Ask Taylor!

At Brennan Builders, we strive to always be accessible to our customers – whether you’re a homeowner or just curious about building one of our custom homes. Are you wondering about our floor plans, communities, move-in ready homes or the home building process in general? Send us any questions you have by filling out the form below, and Taylor (literally – she’s the real deal!) will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you’d rather talk over the phone, give me a call at (724) 908-4140.


The ArtisanThe Artisan IThe Artisan IIThe Artisan IIIThe Artisan IVThe Artisan VThe New HavenThe HartfordThe WilmingtonThe DavenportThe SavannahThe CambridgeThe ProvidenceThe ArlingtonThe WestminsterThe WaterburyThe AlexandriaThe Sante FeThe PattersonThe ManchesterThe BellevueThe NewportThe BirminghamThe Chesapeake

Call Text

Author Archives: Andrew Peck

Adding a Personal Touch to Your New Home’s Design

Category: Build Process

First of all, congratulations! If you’re building a house, that means you’re one step closer to living in a dream home.

Building a custom-designed home comes with a lot of challenges, especially early on. Not only is there extensive budget planning and vetting contractors, but you also need to decide on the layout and size. It can be overwhelming and frustrating, but you know it’ll be worth it in the end.

So let’s focus on the exciting parts of building your own home: adding your personal touch! Now’s the time to pull out that dream home list and start making it happen.

Start Walking on Sunshine Every Day

Since we’re building this home from the ground up, let’s kick this off by focusing on your flooring. Are you a big fan of gorgeous hardwood floors? Pick a wood grain and stain that you adore (and goes well with your furniture). Oak is a classic, but you have a wide array of options and designs here.

Do you like sinking into soft carpet when you wake up in the morning? Find the perfect carpet for the bedrooms and den.

Unlike with an inventory home or renting a home, you aren’t stuck with floors you can’t stand. No need to replace old carpet or scuffed tiling when you’re building your own home. Play around with different flooring materials until you find one that matches your style.

Let There Be Light

Lighting can be a polarizing thing. People don’t always agree on lighting types based on personal aesthetic or room design. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about having too little lighting or obnoxious fixtures on the ceiling.

Go as elaborate or minimal as you like here. Choose from decorative chandeliers, functional lighted ceiling fans, or recessed ceiling lights. You can even have electrical boxes installed to add cool features, like under-counter lighting in the kitchen or lit glass cabinets. Just make sure you specify all of this to your builder so that they won’t run into trouble later on.

Pick a Counter You Can Count On

Nobody’s ever said, “There’s just too much counter space in that kitchen.” When building your home, I sure hope you’re designing ample space for the kitchen counters. With that out of the way, another place to add a personal touch to your home’s design is the countertops.

There are so many options here: granite, quartz, concrete (a surprisingly popular trend), laminate, solid surfacing, and even butcher-block wood. Some look flashier than others, perfect for those of us who love hosting. Some can take a beating without wearing down, great for super active cooks or people who drop things.

Your Favorite Hardware, Everywhere

Kitchen cabinet handles, doorknobs, closet doors, window shades, and drawers… When you stop and think about it, there’s an absurd amount of hardware in every home. Though the sheer number may make a trip to the hardware store seem daunting, the personalization makes it worth the effort.

This is your home, and there are no hardware limits. You have complete control over every cabinet, every drawer, and even every door. They will all open and close with whatever hardware you like the most. Unlike with other home features, it’s not really possible to pick the “wrong” piece of hardware. A cabinet knob fits on any cabinet, and a drawer will pull out whether you’re using a brass handle or a cutout. So seriously, get a little crazy here.

These are four ways of many you can add a personal touch to your new home. Adding a bit of yourself to the design process will make the home that much more special to you and your family. So take some time and indulge yourself – it’s not every day you get to build your dream home.

~the Brennans

Tags: , , , , ,

Top 5 Furniture Layout Apps

Category: Trends

Whether you’re moving into a new home or simply feeling like redecorating, finding a great furniture layout can be challenging. Nobody wants to play a real-life game of Tetris, moving bulky pieces of furniture around to find the best fit.

