The custom home building process should be savored, as a major milestone in life. It is a time of fulfilling your dreams and seeing the fruit of your hard work and savings. You will be making decisions that impact the rest of your life, as you live in the dwelling you create.  As we discuss the steps of the home building process I want to stress that each one should be enjoyable, and that every single step should be the fulfillment of your wishes.  At every turn ask yourself, “Is this what I want?” and discuss each of these decisions with your spouse.


Research and Preparation, the first step is to begin thinking about what you really want in the house.  Consult all the family members and think of all the activities which might go on in the house over the next 50 years.  Maybe you are only in your 20’s, and have no children, but this home will serve you for the rest of your lives unless you decide to move.  Therefore consider the unborn children, the possibility of elderly parents coming to live with you, and the elderly you who may not feel like climbing three flights of stairs to reach that master bedroom in the attic. Consider what activities and parties you might host in the future, and how the future co-worker might view your house when you invite them over. It is OK to daydream because this is a process of dreaming, as well as planning.  The important thing is to be able to plan a home that will fit your lifestyle, now and in the future.

Consider the budget carefully and estimate what you can afford to spend.  Consider the area and the lots available, and how you want your home to look.  Plan in detail the number of rooms necessary, and the space you’ll need in each room.  Research building codes, various development restrictions, and what school district the lots under consideration are in.

Pre-Construction, the first step is to select a lot.  In many ways selection of the lot is the most important step of the building process.  After all, location is the number one factor determining the resale value of a home.  Consider school districts, the neighborhood, and if the lot is large enough to afford the degree of privacy you want.  Do you want to live where utilities are provided by the city, or where you will be responsible to drill a well, and putting in a septic tank?  If you want a septic tank you must order a perc and mantel test before you purchase the lot.  If you already own the lot many home builders and contractors are very willing to build on your lot.

Selecting Building Materials, after you have selected Len Stevens Construction and have a plan, the next step is to start considering building materials and exterior and interior finishes, moldings and the overall look of the house.  It’s about taste and the overall emotional feel of the house, so only you and those who will be living with you should decide how the house should feel.

Discussing the Custom Build Budget, the next steps are very important and it is discussing the budget in detail with the builder or contractor.  Actually budgeting is an ongoing process up to this point, as each phase of the process determines cost.  Lot and floor plan are huge factors in the budget, so by now you are merely finalizing the price, and determining that you can get a loan for this amount. In our experience home buyers have no idea which things will cost more than others.  It pays to research the costs, and to discuss less expensive ways to achieve the same look with less money.  Len Stevens Construction will help you deal with the bank, and can recommend a specific loan officer if you do not know any.  We can even help you set up the appointment with the loan officer.

Signing the Custom Home Building Contract, the fifth step includes the Proposal.  A couple of weeks after meeting with Len Stevens Construction to discuss the budget , plans and materials, he will come up with a final quote, which includes all the things you wanted at the price given.  Any compromises will be worked out and the contract and paperwork finalized, and signed.

*Tip: it’s always a good idea and I always recommend that you have an attorney review the contract before signing.

Finalize the Loan, this can sometimes be a painful waiting game, because all your hopes and dreams are just waiting for that final signing of papers.  When the bank has finished with all the paper work, you will sign it and suddenly you’ll have enough money to launch the project.  In many cases you can have much of the paperwork completed early on in the process.

Construction of the Home, while the custom home building schedule will take six months or longer depending on scope, the time will fly by because you will be actively involved in making small selections, and watching your home take form.  Len Stevens Construction and our extensive staff of sub-contractors will do all the work, but you may be as involved as you like in visiting the site, observing the processes and occasionally even lending a hand if you like.  It is a good idea to understand the process of construction as well, so you should do extensive research on line, and ask questions if you like.  It is important to stay involved in the home building process and enjoy this important life experience to the fullest.

Custom home Building Process Overview:

  1. First think about what you really want in a house
  2. Next select a lot or land to build your custom home on.
  3. Select Len Stevens Construction and have your home plans drafted up.
  4. Start considering and selecting building materials and exterior and interior finishes, moldings and the overall look of the house.
  5. Discuss the build budget in detail with Len Stevens Construction throughout this process
  6. Finalize the estimate and sign the contract
  7. Finalize your loan
  8. Construction begins and ends and can take anywhere from six months to a year depending on numerous factors
  9. Learn more about the steps involved to build a custom home and the overall custom home building process. Educating yourself on the process from start to finish will assure the build out will be a pleasant experience

I hope this information information on the custom home building process was informative for you.  Good luck with your custom home building dream, and we look forward to being part of this process.  If you have any questions let me know.

