PDRdesigns Exciting News!

Top 5 Tips Homeowners Need
(when taking on a home renovation project)

As an Architectural Design Firm, we work with many homeowners who have done renovation projects in the past and were not happy with the results.

These are the top 5 items that homeowners need to know when taking on a new project:

  1. Time
  2. Cost
  3. Need for an Architect
  4. Quality Contractors
  5. Surprises/Delays

Time: Without having been through a construction project in the past, clients have unrealistic expectations as to how long a project takes from design to permitting to construction. When the time issue is not addressed up front, conflicts ensue that could have been avoided with a clearly laid out timeline.

Cost: Watching renovation shows on TV is great for ideas, but terrible for understanding the true costs involved. Find out up front rough costs for the entire project including design, landscaping and construction. Balancing this with your budget will give you peace of mind.

Need for an Architect: Although you may have an idea of what you want, an Architect will give you ideas and possibilities of what can be done and the constraints of what cannot be done. Simply put, Architects are problem solvers that look at the issue and come up with the best solution that meets your needs.

Quality Contractors: A quality contractor is professional, on time, returns calls, is a good communicator, and has built projects similar to yours in the past. Check their references, look at their work and choose someone you feel will do the best job. Always remember, you get what you pay for.

Surprises and Delays: All construction projects have issues come up that were unexpected and may add to the cost or time frame. If you expect that this will occur along the way, then it wont cause you stress when you get that phone call. As with all problems, expect it, understand the issue, discuss the solutions, make a decision and move on.

Knowing and Conquering these Top 5 Items will help you to enjoy this exciting process!!

We are excited to announce that we are in the final publishing stages of our book and are highly anticipating its release in the very near future!!!

Architecture to Construction (and everything in between) is a step by step book containing a wealth of information to guide homeowners in the Architecture to Construction process. As an Architectural Design firm, we know the ins and outs of the Design and Construction process and relay those to you. With this book, you can be proactive and ready to take on your next home project, knowing you have the information needed right at your fingertips.

With Paul’s background in both Architecture and Construction, and his relationships with builders and designers, he was able to write this comprehensive and valuable book to help homeowners like yourself!

Stay tuned for the official release date and he sure to grab your own copy of Architecture to Construction (and everything in between).

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Lighting Design


PDRdesigns has been named Jersey Shore AIA Architectural Firm of the Year for 2017!!!

The lighting of a space makes a huge impact on how it feels and your experience. One of first rules to follow is to have ample lighting in the room. The second rule is to light up the correct surfaces.
Ceiling mounted fixtures will spread light over a larger area. Recessed lights come in various sizes and shine light onto walls or downward to the floor. Wall sconces spread light up, down, or out. Track lights can be decorative and enable light to be directed to where it is needed. Rope lights enable light to be flexible and decorative, and provide a soothing accent.
Think about how you want a space to feel and what type of fixture will help you create that feel. Utilizing a lighting designer will allow you to get exactly what you want in a space as they understand all of the different light fixtures, styles, light output of each, and how to provide lighting that is specific to the tasks needed in each room and the mood you want to feel.

I caught up with Robert Newell, my lighting designer, to get his thoughts on what makes up a quality lighting plan.

Everything is Design.

– Paul Rand

“The best time to bring a lighting designer onto your design team is at the end of the schematic design phase. This allows them to help you in the creation of details that will get the most out of your light locations. Typically your architect will recommend a lighting designer as they will introduce you to option that you may not know existed. I stress the quality of illumination with my clients, not the quantity. All rooms have different tasks performed in them and therefore need to be lit differently. I strive to capture the feel of the space by creatively utilizing the walls, ceilings and floors to capture the light. Indirect lighting provides an ambient glow, which adds immensely to the visual interest in a room. This is what creates the atmosphere that the client desires. After understanding how my client will use each space and what the family routine is, I provide lighting plans, details and full specifications as to what light fixtures to use. Hanging fixtures are noted, but typically your interior designer will select those items. 
The interior and exterior are designed around what each unique client and site condition warrants.  Some clients call me in for a room addition or remodel and some utilize me for a complete house and landscape lighting plan.”

Robert Newell Lighting Design
654 North Ave. W
Westfield, NJ 07090




Interested in learning more about the Architecture to Construction Process? Check out PDRdesigns YouTube channel with videos featuring Local Builders and Designers!

