Design Build

Design Build /

Accessory Dwelling Units Provide New Opportunities to Ann Arbor Homes

accessory dwellng unit and garage

Many families need to bring someone into their home—either to care for a relative or to rent a room. The loss of privacy and personal space can be difficult on family members, and the changes in lifestyle often add stress to the home.

Some recent developments in Ann Arbor’s zoning laws may provide a welcome relief for homeowners who open their house to new tenants.

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Design Build /

Will Your Renovation Project Increase the Sale of Your Home?

Not every home renovation pays off when you sell your house. Some homeowners are surprised to discover that their $100,000 renovation didn’t improve their home’s value by the same amount. They expected to earn back that investment, and perhaps more than that, when they sold the house a few years later. 

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Design Build /

Transforming a Tired Ranch into a Refreshing Retreat

exterior of renovated Ann Arbor home

When these homeowners moved to Ann Arbor, they bought a modest little 1950s atomic ranch as their starter home. Situated on nearly an acre of land, the house was convenient to natural areas and close to Ann Arbor’s downtown. Yet, the quaint house featured tiny rooms and small windows that had a “cramped brick fortress” quality. 

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Design Build /

New Home Build Combines Bold Modern Lines with Natural Warmth

before and after photos of the Beals house

Joel Beals is a designer at Giraffe, and he’s also a customer. He and his wife Patricia just completed a home build in Ann Arbor’s Water Hill neighborhood. This dynamic new home replaces a 1950s one-story bungalow of less than 800 square feet. It had a simple, functional construction with the hallmark elements of short ceilings, small windows, shutters, and vinyl siding—an aesthetic contrary to Joel and Patricia’s modern and minimalist design style.

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What Does Square-foot Pricing Really Mean?

tape measure | square foot pricing

Home build and renovation estimates can be something of a mystery for many clients—particularly as the final estimate can be much larger than the original quote. An initial estimate of $300 per square foot may come back to you later at $425 per square feet. For a project of 300 square feet, that’s a sizable cost difference. If you aren’t familiar with the estimation process of a design-build project, the final quote can be quite a shock.

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Design Build /

How Long Will Your Design-Build Project Take?

new home construction in progress

If you’ve never undertaken a home renovation or home building project, you may be surprised by the length of the project. Any kind of home construction requires a commitment to thoughtful design, attention to detail, and a purposeful process that doesn’t take shortcuts.

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Design Build /

What to Look for in a Build Site for Your House

field of purple wildflowers | what to look for in a build site for your house

One of the joys of building your own house is that you get to choose the location of your property, the topography, and who your neighbors are. But for many homeowners, knowing what to look for in a build site can be something of a mystery. Few people have experience buying vacant land, and you don’t want such a major investment to become a major disappointment.

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Should You Build or Renovate Your Ann Arbor Home?

When your current home no longer meets your lifestyle needs or fits your design aesthetic, it can be difficult to decide between remodeling your home or building a new one. A house is more than an economic asset—it’s a sacred space for your family to live, love, grow, and create lasting memories. We are connected to our homes in ways that are difficult to express, and the decision to build a new home or to renovate your existing home is no small matter.

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Can You Age in Place in Your Ann Arbor Home?

With a reputation as one of the best places to live in the United States, Ann Arbor has established itself as a special town comprised of many unique and vibrant neighborhoods. From Water Hill to Burns Park to the Old West Side, each community has a charm all its own, given shape by the architectural style, the landscape, and the neighbors themselves. If you have owned your home for many years, your connection to the house goes beyond the four walls and a yard. You have deep roots in the neighborhood itself. 

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Get an Inside Peek on the Design-Build Process

rendering of the Beals house | design-build process

Joel Beals is our newest designer at Giraffe, and he’s also a customer. He and his wife Patricia are building a home in Ann Arbor’s Water Hill neighborhood. They wanted to hire Giraffe for the project, but we were so impressed with Joel’s design sensibilities that we brought him onboard our team.

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Design Build /

This Sustainable Home Is a Sign of Things to Come

Pilar and Cristian were dreaming of building a home away from the busy neighborhood of their children’s youth. They needed a home that would be easy to age into and also welcome their friends and family for dinner or an extended stay. They desired a place to look forward to coming home to.

Located on a two-acre property just outside of Ann Arbor, the home is designed to embrace the picturesque views and green acreage. The homeowners prioritized a lifestyle of gardening, outdoor time with pets, and plenty of space for visitors to enjoy—a kind of destination spot for family when they come to town.

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Can You Afford a More Sustainable Home?

