Exceptional Quality, Local Craftsmanship


Friday, June 15, 2018

What’s trending and who’s in the driver’s seat?

Sometimes trends emerge in response to economic times, land availability and family needs.  Millennials and Empty Nesters have much in common as they drive the housing market in search of a simple, easy to maintain lifestyle.  Nearly 75 years after WWII’s returning GIs pushed the suburban sprawl of ranch homes across America, an entirely new generation, aka “Millennials”, is in the driver’s seat.  What I’ve observed in working with this consumer group can be broken down into several broad categories:  Location Trends; Function Trends, Techno Trends and Finishes.

Living in the suburbs is still popular however, both Millennials and Empty Nesters like to be within a forty mile radius of city life.  The safety, good schools and close proximity of neighbors is preferred over cramped apartment or condo living in downtown areas (even though the downtown areas offer shorter commutes and more extensive cultural choices).  Today’s home buyer/builder likes to live close to the city, not necessarily in the city.  The average American suburb offers such a broad choice of shopping, dining, and cultural events, that many Millennials prefer hanging out at home or at their neighborhood restaurant.   

The function of space within the home has become more important than square footage.  Gone is the need for huge homes that require exorbitant maintenance and huge budgets to operate.   Separate laundry rooms, food pantries, mud rooms and walk-in closets are examples of the importance of functional spaces.  Multiple garages with ample storage and even pet bathing stations are also trending.   Basements are no longer used as basements.  Finished lower levels with easy access to the back yard is a popular choice, as today’s more frugal buyer/builder realizes it’s more cost effective to have a lower living area than a second floor.   Dedicated home office space is another required, functional area that more and more consumers want.

Techno trends can be summed up handily.  They are everywhere.  We have technology to control lighting, entertainment devices, heating and cooling systems, and security.  Homes are now smart!

What is popular in finishes tends to come and go as new innovative products are hitting the market at a rapid pace.  On the interior, trending now is:
Open floorplans with smaller formal dining spaces
Large master bedroom suites with dressing areas and luxurious baths
Smart, up-scale kitchen appliances
Wood stained kitchen cabinets and trim
Mixed metal hardware and fixture choices

Exterior trends include:
Outdoor living spaces that include grilles, cooktops and refrigeration
Firepits and outdoor fireplaces
Low maintenance landscaping and simple driveways
Multiple exterior finishes to accentuate personal style
Combination brick, stone, siding and metal roofing

Have trends in the housing market come full circle?  Once again, living in the suburbs with your family in a house of simple, economical design is all the rage.  Clean, functional aesthetic and efficient functional design appear to be ruling the housing market today just as they did for those returning GI’s so many years ago.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Hot Trends: Outdoor Fire Pits

There might not be anything more popular in outdoor construction than a fire pit or outdoor fireplace.  And why not? Who doesn’t love a fire on a cool evening? The crackle and smell of a wood burning fire can ease the stress of a long work week, or serve as the background for the neighborhood block party.  Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces can be functional too. With the right design they can serve as additional seating area for your guests or be used for cooking if equipped with a metal grate on top. Even if not, toasted marshmallows, smores, and hot dogs are always fan favorites when cooked over an open fire.

As with any other design element, there are literally hundreds of design and material choices for your outdoor fire place. Some of the popular choices are small metal bowls, circular rings and chimeneas, which you can likely find in your local hardware shop. A more permanent option is a fire pit dug into the ground and lined with brick or stone. You can also build a permanent fixture extending up off the ground that can provide that seating area, cooking surface, or beautiful focal point to your outdoor space.

There’s also the question of what fuel to use. Wood burning offers a simple design and may be the most sentimental, but it requires a good bit more work for homeowners. There’s also more maintenance with a wood fire, as you’ll have to make sure the ashes are cleaned out periodically.  Gas fire pits and fireplaces are much less maintenance. There is less cleaning, no wood storage, and they can be safer than wood fires.  Although they offer an instant fire rather than relying on your fire building skills, gas fires offer less heat than wood burning fires and they are more expensive to install. While maybe not as sentimental as a real wood fire, gas fires can serve as a very nice compromise for many people.

Safety should always be considered when designing an outdoor fire pit or fireplace.  While portable metal basins are easy to obtain and install, a permanent structure is a safer alternative.  Typical brick or cinder blocks are not recommended because they don’t stand up to high heat and could expand, crack, pop, or explode. Firebrick and mortar should always be used because they are designed to withstand heat over long periods of time.  Spacing around and above outdoor fire pits should be considered as well.  Low hanging limbs and other obstacles can be a serious fire hazard. Local ordinances may also dictate how close to a neighbor’s property, as well as your own structure, an outdoor fire can be.

