Colby Construction is a luxury custom home builder that balances traditional, timeless, exterior details with updated interiors. With hundreds of projects in our portfolio, we are proud to be new home builders. You are guaranteed a professional, efficient manner from conception to completion. Follow this blog to stay up to date with the latest designs, ideas, portfolios and more.
Now that July is here, we are finally enjoying the longer, warmer days of summer. Summer in Southeast Wisconsin means getting outdoors as often and as much as you can. The days go by quickly, and you don’t want to miss a moment of soaking up the sun and warm temperatures. Living in a custom lake home truly allows for the best in Wisconsin living. Southeastern Wisconsin is peppered with beautiful lakes that allow for year-round homes or a weekend sanctuary away from the city. Make the best of your lake home by creating a lifestyle for you and your family that allows for the best summer on the lake ever.
Become One with Nature
The beautiful lakes in southeastern Wisconsin bring many opportunities to take in and be part of nature. Whether you enjoy fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding or simply sitting on a pier taking in all the sights and sounds, it truly transports you away from the stresses of the day. Everyday summertime lake living should include time to participate with the wonders of the lake. There is so much wildlife to watch, explore and enjoy on a lake, so get the family on board and make a day of it.
The opportunities for activity on a lake are endless! Want to start the day with simple movements and stretching? The pier or lakefront lawn is the perfect place to start the day with yoga. Ready to work on your swimming strokes and get a great cardio vascular workout in? Dive in and go for a swim. Of course, the fun and thrill of waterskiing, wake boarding and wake surfing take it up another notch! If you love a little competition, perhaps you will take up sailing and participate in local regattas. Every member of the family will find a way to get active on the lake. The options are endless.
Entertain Family and Friends
A lake home is the perfect place to entertain in the summertime. Take your guests for a relaxing pontoon ride or have families over for a day of tubing and jetskiing. Lake front yards are perfect for lawn games and an afternoon cocktail. A custom lake home should also have a sprawling deck or patio to have a cookout and enjoy an el fresco dinner.
Enjoy Your Community
While its different than a subdivision or living on a city street, lake living offers a wonderful sense of community. Most lakes have a lake association that provide opportunities to get to know your fellow lake lovers. Often time there are social opportunities like lake tie ups, 4th of July parties and even lake clean up days. Your lake community will become a special part of your life, so embrace those who love the water just like you do.
Lake living brings opportunities for young and old. The calming nature of a lake, the activities to enjoy and sense of community make lake living in southeastern Wisconsin the best place to be. If you are looking to build a year-round home or a summer residence, Colby Construction is the perfect partner to help make this dream a reality.
Many homeowners opt to start with an existing structure when embarking on building a luxury lake home. Whether falling in love with the property, the home itself or, ideally, both, it is important to carefully weigh all options and really know the home before deciding how to proceed with a renovation: demolition versus renovation or somewhere in-between. The first step is really to consult with custom home building experts to determine the best way to achieve the perfect home solution.
The home’s age is always a major factor, which can swing the pendulum both ways; a 100-year-old home provides several logistical and structural challenges for modernizing, yet the home may boast uniquely appealing or historically significant architectural and structural details. Additionally, the older the home, the more surprises may be uncovered once a renovation project is in full swing, particularly if it has had multiple owners. With that in mind, a good place to start when deciding whether to salvage some, all or none of the existing home is to know the following:
What the real value of the home and property (lot) is
Whether the home and/or neighborhood has any historical significance
Whether the home has any structural problems, such as rot, mold, fire damage
Is demolition a cost-effective option/procedure in your particular city/county
Permits are required for any demolition project, regardless of the extent of the demolition; this ensures that noise, potential exposure to hazardous materials and interruption to the neighborhood is documented. The demolition must conform to building codes and bylaws, which is agreed to upfront when obtaining the permit. Costs vary greatly by municipality, as some wish to discourage total demolition, instead encouraging extensive renovations; thus, a demolition permit alone could be more than $10,000.
