Written by Spear Builders

Energy efficiency: the marriage of historic architecture and today’s high-tech features

Custom home builders in Fredericksburg, Virginia, are fortunate to be working in one of the most architecturally historic cities in America. Founded in 1728, Fredericksburg was on the frontier of Virginia’s western expansion. Its substantial historic district pays homage to the beauty of the buildings of its past. Buildings of the past, however, should be valued by more than just their beauty. They teach us that green home design is really nothing new.

Smart, pre-modern architecture

One of the most interesting aspects of pre-modern architecture is just how smart it was. Long before interactive refrigerators and talking toasters, smart home design was just a way of life; it was a necessity for surviving the elements in an off-the-grid world.

Prior to the 20th century, homes were designed to provide utmost efficiency and protection in their local climate. East coast homes were cleverly designed to be as warm as possible in the winter, while being as cool as possible in the summer. They were built with thick walls that stored and dispersed heat slowly and heavy doors and window coverings that kept wind and harsh weather out. Windows were shaped and placed in such a way that would optimize the availability of natural light and fresh air. Spaces were small and sources of heat were cleverly centralized and optimized to circulate effectively throughout the home. The laws of nature were prevalent in early house construction, as were natural and sustainable building materials.

Combining the new and the old

If you’re looking for a custom home builder in the Fredericksburg-Charlottesville area who understands the benefits of historic home renovation and retro-greening, you are looking in the right place. Virginia has more than its share of historic homes. Custom home builders with knowledge and experience in this area can offer great insight on restoring old and unique, hand-crafted wonders to their ultimate state of artistry, efficiency and inherent value, as well as implementing modern and energy efficient technologies.

The best custom home builders in Virginia, while in the business of infusing brand new, state of the art beauties to its historic landscape, also know how to apply the best of current technology and building techniques to treasured historic homes. Contact us today for more information.

Written by Spear Builders

Energy-efficient homes are the way to go – Here are a few reasons why

Constantly we hear on the news or through advertisements that we need to do our part to help improve the environment. From the food we prepare, vehicles we drive to the homes we build or purchase, energy is a major area of concern. With all the talk about being energy efficient, the ways to do so tend to get lost in translation. Here are 5 ways to make your home energy efficient.

1. Energy efficiency keeps money in your pocket

On average, a U.S. household's expenses come to about $5,550/year on energy. However, when you purchase energy-efficient appliances and make energy-efficient home upgrades, combined with energy-saving actions each day, you can save hundreds of dollars in the long run.

Buying ENERGY STAR appliances can save you up to 30% on electricity bills. A new ENERGY STAR-rated refrigerator typically saves you $165 as opposed to a regular model in its lifetime.

Replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones, CFLs or LEDs reduces energy bills by 30-80%. This results in annual savings from $50 to more than $100.

Engaging in energy-efficient activities while you’re at home, at work or out and about also saves you money. Washing your clothes in cold water saves up to $63/year, while keeping car tires properly inflated can save $61/year.

2. Being in an energy-efficient home improves the economy

Savings of billions: Overall, energy efficiency saves the American government, its populace and businesses more than $500 billion a year in energy costs.

Job creation: While saving money, energy-efficiency projects (building improvements and infrastructure repairs) generate jobs. In the year 2010, energy efficiency was responsible for more than 830,000 jobs nationwide.

Fostering innovation: Industry leaders create energy-efficient innovations and policies leading to breakthroughs among manufacturers. In 2012, new standards required light bulbs to be at least 25% more energy-efficient than traditional bulbs spawning a myriad of new lighting products. From LED streetlights to flame-shaped, dimmable candelabra CFLs, energy-efficient lights are barely noticeable but use far less energy.

3. Better life quality

Insulated homes keep air conditioning inside during the summer and heat in during the winter. This leads to you being more comfortable all year round and to more money in your pocket as you don't have to run the AC or heat at higher levels. 16% of all greenhouse gases created in the United States come from residential domiciles; by living energy efficient, those gases are beneficial instead of harmful. Energy-efficient homes typically have longer lifespans, lower maintenance costs, and reduced operation costs.

The benefits of energy-efficient homes sell themselves. If you're interested in building your new home in an energy-efficient way, contact Spear Builders. We're one of the most respected, local home builders in Virginia, so call us today to discuss your energy-efficient home building options and reap the rewards.

Written by Spear Builders

4 reasons to choose Low-E windows for your custom home

When building your dream home from the ground up, it's easy to optimize the energy efficiency and use of natural light with the right windows. Low-E (also known as low emissions) windows are designed to control what's coming through the glass to keep your home comfortable with less energy use. Find out why Low-E windows are the best choice for a new custom home.

Control Fading

Tired of having your wallpaper, flooring, and furniture fade just because you chose a wall of glass look? Low-E glass limits the amount of UV rays coming into the room, resulting in vibrant colors over the years with far less fading.

Prevent Skin Damage

The same blocking of UV rays that protects your furnishings and decor also protects you and your family from skin damage. Repeated exposure to UVA and UVB rays can result in premature wrinkling, sun spots, and skin cancer. With Low-E windows, you can relax by a window in full sunlight to warm up in the winter without worrying about exposing yourself to dangerous UV rays.

