How Much Square Footage is Right for Your Family?

How Much Square Footage is Right for Your Family?

Larger homes can offer plenty of amenities to growing families but smaller, cozier homes are making a comeback in the marketplace for a variety of reasons. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, of course. Ultimately it depends on the needs and preferences of each home buyer as to how much square footage is right for your family. Let’s explore the ins and outs of selecting the right size home to suit the family’s needs. If you have questions, remember that the custom home design experts at Brookstone Homes are here to help you through the decision making process.


Space Usage

Once home buyers discover a home that suits their needs and preferences, the focus shifts from size to function. Growing families, school districts, neighborhoods, and affordability all play a consideration into a home size because how it will be lived in often determines how big a house really needs to be. Experienced homeowners are usually specific about square footage needs because they’ve experienced having too little or too much and want to get it right this time around. Some families know exactly what is needed while others need time to figure it out. Consider the amount of furniture and storage space you’ll need, as well as where the family tends to spend most of their time. Having adequate space to spend time together as well as to get away from each other for privacy helps keep a harmonious balance in the home.

Bedroom-Living Space Ratio

In spite of the steady rise in square footage, proper design is critical in any size home.  What might be good for one buyer may not be suitable for another. It depends on the way square footage is assembled and how the floor plans are laid out. The bedroom to living space ratio is a key consideration and depends largely on the size of the family and how family members utilize the space of the home. A typical rule of thumb is that for every bedroom the home must have sufficient space for two people to sit in the dining and living area. Grandparents, parents, and children should have their own space for privacy from other family members.  



One obvious factor is the higher cost of new homes. Some custom home buyers want the extra space to accommodate their desires for extra room and luxury amenities while others figure out a budget to fit their needs and find ways to get creative about the best way to lay out a home. While the size of a home generally depends on the available budget, there are many ways to creatively use custom home floor plans to get the best use of the available space. Typically a builder likes to go through the scenarios and make sure what a homeowner wants will fit in with the square footage available in a home and budget.


Master Suites

Home Buyers are often surprised by the functional use of space in a home and how much square footage can be purchased and creatively utilized. Many buyers see value in larger homes and end up buying a bigger residence than they originally planned. The love of space is so great that some empty-nesters will upsize rather than downsize to finally enjoy  the extra space and quiet in the home. Extra space in the master bedroom can be a splurge once the kids leave the house, and who could blame you? Sometimes the extra work to create a master suite of a parent’s dreams is recompense for all the money and space given to kids over the years. Sometimes a family just desires to have a getaway within the home and create a haven that is just for the parents to indulge in some quiet space away from kids and the chaos of life.  All options are completely reasonable and we encourage you to splurge on yourself as much as the kids and extended family.


Whatever a family’s desires, it is helpful to decide how much square footage is needed and how the space will be utilized. Once that is determined, it’s easier to build the home of a family’s dreams and create the special nest that everyone has dreamed of.

Brookstone Homes is ready to build your custom home with the right square footage and designed to your specifications. We are ready to help you achieve your dream build. Call us to find out how to get started.

Custom Home Builder

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Custom Home Builder

Selecting the right custom home builder for a new dream home can make a huge difference between a building experience that is delightful and high quality or one that is unpleasant and leaves a bad taste in a buyer’s mouth. Choosing the right custom home builder starts with asking the right questions.



A home builder’s reputation is very important, along with relevant professional credentials. Especially in a tight community like Cincinnati and surrounding suburbs, word travels quickly about the pros and cons of working with a given custom home builder. Be sure to ask around and learn as much about a potential building partner as possible. Check the company history and ask questions like the following:

  • How many years have they been in business?
  • Is the company bonded and insured?
  • Is the company a member of the local builder association?
  • Are any referrals or testimonials available?
  • Does the company have a good reputation?

Brookstone Homes is proud to have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and plenty of glowing customer testimonials available from our satisfied clients.


Ten Key Questions

Home buyers need to ask lots of questions in the process of seeking that forever home. One of the ways to do that is to create a list of important questions that you’ll want to ask when you speak with your custom home builder. This way you don’t forget important points during your conversations or meetings with prospective builders.  Start with the following ten to get started:

  • Does the builder use floor plans supplied by the homeowner?
  • How does customization work?
  • What energy-saving features are offered?
  • Does the intended community have a homeowners association (HOA)?
  • What is the process for quality inspection during construction and final walk-through?
  • Who will be the direct point of contact for questions?
  • How often will the home buyer have access to property during building process?
  • Is there a warranty?
  • Do you have references from former buyers available?