Lake homes also come with their own challenges. If you build on the existing footprint you may be able to actually keep the area that you can build on. When tearing down a lake home, current laws come into effect on your impervious space and distance the home is to the lake.
Aside from the permit, other demolition costs can vary greatly, factors of which include:
Size of the structure
Foundation type and whether it needs to be demolished
Home’s building materials; brick (more expensive) versus wood
Hazards that need to be removed (asbestos, lead paint, debris)
Total demolition may initially seem more attractive in terms of both time and cost; deconstruction is slower as elements of the building are carefully preserved and stored for later use. While deconstruction or partial demolition is more time consuming and expensive on the front end, it could end up being more cost effective once the project is complete, once factoring in associated tax breaks and the sale and re-use of salvaged materials. Oftentimes, a middle of the road between total renovation and total demolition can be the best solution, particularly when the original home held great appeal and was purchased as a labor of love.
Custom lake home building professionals, such as those at Colby Construction, have a long history of advising their clients towards the solution that best satisfies their criteria. Their main concern is to properly assess the conditions, advise on the advantages of all options, and proceed in the client’s best interest. Whether speed, cost or preservation is the ultimate goal, it is good to have the professionals chart the course.
Sometimes the best way to know what you still desire in a luxury home is live in it for a while. And that is just what the family that built Hidden Treasure did. After moving into their new, beautiful home in 2015, they spent the next few years enjoying every part of it, but realized there were some features that they still desired.
The way the home was situated and the distance from the lake, they were not able to have a lower level. In their past home, they loved to entertain in the lower level that held a bar and family room. They also enjoyed home workouts in their gym. The owners brought their desires to Colby Construction, and quickly a plan was drawn up to make their needs a reality.
In order to follow county and lake ordinances, the team had to be creative with the space available. The addition would also take away space to park so that needed to be brought into consideration as well. The current home and the addition were creatively tied together with a new entry that allows for access from the back (garage side) and the front (lake side) of the home. Once through the entryway you are led to the existing homes family room or to the new entertain addition.
The expansive, stunning addition features a 2-story bar and seating area. The bar includes a small kitchen and plenty of seating for casual family dinners or entertaining friends and family. As wine aficionados, a wine cellar was also a must for the new addition. The walk-in cellar, encased by glass doors is a stunning work of art and conversation starter. Utilizing the space upstairs, a home gym was added to the space. A perfect place for every member of the family to workout.
After they hit the gym, the steam shower is the perfect reward for their hard work. This gorgeous space features under cabinet lighting and a bench that expands into the steam shower.
Every detail of this addition was thoughtfully designed, from the sink to the bar backsplash to space for practicing a golf swing. The ceiling features shiplap and stunning chandeliers. The owners love to design and decorate and expertly selected every piece for the addition themselves!
Without question, the custom lake home already was a “Hidden Treasure”, but the new addition makes the name truly perfect.
Memorial Day weekend is upon us in southeastern Wisconsin, which means it is also the kick off to summer! The long winter months are behind us, and Wisconsinites make the most of the warm months ahead and try to pack in as much as possible. Lake living in Waukesha County means boating, fishing, swimming and entertaining. Following is a list to get your custom lake home set for summer in your custom lake home!
Check your air conditioner and get it serviced.
It is not uncommon in this state to be running your heat one day and your air conditioner the next. Having your air not work when the hot summer days are suddenly upon us is an uncomfortable situation. Check your A/C and take time to do a little maintenance to ensure you will be cool and comfortable in the warm days ahead.
Start by changing the system’s filter. Clogged and dirty filters make air conditioning systems work harder, stay on longer and cost more to run. Hopefully, you’re already changing your heating and air filters every two to four months, depending on how much dust, pet hair, and the like are in your home. Summer is the best time to get started on that cycle with your air conditioning filter, so you don’t start the season with one that’s old and dirty.
Try out your unit before it’s needed. Turn it on to see how it’s cooling. If the A/C doesn’t kick on, check your circuit breakers or fuses. If it still won’t start up or cool like you think it should, call a professional.
Clean your gutters and downspouts.