Luckily, most of us (pretty much everyone, if we’re being honest) have a handy device in our pocket that can help. Need help organizing furniture in your home? Just like ordering pizza, checking your credit score, or turning on a security light – there’s an app for that!

Here are our top 5 picks for furniture layout apps.

1. Planner 5D(Android and iOS)

Are you looking to get hyper-detailed? If so, then Planner 5D is for you. This app lets you create both 2D and 3D floor plans based on the dimensions of your home or yard. That’s right; you can plan both interior and exterior layouts with this handy app. Create a floor plan based on your home’s dimensions, choose furniture from an extensive catalog, and create the layout of your dreams. This free app is available for both Android and iOS users.

2. Magicplan(iOS only)

The Magicplan app puts the power of 3D design in your hands.  You can turn pictures into floor plans, and then plan out your space in 3D. Add and arrange furniture with ease. The app itself is free, but you’ll be required to pay for a download version of your planned space ($2.99).

3. RoomScan Pro(iOS only)

For realistic, no-frills layout planning, go for RoomScanner Pro. This app boasts three different methods for capturing your exact floor plan: touching your phone against walls, scan the room and add in details via augmented reality, or manually draw the plan with added dimensions. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll get a completely accurate digital version of your home, ready for fast furniture layout planning. The app is currently free to download but will require in-app purchases to access many of these features.

4. IKEA Place(iOS, link to Android below)

Real talk: how much do you love IKEA? Do you ever find yourself clicking through their website or wandering through the warehouse-sized store wondering if that pine desk or stainless steel bar cart would fit into your home? Good news! The new IKEA app lets you literally place their furniture into your house using augmented reality. Check it out and place an order right from the app.

For Android users, here’s another App similar to this one (but without that neat AR functionality): IKEA Home Planner App.

5. Plan Your Room

Okay, so this technically isn’t an app. But Plan Your Room is such an easy-to-use layout-planning platform that we just had to mention it. Using a grid, you can map out your room and then add furniture pieces (represented with minimalistic line drawings) based on what you own – or want to own. It’s easy to use and free.

With these apps in hand, you have no reason not to give your home a little makeover. Or, if you’re moving into a new home, no reason not to get organized beforehand. There’s nothing worse than moving things around after the movers have left because you weren’t prepared to tell them where things needed to go.

So relax, download a new app, and play around. You’re sure to find the perfect layout; no heavy lifting required.

~the Brennans

Tags: , , ,

Tips for Preparing Your Family for the Big Move

Category: Brennan Builders

We all know that moving is stressful. Between coordinating moving trucks to organizing belongings and tracking details (did you submit a change of address form?), it’s easy to get lost in the chaos. As adults, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel: soon, we’ll be settled into a new home, in a new neighborhood, full of exciting opportunities. It’s harder for kids to see the big picture.

Changing homes can be traumatic for kids. For big moves – whether across the state or the country – they’re switching schools, breaking a routine, and maybe even experiencing new weather. It’s important to talk to them well in advance and prepare them for the move. But how can you get them excited about it? Here are some tips for getting your kids revved up about the big move.

Get Them Involved in Household Decisions

Does your new kitchen need a fresh coat of paint? Are you ditching your old couch in favor of shiny new furniture? Let your kids be part of the decision-making! You may be surprised at how much fun they’ll have helping you pick out furniture, fabrics, and colors. And it gives them a sense of control over their new surroundings.

Give Kids An Important Moving Job

Kids love feeling helpful. So on the day of the move, assign them an important job or let them be your assistant. Let them pack up their toys, carry small boxes into the house, and keep things organized. Younger children may need some extra supervision, but that’s another way to get older kids involved. Create family teams and finish jobs together.

Want to go the extra mile? Print up a to-do list or organization chart for them. With each completed task, they can check it off the list and see their accomplishments pile up.

Unpack Their Bedrooms First

You’re probably familiar with the sudden dread of being in a new space surrounded by full boxes. It can be daunting to anyone, especially after an exhausting day of moving. Don’t burden your kids with this on top of everything else. Be sure to unpack their rooms first and set up their favorite things – books, toys, or favorite pictures. Get them feeling comfortable in their new room right away, and they’ll feel at home in no time.