References are very important to home buyers in the process of buying a new home and hiring custom home builders to execute on your dreams. Checking with others who have used the builder helps solidify their work ethic and the quality of their finished product. A good reputation speaks volumes if customers are satisfied. Check with subcontractors, vendors, banks or commercial builders to find out about how bills are paid, financial responsibility, and whether ratings are consistent for good work and customer satisfaction.


Change Orders

Custom home builders handle change orders differently. Find out how your prospective builder handles change orders to make sure there are no hiccups in communication along the way. If change orders are too much, it can overwhelm the builder. Asking questions up front and creating a positive, open communication channel with the builder is the best way to ensure a fun, easy process from start to finish for builders and buyers.


Ultimately, it pays to go with the gut. If it feels right and everything checks out, it’s probably a good match. Taking the time to ask the right questions can help feel out whether this will be a good match to build that beautiful custom home the family has always wanted.

If you’re ready to build a custom home of your dreams, call Brookstone Homes. We’ll walk you through the process and disclose all the information you need to make the best decision before and during the home building process.

Call us to find out how to get started!

Custom Home Builders Help You Create Your Forever Home

Custom Home Builders Help You Create Your Forever Home

Starter-homes were designed long ago to offer home buyers the potential of two basic opportunities: two or three small bedrooms, one or two bathrooms, a kitchen, minimal living area and a large backyard with lots of maintenance. As we progress in life, it becomes necessary to expand our available space and seek a more appealing person tough to your home. Custom building a home can be a dream come true for buyers looking for something extra special and unique to their needs. That’s the magic of building with Brookstone.


Buying a New Home

Today, buyers want more than a small shoe box home that will meet needs for just a few years. A nicer, bigger home without enough features to last for many years to come is the new standard for home owners oriented toward quality and comfort. The ‘forever’ home concept is not a fairy tale, it’s a real ideal that people follow when searching for properties to suit their long term needs. People are moving less and staying in existing homes longer these days. Rather than offering buyers starter homes to trade-up, Cincinnati home builders like Brookstone Homes are offering homes custom designed to meet all the buyer’s needs at the start of the process which last for longer as families grow.


Less Maintenance

Long-term home buyers are seeking low maintenance and energy efficiency in new properties. Features which appeal to a broad range of buyers are ideal. People are not interested in too much maintenance, so the amenities of the home have to be maintained easily with less work. Dual-paned windows with low-e coatings and high efficiency furnaces are in. Higher-quality appliances are an important feature as well. We pay special attention to the home features that have a long term impact on families and offer a wide range of energy safe and cost efficient solutions.


Future Needs

Planning for future needs and desires is key, especially for large families. Short-term homeowners don’t plan ahead for major home improvements. Long-term buyers start thinking about upgrades and improvements when shopping for a home, even if changes may not happen for 10 years or more. Buyers purchase custom-built homes with a focus on long-term benefits like a location that is going to stick with the family forever. Every decision counts when building your forever home.


Planning with Incentives

Most home buyers really love incentives when seeking that long lasting forever home. These are the details that bring an extra shine to the home environment and add another layer of comfort to the place you call home. Examples of some features families seek include:

  • Wider doorways
  • Enhanced lighting
  • Larger showers
  • Zero-step entrances
  • Living spaces for visiting family
  • Caregiver spaces
  • and more


Future planning is also about square footage and the right amount of space a family will want now and in the future. Homes that people typically buy range from 2,000-4,000 square feet of space to accommodate most needs. A home that is custom built with new-construction will focus on achieving a family’s future needs as much as immediate needs, setting you up for renovations that might be decades away. Referrals from other customers of a premium home builder is essential to ensure not only that the homes were built with quality but also that they have stood the test of time.  We’re proud of the testimonials our happy customers have offered on our behalf because it speaks to our commitment to quality and dependability in our work.


A custom dream home for you and your family is within reach. If you are ready to get started, call Brookstone Homes to meet with a home building specialist and review the many options for the place you’ll call home forever. 