Minimize Heat Gain

Aside from controlling the amount of light in the UV spectrum entering your home, Low-E windows installed by custom home builders in Fredericksburg VA also target infrared light as well. This is the part of the spectrum that transfers that most heat, which is why your home heats up in the summer when a lot of direct light is coming in through normal windows. You can leave your blinds up and curtains open all summer long and enjoy that amazing light when you have Low-E windows because the glass is treated to prevent the majority of heat from transferring into the interior of your home. It's still possible to sit in the sunlight and warm up a little because not all infrared light is blocked, but it's a strong enough effect that you'll notice much lower cooling bills in the summer.

Enjoy Full Amount of Light

Finally, Low-E glass accomplishes all of this while blocking almost no visible light. This makes it a better alternative to blinds, curtains, or tinting products that all limit the illumination value of a window.

If you're interested in implementing Low-E windows for your new home build, contact Spear Builders, local home builders in Virginia, today to discuss further.

Photo: Windows by ntm1909 licensed under Creative commons 2
Custom built home by Spear Builders of Virginia Inc.
Written by Spear Builders

Custom Home Builder or Production Home Builder?

Finding a place to call your own is one of the biggest decisions person will make life. Whether you’re moving to a new city, starting a new job, or starting a new family, finding a place to call home is the first step. There are two options available when looking for a new place to live: Choosing from custom built houses or production houses . Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and understanding the difference between the two can help you pick the perfect option for your new home.

A custom-built home is a reflection of who you are as a person, and construction isn’t even started until the homebuyer is lined up. Because every last detail is customizable, you can have the house built where you want it, and how. If you want to house out in the middle of a field, it can be done. Perhaps you want to be up to watch the sunrise if your kitchen window, that’s possible too. With custom-built houses you get to have direct input on where every last brick goes. That level of customization comes at a cost. It takes longer and costs more. This is owing to the unique design of each construction. When it comes time to sell, customized homes lose their value faster than production homes. This can be credited to the level of customization in the home. If you’re looking to stay in your home for that at least the next few decades, then customization is perfect.

A production house is the most common option. These houses are built anticipating the need, not necessarily waiting for the future homeowner to be knocking on the door. Years of research and design going to making these houses that are generic, but still pleasing. They cost less and having a custom house built and take less time because the majority of decisions have already been made. Because the decisions have already been made, however, the building construction team will not be as responsive to questions as on customized jobs. If you’re looking for a place to call your own, and don’t need to customize every last detail during construction, then this is the best option. Production homes also reduce the stress of moving. When uprooting a life there are already 100 decisions to be made every day. Buying a production home minimizes the number of decisions that need to be made before moving in.

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions in a person’s life. Whether to choose a production house, and decorate the inside to your style, or a custom built dream, is a matter of price, time, and preference. If you’re looking to choose every last detail, to bring a dream into reality, then a custom house is the way to go. No matter which you choose, your home is waiting to welcome you and we are ready to build it!

Overhead photo of the metal roof
Written by Spear Builders

5 Reasons Metal Roofs Last Longer Than Asphalt Shingles

Your dream home needs a new roof, and has needed one for a while. As the weather gets warmer, and winter snowstorms are followed by spring windstorms, and summer thunderstorms, a little problem today is going to cost exponentially more the longer you wait. If you’re going to invest your money and time in getting a new roof, it’s imperative you get the best roof for your house. For decades many thought metal roofs are now perfect for residential homes too!. Here are five reasons that your house will be better off all around if it has a metal roof.

  • Metal roofs last longer: On average, asphalt shingles are meant to last a maximum of 25 years. Because of how they are manufactured, they will begin deteriorating almost immediately. The shingle is made of paper, fiberglass, and oil. This is not a durable combination. Metal roofs have been shown to last for at least forty years, and often fifty or longer. When you buy a metal roof, you are investing in the long-term value of your house.


  • Price: At first glance, metal roofs are far more expensive than traditional asphalt or wood shingles. In some cases, metal roofs are two to three times as expensive as their asphalt counterparts. However, this price is significantly offset by two factors. The sheer durability of metal roofs means that you will pay for asphalt replacements two or three times before you even need to consider replacing metal shingles. Metal roofs may also lower your home owner’s insurance payment, in some cases up to 30%. This means your roof will pay for itself over time.


  • Aesthetic: When most people think of a metal roof, they picture warehouses with hot, ugly sheets of metal on top. This is no longer the case, as metal shingles can be designed in dozens of different styles and colors. You no longer need to sacrifice good looks for durability. With a metal roof, you can have both. There are so many benefits for choosing a metal roof over shingles.


  • Environmental impact: Once a shingle is off of the roof, it can’t be used for anything else. Tons of shingles end up in landfills every year, waiting for the asphalt and fiberglass to decompose. Metal roofs reduce waste both in the manufacturing process, and by outlasting their traditional shingle counterparts.
Log Home Slanted Metal Roof

This log home has a slanted L shaped metal roof traditional to the homes of its era.

Maintenance: Metal roofs are the ultimate example of low maintenance home improvement. There’s no need to replace split tiles, as would be necessary if you had wood shingles. There is no need to replace the shingles that fall apart, as would be necessary with asphalt. The only concern is mixing metals. If you have a roof with mixed metal shingles, there may be corrosion. This is fixed by keeping the same type of metal throughout the roof. Metal shingles go up, and stay up. With nothing to adjust, or replace, your house will continue to be looking good for decades to come. Here is a link to a some of the pro and cons of owning a home with a metal roof instead of asphalt shingles.

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