Take Breaks for Family Time

Tensions run high on moving day. Siblings fight, parents’ patience goes out the door, and frustration runs rampant. This is the point when moving days can turn disastrous.

Be sure to take breaks between packing, moving, and organizing for some family time. Take a 5-minute group stretch break or grab an ice cream cone together. Anything that helps relieve the tension, get everyone to relax, and have fun. When you’re ready, get back to the tasks at hand.

Take a Walk Around the New Neighborhood

Once the moving trucks have pulled away, and the last boxes are hopefully in the right room, why not take some time to explore your new neighborhood? Take a family walk around your block. Be on the lookout for parks or community centers close-by, and maybe even stroll past your children’s new school if it’s within walking distance.

By taking the time to introduce your kids to their new neighborhood, they’ll be more comfortable with the change. Maybe you’ll even discover you’re close to a nature center, an arcade, or a cool museum!

Moving doesn’t have to be stressful or traumatic. Prepare your family ahead of time, keep them on task and focused during the move, and settle them in right away after. Not only will the entire process go smoother, but you’ll also have a happier family ready for what lies ahead.

~the Brennans

Tags: , , , ,

5 Kitchen Design Trends Foodies Will Love

Category: Trends

Okay foodies, here’s the deal. We all know the kitchen is the cornerstone of your home; it’s where you’ll spend most of your time, both alone and with friends, cooking and eating. You’re likely more excited about decorating or upgrading your kitchen than any other room.

Farmhouse sinks and Pinterest-inspired flour sack dish towels are great, but for someone who spends most of their time in the kitchen (or thinking about their kitchen), function is as important as aesthetic. With that in mind, here are some kitchen design trends guaranteed to make your cooking life easier.

Take Your Knife Storage Seriously

Where would you be without your trusty Chef’s knife? Having a reliable and sharp blade is cooking 101, but improper storage can quickly lower the life expectancy of this likely-spendy knife. Storing knives down on their blade can actually damage them over time, so instead consider a magnetic knife strip. These handy strips attach directly to your wall, keeping knives at the ready and out of the way. Besides their usefulness, a magnetic strip turns your knife collection into a flashy kitchen showpiece.

Hang, Don’t Stack Pots and Pans

Is there anything worse than getting down on your hands and knees to pull out every pot and pan you’ve ever owned to get to that one specific saucepan? Instead of resigning yourself to sorting stacks of cooking gear, hang those pots and pans from hooks. If you’re keeping a minimal vibe to your kitchen, apply sturdy hooks to the back of your cabinets. Bonus: this organization tip will clear up space in your cabinets too.

Boldly Cook Anything You Want (Without Lingering Smells)

Some foods are more pungent than others, lingering hours and even days later. No matter how great a meal tasted, it’s never pleasant to smell it the next morning. Invest in a proper ventilation system above your oven to rid yourself of these unwanted odors. A few things to know when making this purchase: If you have a gas range, you will need a more powerful vent than if you have an electric one, and there’s no need to buy a vent that’s larger than your oven.

Shine a Light On It

A kitchen is no place for mood lighting. You need to see what you’re doing, especially when cooking on your range. There are so many beautiful lighting options available that there’s no excuse for under-lighting here. Make sure your hood vent has a light, add a light over the sink, and maybe even additional runner lights under cabinets or above counters. You’ll never regret having strong lighting in the kitchen, especially when chopping and slicing.

Spend Extra on the Best Dishwasher Possible

Whether you’re constantly entertaining on the weekends or just cook elaborate meals for your family, a dishwasher is a must in every kitchen. But not all dishwashers are created equal. Consider purchasing one that includes a utensil rack above so you can wash spatulas, serving spoons, and whisks without taking up too much space elsewhere. Nowadays, dishwashers are nearly silent, which is a must if you have an open floor plan and don’t want to hear it running while watching TV on the couch nearby.

If you love food and love cooking, then now’s the time to invest in your dream kitchen. Consider designs that are both functional and beautiful to create a room you’ll never want to leave.