Remodeling your home can be the smartest “move” you make.  Whether you have a newer home, or an old one, eventually you will consider home remodeling. Additionally, many empty nesters are looking to downsize but are accustomed to houses with high end interior finishes.  Adding a great new look to your home is important but creating function and convenience can be equally valuable.  Our remodeling services starts first with “listening and understanding” your present needs and future plans.  We then move into the designing stage; interpreting the clients overall style and pairing up an interior designer and/or architect as part of the team.

Our team of experts consists of specialized craftsmen essential in creating the quality that is synonymous with Len Stevens Construction.  Our dedication to excellence combined with our commitment to fine residential remodeling has been the cornerstone of our success.

Understanding quality construction and attention to detail is as important as having a project finish on time and on budget. Our experience and creativity enables us to maximize your dollar through extensive value engineering and cost efficiencies.  We will educate you on the remodeling process as well as work with you on the smartest, most efficient and creative way to remodel you home with as little inconvenience and disruption as possible.  Creative home remodeling often involves bright ideas that help beautify your home at the least possible cost.

Our philosophy is to manage each job as if it were our own home by providing:

  1. Job binder- Includes all important documents, manuals, and contacts
  2. Pictures- Before, during construction and after pictures
  3. Warranty- ‘Quality You Expect” with a lifetime warranty
  4. Customer satisfaction- Check our record with the NCCA and CSLB
  5. Full service- We provide everything from residential remodeling, new construction to maintenance services on all of our projects.

One way or another, the idea of a bathroom remodel would cross your mind. In fact, it would not even matter whether it is summer, fall, winter or spring; all that would matter is for you to have a better looking bathroom.

Aside from the bedroom, your bathroom is a very personal place. In fact, more than your room, it is the place in your house where you can be fully alone. Perhaps this is the reason why some people go to their bathrooms whenever they want to momentarily escape crowds.

For some people, the bathroom is the only place in the house where you can do anything you want. While in it, you can look at the mirror as long as you want. You can also shout your lungs out and you wouldn’t even feel guilty of bothering others. In short, bathrooms can be very sacred to some.

Our philosophy is to manage each job as if it were our own home by providing:

  1. Job binder- includes all important documents
  2. Pictures- before, during construction and after pictures
  3. Warranty- ‘Quality You Expect” with a lifetime warranty
  4. Customer satisfaction- check our record with the NCCA and CSLB

When contemplating a kitchen remodel, a good plan, design and approach are essential components to success.  First you want to determine whether you need a “mini makeover”, or a full blown gut and redo of the space.  If it’s the latter, you’ll want to consider things such as,

  • Layout and measurements
  • Style (traditional, country, contemporary, rustic, transitional, old world, arts & crafts)
  • Colors (earth tones, sharp accents, i.e.- the general look and feel you’re going for)

When considering layouts and measurements, it’s best to have a professional create a plan and design for you.  Kitchen remodels typically require permits, electricians, plumbers, cabinet makers, appliance technicians, lighting, and floor vendors.  Most of our designers and installers have between 15 and 30 years of experience in kitchen remodeling and installation, we will create a professional kitchen design that incorporates the appropriate,

  • Work triangles (or dual work triangles; any side not to exceed 26″)
  • Room layouts (wall, corridor, L, double L, U and G)
  • Storage areas and appliances
  • Cabinetry and islands

Kitchen Remodel Checklist

Following is a list of the major “pieces” to consider, and a brief distinction of some of the choices in materials and products.

  • Cabinets
  • Counter tops
  • Flooring
  • Lighting
  • Storage
  • Island
  • Plumbing

Kitchen Cabinets-

Cabinets are a very important consideration for a kitchen remodel, both in terms of color, style and timing.  From a planning and installation point of view, the type of cabinet plays a major role in the length/timing of the project.

Semi Stock Cabinets – will be a cabinet that has to be ordered which is typically 3-8 weeks out, but you will have a wider selection in sizes, species and finishes.

Custom Cabinets – At Len Stevens Construction, the cabinet makers we use are 20-30 year professionals and have built custom cabinetry most of their life.  Our cabinet makers will match the color, style and finish to your existing cabinetry for a beautiful look.

Kitchen Counter Tops-

Counter tops are a primary piece of any kitchen remodel, and very similar to cabinets, they have a wide range of prices and choices.  The following is a short description of the most popular counter tops with the pros and cons associated with each.