Since the design choices for fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are numerous and there’s also building materials, specifications, and safety aspects to consider as well as permits, regulations, and local ordinances, letting a professional like Inselmini Construction Company take care of all of these details can be the best way to tackle your outdoor fireplace project.  Inselmini Construction Company can match or complement existing construction, as well as build in additional fixtures that might complete your backyard oasis. Maybe some accent lighting would add a little more ambiance or functionality. Perhaps adding an outdoor kitchen to the area will enhance the outdoor entertaining experience.  By letting us help you make these decisions and design your perfect outdoor space, you’re not only ensuring that your fire pit or outdoor fireplace will last and be safe, you’re also going to maximize your enjoyment of the space.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Where Have the Skilled Craftsmen Gone?

Summer is just a few months away, and that typically means a busy season for construction in the USA, especially here in the East. However, there is a systematic problem brewing that could change that cycle for construction companies across the country. Job openings in the construction industry have risen since the housing crash of the early 2000’s.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction sector is expected to grow by 13% in the next five years which could create 180,000 new jobs.

Sounds great, right? If the supply of workers could keep up with the demand of the business, yes, it would be one of the strongest business sectors in the country. However, that’s not what the construction sector is currently experiencing.  The labor market is shrinking and the demand is growing.  That’s important because estimates suggest that by 2020, 70% of jobs will be in the trades, while 30% will require a college degree.

Vocational and technical educations have been on a decline for a number of years with students more focused on college programs.  Compounding the issue, funding for educational programs has not risen to keep pace with inflation.  During the recent recession, laid-off workers began exploring different career paths.  Baby boomers (which made up a significant part of the skilled construction workforce) are retiring faster than young workers can replace them.  This shortage of skilled labor in the construction trades is creating a significant impact on consumers in the form of longer construction times and increased costs to build.

So what can be done to improve the existing shortage? Our thoughts on education need to change.  Emphasis needs to be re-focused on vocational and technical programs.  Employers who are eager to find students with the basic skills needed to enter the workforce, must continue to develop relationships with schools and programs that recruit students into the trades.  Let’s bring shop teachers and mechanical drafting teachers back into the high schools to engage students.  Guidance counselors should make both parents and students aware of the potential career path for all workers in the trades.  Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and welders can earn up to $75,000 a year, often with significantly less debt than college and advanced degree programs.  Unions can ensure apprenticeship programs are back up and running at full capacity.  Career counseling in high school can become more tuned into the needs of the construction industry and find students who want to work with their hands.

The solutions will take time.  Meanwhile, construction businesses all over will feel the impact of higher demand than what they can keep up with. This means you might just have to wait a bit longer to get a quality contractor for your next project.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Hammer Reports from ICC the Builder

Building a house can seem like a daunting task, and for anyone who has not been through the process before, it could mean feeling a lot of stress. With the right thought process and mentality throughout the build process, you can enjoy building your dream house, almost as much as living in it.

Before building a house, know what you want. Narrow down to three floor plans, along with the reasons you like them. Use the wealth of incredibly detailed sources out there to collect ideas for what you like. There are so many online sources like Pinterest, HGTV and Houzz that are well known, but don’t forget to look elsewhere (have you checked out our Houzz site yet?) Whether it’s a herringbone tile, brick archways, or specific flooring or ceiling treatment, knowing what you want will help you and your builder minimize surprises, while delivering your dream home exactly how you want it.

This brings up the second tip. Be flexible. Contractors and builders know their profession well, and want nothing more than to take your plans, and turn them into something beautiful for you and your family. Any good builder will take a great amount of pride in the work they do, so if they make a recommendation, it’s not to squash your dream. Builders have to work within budgets, time frames, and environmental factors that often can change. If a problem or question comes up, be open minded and work through the issue with your builder in a way that’s agreeable to both parties.

Being open minded in general will help you and your builder. Realize that you’ve signed a contract with your builder, so read that contract, all of it. Know what was stated in that contract, and as importantly, what wasn’t in the contract. Most builders won’t have any issue making changes to a plan during the build, but do realize that it will likely cost you time and money depending on how big a change you are asking for.