~the Brennans

Tags: , , , ,

Tame the Chaos in Your New Home -Tips for Turning Your Entryway into an Organized Drop Zone

Category: Organization, Tips, Trends

You’re in the process of moving into your new home. Boxes of furniture and clothes and plates sit stacked all over the place, hopefully in the right rooms. Each time you walk in or out, running errands or bringing in bags from a Target run, you (or your kids) tend to leave things behind. Shoes, backpacks, jackets, stacks of mail. Pretty soon, you’ve got piles of random stuff cluttering the front room in your home. It’s not a pretty sight that greets you when you’re coming in from the garage. If this is sounding familiar, don’t worry! You can tame this chaos by turning that entryway into an organized drop zone.

Make a Decree: What Should Stay, What Should Go

This is the entryway from your garage into your home, and everything in it should have its own place. Don’t let this room become a repository for all things you can’t fit anywhere else – decide what should stay here, and what needs to go. For example, it makes sense to store coats and boots here, especially in the cold months when you and your family need to bundle up before going outside. But unpacked boxes or library books? It doesn’t make sense to store those things here. Once you’ve decided what should stay here and what should be taken into the house, it’ll be easier to keep this place tidy.

Hang Hooks to Hold Jackets and Scarves

If your entryway includes a closet, that’s great! But if you don’t have a dedicated place to hang coats, consider adding some hooks to the wall. You can find a wide array of attractive, stylized hooks at most hardware stores, making it easy to match them with your home’s décor. Hanging jackets on hooks is undoubtedly better than heaping them in a pile on the ground.

Extra Tip: If you have young kids, be sure to hang some hooks at the right height for them! Encourage them to hang up their own coats and scarves when coming into the house.

Keep Your Keys Handy

How many times have you gotten halfway out the door only to realize you can’t find your keys? Keep these important items in one place and give yourself one less thing to worry about. Find a designated spot for your keys, wallet, sunglasses, and anything else easily misplaced. You can opt for a low table, a key bowl, or smaller hooks. Keeping these items in the entryway to your garage goes a long way in taking the chaos of your home’s “drop zone.”

Add a Bench and Take a Seat

Nobody wants to stand in the entryway while holding groceries trying to kick off a pair of shoes. Adding a bench to this room actually does double duty here. You can use this bench to set down whatever you’re holding (great if you’re trying to snag all those bags in one trip!) and it’s also handy to sit on while taking off or putting on boots in cold or rainy weather. Consider using the space below your bench for extra storage as well. This is perfect if the room off your garage isn’t very spacious.

The most important thing in organizing your entryway, or any room in your new home, is consistency. Prevent this room from descending into chaos by planning ahead, making it easy to put designated items away, and keeping your most important belongings in one place. You can even add potted plants, artwork, or decorative pillows to brighten the room that greets you. Soon you’ll have a highly organized and tidy drop zone, setting the tone for your new home.

~the Brennans

Tags: , , ,

5 Ways New Homes Help Conserve Energy in the Summer

Category: Build Process

Summer’s finally rolling around, and we all know what that means: crazy high energy bills from blasting the A/C. But if you’re living in a home built within the last few years, those costs may not actually be so high.

Did you know that newer homes tend to be more energy efficient? This is true for new homes even without investing in smart thermostats or high-end appliances. Homes built in the last five years tend to have better insulation, are constructed with higher-end materials, and often have state-of-the-art ventilation systems to improve air quality.

1. Energy-Efficient Window Panes
New homes are often built with double- or triple-pane windows, which can help prevent heat from coming through or going out. Since many older homes were constructed with single-panes, sunlight beaming through those windows can raise those cooling costs. With a new home, you won’t have to worry about keeping your drapes closed – let all that sunshine in!

2. Cooler Light Bulbs
No, we’re not talking about multi-colored or glow-in-the-dark bulbs. Energy-efficient light bulbs can keep your home cooler than traditional ones. Did you know that 90% of the energy coming off of regular light bulbs is wasted as heat? Many newer homes come equipped with CFLs and LEDs, offering a cooler lighting option for homeowners.

3. Improved Insulation
We mentioned this one before. Newer homes have better insulation, which helps keep your home cool longer. Keeping your home at a comfortable temperature is much easier with improved insulation, meaning you’ll run that air conditioner less with a newer home.