Many homeowners come to Giraffe with questions about lowering their heating bill or creating a more comfortable climate for their living space. Their home loses heat or it’s inefficient, and it’s a great concern of theirs. These clients might not use the term, but they’re asking about sustainable design.

We all want to be comfortable in our homes, and sustainable solutions can provide that extra comfort. Giraffe’s goal is to become the authority in sustainable design in the Ann Arbor region. Our staff throughout the company are driven by sustainability—from designers to builders to our company’s office team. (more…)

Design Build /

What to Expect During the Design of Your Home

The dream you have for your home is the genesis towards realizing a living space that’s custom-made specifically for you. It’s the privilege of your design team to catch your dream and translate it into a design plan that will guide your entire homebuilding or remodeling project.

If this is your first time remodeling or building a home, you may be wondering what to expect from your design team. What will they expect of you, and what can you do to make your experience as rewarding as possible? Let’s explore those questions.

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Design Build, Projects /

A Spare Room Becomes an Office and Personal Oasis

Spare Room into an Office and Personal Oasis

Jessa and Tony blend careers, family, and personal growth—all with a dash of grace. But their living space wasn’t conducive to that balance. With living areas that created barriers instead of inviting flow, they experienced conflict between how they wanted to live, and what their environment could provide.

“We have a nice house, but it didn’t come with a formal office,” Jessa explained. “We’re both physicians, and we can do admin duties from home, but we didn’t have a good base to do that work.” Instead, they were operating out of a spare bedroom. (more…)

Design Build, Projects /

Transforming a Drab Basement into a Warm Sanctuary

basement hallway and stairs leading to first floor

For many homeowners in Southeast Michigan, a basement is an afterthought—a spare area for storage, laundry, and utilities. For others, it’s a fun space for play or entertainment. But for Ann Arbor homeowners Paula and Allen, the basement is the emotional touchstone of the entry into their home. And it was setting the wrong tone.

Paula and Allen’s home is built into a hill, and the garage enters into the basement. For them, the lower level serves as their foyer. It’s the space that welcomes them home after a long day of work. But the greeting wasn’t the warm sanctuary they longed for. (more…)

Design Build, General, Projects /

Designing Your Home Build Journey: Take Time to Dream

The dream you have for your home is the genesis towards realizing a living space that’s custom-made specifically for you. Your vision for your home puts the whole manifestation into motion. It’s the first step in a journey that ends with a home you will delight in for years to come. During the dream phase of the journey, it is paramount to capture, document, and share a clear vision that will serve as the North Star of your project. A documented vision will guide you and your build-design team and keep you pointing True North in the midst of budget questions and the inevitable bumps in the road. (more…)
Design Build /

How Important Is a Design-Build Approach for Your Project?

design-build project drawing that fades into a photograph
Transforming your living space is anything but trivial. You have a dream for your home, and as you work with a designer your dream begins to take virtual shape. The transition from virtual plans to realization in the actual space of your home is the most critical hand-off of the entire project. A smooth handoff from design to build results in a truly inspired space that brings you and your family delight for years to come. A poor handoff can result in costly mistakes, cost overruns, and unpleasant surprises that linger on and take away from your enjoyment of the completed space. (more…)
Design Build, Projects /

Traditional Kitchen Reimagined with Organic Inspiration

Gilman kitchen

Chris and Bob are homeowners who had recently moved to Ann Arbor from Boston. Their beautiful Colonial house has a classic charm that is evident from the street. The house incorporates several unique features that you don’t see in houses anymore, including a true butler’s pantry and a dumbwaiter. The kitchen opens out to a second-story deck that overlooks a spacious yard, and well-placed windows invite natural lighting throughout the house. (more…)

Design Build /

Remodeling to Stand The Test of Time.

Ten years ago, when Joel and Patricia were looking for a home for their growing family they fell in love with a 1970s Tudor style home and saw so much potential for what it could become. The existing floor plan felt dated and segmented; several rooms without continuity, and an outdated kitchen. For this house to feel like home it needed to be more open and flowing, but they wanted to keep the traditional feel. The new design had to marry the traditional with the updated functionality. (more…)

Design Build /

Kitchen renovation brings Northern Michigan feel to Ann Arbor

Jan and Rob enjoy the tranquility of their home that is more reminiscent of a Northern Michigan retreat with views of woods and river than its college town location might suggest. But this wasn’t always the case. Helping their home make the transition through the growing pains of several disconnected additions, to a space that felt like a balanced, expansive whole, required a team effort of creativity, flexibility, and collaboration. (more…)