Elevator in home in Lake Geneva

An Elevator can complement your decor

A new home with an elevator used to be considered very high-end. Now we’ve noticed a trend over the last few years where homeowners are seeing elevators as a very smart and practical investment. It allows them to stay in their multi-story home, and also increase the resale value of their property.

Several homes we’ve designed recently include an elevator. A number of them that don’t are designed with “stacked” closets (one on the first floor and one on the second floor directly over the first). Planning for a future elevator does add a little more cost initially in labor and building materials. But isn’t it reassuring to know the space can easily be used to install an elevator if any of the family member’s physical condition requires it?

The National Association of Homebuilders has also noticed a growing interest in elevators from homeowners. In 2001 only 8% of homeowners said an elevator was a must or a want. In 2011, 25% of those surveyed listed an elevator as desirable or essential. Although it’s seen as a luxury, including an elevator in your home may add as much as 10% to the value of your home. (Think of resale and how many more buyers would be attracted to your multi-story home!) Hydraulic elevator units can range from $20,000 to over $100,000.

We see elevators and other elements of universal design as great ways to expand the usefulness of your home. In future blogs I’ll talk more on the topic of universal design. After all, if a home can be designed to be safer, easier to maneuver in and equally accessible for anyone from the able bodied, small children, older adults and the mobility challenged, why not do so?

Custom home built by Thelen Total Construction

In the past few years builders were downsizing homes to accomodate an era of frugality and austerity. As the economy slowly improves and anxieties ease, home buyers are upsizing again. According to the data from the Census Bureau, the average size of a newly built home was 2,480 square feet in 2011.

That was up 3.7% from 2010 and represented the first annual increase since 2007. The return to bigger houses indicates that while the housing downturn paused, it didn’t kill America’s love affair with large homes. It can be cheaper in the long run to build a big home now – even if you don’t need the space yet. You spread the cost over the life of the loan, instead of spending money down the road for expansion projects.

However, we don’t really think in terms of “big house”  or “small house.” We know it’s all relative, of course. Some of our home building clients would feel the average large size new home of 2,480 square feet would not be large enough.

What size is the “just right” size home for you?


Traditional Cottage

Gracious and inviting, traditional design evokes images of understated elegance. Within the traditional designation you’ll find many specific styles, such as Cottage, Colonial, French Country, Craftsman, Tuscan, among others. Traditional style reflects fine woodworking, craftsmanship and graceful lines, but a growing movement to bring it into a more relaxed realm is well underway. Stained and painted wood are mixed and matched less strictly. The old and the new are paired side by side.

Most of the clients we work with do desire a traditional home design and some people have even told us we have a “trademark” Thelen Total Construction style of home! We do feel our homes are distinctive but they are truly a reflection of individual style and taste – whether that is traditional, contemporary or something in-between. Here are  photos of  some our past Parade of Homes and you’ll see what I mean!2005 Parade of Homes

2002 Parade of Homes