Click on the link below to view these videos!

Jersey Shore Builders and Designers

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Integrated Technology Design Options

Families today are reliant on technology.  Incorporating technology into a project is no longer an option, it is considered a necessity.  A great way to test this theory is to unplug your router one day thus shutting down wifi / internet to the house.  You will hear immediately from all family members “Internet is down!”  That is just one example of how critical technology is to everyone today for both staying productive and relaxing.  With the most recent advent of smart phones, tablets and wireless devices, everyone wants to have a robust internet signal throughout the house as they do not want to be eating into their cellular data surfing the web at home when they could do so from a properly designed Wifi network.

Being educated during the design phase as to what technology options are available today is very important.  Systems such as Distributed Music, Lighting and Shade Control, Surveillance and Security as well as Sub Systems integration to HVAC, Garage and Entry Doors and Pool and Spa Control are just some of the many technology offerings which should be discussed before starting construction.  Incorporating these systems will impact other trades work ( electrician, cabinet maker, HVAC contractor, etc ), having everything planned out in advance allows the homeowner to understand how these options will tie-in other trades and ultimately enhance the enjoyment of their new home.

The details are not the details, they make the design.

                                                        – Charles Eames


Joe McNeill, from iTEC Consultants discusses how important client education is in an excerpt below.

 “We start by educating our client’s as to what technologies are available today and then see what resonates with them. The time invested before a project begins is integral to the satisfaction of our clients and trade partners, we want everyone to “be on the same page”.  iTEC Consultants engineers, installs and services systems such as Wireless Networks, Distributed Music and Video, Multipurpose Media Rooms and Theaters, Telephone / Intercom Systems, Surveillance and Security and Subsystem Integrations such as Gates, Driveway sensors, Heating and Cooling sensors, etc.”
Joe shares how important it is for each client to have the opportunity to understand the value of prewiring their homes to support the systems they may get upon moving in or would want to add down the road.  Proactive communication throughout the design, construction and aftercare process is of the utmost importance to each member of the iTEC team.

 iTEC Consultants
101 Park Avenue, Union Beach, NJ 07735
Joe McNeill
Phone: 732-710 9086
Email: jmcneil@iTECconsultants.com
Website: http://www.iTECconsultants.com



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Specialty Rooms

This issue we are focusing on Creating Specialty Rooms within your home.


Many homeowners focus on the kitchen, baths, and overall living space which is definitely a major part of a home. To those who are passionate about something, a room all their own to store memorabilia, crafts, artwork, etc is becoming more and more popular. Its the room where we play!

While many homes do not have a designated specialty room, there are some owners whom this is a must for. Whether creating a space like this when designing your new home or renovating an existing space in your home to accommodate this space, it needs to be thought out in advance to accomplish all of your needs and wants. From the sports enthusiast to a scrap booking genius, having a room all your own, allows you to have that escape we all need. We have seen requests for extravagant media rooms, trophy rooms, bars, fitness rooms, craft rooms, outdoor living rooms, indoor pools and spas, and the list can go on and on. Whatever your “specialty” room desire is, it’s special to you, so enjoy it!

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm!”
– Emerson

When designing your specialty room think about the feeling you want to get when you enter it. Whether its a feeling of pride, peace, or joy this room is yours and should reflect you and your emotions.

Use bold colors for a scrap booking room, muted cool tones for a yoga room, or rich colors like red for a sports themed room. Shelving for organization and display items are a great idea and showcase your items, whether they are for practical use or for show.

When deciding on flooring for these rooms, it depends on the type of room you are creating. There are special floors like radiant flooring for yoga or fitness rooms, and hardwood or concrete floors for scrap booking or craft rooms since you need something durable.

Whatever passion or hobby you want to create a space for, be creative and make it your own! There are no limits or rules when creating the room you will “play” in!

We at PDRdesigns are committed to treating everyone with respect and honesty. We would be honored to help you design your dream space. Please contact us with any questions you may have or to schedule a meeting to go over your next home project!

Paul Rugarber , owner of PDRdesigns, LLC is an architect specializing in home renovation and additions with extensive expertise on waterfront designs. You can reach our office by calling (732) 703-3799 or you can visit us on the web at www.pdrdesigns.com.