What You Need to Know About Your Credit Score

What You Need to Know About Your Credit Score

While so much depends on your personal credit score, especially when buying a home in Cincinnati and surrounding areas, few home buyers fully understand how it works and what it means. Home buyers should check credit scores when considering a new home purchase because lenders will always reference this numerical marker to determine how much you can borrow.  Your credit score provides a snapshot of how you utilize credit and have handled accounts in the past. Lenders use this to make sure no errors or bad marks show up.  It’s like an indicator of trustworthiness in the financial world. Without a decent score it may be difficult to secure the necessary funding for a new custom home, renovations to your home, or re-financing opportunities. 


Your Credit Score is Your Own

Young buyers who are just getting married should be especially mindful of their own individual credit scores which are tabulated separately from one another. Having the conversation with your beloved about credit history may feel daunting but it is important to know what each of you is bringing to the table and how your credit scores measure up. Being late on car payments will only hurt the person whose name is on the loan, even if you’re married. Keeping separate accounts helps to keep catastrophic illness or job loss from forcing the other person to become liable for financial restitution. Joining a mortgage as a married couple can help credit scores especially if one is lower than the other and boost the probability of getting the loan.


Opening New Accounts

Opening up a new account for credit can be problematic if a person is cleared for a mortgage. It is best not to buy big ticket items like furniture or an automobile right before trying to obtain a mortgage. Waiting until the house mortgage is closed will help keep your credit score aloft so that the other big credit items won’t impact your mortgage approval.


Closing Accounts

It is generally best not to close out accounts since those show a credit history. Closing accounts may work against people in that it eliminates a good payment record and makes it harder to secure credit. When trying to rebuild or improve a score for mortgages, credit cards can help if payments are on time and balances are not too high.


Credit Cards

The ideal number of cards is 3-5 per person and with a reasonable balance that is paid off every month. Revolving credit on too many cards can make potential credit lenders nervous about spending habits. Never allow balances of active cards to get above 30 percent of available credit. Paying the minimum or more on time is always the best option when dealing with credit scores.


Working on these factors and maintaining good standing with your credit accounts can help maintain a positive credit score which will be a good way to show potential lenders things are looking good on the prospective buyer’s end as far as good spending habits go. It’s always a good idea to consult your credit score, and a banker, before making decisions on your dream home so that you know what your budget will be before going into the design and selection process.


If you’re ready to build the custom home of your dreams, call the experts here at Brookstone Homes. We’re ready to help you discern the health and capacity of your credit score so we can help you achieve your goals of beautiful custom home ownership.

Call us to find out how to get started!

home builders in Cincinnati

Building a Home vs. Buying an Existing Home

Home buying comes with many decisions, starting with whether to build that dream space or purchase an existing home. Both options have advantages and disadvantages. Here are some highlights that may serve as a guide in the process.


Advantages of Existing Home

One of the biggest advantages to buying an existing home is a quick turnaround. The process is straightforward for most people: pre-qualify for a loan, start shopping around, select the home which suits needs and desires of the buyer and close on the loan. Market conditions play a factor in the process which lists ‘must haves’ some homebuyers can complete in as little as 1-2 months.


Another distinct advantage is the potential for move-in-ready property. Most existing homes need only minor repairs and remodeling before moving in. Save a few dollars by painting and completing a few things without paying expensive contractors can still add value to the property.



It is not possible to know everything about a home even after a thorough inspection. If a person views home reno shows on television, this is case-in-point. What looks good on the outside may not look good on the inside. Existing homes sometimes come with unseen and unforseeable problems which may also be expensive.


Another disadvantage to buying an existing home is compromise. The perfect house in the wrong neighborhood, great neighborhood with a long commute to work or a few missing amenities can be big disadvantages down the road. At some point it helps to select what are ‘must haves’ and decide where compromise rests to finally settle on a home.


Advantages of New Homes

The biggest advantage of building a new home is that it can be built to individual specifications and desires. The individual picks everything. A new home will include modern, up-to-date features and designs with new appliances, eco-friendly materials and comes with more energy efficiencies to save money down the road. Depending on the builder, most new homes are available for a home warranty, ultimately saving from costly repair bills.


