As a custom home builder, I’m frequently asked: “What are your standard finishes?” This is a bit of a tricky question, in that no two custom homes are identical (since that’s the whole point of a custom home). However, there are some very common finishes and features that could be considered, for the most part, to be “standard”. So let’s delve into what, at a bare minimum, you will almost certainly always find in a home built by Paramount Homes.
2×6 exterior walls
This is a bit of a no-brainer—even most production builders include 2×6 walls these days. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning, in that it’s the feature most commonly asked about.
R-23 wall insulation
This is achieved by utilizing blown in fiberglass insulation. Fiberglass insulation has very low air infiltration (which is a good thing), and a high insulating value.
R-50 ceiling insulation
This is achieved by filling the attic to a deeper depth than a typical blown in attic. Insulation needs to be looked at as a system—part of a good system is making sure that the trusses have “energy heels,” which our homes do. An energy heel ensures that your ceiling insulation is not compromised at the far edges of the roof.
There are two basic types of stucco; cementitious, and acrylic. Cementitious stucco absorbs water easily, which creates staining over time, particularly at low lying areas where snow can build up and leave mineral deposits. It’s also much more likely to crack. Acrylic stucco, on the other hand, is highly water resistive and is much less prone to cracking and maintenance issues down the road.
While we’d like to say that we only install aluminum-clad wood windows, the reality is that many folks have a tough time making the jump to wood or even fiberglass windows, in that there’s a LARGE price difference. Nevertheless, a high-end vinyl window (and we would not install anything less) is significantly better (particularly over the long haul) than a “builder grade” vinyl window, in terms of air leakage and overall operation.
Class A, Impact Level 4 composite roofing
Class A refers to the fire resistance found in the roofing material, and as you’ve likely guessed, Class A is the highest. Level 4 measures the resistance to hail damage that the roof has, and a Level 4 roof will get you a reduction in your property insurance, as your insurer is much less likely to be dealing with a hail damage claim in the future.
Premium garage doors
Not all garage doors are created equal. Entry level garage doors (commonly known as “builder grade”), are thin, uninsulated, and of low quality. A good garage door is well insulated, comes with a quality opener, and can be factory “stained” to create a beautiful wood look without the maintenance.
9 foot basement ceilings
Having a nice, tall ceiling in the basement really makes your lower living quarters feel spacious and impressive.
Our decks include PVC-wrapped composite decking, and zero maintenance, high-quality railing systems. Combined with a cement based fascia and stain grade fiberglass exterior doors, the exteriors of our homes are practically zero maintenance.
High efficiency furnaces
These come as either 92% efficient or 96% efficient, and, when used in conjunction with our insulation packages, create a very warm home with low energy bills. Our heating and cooling systems are designed to perform well, and not just meet code minimums. Our typical home has two furnaces for efficiency and performance.
Recirculating hot water pumps
These hot water pumps eliminate the long wait for hot water at fixtures that are located a fair distance from the water heater. You just turn the faucet to hot at your kitchen sink, for example, and bingo—instant hot water.
High-end plumbing fixtures
Typically our master showers have multiple heads and/or rain heads and/or hand sprays on glide bars, in addition to our clients having a wide range of choices in secondary bathrooms as well.
Generous electrical packages
A typical electrical allowance affords the client one recessed light for every 100 square feet of living space, in addition to having multiple switching options and LED under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen. Coupled with a very reasonable light fixture allowance, our “standard” electrical package is geared to meet our clients’ needs and wants.
Hand trowel drywall finish
This can be applied very lightly, moderately, or very heavy, depending on the homeowner’s choice. A hand trowel drywall finish immediately sets off a home as something special.
Multiple paint colors
We allow our clients multiple paint colors, including a separate color for their ceilings. After all, there’s nothing custom about having Navajo White throughout an entire house.
Solid core doors
Our solid core doors are hefty and strong, and our clients are typically split 50/50 between stain grade interiors and paint grade on the interior.
We use 3 ½” trim and 5 ½” baseboards standard.
We typically assume a “six-piece kitchen” in each of our homes. This package includes: a double oven, cooktop, microwave, dishwasher, hood, and refrigerator. Our typical home budgets allow for high-end brands such as GE, Kitchen Aid, and Jenn-Air. Our kitchens have a full- height backsplash.
Granite counters are standard in the kitchen, powder room, master bathroom, and secondary bathrooms. There’s a lot of variation in the levels of granite (typically they’re classified Levels 1 – 5), and our average home will have Level 3 granite in the kitchen, master bathroom, and powder, the secondary bathrooms will generally have Level 1 or Level 2.
Flooring and Tile
Each home has a generous flooring and wall tile allowance. Commonly, random width solid hickory wood floors are installed in the bulk of the main level. Carpet is high end, and tile allowances can afford in-demand products like “wood look” tile, plank type tile (narrow and wide), accent bands in showers, and the like. Master showers usually have a tiled ceiling to create a steam shower effect without incurring the expense of a true steam shower.
We use high-end bathroom hardware and accessories for the sinks, bathtubs, showers, etc. Master bathroom showers feature frameless glass.
Mike Rice is a general contractor based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, specializing in building custom homes. He has 30 years of experience in the construction industry. Originally from California, he moved to Colorado with his wife and three sons to seek out the natural beauty and high quality of life we enjoy here. Mike is licensed as a builder in El Paso, Teller, and Douglas Counties and would love to build your dream home. Contact him today at (719) 331-4116 to learn more.