interest rate blog image

Interest rates are on the rise.  No, rates shouldn’t shoot up overnight.  But, consider this….  rates have gone from 2 ½ -3% for a long term fixed rate a couple of years ago, to a little over 4% now.  Rates have been creeping up over the past several months.  Even with those increases, rates remain very attractive.  However, experts say that rates will most likely continue to creep up and probably hit 5% sometime next year.

As a future homeowner, it’s a great time to build.  Lower long term fixed rates make purchasing a new home more affordable.  Now is the time to lock in your permanent mortgage before rates continue their upward trend.

If you are thinking about a new home but not sure if you have enough of a down payment, then we encourage you to talk to a lender.  Which is correct? “Save more cash for a down payment” versus “buy now at current rates?”  Certainly the more cash you are able to put down towards a new home purchase the better your equity position.  But… much more money can you actually save prior to the next interest rate hike(s)?  There are some great low down payment programs available for buyers.  It can take a long time to save more money.  By the time you think you might be in a better cash position to buy, the extra expense associated with higher interest rates may mean you can’t afford as much home.  Research is the key and we are here to assist you with the buying process however we can.

We hope you find these insights helpful as you consider a new home purchase.  We are here to assist you however we can and hope you’ll consider Pine Ridge Homes as your builder of choice!


The Pine Ridge Team


The Best Lightbulb for Every Room in Your Home by Kimberly Dawn Neumann

| May 17, 2017


When it comes to choosing a lightbulb, you’re probably thinking, “Watts the big deal?” But it turns out there is more to it than just walking into the hardware store and nabbing something, anything, from the shelf. Today there are more types of bulbs than ever, and with the need for energy efficiency also at a premium, it is smart to pay attention to what you’re screwing into your fixtures. Read our primer now, and no one will ever be able to say you’re not the brightest bulb on the tree.

Know the difference between bulbs

Once upon a time, there was only one type of lightbulb. Today, you have many choices, but there are three main styles: halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Halogen incandescents are the granddaddy of bulbs, and are slowly being phased out of production because they’re considered the least energy-efficient bulb on the market. However, they’re also usually the least expensive upfront, though their life span is substantially shorter. A regular incandescent bulb’s life span is a mere 1,200 hours.

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CFLs are like the long fluorescent tube lights you might have in your office or garage, but in a curly, compact “pig’s tail” version. CFLs fit most fixtures designed for incandescent bulbs and use about 75% less energy while lasting about 10 times longer.

However, they also contain mercury, so their disposal can be an issue.

“Most people aren’t aware that if you break a CFL, it emits mercury and should be discarded and dealt with like toxic waste … making them a questionable choice for many homes, especially those with children,” says Tom Herstad, president of Regal Lighting Designs.

Consumers should take advantage of free CFL recycling programs that are offered by leading retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s. It’s worth noting, however, that some companies like General Electric are phasing out CFLs in lieu of the next type of bulb.

LEDs are a type of semiconductor that converts electricity into light and are literally the “coolest” bulbs on the market today (they use the least energy and produce the least heat). Residential LEDs, especially Energy Star–rated products (a demarcation for energy-efficient products created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy) use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs (the average life span of an LED is 50,000 hours).

Though LEDs are more expensive at the outset, if every household replaced just one incandescent bulb with an Energy Star–rated LED, Americans would save more than $460 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 550,000 cars. Plus, because LEDs emit less heat than incandescent lights, they’re a better choice if you’re trying to keep a room cool. LEDs are also preferred for showcasing valuable art, because they emit less heat and don’t produce ultraviolet or infrared light.

Look for lumens as well as watts

To calculate how much wattage your room needs, try this formula: room length in feet X room width in feet = total area X 1.5.

Also keep in mind that watts aren’t a measure of how brightly a bulb shines; rather, they’re a measure of how much energy it uses. Now that most bulbs are designed for saving energy, when you’re considering brightness, look for lumens instead of watts.