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Architecture to Construction

Architecture to Construction
and Everything in Between
( a sneak peek at Paul Rugarber’s forthcoming book)

The mission of my forthcoming book is to enlighten homeowners as to the steps and procedures necessary to complete a renovation or new home project. Since, designing and building projects over the past 20+ years, I have continuously been asked the same questions from owners about what they should expect during the design and construction process.

They want to know how it unfolds, what they need to do, and when decisions need to be made. My mission in writing this book is to answer those questions before you, the owner, even have a chance to ask them! We take a look at everything that goes into planning and implementing your project so that you know what to expect, when to expect it, and who to turn to for help. One step at a time, we will build up your knowledge base to create a strong foundation of understanding and appreciation for all that goes into your next project and allows you to enjoy the process.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to know all the information that’s available to you when you are about to embark on a major financial journey, such as an addition or construction of a new home. Reading my forthcoming book before you begin your project will save you an enormous amount of money and time by simply understanding what needs to occur and when.

In the words of legendary football coach Mike Ditka: “Life is not what you want it to be. It is what you make it.” The same applies to renovation projects – so let’s make yours a stunning success that you will be proud of for years to come!

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Every great project, big or small, is stemmed from an emotional response to something that you would like to change. For example, needing more space to grow your family, creating an open floor plan for ease of entertainment, or simply updating and creating a whole new look . Whatever your reasons for building or renovating, here are the steps that need to be taken.

Determine your likes and dislikes about your existing space/home.
Be clear about the goal(s) you want to accomplish with your project.
Hire an Architect to start the design process. Interior designers and any other design professionals you would like to hire should be brought in at this stage.
Determine if there are site constraints to prevent this type and scope of project.
Hire a surveyor and site engineer if needed.
Hire a General Contractor to implement designs
Complete the design process with your Architect
Obtain final pricing from your General Contractor.
File for building permits with the town, starting with zoning and engineering permits first, and then progressing to the building department permits. (This is typically handled by your General Contractor).
Make selections for materials and finishes to be used if this was not done in the design stage. (This is generally an ongoing process during construction.)
Begin construction. Your General Contractor will move the project through the steps of:
Tree clearing and/or site work
Digging and pouring footings and walls
Framing of floors, walls, and roofs
Installing windows, roofing, and siding
Installing plumbing pipes, ductwork, and electrical wires
Installing insulation and gypsum board
Installing interior doors, trim, tile, and cabinetry
Obtain building inspections as needed throughout each of the construction steps
Obtain the Final Certificate of Occupancy (CO). This will be done by your General Contractor.
Do a walk through of your project with your General Contractor for any punch list items to be completed. (These are items that are not 100% complete, or scratches/errors.
Most importantly, Enjoy your new home!

Remember: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Don’t be afraid to take that first step. You can do it!

Our next newsletter will continue to discuss the process of Architecture to Construction, so stay tuned!

“Fall in Love with The Process, and the results will come.”

Eric Thomas

Interested in learning more about the construction process? Check out PDRdesigns YouTube channel with videos featuring Local Builders and Designers!

Click on the link below to view these videos!

Jersey Shore Builders and Designers


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“Love” Your Home!



What do we mean when we say “Love” your home again? Well, lets be honest, as time goes on and our families grow or even get smaller or as you near retirement, you sometimes need to take a step back and see if you still “love” your home. Does it work for your needs or are you frustrated with the layout and functionality? Do you just need more space or a change of space? Whatever issues you may be having with your current home, it might be the right time to think about a renovation or remodel. It might be something that you have thought about before and were just waiting for the right time or because you just purchased a home but it doesn’t exactly fit your wants and needs in its current state. Either way, everyone wants to love where they live and instead of going through the hassle of moving, sometimes a renovation is just what you need to put some life and love back into your home!

Yes, It is scary to think about a renovation, of course. Do you have the money for a renovation and are you willing to put the time into it, so that it’s exactly what you want in the end. But on the other side of the scary and unknown is the beautiful outcome of a home you LOVE (again)! One that makes you feel happy every time you walk in that front door.

Sometimes you have to just say, let’s do it! Let’s embark on that home renovation we have been talking about forever or let’s make this home we just purchased into the home we envisioned when we first saw it. The hardest part is taking that first step. Once you have decided that yes, you want to change your home so that you can love it again, you should enlist the help of an Architect. Talking with an Architect will help to ease your mind. They can go over what you can do with your home layout and what you cannot based on many factors. You can give them your design ideas and they can work off those or work with you to create an idea of your own. Your architect can also tell you what to expect when going through the construction process. (Paul Rugarber’s Forthcoming Book, Architecture to Construction, is due out shortly and is a great source for all your questions about the process of construction).

