Friday, January 20, 2012

We continue to hear and read that the building industry is dead. Unfortunately it has suffered severely and and many good men and women have lost their building companies because of the economy. Builders with inventories were unable to sell homes and with sale prices declining and interest continuing, they just couldn't survive. But there are many of us who have survived the storm and continue to build.
Many companies like Dobberstine Custom Homes have turned to remodels for survival. I built four homes in the last two years, but I have completed sixteen remodel projects. From room additions to basement finishes to backyard projects (swimming pools, cabanas, hot tubs, fountains, firepits, etc.) I have been able to keep my head above water and provide some work for my sub-contractor partners.
I have seen more housing starts - foundations in the ground - in the last few months - a good sign for my industry. Hopefully activity breeds activity and with the interest rates being so very low and the demand so high, I look forward to 2012 being a better year for us all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Easy answer - sure!! You can save a fortune a Custom Builder like me will charge you; or maybe not.

Maybe you can save money and have a great building experience, but chances are you won't. Building a team of quality trades people takes years. My trade partners work well together. One doesn't leave a problem for the next. Quick example - most homes I build have attached garages with either hardwood or tile leading from the home into the garage. My framing carpenters always make the rough opening height for that door 1" higher than normal because the garage door will have a threshold attached and sit higher than the other interior doors. It makes setting that door easier for my trim carpenters when they arrive much later in the construction process. That is just one of dozens of "little" things that make the building experience run smoother.

My questions to you are:

  1. Do you know how to choose your sub-contractors? Often the cheapest bid turns out not to really be the least expensive and is certainly no guarantee you'll get quality workmanship.
  2. Do you know when to schedule whom? And what lead time they'll need? And will they be there when you need them? When they are on the job do you know what to ask for and what to expect? Are your expectations too high or too low? How long can you expect them to be there so you know how to schedule the next trade?
  3. If you have an issue later in the building process and need their help again, will they come back? If they won't come in a timely manner, what leverage do you have? Certainly not the promise of another home.
  4. If you've never built a custom home you may not realize the amount of time you'll need to devote just to select all of the components that will go in your home. Do you know all of your choices? Do you know the best places to go? And will you get "builder pricing"? There is no such thing as "builder pricing" on some items, but there is on others.
  5. Do you plan to work with an interior designer or are you going to "save" their fee too? Do you know when to use them and what to expect? I've found their professional eyes have helped me build a better home.

I sincerely don't mean to sound as hateful as these questions may seem. But they really are questions you need to ask yourself. I have suggested to some who are deciding whether to be their own General Contractor perhaps they should do what they do "full time" in order to pay the Builder what he or she does "full time". Gee, that sounds hateful to me too, but I don't mean it to be.

Building a custom home should be a rewarding experience. A professional Custom Builder can help make building your dream home an enjoyable experience. Do you really have the time and want to be your own General Contractor?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Have you ever had a wood screw that just turns around in the hole but won't bind and tighten? Well, here is an easy fix. Remove the screw. You may even have to wedge something under the edge of the screw while you back it out. Now grab a few wood toothpicks and a small hammer. Insert and break off toothpicks until the hole is completely full. If one or more toothpicks are sticking out past the surface tap them slightly with the hammer until the toothpicks are flush with the surface. Then reinstall the wood screw in the hole. It feels like a new piece of wood and the screw holds tight.

Do you have an interior door that swings open or closed by itself? No matter where you want it to stop it seems to have a mind of its own? Again, here is an easy fix. Start by removing the center hinge pin. Take it outside and prop it up at an angle against a concrete curb or step. Then tap it gently in the center with a hammer and bend it slightly. Tap the hinge pin back in the door hinge and see if that stops your door from swinging on its own. If not, try slightly bending a second hinge pin. I can only remember one door that I had to bend all three hinge pins. Normally the first one will do the trick.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Green! Green! Green!

You know "green" must be fashionable or you wouldn't see it nearly every time you turn on the television or pick up a magazine. Maybe you're thinking about building a new home or starting a remodel on your existing residence. How will "green" impact your project? Is "green" a good investment? Where do you start?

Well what do you expect me to say? I'm a custom home builder so I recommend you call a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Certified Green Professional. Let one of us help you decide how much "green" is for you.

"Green " means lower home operating costs as well as a more comfortable and healthier home environment. It doesn't take your project longer to achieve "green", but it does mean initially investing more in order to receive "green's" long lasting benefits.

Two sources to learn more about "green" are the NAHB National Green Building Program @ and the EPA's Energy-Star program @ To comply with these two programs some of the requirements are expensive. You'll have to decide how much you are willing to invest. To qualify for these two programs an accredited third party "verifier" must inspect your home at critical stages of construction. Energy efficient windows, doors, insulation, furnaces, heat pumps, water heaters, plumbing fixtures and faucets, electrical fixtures, and low VOC paints are just a few areas I recommend you consider. How much does "green" add to the cost of your project? It's hard to answer that question without examining each area to ascertain its value to you. How long before I get a return on my investment? Same answer.

Should I just forget about "green"? Absolutely not! Anything and everything you choose to do "green" will be a smart choice for your family and in most cases will also help our environment.