Lumens measure how much brightness you’re getting from a bulb. To help you figure this out, keep in mind that a 100-watt traditional incandescent bulb gives you about 1,600 lumens, while a 40-watt bulb gives 450 lumens. Most lightbulbs are also labeled with lumens now, so look to this number as the true measure of how much light you will get.

Show your true colors

CFLs and LEDs come in different shades. According to Herstad, if you want to replicate the old yellowish-white light that a traditional incandescent bulb gave off, look for bulbs that are marketed as “warm white” or “soft white.” “Natural white” is the color of most ceiling lights in office buildings. “True white” is a shade of white that is very close to the color of natural sunlight when the sun is directly overhead; however, some people see blue in this color with LEDs.

How do you know which color to select?

According to the experts at HD Supply Solutions, as a general rule, if you’re in a “task” area—meaning the kitchen, bathroom, or home office—you’re going to want to choose a whiter light (i.e., a “true white”), whereas if you’re in a more relaxing area like an entryway, hallway, or bedroom, you’ll probably want to opt for something softer and more welcoming, like a “warm white.”



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3 Big Questions to Ask Before Building a New Home

Few things are as satisfying and exciting as moving into a new home. A home is ultimately a place of security and stability; a place to put down roots and build long-lasting relationships. Your home is among the most valuable investments you will ever make, both in terms of cost as well as importance. Get it right and you’ll be deeply rewarded with a lifetime of fond memories and financial appreciation. Get it wrong…

Face it – getting it wrong is not an option.

But, armed with good research and the right questions, you can make a good decision – one that will pay dividends on multiple levels. And that’s what this white paper is for – to help you ask the important questions and make sure you find satisfactory answers. Finding these answers will equip you to make sound decisions and will eliminate any fear you might have. “Knowledge is power”, they say. It will empower you to improve your life and that of your family. So, let’s get started.

#1: Is now the right time to build?

RH_5339 SR 10-0603.jpgThe recession of 2008 – 2012 still lingers in our minds, and for many the pain is still fresh. It was the worst recession since 1929, in which tens of thousands lost their homes, and many more than that suffered loss financial loss as home prices plummeted. Now, here we are four years into the ‘recovery’, which seems to be moving more slowly than experts expected. So, the question must be asked, “Is now a good time to consider building a home?”

The answer is (as you might have expected): Absolutely yes! That is, it’s a great time to build in most markets, and here’s why:

Existing home inventory is critically low.

New families are being formed at an increasing rate, much more quickly than new homes are being built to accommodate them. The bottom line is that there are just too few existing homes on the market to handle the influx. That’s why you see real estate prices escalating and rental prices at record high levels – and skyrocketing.


New home construction is lagging behind.

Given the population growth rate and the shortage of existing homes available, we need about 1.2 – 1.5 million new homes to be built every year just to keep up. According to a joint release by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in April 2016 we were on track to build about 736,000 single family homes in the United States – and that’s the highest production rate since 2007. So, it’s pretty easy math to see that the number of homes being built is far below that level required to satisfy the reemerging market.

In our local area, the situation is even more alarming. Because the local economy here has remained much stronger than average, the home vacancies are nearly non-existent, only about 0.7%. What that means is that there are simply no existing homes on the market to buy, and that most builders are focusing on building multi-family homes, apartments and condominiums. In 2015, over 68% of new construction was multi-family.

Mortgage rates are phenomenally low.

Historically, mortgage interest rates in a healthy economy have run in the neighborhood of 7% – 9%. In strong housing markets, they’ve gone much higher. So today’s rate of 4% is almost too low to pass up. Here’s what we can expect, though: these rates will readjust to historic norms in the near future. So, locking in a new home mortgage rate today can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments over the course of a typical 30-year mortgage.

Construction costs are still affordable.