Winter and spring in Wisconsin can be brutal and can leave behind a lot of clutter and debris in your gutters. There can be damage that may lead to leaks that let water in your basement if the downspouts are clogged. Consider hiring a pro for this job, especially if your house is more than one story.
If you are going to tackle the job by yourself, have a sturdy ladder, gloves, a trowel and a hose. Use the trowel to scoop the debris out of the gutters and then hose them out.
Be sure water from the downspouts flows away from your house to keep it from collecting around the foundation which can cause leaks in your basement. This job is essential as it can save a lot of headaches and bigger problems down the road.
Spruce up with potted and planted flowers.
Nothing says summer is here more than beautiful flowers! Make this a family activity and get everyone involved! Potted flowers at the entryway of your home, on the pier at the lake and patios and porches makes everything seem fresh and adds a pop of color. Get the planting beds in order and add some perennials and annuals to them.
Clean off the patio furniture and get ready for relaxing.
Pull out the furniture that has been hidden away all winter long. Whether you are hanging a hammock or setting out the patio table and lounge chairs, give everything a good bath and cleaning for outdoor seating for the summer. Summer furniture needs care and upgrading just like interior furniture, so perhaps a new umbrella or new cushions are in order. Be sure you have power washed the deck or patio prior to getting it all set out. Maybe add some fun throw pillows in for an extra splash of color this year!
Check on the outdoor water faucets.
Summer means having outdoor water available. Be sure your outdoor spigots and irrigation system are functioning after the rough winter. Turn water back on and connect your hoses to be sure everything is intact and not leaking. A slow trickle may mean you have a problem in your pipes, so be sure to call a plumber if the water isn’t flowing like it should.
If you have an in-ground irrigation system, get your timer set for the summer and test it to make sure it is in proper order. A tune-up will ensure your system is operating efficiently.
Freshen up and stock up the indoors.
The dark days of winter are gone. Change out the bedding in all the bedrooms for lighter, brighter comforters and blankets. Place fresh flower throughout the house to brighten things up. Wash the interiors of the windows and screens to let the summer breeze in. It’s also the perfect time to stock up for summer, as entertaining and lake living go hand in hand. Check your inventory of paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils and restock as needed. Be sure to have plenty of beverages and snacks on hand too.
While the summer months seem to go by far too quickly, if you take some time before summer is in full swing to get your custom lake home “summer ready”, you will be able to relax and enjoy it that much more! Cheers to summer and lake living! Check out our Outdoor Living Board on Pinterest for fun patio ideas! https://www.pinterest.com/colbyconstruct/outdoor-living/.
Mom’s make home, well home. They cook for you, clean for you, take care of the laundry, simply take care of everyone. So, on Mother’s Day, take care of mom in her own home. A custom home is the perfect place to be pampered.
Let her have the day off! No cooking, no cleaning, no laundry, don’t let her do a single thing. Moms are so busy taking care of the home that they rarely get to enjoy it, so on Mother’s Day, it’s the perfect time to allow her that luxury of truly relaxing and enjoying her own home. Start the day off right by getting up early and making sure the house is clean and there is nothing mom will feel she needs to do.
The custom kitchen is the best place to begin and get the whole family involved, cook mom her favorite breakfast while she is sleeping in. Fresh flowers and her special breakfast should be delivered to the bedroom suite where she can enjoy a leisurely breakfast.
After breakfast, create a spa at home for mom in her master bath. Select a few of her favorites to pamper her. Favorite bath salts, body wash and lotion selected for her so she can enjoy a soak in the tub or a steam shower. A new candle or two will set the tone for relaxation too. Mom’s rarely allow themselves this luxury, so give her the gift of time to enjoy this.
What else does the lady of the house enjoy but doesn’t ever get to do? Pick up a few of her favorite magazines or a new book she’s been wanting to read and let her lounge on the porch or curl up in the family room. If you live in a custom lake home and it’s a beautiful day out, enjoy the water. Perhaps sitting on the pier or a boat ride. It’s her day, think creatively and make it easy for her to spend the day doing what she loves.