4. More Efficient Home Appliances
New appliances perform now better than ever with highly efficient systems that offer features like quieter operation and moisture control. These high-performing appliances quickly cool down your home and then switch off, saving you money and keeping your new home at its optimal temperature longer.

There are many advantages to buying a new home, like improved ventilation and air quality, but in the summertime, those benefits really shine. You can keep your home cooler and your energy costs lower with a newer, more energy-efficient house.

~the Brennans

Tags: , , , ,

Hot Tips for Outdoor Summer Living Made Easy

Category: Tips, Trends, Upkeep

Is there anything better than a summer BBQ in the sun? When summer rolls around, it’s impossible not to get excited about pool parties, sun bathing, grilling, and playing in the backyard with your family. If you’re planning on spending some serious time outside this summer, here are some helpful tips for making your backyard THE place to be.

Grow Your Own Produce

You don’t know “fresh” until you’ve eaten a tomato straight from your own garden. Spice up salsa, freshen up pasta salad, and surprise your guests with a tasty salad of veggies you grew yourself! Plenty of plants thrive in the heat and make an excellent addition to your summer meals. Try growing some sweet potatoes, hot peppers, green beans, sunflowers, and zucchini.

Cool Down with Kiddie Pools, Sprinklers, and More!

If you don’t have a pool in your backyard, consider investing in a temporary water feature. They’re fun for all ages and a great way to cool down. You can buy kiddie pools in various sizes (some even large enough for adults to sit in), goofy sprinklers, and even hot tubs or saunas.

Add Ample Lighting for Late-Night Partying

On a 90-degree day, it’s hard to do anything but lay in the shade and drink lemonade. When it gets to be that hot, why not plan a party later in the night? Set up lighting on your deck, patio, and around the yard, and invite friends over. As the sun goes down, you and your guests will be much more comfortable.

Set Up in the Shade

Summer fun comes to a screeching halt when you and your family are burnt to a crisp. Avoid staying out in the sun for too long by setting up in the shade. If you don’t have a covered porch or trees in your backyard, invest in an umbrella or two to keep everybody nice and cool while they’re enjoying the sunshine.

Create an Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor kitchens have been all the rage lately – from traditional charcoal grills to tricked-out gas ranges and ovens. Whether your budget allows for an extravagant outdoor kitchen or just a few appliances, setting up an outdoor kitchen is a smart idea for hosts. Cooking outside is much cooler than crowding around a hot stove, and preparing food for guests is easy. Just make sure you’re keeping kids away from any open flames or heat sources.

Maximizing your backyard for the summer doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With a few additions, you can set your family and friends up for a summer filled with BBQs, pool parties, and outdoor fun.

~the Brennans

Tags: , , , ,

The Cost to Hire Movers

Category: Tips

Moving to a new place is exciting, whether you’re moving into your first home across town or a bigger home across the country. But moving can also be stressful, and it can seem like there are a million things to do before you pack. One of the most important things to plan is the cost of moving. More importantly, how much will it cost to hire movers? We put together a short guide to help you understand what goes into the high cost of moving, how much to budget for professional movers, and other considerations.

Overview of All Moving Costs

Deciding whether you’re going to DIY it or hire a professional mover is only one of the considerations that go into the high cost of moving. There are many other factors to moving costs, including:

  • Cost of living changes, if moving to another state or city (Use this handy tool to compare costs of utilities, groceries, transportation, and more)
  • Paying double rent or mortgage if move-in dates don’t line up
  • Renting a moving truck (fees generally run $20 a day, not including gas and mileage costs)
  • Storage units if you need to store furniture or belongings before moving

You can reduce some of these costs by moving into your new place quickly. Taking too long to move from one place to another can rack up costs surprisingly fast.

Cost of Hiring Professional Movers

According to Home Advisor, hiring a local professional mover costs between $80 and $100 an hour. You may be charged additional fees if movers need to take items down stairs or a considerable distance.

For long-distance moves, companies charge by weight and distance rather than time. With this type of move, you may be charged a flat rate as high as $10,000, not including gas and mileage costs. These costs do not factor in additional movers or truck fees.

