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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Creating your Dream Outdoor Space

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to the summer. It’s definitely something to look forward to.  Once the cold weather settles in, who doesn’t start daydreaming of warm summer nights with dinners outside and kids swimming or playing in the yard. There is something about the warm air that makes us more relaxed. Sprucing up the outside of your home is an easy way to add additional value to it and you get to sit back, relax and enjoy all the sights and sounds!
With that being said, there is never a wrong time to start thinking of your outdoor dream space but lets face it, when you are stuck inside on those cold winter nights, it does give you something to look forward to.
In this Newsletter we teamed up with  Liquidscapes to discuss your outdoor space and all that Landscaping Professionals can do to transform your space from average to beautiful.


When it comes to your outdoors, there are so many options and personal decisions that you need to think about in order to make the space exactly what your families’ needs and wants are.
Do you have space for a pool or spa and is that something that is necessary for you?
Do you like to entertain? Having a covered porch or patio area with an outdoor kitchen is a great idea. It brings the inside living out and allows you to enjoy all the glory of nature.
Do you need privacy or want to add a fence? Having natural fences like tall local trees  and bushes creates a softer look than a typical fence and can even be added in front of fences as an additional barrier.
Do you have young children who need to have open grassy space for sports games and a swing set?
Do you enjoy gardening and lots of foliage? Creating custom flower boxes throughout your yard is a fun way to add color.And don’t forget the lighting! This seems to be forgotten way too often. You want to be able to enjoy those long summer nights and adding lighting is a great way to do that. It can be simple along a walkway or around a patio, or a fire feature for natural light.
As you know, the list can go on and on and your wants and needs can be as elaborate or as simple as you see fit but even making small changes to your yard can make a big difference.
Enlisting the help of Landscape Professionals like Liquidscapes when thinking about your outdoor space is always a good idea. Many times, these professionals have an eye for space unlike our own. They will take into consideration your wants and needs and find the best way to make it fit appropriately in your space while giving you the freedom to just enjoy the process without having to worry about all the details. They have knowledge  in local trees and shrubbery that will work in your yard dependent on your location, soil, etc. They can recommend pool sizes and shapes based on the size of your yard.
Creating a more personal space is what landscape professionals specialize in. Small budgets or large, they can work with you to create a space all your own and one that you feel happy to be in.
We are a product of our surroundings so make your surroundings beautiful!A big thank you to Howard Roberts from Liquidscapes for sharing his work and knowledge!
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Determining Your Project Budget

(An excerpt from the Paul Rugarber’s forthcoming book Architecture to Construction and Everything in Between)

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.” – Irving Berlin

The project budget is probably the biggest item that gives people anxiety – and rightfully so! I have worked with clients who have large budgets and those who have small budgets. One of the similarities I’ve found is that each client wants to maximize their dollars spent for a return on investment – which of course makes sense! The part that doesn’t make sense, though, is the decisions that are made at times by clients during the process.

The budget is the driving force of the project and the expectations of each client are very different. Personally, I love both the jobs with a modest budget as well as the elaborate jobs with exotic materials and lots of detail. However, you need to keep in mind that these are two very different situations and the owners’ expectations for time spent coordinating and making selections for each are very different – and so they must be treated and priced that way. A $15 door knob and a $250 door knob require vastly different levels of care, precision, and specifications.

The most important item to establish is how much you would like to spend and then understand what is possible for that amount of money.

One of the most important questions I ask my clients has to do with their total project budget. The budget will determine the way the house is designed and built. Put simply, the budget equates to how much time is spent on a project. A simple addition will take a set amount of time and is easy to figure for pricing – but a more elaborate house with a large budget is more complicated. When you tell your architect and builder what your budget is, it should be the actual budget. Be sure to communicate whether it’s a firm number or a ballpark. You should always include 10%-15% for “extra” items and adjustments that need to be accounted for as the project progresses.
The budget will also help you set realistic goals. Many times clients just don’t understand costs and have no idea what the project will cost. In asking local builders or architects about costs, it will help you with your planning. There is no sense in wasting time planning an entire second floor addition with a $15,000 budget. On the other hand, I have clients who say they are planning to spend $2,000,000 but it is not a hard number and getting their wish list is more important than the total cost.
The most important issue for you is know what you want to and can spend and then understand roughly what that amount of money will allow you to build. Of course the quality of construction is where the amounts vary greatly. Don’t ever assume that you are getting the same product when someone quotes you half the price of the other guy.

For those of you that have no idea where to start or what you should expect a project to cost, I recommend discussing this with your architect to get a better understanding before establishing your budget. Even if you are only talking about rough budgets, understand what is included in those prices. Site work and landscaping are often additional costs and interior items such as cabinetry and appliances may be as well. There are always unknown costs so be sure to understand what will not be done and is your responsibility as much as you understand what will be done for the price as they all have to be factored into the overall budget that you create.



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Creating a Custom Backsplash

Whether you like simple white subway tile or an intricate mosaic tile, when adding a backsplash to your kitchen you are creating an element in the space that is custom to you and your likes. With so many different options available from stone to glass and everything in between, you can create a look that’s simple or one that’s artsy and colorful.

In this month’s newsletter, we’ve collaborated with Nova Tile and Stone in New Egypt, NJ to give you some ideas on what you can do to spice up the look of your kitchen. Everyone would like to create a one of a kind space, so when it comes time to think about the finishes you want and how you want your room to feel when you walk in it, don’t forget to enlist the help of a tile and stone specialist. These professionals know what works well together and what may not. They can ensure that you can find a design element that fits your needs and will make a large impact in your space all while staying within your budget. You don’t need to have a large budget to create a custom backsplash look!

With the evolution of DIY and the overabundance of home renovation projects we see on TV today, its important to remember to “Invest in your Nest”. Enlisting the help of design professionals is the best way to make sure you get the custom look you want without having to worry about the overwhelming decisions that need to be made. Changing a kitchen backsplash is a small design and construction project, but can add so much character to a space. Three items to consider are:

Color – does it lighten up your space and compliment the counter and cabinet tones? Is your grout color blending with the tile or a different hue to make the tile pop?
Pattern – will the new pattern emphasize a horizontal look, create vertical lines to show height at key openings or have a mix of both elements? A band of a different color, style or size can act as a decorative break in the main tiles and behind the stove is a great place to mix up the colors, patterns and textures to create a special touch of your own.
Texture – Do you prefer a rough antique tile look or a glass tile with a smooth  feel to it? This will depend on the location to the elements of the stovetop and cleanability. Small glass tiles are very popular right now and super easy to wipe down.
“Fall in Love with the Process and the results will come.”
– Eric Thomas
When your home renovation is complete and you can sit back and enjoy the results, you will be happy you decided on a custom backsplash. This is the fun part, so enjoy the process and make it your own! You wont be disappointed!
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)-830-3366 or you can visit us on the web at http://www.pdrdesigns.com.
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