Mom’s love to spend time with their family too, so be sure to take time for a family activity. Perhaps playing a game, going for a walk or watching a movie.
When it’s time for dinner, take over in the kitchen! Pour mom her favorite cocktail or mocktail, let her put her feet up and get cooking! Whether your grilling on the patio or making her favorite dish indoors, don’t let mom lift a finger! Set the table and bring out the “good dishes”, it’s a special day. Open a special bottle of wine and don’t forget the dessert! Maybe something chocolate! And most importantly, don’t forget to clean up after.
As evening settles in, end the day the way mom wants to. Her favorite television show, a good book, or perhaps the luxury of going to bed early. A wonderful gift idea is a new pair pajamas and slippers. Turn the bed down and let her have the night off.
Mother’s Day is all about remembering and loving mom. Gifts from the heart are the best gifts of all and thanks and gratitude for all mom does is what she deserves. This year give your mom the opportunity to enjoy the day without doing a thing!
Every year residents in southeastern Wisconsin optimistically throw open their doors when the snow melts and green shoots start to emerge, somewhat forgetful of the undesirable outdoor elements that are quickly tracked inside. Families with children and/or pets are particularly at risk for massive indoor mud deposits, virtually impossible to avoid in the home’s main living spaces and corridors. The best way to minimize the dirt and mud that is spread throughout your home is to plan ahead for the annual spring assault.
Snow melt on compacted ground, which is slowly thawing as the grass awakens from its winter slumber, means pooling water mixed with loose top soil, or mud puddles. Even the most diligently manicured luxury custom home in the Lake Country area is host to muddy grounds; large or small grounds make no difference, as they will instantly coat shoes and paws. Be prepared for Mud Season (which seems to have dragged out since January) by arming the entry-points with tricks & tools that will keep the mud from further invading your home:
Have cleaning tools handy by each entrance: a simple bottle of all-purpose cleaner, some rags and towels and maybe a stiff brush, stashed strategically in a closet, drawer or bench, can tackle wet and dirty feet, coats, etc.
Umbrella stands: to have and to hold, wet and dry
Stiff bristle/ textured doormats on the stoop, washable doormats, a rug inside the door; have them regularly cleaned for maximum effect and visual appeal.
Ornamental foot scraper mounted by door: there are many types of attractive and practical foot and boot scrapers, some antiquated in design, adding a unique decorative element, but all very effective in their job.
Roll up or cover delicate and valuable rugs and runners when not entertaining; the less valuable carpets are exposed to cleaning agents, the better. Plus, that’s not to mention the less time & effort expended by the homeowner…
Dog owners should always have one or two spare pet gates (adjustable, portable, not permanent) that are kept handy. While muddy paws can get wiped, soggy dogs freely roaming the house immediately add smell, dampness and dirt to upholstery. An erected gate to create a smaller area for pets while they dry keeps them away from furniture and carpeting and simultaneously happier than being locked in the garage.
A shoe receptacle: there are many ways to store shoes near the entrance, either hidden or in plain view. There are many attractive shoe racks that can be subtly placed under a bench or elsewhere; the advantage of it being in sight is that it encourages guests to take their shoes off rather than track in dirt! For family, keep a bin of house-only shoes handy to slip on.
The most important thing to do when tracking in mud, along with all the tricks above, is to clean it up as quick as possible. Keeping your custom home and floors clean during these wet, muddy months is a challenge. Staying on top of it can keep the mess to a minimum.
The unpredictable spring weather in southeastern Wisconsin has us all longing for spring and blooming flowers and plants. April showers bring May flowers, and now is the time to add more color to your gardens. When building a custom lake home, care and consideration also needs to be taken for the landscape plan and flowers and plantings that enhance the beauty of your home.
Living in Waukesha County, different things to consider include the following:
• Sun exposure
• Hours of light
• Type of soil
• Winter hardiness
• Moisture availability
The landscape plan needs to be carefully thought out with a landscape designer, and your custom home builder will work with them so that the exterior of your home matches the beauty and uniqueness of the interior.
Now let’s look at some the best variety of perennials to consider in Waukesha County.