As the housing market regains its pace, costs of building materials will continue to rise, forcing the cost of the homes themselves upward. That trend has already begun. Between 2010 and 2016, the median price of a single-family home in S. Illinois increased to about $84,000 – far below the national average. Soon, the median price will top $100,000. Keep in mind that the median price reflects the value of existing homes, many of which are decades old. As new construction increased, and it will soon, you can expect to see that figure escalate. If you’re a homeowner then, you stand to see significant appreciation on your investment..

Purchasing now, before the big rush hits, prices escalate and builders become overwhelmed with work, makes good sense.

#2: What do houses really cost to build?

Ask 20 builders that question and you’ll get 20 different answers. In the end, though, once the home is completed and you’re all moved in, the cost of the home will be based on the cost of the materials and the labor that went into completing assembling those materials into a finished product. That’s what the house really costs – the amount you have paid for it at the end of the project when all is done.

The trick, then, is to get the upfront quote as close to the final cost as possible. That is a function of asking good questions, being clear with your builder in the design and estimate stage as you can, and sticking to the plan, that is, resisting the urge to make changes during construction. Do that, and you’ll master the biggest part of cost control – good planning.

That said, how can you determine what your home should cost to build? Try as you might, you won’t find an easy ‘rule of thumb’ that you can apply. Those that insist on asking, “What do your homes cost per square foot?” are destined for unwanted surprises when the final bill is presented. Why? Because those types of pricing formulas cater to the lowest denominator.


So, what does a new home really cost?

Answer: It depends on the style of the home, the fit and finish of the materials YOU choose, and how well the project is planned prior to the first truck driving onto the building site. Yes, your price is completely up to you, not the builder, since you’re the one that directs what you want and the level of finish you’re willing to pay for.

We stated earlier that the median new home price in the Boston area now exceeds $438,000,and throughout Massachusetts the average development cost for a single-family home has been calculated at nearly $274 per square foot. However, you can’t simply divide the square footage into the price to come up with a median price per foot. First, the‘average’includesproductionhomesonthelowendandluxurycustomhomesonthe high end of the s p e c t r u m . Then, the sale price also includes the land the home is built on, as well as site improvements, etc.


If we deduct 20% of the sale price for land (a guess at best), then we’d come up with $93.89 per square foot, a number most builders would consider unrealistic except for the most basic of structures. And even that figure gives us little to go on, as it is based on averages and guesses, not planning, preparation and fact.

So, the best way to determine the what your home will actually cost is to find a reputable builder that specializes in custom residential construction and begin a dialogue. While “all builders are not created equal”, licensed homebuilders will be able to review your wants, make suggestions to help you get everything you want, and give you an honest estimate of the full cost of construction. However, no builder has a ‘crystal ball’, so exact pricing will depend on exact details about your building site, location, zoning requirements, and a host of factors that must be defined during the planning stage. Still, your builder will be able to give you some realistic cost guidelines to see if what you want is in your ballpark.

Which brings us to the BIG question:

#3: How can I get the most home for the money?

That question should really read, “How can I get a home that I’ll love for the least amount of investment?” Because, really, you aren’t interested in the cheapest home you can get; you want the best home for your family that you can afford or are willing to invest in.

The answer, as stated above, is through careful planning, wise choices, getting detailed bids and exercising the discipline not to make last minute changes once construction has begun. If you can find a plan that makes you happy that is simply designed (simple doesn’t have to mean ‘boring’), without a lot of offsets or intersecting roof lines, you’ll be on the road to cost savings. The magazine Fine Homebuilding included the following in their list of 10 Tips for Getting the Most House for Your Money:

• Two-story homes cost less than ranch style homes since they maximize the amount of interior space on the foundation and under the roof.

• Keep plumbing centralized by putting baths back-to-back and keeping short runs for pipes.

• Don’t skimp on insulation. The small bit you spend for added insulation will pay you back big dividends for as long as you live in your home.

• Add porches and patios for ‘indoor/outdoor’ living. Particularly in warmer climates, plan for outdoor entertainment areas.

