and you can select the size and depth of each bowl.

If you want a sink that makes a statement, take a look at a farmhouse sink – where the sink front actually replaces part of the countertop. It is a great look for cottage- or country-style homes, like those here in Lancaster, but because of its unique look, it is often found in modern-style kitchens, too.

There are two ways that sinks can be mounted – under or top. An under-mounted sink gives that area of your kitchen a cleaner and finished look, but it is a bit more expensive than a top-mount, or self-rimming, that sets into the countertop from above.

As you can see, there are a few factors to take into consideration when selecting a kitchen sink, but if you take your time and think through how you cook, how durable you need your sink to be and what look you want for your kitchen, you’ll be prepared to make a selection that you’ll be happy with for years to come.

Project Spotlight: Distinctive Ideas

Matt and Karen’s home had met their needs for many years. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and the compact kitchen were sufficient through the early years. Even the basement that was finished by a previous owner was livable. As their family grew, the needs for their home grew as well. It became evident the existing spaces needed modification. The only thing that stood in their way was tackling a whole house renovation.

When Matt and Karen contacted Metzler Home Builders, their list of criteria and ideas was plentiful. For the first floor, they wanted a larger kitchen with space to gather, an eating area for six to eight people and an expanded garage topped the list.

For the second floor, four bedrooms, a play room, storage space and another bath were essential. To meet their needs, we added additional space above the existing garage. Blending the existing and new, both on the interior and exterior of the addition, were also important.

After completing this whole-house renovation project, the homeowners contacted us a few years later to update the basement, and their ideas for modifying this space were abundant, as well. Unique craftsmanship and inventive techniques were used throughout the project. Be sure to check out the pictures found on our website. They may spark some additional ideas.