A Midwest native, these hardy perennials bloom throughout the summer and range in size from 16 inches to 4 feet. They come in beautiful, traditional colors like pink, purple, and white.
A very hardy evergreen that can bloom when there is even still snow on the ground, the Lenten rose comes in a variety of shades. You will be rewarded with blooms (and the hope of spring) as early as March when you plant this variety.
A members of the onion family, alliums (which include chives) are easy to grow from hardy bulbs. Purple allium has a unique pom-pom shape and leafless stem. The variety does well in partial shade, and they partner very well with the any variety of hostas.
This is a perennial that has the tolerance of a true Wisconsinite! Hydrangeas can grow to be 6 to 8 feet tall and wide, and there are so many color and shape options – making this timeless plant a must at your custom lake home.
Autumn Joy Sedum:
Sedums are easy to grow, need very little water, and are so rich in texture and shape. With its masses of flowers and light gray-green foliage, “Autumn Joy” is a favorite in the Midwest and southeastern Wisconsin. In midsummer, it produces green buds, which open into large pink flower that deepens to rusty red by fall. Other sedums include “Purple Emperor”, “Vera Jameson” and “Meteor”.
Daylilies may be the most carefree of all flowering perennials. The plants grow quickly and are long lasting. They thrive in almost any type of soil, will grow in sun or shade, and are rarely troubled by insect pests or disease. Daylilies are known for their toughness, but they also have a brilliant, big, colorful flower. Blooming starts in midsummer and continues into early fall, with new blossoms opening each day.
There are many varieties of flowers that will bring color and beauty to your lake home all spring, summer and fall. Your builder and landscaper can help you with the process to make your home pop with color.
The countertop is a focal point of every custom home kitchen. The countertop is essential to the functionality of a great space for cooking and gathering, and it is a big piece of the heart of the home. The countertop is also the foundation of kitchen décor and sets the tone for the style throughout the room.
Because of this importance, the material, finish and design you choose for your countertop is of great importance. Following are the hottest countertop trends for custom homes in 2019 that set your home apart from others. The trends for countertops of course focus heavily on color and material choices.
Countertop Trends for Custom Homes
The Quality of Quartz
Quartz was introduced as a high-end alternative to granite. Granite is natural stone and has dominated the countertop industry for many years. Homeowners who were seeking something strong, durable and beautiful would choose from the hundreds of granite options to highlight their counters.The downside to downside to granite is that it is porous. With a porous surface, liquids like water, wine, and oils can seep through the surface and cause stains. The other issue with a porous surface is that it becomes a surface that breeds dangerous bacteria that could leave your countertop unsanitary.
The porous issue can be resolved by sealing the granite surface with a non-porous sealant. However, the sealant wears off with time and wear, so the countertop needs to be resealed throughout its lifetime.
Quartz is non-porous and does not have to go through regular re-sealing. This means it is highly resistant against staining and is one of the most hygienic countertop options for homeowners. Quartz is extremely strong and durable. With this low maintenance material that comes in many color and style options, it is not going anywhere soon.
Quartz comes in a variety of patterns and finishing techniques and mimics the look of natural stone. One of the most current and trending finishes right now is matte. Quartz manufacturers continue to come out with more options, styles and improvements. This product is just going to continue to become a more popular selection, not just in 2019 but in the years to come.
Textures and Finishes
More and more the design movement is using textured and tactile surfaces, and this is perfect option for countertops too. Honed and leather surfaces are the most common and can be applied to many different materials, such as granite, marble, and quartz. Even though polished is still the most popular, there are advantages to these two others.
Honed finish is a matte finish with little to no shine. With a honed finish, the polishing process ends before buffing to create a matte or low-gloss sheen that lacks the highly reflective shine of traditional granite, quartz or marble. The overall look will vary depending on the stone type, but it should have a low sheen and a smooth surface. Honed finishes work well with marble, since its lack of shine conceals any flaws or scratch marks more readily.