Disadvantages of New Homes

The biggest disadvantage of building a new home is the time commitment. More often than not, building a new home takes more time than buying an existing one. Weather, inspections, changing one’s mind on details and finishes can push final closing and completion further down the road. Construction loans must be paid while the home is being built.


Another disadvantage to building a new home is acquiring the right land. Available land for interested parties is an additional expense on top of the cost of the new home. Available, affordable land that is ready to build on may be scarce or overpriced in some markets, making it harder to find the lot to build the home of one’s dreams upon.


If you’re ready to build a custom home of your dreams, call Brookstone Homes. We will work with you to ensure we find the best available property and land for your requirements while fitting out the house to meet all your outside and inside needs. Why buy an existing home when you can build the one you really want? Call us to find out more.


Custom home builder Cincinnati

What You Should Know About Builder Allowances

When looking to build a home, it is important to understand all the nuances involved. A production house, for instance, is one where the model is repeated several times in the same community and within the builder’s other properties. This provides an opportunity to look for other places to purchase things such as carpeting and to bring appliances or other items from an old home into the new space.


How Allowances Work

If a builder is inclined to do so, the company will offer what is called an allowance. This is an amount for what it might otherwise cost to provide a product or service. The allowance is subtracted from the total contract price. When a person signs up to purchase a home for $325,000 for instance, the builder may provide a $10,000 allowance if appliances are purchased on one’s own, which brings the final price down to $315,000.


Allowances are not upgrades, chosen from a list of builder-provided choices. A better refrigerator and better flooring are good examples. Credits for an amount the builder would have paid for the item is a more way to look at allowances.


Challenges with Allowances

Builders do not always provide allowances and others may limit what allowances are provided. Scheduling is one way builders limit allowances. If countertops, for example, are purchased elsewhere and come in late, the whole job is thrown off schedule. If one item does not show up until after installers have left, the people need to come back to finish the job on their time schedule.


Another frequent problem with allowances is that the item purchased may be broken or damaged. Sometimes parts are missing or it is the wrong color. If items are scratched, dented, or not in acceptable condition, this may make more work for the fitters in the house who have to make room for a piece that is different in size or shape than originally planned. Returns and replacements are also a pain not only to the home buyer but the builder, as well, who must wait for delays to the final closing.


Different Builders

Different builders price allowances differently, so particular attention must be paid. Some give a straight dollar-for-dollar discount while others may only give a certain percentage of original cost. Say a $10,000 allowance is provided for tiling the builder does not provide. If $8,000 is for rebate, then $2,000 is for overhead and profit, the individual no longer sees that last bit of money. If tile costs more than $2,000, there may be additional charges incurred for the builder to install the tile. It is important to know all the costs up front.


To avoid some of the above challenges, make choices early. Give the builder breathing room to have correct specifications and have plenty of time for ordering. Make sure to understand the pricing policy and how it is written into the sales contract. This will make room for any last minute surprises and don’t be afraid to ask questions.


If you’re ready to build a custom home of your dreams, call Brookstone Homes. We will disclose all the information you need to make the best decision before and during the home building process. Call us to find out how to get started.


Ohio custom home builder

Step by Step Guide to the Home Building Process

Building a new home is exciting but so is understanding how the process works to make sure all goes smoothly. Find some tips in the step by step guide to ensure things go to plan.


Prepare Site and Pour Foundation

Site preparation and foundation work are performed by the same crew but not on a wooded lot. Crews may clear rocks, debris, trees and more. As the crew levels the site, puts up wooden forms and digs holes in the ground, footings can finally be installed. For homes with wells, this will also be dug at this point. A hole will be dug for homes with a full basement with footings and foundation poured and formed as well. Once concrete is poured into the holes and trenches, time is needed to cure it followed by installation of foundation walls, drains, sewer, water taps, plumbing and more.


The first inspection will happen when a city inspector visits the site to make sure foundation components are up to code and properly installed. The inspection may be repeated depending on type of foundation.


Complete Rough Framing

Floor systems, walls and roof system must be completed. Plywood or oriented strand board sheathing is applied to the exterior walls, roof, windows and exterior doors. The sheathing is covered with a protective barrier to prevent liquid coming inside.