Booking Professional Movers in Advance

For local moves (under 100 miles), book movers between 2 and 4 weeks ahead of time. When you book early, you’re more likely to get a time and date that best fits your moving schedule. For local moves during the busy season – between May and September – consider booking at least 4 weeks early.

For cross-country moves (over 100 miles), book as soon as possible! Try to book at least six to eight weeks ahead of time. Moving can be stressful, so book ahead of time and save yourself the worry.

How Many Movers Do You Need?

Depending on the size of your home, you may need to hire up to four movers. Moving Labor’s chart below shows roughly the amount of movers and time it will take to move for each home type:

Studio Apartment: 2 Movers / 3-4 Hours

1-2 Bedroom Apartment: 2 Movers / 4-5 hours

2-3 Bedroom Home: 3 Movers / 5-7 hours

3-4 Bedroom Home: 3 Movers / 7-9 hours

4+ Bedroom Home: 4 Movers / 7-10 hours

You will need to factor in the additional cost of movers ($25 to $25 per mover) and moving time into your schedule.

Make Preparations in Advance and Move ASAP

Moving doesn’t have to be stressful, and with a little preparation, you can put your mind at ease. To limit moving costs, book movers as soon as possible. Check the company’s rates and reviews online before hiring and try to move quickly. Storing items, paying double rent or mortgage, and renting supplies is expensive. The sooner you get to your new house or apartment, the less outgoing costs you will have!

~the Brennans

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Decorating for Spring – On a Budget!

Category: Cleaning, Organization, Tips, Upkeep

After the cold, dark months of winter, is there anything more exciting than Spring? These warmer months bring vibrant colors, cool breezes, and sunshine. What better way to usher out the snow and welcome the season with an indoor makeover? Celebrate Spring with these budget-friendly indoor decorating tips.

De-clutter your home. During the winter, homes tend to accumulate a lot of extra stuff. Holiday decorations, cold-weather gear like boots and hats, and extra blankets can make your home feel small and cluttered. Now that Spring has arrived, it’s time to de-clutter these spaces and simplify things. You can also try for a monochromatic feel with soft whites and light colors. Your home will feel bigger and brighter with that extra space.

Fresh flowers. Flowers add a pop of color and life to any room. But not everyone has a green thumb or the garden space to plant a variety of flowers. Visit your local supermarket for fresh and pre-arranged bouquets to liven up any room in your home. To keep flowers looking fresh longer, use room temperature water and cut the stems (about 1 to 2 inches) before putting them in a vase. Look for flowers at your local grocery store, co-op, or farmer’s market.

Create an edible centerpiece. Spring brings with it a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. This produce is beautiful on its own, so why not use it as a centerpiece? Find your favorite serving bowl, or go shopping for one, and fill it with bright oranges and fresh apples. The best part about this decorating tip? You can eat it!

Swap out or put away throw blankets. In the fall and winter, there’s nothing better than curling up under a fuzzy blanket. But we’re saying goodbye to cold weather, so it’s time to put away or swap out those thick, dark-colored blankets. Look for thinner blankets in vibrant colors, like pastel blues or yellows, to give a spring-y look to your living room. For an even more budget-friendly option, repurpose leftover light-colored fabric and drape it over your couch. You’ll be surprised how much this simple action changes the entire feeling of a room.

Buy or make pillow covers. Pillows are an excellent way to decorate on a budget. You can instantly change a room by switching up a pillow cover, which is an easy cost to manage. This has to be one of the easiest ways to decorate a room – no fussy arrangement needed. Just throw a few pillows onto your couch, chair, or bed for a new look. These covers aren’t expensive to buy or make, and storing them takes almost no room at all.

Faux plants or flowers. Fresh flowers are relatively affordable, but maintaining the look can be a hassle. Faux plants or flowers have only an upfront cost and can add a nice natural look to your home. You can change the pot or vase for a fresh décor and never have to worry about cleaning up wilting or dead flowers left out too long. Craft stores often carry these plants and flowers at an affordable rate.

These easy options help your home look brighter and more vibrant without breaking the bank. Preparing your house for Spring will help you bring in the new season and transition from the darker months with ease. Brighten up your home with flowers and new fabrics, and enjoy the sunshine.

~the Brennans

Tags: , , ,