Finally, let the professionals do the work. You’ve gone through a vigorous process of choosing a builder; now let them do what you are paying them to do. That doesn’t mean don’t check in with them regularly, but micromanaging your builder won’t help things get completed any faster, or cheaper for that matter. Trust your builder to build a house that will be a good reflection on them as a professional, and be a happy home for you and your family for a lifetime.

Use these tips and have an enjoyable experience when it comes to building (or remodeling) your house. And if you do have a wonderful experience with your builder, don’t forget to tell others about it. The absolute best thing you can do for a builder is let them know publicly how amazing your experience was. Give them reviews online and refer them to others for builds or remodels. Word of mouth reviews are better than any billboard or portfolio out there!

And don’t forget to contact Inselmini Construction Company, Inc. for your stress free home build or remodel. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Recently released economic data point to several good reasons to consider your options as a homeowner in 2016, and now is the perfect time to start the process.  Mortgage rates are still below 4% and existing home sales are rising (up 11% from last year).  There are low-down payment and no-down payment mortgages available and banks are doing a much better job approving purchase loans.  Nationally there’s a scarcity of new homes for sale.  Active buyers are finding it hard to find homes to purchase which leads to multiple-offer situations and difficult negotiations.  Home prices are also on the rise. 

Why act now?  The trends in the current housing market will continue until more homes become available.  It’s simply a matter of supply and demand economics.  Current homeowners will have to move up to larger, more expensive homes therefore opening the market for first time home buyers.  Real estate developments and spec homes must be made available to first time buyers and “move-up” buyers.  Even baby boomers looking to scale down contribute to the overall market activity. 

There has not been a better time than now to consider building or buying a new home.  With low mortgage rates and the cost of materials nearly flat, it’s an economical decision if you are in the market.  We hope you’ll consider Inselmini Construction Company for your next new home.  

Until next time - this is The Hammer Reports

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Hammer Reports from ICC the Builder

Are you starting the New Year with a Renovation Project?

Maybe you’ve thought about this renovation for a long time.  You’ve anticipated the project, the problems, and the outcome.  You’ve saved some money, interviewed a few different contractors (hopefully) and gotten more than one price.

You’ve spoken to the contractor’s references and seen examples of the type of work the contractor does.  The decision is made and you are ready to go!

Here are a few things you may NOT have thought about ……or questions you may want to ask your contractor (if you haven’t already).

1.  Is there a firm timetable for getting the job done?  When will the project start, how long will it take and when is it going to be done?

2.  Will the adjacent areas be protected during the renovation and will the area be left tidy at the end of the work day?  Don’t forget you still have to live in the house and renovations are a huge disruption in the flow of living.

3.  Will the contractor be on-the-job daily or just the workers?  Who is your communication point?

4.  What time do they start in the morning?  Most contractors are on the job site and prepared to begin at 7:00am.

5.  How can the contractor be reached during the project or afterwards?

6.  Have you reviewed the entire contract?  Is it clear what will be done and what it will cost?

7.  Did you ask your contractor for a Certificate of Insurance?  If the contractor has employees the Certificate must show there is Worker’s Compensation Insurance as well.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  It’s not being pushy….it’s being prudent!

8.  Good luck.  NOW you are ready to go.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Hammer Reports from ICC the Builder

With great pleasure we'd like to announce our new affiliation with Donald Gardner Architectural Design Group. If you want to check out some of their exceptional new home designs, we have a direct link from our website's “Why Choose Us” page or go to www.dongardner.com we think you’ll be impressed.

At Inselmini Construction Company, we are striving to stay diverse. The market for new home construction and renovation has changed over the past five years and we're proud of our ability to change along with it. Most of 2011 and 2012, we ran a full crew of men dedicated solely to roof replacements. Throughout 2013 and 2014 we've returned to our “roots” of custom home building and commercial construction but we continue to work on renovation projects in Indian Lake and Hidden Valley. Next month we are heading to Fayette County to begin construction of a new custom home. 

Locally, we are finishing up two projects in the Ravenwood development (Brinkerton Road past Pitt/Greensburg campus). This is a great spot to build if you're thinking about a new home.  The plan is thoughtfully laid out and the home sites are spacious. It is conveniently located close to businesses and major transportation, yet tucked away in a charming country setting.

Another local spot to visit is Palmer Place. Home sites are available in this premier gated community located in Latrobe and developed by golfing legend, Arnold Palmer. Berkshire Hathaway, formerly Prudential Preferred Realty, is giving the development a fresh look with new signage and an exciting new marketing plan. Next time you are out taking a drive, put this spot on your route.

Have a great summer!
Until next time - this is The Hammer Reports