Complete Rough Plumbing, Electrical and HVAC

Once the shell is completed, siding and roofing can be installed. The electrical and plumbing contractors start running pipes and wires through interior walls, ceilings and floors. Sewer lines and vents along with water supply lines for each fixture are installed. Bathtubs and one-piece shower and tub units will be placed at this point. Ductwork is installed for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). HVAC vent pipes are installed through the roof and insulation is installed in the floor, ceiling and walls.


The second, third and fourth inspections will be completed to look at rough framing, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems. The framing inspection will be conducted separately from the electrical and mechanical inspections.


Insulation Install

Insulation plays an important role in creating a comfortable, consistent indoor environment while increasing a home’s energy efficiency. R-value is important which indicates how well material resists heat transfer. The following are common types of insulation:

  • Fiberglass
  • Celluose
  • Foam
  • Mineral wool
  • Concrete blocks
  • Foam or rigid board


Rounding it Out

The rest of the list may look like some of the following steps, which are just as important to ensure proper installation and future maintenance for the home owner.

  • Complete drywall and interior textures
  • Finishing interior trim with installation of exterior driveways and walkways
  • Installation of hard-surface flooring and countertops, including complete exterior grading
  • Complete mechanical trims and install bathroom fixtures
  • Install mirrors, shower doors and finish flooring along with exterior landscaping
  • Final inspection and walk through with builder to acquaint with features and operations of the homes systems


The steps to building a home may seem daunting but it is necessary to ensure a proper build from the foundation up which will keep a home safe and secure for the homeowner for years to come.


Brookstone Homes knows and understands the complex nature of building custom homes for our clients. We will walk you through each step of the way to ensure your total satisfaction, start to finish. Call us to find out how you can get started on building the home of your dreams.




Custom Built Home Foundation

Why a Solid Foundation is Important to Any Custom Built Home

Building a solid foundation for a new home is important to the process. Footings and foundations are to homes what feet and legs are to a human being. Footings anchor the home and support the foundation. Learn more about why the three main foundation types (full basement, crawlspace and slab-on grade) are significant when creating a solid foundation.


Full Basement

Full basements can be found in many places and consist of footings placed deep below the region’s frost depth and eight-foot-high walls enclosed with a four-inch-thick poured concrete slab. An underground room can be used as a storage and mechanical space or finished to create a living room. Basement finishing is a growing trend: homeowners are turning spaces into recreational rooms, gyms and entertainment centers. It takes planning to prepare a basement for what a family will want in the future. Basements with insulation under the slab creates a great atmosphere for keeping dampness out and making sure quality and comfort are at the fore.



Crawlspaces are more common in the Southeast than the Midwest. Footings are placed below the frost line but only enough headroom exists between the ground and floor frame for someone to crawl around. Open crawlspaces and become breeding grounds for mold and moisture. Moisture can ruin a home’s frame, leading to rot and structural failure. For this reason, it is recommended:

  • To seal and insulate a crawlspace
  • Cover ground with polyethylene vapor barrier or concrete slab
  • Lowers pace conditioning bills, mold and mildew



Slab-on-grade foundation is a concrete slab poured at grade level that serves as a subfloor for the home’s main living area. Shallow footing around the edges of slabs transfer weight of home walls to the ground. Slab foundations are most common in warm regions and where high water tables exist.



Soil Considerations

Foundation walls and footings are designed to work as a unit, supporting the weight of the home and transferring weight of the surrounding ground. How well this happens depends in part on what type of ground the footing rests on. Dense, dry soil will be stable, forgiving of less-than-perfect construction and less likely to settle after the house is built.


Keeping Dry

Concrete is not waterproof so water outside the foundation will make its way inside. Surface water which seeps into the ground near the house will become an interior moisture issue. Prevention tips include:

  • Waterproofing coating brushed on outside of foundation
  • Perforated pipe placed around perimeter of footing
  • Landscaping helps keep home dry


Brookstone Homes employs best practices for all our custom homes to ensure less issues arise. If you are seeking a builder who knows how to get the job done with excellence, call us to find out how to get started.

Home builders Tips Cincinnati

Tips for Selecting the Best Upgrades from your Cincinnati Home Builder

Once a contract is signed to purchase a new home, there are some tips for selecting best upgrades to make the home even more special. Selecting features and finishes can personalize a space. Find out some helpful tips to get started.