Stone Counter Top – Granite, marble and soapstone are the natural stones most suppliers carry for counter tops.  Each of these stone tops can be polished, honed and have multiple edgings put on them.  Granite is probably the most popular and most durable.  You can set hot skillets on them and they are very tough and low maintenance.  Resealing them on a yearly basis is really about all that is needed.  Out of all the tops, granite will be on the upper end of the price scale.

Quartz Counter Top – This is an engineered counter top made out of crushed stone mixed with resins, epoxy and color pigment.  Sealants are not required, it is a stain free product, but it is not heat proof and it is not structurally sound.

Wood Counter Top – This top is commonly referred to as butcher block and is made from stacked pieces of glued wood, typically maple, walnut, cherry or teak.  It is a fantastic cutting service and can be sanded down and resealed many times over.  Standing water will de-laminate the wood pieces and it should be sealed with oil on a regular basis.

Kitchen Flooring-

Whether you’re talking about a kitchen or a bath, flooring becomes a very important piece of the project.  The most common types of flooring are;

Ceramic Tile Floor –

Tile is a very durable, stain resistant surface that looks beautiful in most any room.  There are thousands of colors and styles to choose from and it always has that handcrafted look and feel to it.  Be careful about where you install this product as slipping on a glazed surface is always a concern.  The tile joints must be sealed to prevent staining and accumulating dirt.

Hardwood Floor –

Very similar to ceramic, a hardwood floor is very durable, very beautiful but slipping on this floor can be an issue and standing water can degrade most hardwood floors.

Laminate Flooring –

Pergo and other laminate floor manufacturers make this product.  It is very durable, you can’t ding it, and typically it won’t stain and cleanup is a breeze.  Be careful about standing water, it might de-laminate some products.

Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring –

These products are very similar in that they both are very quiet, smooth and comfortable and most will hold up well against stains.

Stone and Concrete Flooring – Granite, marble and slate are common products for stone floors and can be purchased at most big box or flooring stores.  These products are very durable; they need to be sealed and are on the upper end of the price spectrum.

These steps will assure you an enjoyable process from concept to completion.


  1. Before you make any sort of purchase for your home remodeling project, you need to make sure that you have enough money to start and complete the project.  Balance out your finances, even make a checklist.  If things balance out, then you have the green light to move ahead with your home remodeling. Try to avoid getting into debt or having any unrealistic expectations, be sensible.
  2. The next step should be figuring out how you want to remodel your home.  Remember, home remodeling is not about what the modern trends of home remodeling are; it’s about what fits your personality and style.  Go through books, walk through show rooms and get a feel for what you want. It will also help to walk through your house, going through each room and taking a mental picture of what might work and what will not. After you know what you want, develop a plan, and begin looking for a contractor to help you.
  3. Qualifying your contractor.  Check the following:
  4. Current business license
  • Contractor association membership
  • Current references
  • Workman’s Comp Insurance
  • General Liability Insurance
  1. Written Documents with Contract. Check the following:
  • Scope of work
  • Selections
  • Drawings and elevations
  • Predetermined progress payment schedule
  • Work schedule
  1. After the money is budgeted and you’ve made a plan for your remodeling project, it’s time to get to work. Home remodeling is not a quick process, it will take some time.  So, you need to make sure that you take a little time once in a while during the process to monitor the progression of the project(s).  During this time it is also important to monitor finances, making sure that you are not overspending.
  2. Move personal property from construction areas and declare all work zones off-limits to children and pets.
  3. Keep a job file including your contract, plans, specifications, invoices, change orders and all correspondence that is made between you and the contractor.
  4. Request that a contractors’ affidavit of Final release and Mechanic’s Lien Waiver is provided to you at the time you make final payment.

These steps will assure you an enjoyable process from concept to completion.

If you have a growing collection of wine, it may be time to consider constructing a wine cellar. Some time ago the custom wine cellar was a rarity; today more and more wine lovers are learning about wine cellar construction or contracting the work out to those who know how to do the job correctly.

Wine cellar rooms are more than a dark, cool place to hold an assortment of wine bottles. Today’s custom wine cellar is a controlled environment where humidity and temperature are regulated to allow wine to correctly age without harm to corks, labels or the wine itself.

There are two styles of wine cellars. One is a room that has been particularly constructed to store wine in the perfect environment and the other is a stand-alone unit that mirrors those conditions. A stand-alone wine cellar is not as valuable as a custom-built version, but some people desire the aesthetics of a small cooled refrigerator over a custom wine cellar. Those who do choose a custom cellar have three simple considerations for proper design.