Leathered finish is a newer style of treatment that has become more popular in recent years. It has a soft sheen that is less glossy from a polished slab, and has a different feel to the touch. The leather finish retains the stone’s natural color, giving it a more sophisticated look than honed. It also hides fingerprints and water spots remarkable well, which is very appealing to many.
These are just a few finishes to consider when choosing a countertop in 2019.
Homeowners are seeking a bit more character in their countertops. With today’s technology there are many creative solutions. Countertops come in such a wide variety of patterns today. Homeowners have the opportunity to make a statement with their counters. Materials like quartz are being designed to resemble slabs of natural stone, like granite & marble. With veins created in interesting patterns designed into the countertop slabs, you have the opportunity to be creative and show your personality in your kitchen. Want something even more realistic? No need for a polished piece– honed and leathered finishes have the durability needed for the kitchen but have a drastically different look in the space.
All of these varied finishes make for an interesting design coordination with other kitchen elements like hardwood or tile floors, cabinetry in any color combination, and backsplash. Countertops truly are the center of a home, the place the family gathers to cook, do activities, schoolwork, share a snack or beverage and more. It is a special part of your custom home, and your selections should be made thoughtfully.
After a long winter that included record cold temperatures and more snow then we have seen in Southeastern Wisconsin in a long time, this warm spell may be good for the psyche, but it might not be so great for your house.
Drainage issues, roof problems and maintenance oversights could result in leaks now that the snow is melting.
You may not be able to solve the underlying problems until all of the snow is gone and spring has truly arrived, but you can take some measures now to prevent or minimize damage, experts say.
What to remember as the temperatures rise and we wait for warmer weather. Clear the snow.
Once the ground thaws, melting snow acts much like an extended rainfall. As the ground absorbs the inches of snow, it may have nowhere to go and can collect against your house and seep into your basement.
You may be able to prevent a basement leak by shoveling snow and ice away from the foundation wall on the uphill side of your house. But don’t just leave the snow there in a pile. Remove any remaining snow and move it to a lower part of the yard, or else it will just melt and run back toward the house.
Check the drainage.
Be sure you have clear, uncrimped outlets for your roof’s downspouts and the foundation drain that runs underground around the perimeter of your house. Those systems usually drain to either the street or someplace on your property. Sometimes the downspouts empty into the foundation drain.
Check that the openings from the gutters to the downspouts are clear, too.
Make sure water from your downspouts is directed well away from your house. That may require adding a flexible downspout extension that’s long enough to carry the water to a lower part of the yard.
Check your sump pump.
If water does get into your basement, a sump pump is designed to get it out. Now’s a good time to make sure that pump is working.
Pull up on the float to make sure the pump turns on.
Safeguard your valuables.
The contents of your basement are vulnerable during a flood. Take a few minutes to make sure anything valuable is stored in waterproof containers or lifted an inch or more off the floor — perhaps on shelves, pallets or other supports.
Protect a flat roof.
While the snow has already melted off peaked roofs, snow and ice can remain longer on flat roofs. Those roofs are designed to be waterproof, but if you already have a small leak, it can turn into a big one during a thaw. Make sure the drains on the roof are open, so melting snow can escape easily. It’s OK to remove snow and ice from the roof if you can, but don’t chip off the ice. You could cause further damage.
Check for faucet leaks.
You may be tempted to wash your car on one of these warm days, but be cautious. The stem leading to your outdoor faucet can break if water freezes inside it, which will cause a leak when you turn the faucet on. If the leak is indoors, you might not even be aware of it.
With the the extra daylight hours (courtesy of Daylight Savings time) and the recent temperature fluctuations (thanks to Wisconsin’s weather patterns), we’re all feeling the first stirrings of spring fever. For many, spring fever includes beginning the discussion about building a brand new home in heart of Lake Country. If you’re in that position right now, this post is for you, inspiration for the home building project to come.
Spring is busy season for luxury custom home builders like Colby Construction. Take a look at a sampling of the timeless, custom, quality homes from Colby Construction below. If you’re interested in learning more about building a beautiful custom home with Colby Construction, click here to learn more about our process. To get in touch with us about a custom home construction project, click here.