Structural Changes

Structural additions or changes should be done when the contract is signed. Buyers can easily get overwhelmed.  Fireplaces, recessed lighting, rooms or garages need to be changed early as it may impact the building permit pulled by the builder.


Post-Purchase Upgrades

It may make sense to make certain changes after the home is purchased. Cosmetic features such as paint, landscape, lighting and plumbing fixtures can often be made after the closing. Purchasing upgrades through the builder may help to roll cost into the mortgage rather than paying out of pocket.


Builder Timeline

About two to three weeks after the contract is signed and approved, the builder will arrange a meeting at the design center. Some things may be able to be changed after the meeting so it helps to be prepared with the list of items desired. Photos of what is desired is perfectly acceptable.


Model Look

The model home a person falls in love with may have thousands of options which cost varying amounts. Many builders include a number of standard features in the base price while others may not. Be sure to check before moving ahead.


Budget Wisely

Prepare a budget and stick to it. Cabinets, granite and top-of-the-line flooring can all be tempting but it is easy to overspend and overextend. Prepare a budget before the design meeting and stick with it.


Needs vs. Wants

Remain flexible. A budget will not allow for all the extras a person wants so prepare a list of must-haves and want-to-haves. Some things can be done more cheaply and others can be put off until another time if it can be done later.


Resale Value

Do not over-customize. New home buyers want homes to reflect personal style and taste. It is important to consider resale value. Sometimes things such as wall color are better off being neutral colors than lavender or other color so if a person moves, the appeal to potential home buyers will increase.


Deal with a builder you can trust. Brookstone Homes create custom homes to fit all your needs. With so many options and upgrades to choose from, you will only deal with the best when building the home of your dreams with us. Call us to find out how to get started.


Building a home in Cincinnati

Why Build a Home in Cincinnati?

Cincinnati is a city that is situated on the north bank of the Ohio River, bordering Ohio and Kentucky. Known for outstanding architecture and cultural attractions, Cincinnati is home to many nationally-recognized universities, making it a great place to pursue education. It is also a prime destination for individuals and families looking to start a career and build a home. Find out some of the reasons people are moving to Cincinnati.


Big Business

The diverse economy is a huge strength for Cincinnati. Kroger Co. and Procter & Gamble both have stakes in the city along with other industries including American Financial Corp. and Cincinnati Milacron, just to name a few.


Higher Education

Employers have plenty of talent to choose from thanks to a plethora of universities, colleges and technical schools dotting the Cincinnati landscape. The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University both call the city home, enrolling thousands of students annually.



The University of Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier University Musketeers are among the best-recognized Division I collegiate programs. Cincinnati Bengals play for the NFL along with the MLB Reds who keep the sports scene exciting and vibrant for enthusiasts near and far.



Museums are an exciting way to enjoy all the city has to offer in a historical and artistic context. The Cincinnati Art Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science and Cincinnati History Museum all play an important role in engaging people’s interests in history, science, architecture and more.


Theatre and Arts Scene

Professional companies in all five arts, including ballet, opera, symphony and theater, make Cincinnati unique among its counterparts. The Cincinnati Shakespeare Co., Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Taft Theatre and Cincinnati Opera all bring the vibrant arts scene to life.


Breweries and Wineries

Students and tourists are not the only ones who love to take in a good beer or other beverage in one of the many breweries and wineries situated in Cincinnati. The fledgling micro and craft brewery scene is going strong with the likes of Mt. Carmel Brewing Co. and Blank Slate Brewing Co., among others, making a name for themselves.



Cincinnati boasts green space galore with a park system that includes more than a hundred parks and greenspaces throughout the city including Eden Park (Central) and Mt. Airy Arboretum (West), part of the largest municipal park in the country.



Countless neighborhoods are inviting individuals and families to come explore all there is to offer in this great city. The funky Northside neighborhood is among the most interesting, home to distinctive retail shops, eateries and a fun, artistic scene including Word Play, a creative writing and learning center supporting a strong, diverse community.


Custom homes are the way to go when you want to build a dream home. With customized features to fit your specifications and decades of industry experience, Brookstone Homes will help you make your dream home a reality.