Temperature Control and Venting

A wine cellar room is used to hold and age the wine in the bottle rather than keeping it at a serving temperature. (A stand-alone wine fridge is excellent for bringing wine out of the cellar to store at serving temperatures.) Aging wine is a balance of time, temperature and the chemical reactions that occur as an outcome of the two.

Wine should be aged in conditions ranging between 55 and 65 percent humidity and a solid 55 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take one degree. Wine stored at higher temperatures will age quicker and wine experiences chemical reactions at higher temperatures that devalue the flavor over time.

In some areas of the country, homeowners with basements often find that conditions are right for basic wine storage, but seasonal temperature and humidity variations should be avoided. The best storage solution is a custom-built wine cellar with climate and humidity control using a wine cellar cooling component to maintain the temperature at a stable 55 degrees.

These units come in a variety of sizes and the dimensions of your wine cellar will control what size you need to purchase. In no way select a wine cooling system too small for your room; you most likely will never get an accurate, optimal storage temperature and the cooling unit will become overtaxed trying to keep up.

Wine cooling units demand proper venting, and your wine cellar construction job requires either a hole in the wall to permit venting outdoors or enough vent space to move warm air out of the room.

Electrical power is also an issue. Custom wine cellar builders recommend a devoted power source to run a wine cooling unit. Those who want to use a shared power source frequently find the system overloading with blown fuses and other electrical issues.

Insulation and Vapor Barriers

The wine cooling unit is only part of your climate control plan for a custom wine cellar; you also need a vapor barrier made of plastic sheeting used on the “hot” side of the wall. Some people cover the interior of the wine cellar previous to placing the insulation, leaving the plastic loose so that insulation can be positioned between the studs in the wall. Wrap the ceiling and the walls, or your vapor barrier will be incomplete. After the barrier is installed, the insulation will come next.

Good wine cellar construction requires the right kind of insulation for your walls and ceiling. For example, if you are building a 2×6 wall, R19 insulation is recommended, but if you have a smaller wall of 2×4, R13 may be your best bet. (The “R” designation represents the heat resistance of the insulation.) Ceilings need R30. Custom wine cellar builders should never set up the insulation loose without packing the material into the sections, as this lessens the insulation’s effectiveness.

The next step is to install a kind of drywall which is moisture-resistant, making it a bit more expensive than normal drywall. Install an exterior-grade door to the wine cellar and your climate control plan is finished.

Lighting and UV Exposure Control

Wine is destroyed by UV exposure, which is why the bottles are usually made out of dark glass. Avoid putting in fluorescent bulbs in the wine cellar room, as they give off UV radiation. Control the brightness by using recessed lighting on a dimmer and avoid shining light directly on your wine bottles for long periods of time. Some wine racks we build are constructed with compartments that hide bottles from the light which can help reduce exposure, but if the design doesn’t allow your bottles to be stowed in darker areas and the design requires a clear view, try to avoid the “spotlight” effect on your bottles.

Other Considerations

Just about any kind of flooring can be used in your custom wine cellar. If your home is big enough for a tasting room to complement your cellar, you may want to give them both a matching look, but by no means use carpet and rugs in the cellar area. They simply can’t hold up to the required humidity levels without giving away to mold. Mold growth will spoil your wine, as can any powerful odor from chemicals or cheeses. A wine cellar should be used only to hold wine; store food in a separate area.

At all times check the temperature and humidity in your wine cellar with an external sensor or gauge. Never assume that the wine cooling component will always function properly. A quick look at the external gauge can offer you an early warning if the wine cooling system is having difficulties, or if the unit is showing a wrong readout because of a bad sensor or other technical problems.

Making a custom wine room may ask for some attention to the design demands of good wine storage, but once correctly built, you may realize that your collection grows rapidly; it’s simple to invest more money in wine when you know it will be held securely for maximum delight.  If you would like to tour one or more of our cellars then contact Len Stevens Construction for a tour.

These steps will assure you an enjoyable process from concept to completion.

A winery is either a building or a property that produces wine. Wineries could also be a business involved in the production of wine, like a wine company. Some wine companies may own many wineries, while others just purchase grapes from a vineyard owner.


Wineries produce wine from grapes, following the proper winemaking process, which consists of the fermentation of fruit and blending, then aging the juice. Many vineyards also offer tours to guests and have tasting rooms where customers can taste wine before making a purchase.


