Adding The Finishing Touches To Your Custom Home

Adding The Finishing Touches To Your Custom Home

Welcome to this edition of the Louisville Custom Home Builder podcast series brought to you by Louisville’s leading luxury construction team, Artisan Signature Homes. I’m Greg, your host and for today’s episode we’re joined by Louisville’s best known and most accomplished custom and luxury home builder, Jason Black. Jason, as always, good to see you.

Jason:    Great morning to you Greg. It’s good to see you.

Greg:    Thank you. I’m kind of excited about this podcast and the next one because we left off on your builder series, your 101 series, so to speak. You said it might be more advance than 101 but you had your painter guys in and then you said the next step was finishing touches and you gave us a short list and it encompassed quite a bit of stuff. I’m really excited to hear what that includes. What are your finishing touches?

Jason:    All this time the homeowners have been meeting with the designers, architects. Picking out, doing all the stuff and in the emotional curve. You had your ups and lows and now you’re really climbing the rollercoaster.

You’re getting really close to the finishing stages. After the painters get done, usually what happens next is you’ll have your cabinet install.

It’s kind of like, I always refer to it as Christmas morning for me. No matter if it’s December or June or July, when those cabinets go in its like, “Ah hah.” All that hard work’s really starting to pay off.

Greg:    When you say cabinets, are you talking about kitchens, bathroom? Is all of it come in at once?

Jason:    Yeah. Usually they’re bringing a truckload. Depending on the size of the house we may have to make two truckloads but usually the first thing they’ll install is the kitchen cabinets. Typically, they’ll install the lower cabinets, maybe the island. Any uppers that, sometimes we’ll do cabinets like a china cabinet that may set on the granite top or something like that. We’ll old off on those until after the granite is in but we’re setting all those, setting the uppers, putting the door hardware on the cabinets.

Of course, we’ve already tiled all the bathrooms. The reason we tile those bathrooms before cabinet install is if you have any decorative cabinetry with exposed feet or higher feet, that way all the flooring is finished so it looks nice and pretty once they install those bathroom vanities.

Greg:    What about in the kitchen? Is the flooring down for the?

Jason:    If we’ve tiled the kitchen it would be down. Most of the time we’re going to do the pre-finished hardwood after the cabinet install. If we’ve done a sand and finish floor that will have been done already and the cabinets will sit directly on that. Again, it really just depends on what stage or what flooring options. Again, that’s why it’s critical to pick those options out ahead of time so we know.

Greg:    You had talked, this was probably months ago, we had talked about cabinets before for a little bit. It sounds like sometimes you have, are your cabinet makers, are they building this offsite and they bring it to the house pretty well built and then it goes up or are these, how does that actual process work?

Jason:    Yeah, they build it. They’ve got a factory they build all the cabinetry in. They have a professional spray booth where … It’s kind of like you think about an automotive car being in this protected room that they’re spraying. That’s how they do the cabinets. That’s how we get that furniture quality feel. They’re spraying in a very controlled environment, sucking all the dust out of there to really keep it a very pristine environment. When those cabinets come in they’re looking furniture quality.

Greg:    They’re custom made but not necessarily here in the house. They’re brought as a piece and installed.

Jason:    That’s right. The kitchen cabinets, the vanities, all those are built offsite. Now, if we’re doing, we talked about a while back the built-ins like the built-ins next to the fireplace or cubbies or built-in window seats, those are done onsite. The actual cabinetry, anything that typically’s going to get a granite top, think about it like that, will be finished offsite.

Greg:    Okay.

Jason:    Once those cabinets are set usually within a day or so we’re getting our granite fabricator. He’s going to come out and template the granite. What that means is he’s coming out and he’s measuring. It’s more than measuring. Everything is automated these day. He’s got some fancy equipment that gets precise measurements of all the islands and the back splashes, countertops, overhangs, getting all that stuff squared away for you.

You’ve already picked out, sometimes we’ll do an OG edge or an eased edge. Maybe a waterfall, pencil, there’s different options that have already been selected so when the fabricator is fabricating that, he’s putting your exact finish on each location.

Greg:    When you say the exact finish, you mean the edge finish and also the surface, like how glossy or how matted you want the surface of the stone?

Jason:    Yeah, exactly. When you’ve picked out, you’ve gone to the granite yard. You’ve picked out your … Sometimes we’ll do remnants in the bathrooms but usually we’ll go to the granite supplier and pick out the big slabs for the kitchen, master, those types of spaces. Once you select those, again they take them over to the fabricator. They’ve got automated water jet, fancy, big expensive machinery that … Not a whole lot of it is cut by hand. It gets you that nice finish that you come to expect from an artisan home.

Greg:    Back in the day, they did have to cut these by hand right? I’m not talking about five years ago but the really old homes, just out of … I know this is a totally off topic or a little off topic but 100 years, 200 years ago those big old stone pieces you see in the kitchen, those were cut by hand right?

