With new home construction just starting to show signs of awakening, several local homebuilders have started to notice they have something in common.
Although these builders offer new homes in different price ranges and in different locations, they all have jointly discovered that homebuyers are requesting the construction of four-season rooms.
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Whether called a four-season room or described as verandas or sunrooms, homebuyers are requesting this highly desirable feature with Gerstad Builders, Rock Creek Homes or Epcon Communities.
It's interesting to note that Gerstad Builders constructs single-family homes in McHenry, Poplar Grove, Richmond and Williams Bay, Wis., that start as low as $150,000. The company attracts a range of first- and second-time buyers searching for value. On the other hand, Rock Creek Homes builds luxury semi-custom ranch homes priced beginning at $367,900. These homes are placed within a rural, nature preserve-like environment and its clients have a tendency to be higher income move-up buyers, with teens close to leaving the nest or have already done so.
Epcon Communities is recognized as a builder who specializes in building ranch-style villas set in a maintenance-free environment that are attractive to retired people looking for a stair-free lifestyle. Constructed as four units per building, arranged in a pinwheel formation, each home shares only one common wall with its neighbor and it is typically a garage wall, thus maximizing privacy. Homes at Maples at the Sonatas in Woodstock have base prices from $179,990 to $229,990.
Though they fulfill the needs of different market segments, these builders are noticing that their respective customers are requesting that four-season rooms be added to their home while it is under construction.
Roger Gerstad, president of his namesake company, said at least four of his most recent closings have included the optional four-season room. This $15,000 option is offered at four Gerstad communities now under construction.
"Our four-season rooms typically add 168 square feet of sun-filled living space to an average home," Gerstad said. "In addition to adding space to the first floor, we also make our basement larger as well to accommodate the room. Thus for a small percentage increase on the base price of a home, the family is getting a total of 336 square feet of usable space."
One of the homebuyers who took advantage of this opportunity when their home was under construction at Bailey Estates was David and Angie Schnobel, a young family with two young children. They had Gerstad Builders construct a 2,170-square-foot ranch on a 1.14 acre wooded lot, which had a base price of $251,890 and includes a full basement. This family moved from a Plainfield subdivision built on a former cornfield to a new Wisconsin home that is surrounded by mature stands of trees. These dramatic views of the great outdoors was the motivating factor in requesting a four-season room with large windows on three of the walls.
"The decision to build a four season room onto our new home was not debatable," Angie Schnobel said. "How could you not want to have this room with the views of the wooded backyard that we have available? No matter the weather outside, we are always comfortable in our room and can still enjoy the wildlife and changing foliage."
Panoramic vistas are also cited by Ryan VanLue of Rock Creek Builders at Henning Estates in Huntley as one of the reasons his buyers are requesting four-season rooms in his community.
"Our community has generously sized homesites set in a rural environment that has the feel of a nature preserve because of its numerous lakes, ponds and tall grass prairies," said VanLue. "Thus our buyers wish to bring a little bit of that feeling into their homes, and the only way to do that is create a room with expansive walls of windows on several sides that allow great site lines to the vistas outside."
Every home that Rock Creek has built in Henning Estates has included an optional four-season room. According to the builder these rooms are usually 12 square feet or 12-by-14 feet in size, placed toward the rear of the home. The floors are typically finished with hardwood or ceramic tile. With the natural light that fills these spaces, Rock Creek has discovered that Henning Estates homeowners use these rooms as a quiet place for reading or other relaxing pursuits.
Though four-season rooms typically appear in the rear of a home, Epcon Communities has placed these highly sought-after rooms in the front of its homes. These two- or three-bedroom ranch villas with attached two-car garages offer 1,718 to 1,816 square feet of living space. For a limited time, the $9,700 cost to construct a beautiful four-season room is included in the base price of each villa ranch home.
Even in the past, before it was an included feature, every homebuyer who purchased a home in the community opted to install this very popular room. These light-filled rooms with cathedral ceilings, French doors, ceiling fans and carpeting have three walls that are filled with large expanses of thermopane window glass. Dimensions for these rooms run from 12-by-14 to 12-by-16 feet.
"We have discovered that our customers love to sit in their four season rooms and read the newspaper, play crossword puzzles or watch TV," said Carol Lyons, Maples at the Sonatas' sales director. "They also liked our idea of placing the room near the front of the home because it allows them to easily see what's going on in the neighborhood and who's coming to visit."
For more information on four-season room ownership, contact or visit the sales centers of Gerstad Builders, Henning Estates or Epcon Communities.
Gerstad Builders offers a variety of homes that are base priced from $160's to $340's. These ranch and two-story homes offer 1,560 to 3,197 square feet of living space and typically include 2 to 4 bedrooms, 1.5 to 2.5 baths and two-car attached garages. For additional information visit www.gerstadbuilders.com or call 815/385-4495.
To reach Henning Estates take Route 20 west from I-90 for two miles and then turn right (east) on Church Road. The community entrance is on the north side of Church Road about one-quarter mile from Route 20. The two professionally decorated models and a sales center are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. For more information call (847) 338-3821 or visit www.henningestates.com.
Maples at the Sonatas sales center and decorated models are open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. To reach the community, take Route 47 to Ware Road, head east one-half mile, turn left onto Vivaldi, and then turn left on Schumann Road. For more information, call (815) 334-0340 or visit www.EpconCommunities.com.