Every great project, big or small, is stemmed from an emotional response to something that you would like to change. For example, needing more space to grow your family, creating an open floor plan for ease of entertainment, or simply updating and creating a whole new look . Whatever your reasons for building or renovating, start with these 4 steps:

  1. Determine your likes and dislikes about your existing space/home.
  2. Be clear about the goal(s) you want to accomplish with your project.
  3. Hire an Architect to start the design process. Interior designers and any other design professionals you would like to hire should be brought in at this stage.
  4. Determine if there are site constraints to prevent this type and scope of project.

These steps are just the beginning but they are very important because these steps can be just the information you need to make a decision about moving forward with a renovation!

To sum it up, Home is where the heart is, where families gather, and memories are made. A warm welcoming home is what you make of it. So big or small, your home is your home and we want you to LOVE it !

We are excited to announce our new YouTube channel with videos about Local Builders and Designers!

Click on the link below to view these videos!

Jersey Shore Builders and Designers

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Hiring a Contractor… What you Should Know!

Finding a good general contractor that will be able to build your project in the time frame and budget that you would like is important.  In order to find a good general contractor, there are many sources for information, however your architect is the best person to consult for recommendations. Next ask friends and family to see who has built a similar project and who they used.  I stress similar project because you do not want the guy that does tile work to be the general contractor for your new house. Find someone that is a general contractor to fill that role.  Look online for contractors in your area or ask at the local lumberyard for names of people that they deal with on a regular basis. You can also check out websites such as NARI – National Association of the Remodeling Industry or the NAHB – The National Association of Home Builders.

Consider these questions when interviewing potential contractors. 

  • Have you built a project similar to this before and can I see pictures of those projects?
  • Who will be running my job on a day to day basis?
  • How do you bill for your services?
  • Do you have references from current and past jobs that I can speak to? (At least 3 recent projects)
  • How long have you been running this company or how long has this company been around?
  • How many projects do you have going on at one time?
  • How long do you expect this project to take?
Make sure the contractor you select is licensed and insured.  Contact your state Department of Consumer Affairs to see what licenses are required and then verify that your contractor has those licenses in current standing.  Obtain a copy of their insurance coverage to be sure you will be covered if there is a problem once construction begins.  Understand the contract and the process before proceeding.
This first group of questions can be an over the phone interview designed to see how you feel about the company initially. Pay close attention to how responsive they are in this phase. How quickly do they respond to emails or phone calls, are they on time when you schedule meetings? Are they friendly and courteous? If you don’t have a good feeling at this point in the relationship, I suggest you find someone else to interview.
Your next step is the face to face interview. Depending upon your project, you may want to meet at your house, for a remodel, or their office, for a new home. The purpose of this meeting is to see how you connect, look at work they have done and talk about your project.
If you already have your architectural plans at this point, then you can review those and discuss rough pricing to get some guidelines and make sure your project is reasonable. Meet with 3 or 4 contractors to get a feel for how well they communicate with you. Clear communication and trust are essential as you will be investing a lot of time and money with this person. Ask them about your project and have them walk you through how the process will unfold, what they will do, what you will have to do, how long it will take, when you will be informed of items that you need to select and who will keep track of all of the selections that are made throughout the process. A hint here- DO NOT leave it up to your contractor to document all decisions. Have a notepad with you at all times and write things down as you make decisions.By now you should know if this is a person and a company that you would like to work with. If they are, then ask them to provide a price for your project. Ask them to break it out in a line item format, so that you can compare pricing with other proposals.When you receive pricing form your contractors, sit with them again to be sure you understand what is included in the price and what is excluded. Once you have done that, you can then fairly evaluate the different prices you have. If you received a price that is way different than the others, be wary. Most likely they have not included some items or used different materials or less skilled labor than the others.

Don’t make your decision based solely on price. You typically get what you pay for, so be you are comfortable with the person and company that you are selecting. It is worth paying more to get the company that you believe will do the best job. Trust your instincts, ask many questions and hire someone that you genuinely like!

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