When most people think of wineries, they immediately associate it with the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley in California, Italy and France, the large and legendary winemaking regions. However, winegrowers can be found everywhere in the world. Wineries do not always have to be located next to a vineyard as grapes can be shipped worldwide.

Farm Winery

A farm winery allows farms to produce and sell wines on site.  A farm winery is different from a commercial winery because the final product is sold also on the farm. Since New York passed the Farm Winery Act of 1976, they opened a satellite shop in a tourist area. Doing so motivated other states to pass similar laws.


A micro-winery is a small wine producer that doesn’t have its own vineyard so it, instead, gets grapes from outside suppliers. The concept of a micro-winery is similar to those of a microbrewery, but it is not as easily accepted as the microbrewery’s concept. A winery uses the same wine-making equipment as a commercial winery does, but on a smaller scale. Each batch of wine usually produces 23 liters or 6 US gallons. One of the main differences between a micro-winery and a typical winery is that a micro-winery offers a wider range of wines, due to the fact that it is not tied to the grapes as it grows.

Urban winery

Urban winery is the latest sensation, wherein a wine producer chooses to place their winemaking facility in an urban setting within the city rather than in the traditional rural setting near vineyards. Urban wineries can be found in several cities across the United States, such as Nevada County, Placer County, Sacramento, and many more. Just like the traditional wineries, urban ones also offer production tours, tasting rooms and also retail sales of their wines. This allows the customer to purchase directly from the source, knowing that the wines have been stored properly and correctly because they do not need to be transferred anymore from its source, which increases its chances of getting spoiled due to dangerous conditions that could occur during the transport.

Some urban vineyards also offer full service restaurants for live entertainment right on the spot. They also offer their customers the special chance to create their own wine, of course under the supervision of the winemaking crew, wherein they can choose their own varieties of grape, select an appellation, then make production decisions and then participate in the blending and mixing of the final product. Customers then get to bottle and even design their own labels.

Len Stevens Construction has designed and built numerous locations and understands the process in the winery development industry.

These steps will assure you an enjoyable process from concept to completion.

You’ve got a project with exceptional architecture, you’ve completed months of review and modification, your design team is sure this project will get significant notoriety, yet after hours of going back and forth in City Council meetings, they ask you to cut the project in half, increase the setbacks, or just drop the project altogether.

Does this sound familiar?

Developing commercial projects in urban areas require special care.  While some urban areas are on the verge of new developments, misunderstanding and community opposition can block even the best designs.

You can reduce risks by taking a thoughtful approach to the process.  Some residents and politicians demand programs be based on trust, openness, and consensus building.  This should not mean you compromise your design.  Executing these ten important steps can result in strong design and a smooth process.

Consensus doesn’t mean that everyone agrees, it’s more about showing respect for different opinions, developing relationships, and identifying shared goals to establish positive public opinion so the project will gain community and government acceptance. It’s important to nurture supporters and expose the extremists.
The following 10 points should be addressed:

Create the vision.  It’s about design, not density.  Establish a vision early by   connecting it to local settings and looking for ways to build partnerships.  Good design attracts people.

  • Know your market.  Do the homework necessary to understand the competition and the market forces that influence a project.
  • Understand the issues.  All communities have a set of unique characteristics and issues   that guide their decisions.  It’s essential to have a good understanding of the marketplace, environment, regional influences, and financial aspects.  There is no single solution.
  • Get the public benefit.  Make the benefit for the city & community clear.
  • Pay attention to everyone who has a stake in the project.  Have small discussion groups to get their feedback.
  • Establish trust.  Do this by sharing knowledge and listening carefully.  Be honest, encourage participation from everyone, stay neutral and pursue win-win goals.
  • Inform decision makers.  Meet one-on-one and provide solutions to educate decision makers.
  • Use the media.  Take the high road and keep the message simple.  Talk about helping the community.
  • Use the unique. Incorporate the area’s physical social and historical environment into the design.
  • Be patient.  Listen carefully, provide guidance, establish credibility, and let the process grow.

By using these ten points, several revitalization plans have been completed in the face of strong initial community resistance.  Guided by strong visions which have been established by working with city programs launched to solicit feedback and educate everyone have had a profound effect in the success of revitalization efforts.

Implementing major public and private improvements can convert old spaces into lively gathering places for community activity.  Allow Len Stevens Construction to show you some of the commercial projects we have been involved with and will give you the understanding of the processes needed for a successful commercial project.