Open House!

February 27th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer


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Now, Subscribe via E-mail

February 20th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer

For your convenience, we have updated our web log so that you may now choose to receive our posts through e-mail.

To do so, follow this link or Subscribe via Email on the right sidebar.

RSS feed remains an option, too, for those using newsreader software.

Thank you for your continued readership!

Best regards,

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Stimulus Package: Free Home Show Tickets

February 19th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer

Not sure how much of the federal stimulus package will reach us here in Northfield, so we’re offering one of our own.

Stop by our offices to pick up free tickets to the Home Improvement and Design Expo in Shakopee (March 28-29) or in Lakeville (April 25-26).

Have some fun for free and help us kick-start the economy! (Or just have some free fun.)

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Virtual Model Homes

February 19th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer


In the past, residential developers have built model homes with which to showcase their product and craftsmanship and to attract buyers. This has been an expensive approach in recent times; construction costs are high and model homes have felt the slowing market, forcing the developer to both front the construction cost and to bear the ongoing cost of ownership.

We propose a more sustainable alternative.


Using our digital visualization tool, our interior designers and architects can create a virtual home, complete with furniture, accessories, tile patterns, and wood trim for display and walk-throughs with potential homeowners. This gives them the chance to understand the floor plan, the views, and the nature of the home, especially if given the chance to interact with the designer. Changes to better suit personal preferences can be shown and studied at low cost if the homeowner so desires.


The developer wins, too. Upfront costs for a virtual home are a small fraction of the costs of a model home. Online presentation limits staff time at the model home and makes it more available to potential buyers. Marketing images are easily extracted from the virtual home for brochures, a website or mailings. Animated fly-bys and walk-throughs add energy and life to the marketing efforts. Drawings for construction are derived directly from the virtual home, so this is not an extra step in the process.

Experience has shown that lenders appreciate virtual homes, too, which are easily appraised and understood from the virtual home and its plans. Contractors appreciate the reduced number of change orders on the job, since most are covered in cyberspace.

And the virtual model is easily reused, recycled, remodelable, repaintable, and reconfigurable for different sites.

We welcome inquiries from builders and developers interested in building a virtual model home.

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Co-Housing alive in Northfield

February 18th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer

On Sunday afternoon, I joined the Buffalo Commons Co-Housing group for a work session. The group is alive and well!

The meeting was facilitated by Cindy Robinson, who did a nice job of keeping the meeting on task and on time. Discussion was lively on important formative issues like timeframe, site selection, group governance, values, deal-breakers, and the role of consultants in the project. Originally targeted for a specific lot in Northfield, the group has decided to investigate other lots, too, to determine what will best suit the group.

Co-housing is an interesting and viable option to standard residential development. Residents get to know each other before the project is designed through a process of determining how the community should be formed by the interior and exterior spaces that will be created. Cohousing usually consists of smaller than average dwelling units clustered on a site sharing a common house and parking areas away from the residences. The common house usually features a commercial-grade kitchen, dining and lounging areas, a children’s room and other shared amenities as the group so desires. Shared meals are optional, but become a central feature in strengthening community and easing the pressures of domestic life. Privacy is as ample as each resident wants it to be, with easy access to community (a tougher asset to find these days.)

Financially, it has proven to be viable, too. Lenders see the value of having units sold before construction begins (condominium or cooperative models have both been used.) Cohousing units tend to increase in value more than single family homes. And residents can receive benefits from amenities that are only available by pooling resources.

Sustainability can also be achieved more readily through the cohousing model. Smaller units mean less materials and less impact on the landscape. Clustered homes allow for larger open spaces, shared gardens, and social activities on site in the common house. Shared walls reduce heating and cooling costs, often to the point of having a shared heating plant for multiple homes. Cohousing communities also tend to foster efficiency in other ways such as carpooling.

If you are interested in learning more about cohousing, let me know and I’ll connect you to the best of my ability!

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Pyramid of Conservation

February 12th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer

Minnesota Power has developed a helpful diagram to help homeowners understand home energy efficiency.

It’s called the Pyramid of Conservation, and it offers both the place to start and a suggested progression toward more complex, more costly solutions.

The base of the pyramid is understanding, suggesting you get a home energy audit done for your house. The peak is renewable power. In between are the more approachable options which address lighting, controllable thermostats, appliances and the like.

So take a look and see how your home matches up to the pyramid. It’s the right thing to do.

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Welcome to the Blogosphere, Dr. Siemers!

February 6th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer


Please welcome my colleague, Dr. Paul Siemers, to the wide world of blogging. Paul owns and operates CNC Chiropractic in Dundas, Minnesota.

During the last several months, I have encouraged Paul to begin a web log to share his insights into health and wellness. He’s up and running now (actually has been for a while), so I suggest you check it out. Paul has a nice ability to explain what he does and how it works that makes sense to me.

Full disclosure: This all came about as he adjusted my neck and spine to correct some long-term difficulties I had been experiencing. Dr. Paul has my recommendation.

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