Jason:    Absolutely. There are still guys that fabricate and cut it by hand. They’ll finish, sometimes those OG edges we’ll talk about, they’ll actually do those with a grinder and come back and sand those by hand as opposed to having a machine do it. You can still get some pretty good finishes with those but you have a few more inconsistencies when you go that route.

Greg:    Right. Then to the planning, it sounds like obviously you’re the planner. You’re the builder. How far ahead of this states … It doesn’t just show up all perfectly sized and everything. How long ago were these guys in the house measuring and getting ready for this step where they just show up and like you said it looks like Christmas morning and boom you got all these presents in the house.

Jason:    No, the cabinet and granite, that’s one of the key driving factors of building a house. Those selections are done, that’s the first thing I’ll send people to is the cabinet meeting. Everything drives off that cabinet meeting. As we talked about plumbing locations, electrical locations, all that is driven so cabinet guy, once you sign off, he’ll come out throughout the process and check the house.

He’ll make sure all the electrical is in the right spot. Once it’s dry walled he’ll do a final measure just to make sure nothing has changed because it’s much easier to measure twice than to remake custom cabinetry.


Greg:    I would imagine. They work with your clients almost as long as you do on a project it sounds like.

Jason:    Absolutely. There’s been several times … Sometimes people can knock out cabinets in a couple meetings but usually it’s several meetings of going back and forth and maybe one day you’ll pick door style, the next day you’ll pick finishes and maybe a whole meeting for hardware. It’s a timely, again it’s the heart of the home.

Greg:    Yeah, it’s pretty important. All right, I’ve held you up quite a bit on the cabinets. What else are we including in the finishing touches?

Jason:    Cabinets are in. Everybody’s happy. Granite is templated. Then at that point I like to get the electricians in and they start hanging the light fixtures. All those pretty light fixtures, put the recessed lights in and really getting the house energized. Again, as exciting as it is to see cabinets, it’s always not quite as exciting to me but once those first lights start flipping on it really means the house is getting closer to being a home.

Greg:    Do you find that clients are stopping by more and more frequently at this point? Is this sort of at least everyday now or they’re really anxious to see what’s going on?

Jason:    Yeah, every day and several times a day. Especially when we get into hanging, we talk about how important the cabinet selection is and getting all that done early. If there’s one area that homeowners struggle with, I think a lot, it’s the lighting. It’s like the jewelry of the home. I encourage people to start from my first meeting looking at light fixtures. It is difficult to find all those perfect light fixtures.

When we build spec homes and when I’m working with Gretchen and she’s helping me design some of the lighting for the spec homes, it’s nothing for us to be sitting up at night ordering random fixtures that we like. We don’t necessarily know where they’re going to go but anytime you go over to my house or my garage or in the office storage room you’ll see some pretty cool light fixtures that we may not exactly know where they’re going to go but it’s a good fixture so we’ll find a good home for it.

The same is said for the homeowner. Start picking up those light fixtures early because again, it’s the finishing touches in the home and people want them to be right. It’s tough to go into a lighting showroom and pick all your lights out of a catalog. If people travel I encourage them to go look for lighting or different lighting stores just to get you some different options. You don’t want the same lights that your neighbor has across the street or down the way. You want something unique a little bit.

Greg:    Pay attention when you’re out and about and see what looks good to you and what you don’t want as well.

Jason:    Absolutely. There’s lots of great design shops and stores even in Louisville that have some good lighting. I’m known many of times to say, “Hey, can I buy that fixture? I know it’s not for sale but can you order a different one and I take that one?” They’re like, “Let me check with the manager. We don’t usually do that.” Well, okay.

Greg:    I hadn’t thought about that.

Jason:    Yeah, we’ll bring them home and doctor them up. Again, that’s lighting and it can be a fun part of the process but also can be a very very stressful part of the process. With that we’re hanging all the decorative fixtures. We’re also putting in recessed lighting and it used to be putting in recessed trim and just a regular incandescent bulb. More and more people are going to the LED recessed lights these days.

We haven’t all gone to LED but I think it’s obviously the trend. Putting in those. Again, it really lights it up. Any sconce lights. That type of stuff, we’re trying to get all those in. About the time that lighting is wrapping up, usually that’s when granite install is going to start happening and there’s a few other things after that. Plumbing, fixtures, flooring, what not. I know we’re probably running a little bit long today. Maybe we can run into some of those next episode.

Greg:    Yeah, that sounds good. Why don’t we wrap this one up and you’re saying we are at the point where granite gets installed and we’ll come back and you’ll talk flooring and plumbing. Does that sound good?

Jason:    Sounds like a plan.

Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Louisville Custom Home Builder podcast. If you’re looking to build a home and would like to reach out to Jason with any questions about the process, or maybe just your individual needs and desires, please visit the website at We appreciate your time with us today and look forward to bringing you another episode next week.