Additional suggestions as to where your housing budget is best spent include:

• Consider modular construction versus site built.

There is often a savings due to lower waste and greater efficiency in construction. And even if the cost difference is minimal, you’ll get a better, more energy efficient home using factory-built construction methods.

• If possible, put in a full basement.

Lower levels can be finished later if needed, and are the least expensive way to find additional living area in your home.

• Plan for ‘flex’ space.

Thoughtful design can allow for specific areas to be easily converted as needed. For example, with a little planning a bedroom can be repurposed as an office, exercise room, den or theater. Again, planning is the #1 key to controlling cost.


So, there you have it – our best answers to your biggest questions. You might have hoped for a more specific dollar-and -cents answer, but now you have the formula for getting those very specific answers. That’s the formula we at Pine Ridge Homes Homes use to help every client get the most home with the highest level of satisfaction and for the least amount of time, hassle, and money.

Here’s what you should do to move forward:

  1. Decide now to invest in a new custom home as soon as you can. (The window of affordability is rapidly closing.)
  2. Begin making your list of the features you want – the “must haves” for your new home.
  3. Interview the builders that are building the type of home your interested in. Speak to several and interview their past customers. At Sterling Homes, we have a long list of homeowners that are ecstatic with their homes and with the service we rendered. We’d be happy to connect you with a few so you can ask them about their experience yourself
  4. Dive deep into the details. The more specific you can be in what you want, even down to the serial number of the kitchen faucet, the more accurate the bid will be from the builder.
  5. If the price is still too high, then honestly look at what you can live without for now, or what can be added in the future. Remember, your builder doesn’t control cost, you do.

Once you’ve found the right plan and a builder you trust at a price you can live with, then stop hesitating – do everything you can do get started as soon as possible.


The sooner you get started, the less money your new home will ultimately cost you to build and the sooner you’ll begin building equity in your home. As the market heats up and new home prices rise, the value of your home will rise with them, giving you additional and faster return on your investment as you build wealth from equity.

But the most valid reason to build now is this: the sooner you move into your new home, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy the real benefits and rewards of home ownership.

If you are ready to get started, please contact Pine Ridge Homes for a free consultation today. The photos included in this report are all custom homes built by Pine Ridge Homes or our suppliers. We’d be honored to help you plan, develop and own the home that will delight and inspire you.


Pine Ridge Homes                          Vandalia, IL                        618-283-4340

A Mother’s Day She Won’t Forget

Struggling to find the perfect Mother’s Day gift? Finding that special something for Mom is no easy task. How are you supposed to find a gift that can possibly show her how much she means to you?

Here are some ideas to help you out this Mother’s Day.


1. Help With Her Landscaping


Even though it isn’t something you can slap a bow on and deliver, the sentiment that you are willing to put in the work to help her out will mean more than anything to her. Get your spouse and siblings together, and spend the day planting & mulching.


2. Prepare a Family Brunch

Image result for Mother's day brunch

Call up the fam, and have Mom come over for a special brunch. Decorate with her favorite flowers, serve her favorite food, and have everyone bring her a handmade card.  She will love having everyone together, but make sure she doesn’t have to worry about doing any of the cooking or cleaning. It is her day, after all!


3. A Girls Best Friend

You know what they say, diamonds are a girls best friend. It doesn’t have to necessarily be diamonds, but getting her a piece of jewelry is something she could keep forever.  There are all kinds of online stores where you can personalize jewelry. You can get her a piece that has all of her kids’ or grand-kids’ names on them, or go a fancier route and get her a piece with all the birthstones in it. Either way it’s something she would cherish, and hold close to her heart.


4. Something That Comes From the Heart

Give that special woman in your life a gift they can cherish forever with the Personalized Flower Pot - Love Grows Here - Purple. Find the best personalized ladies gifts at

Time to put your creative skills to test. Find something your mother loves, and roll with it. You can make her decorations for the house, a piece of furniture, put a basket together full of things she loves, the possibilities are endless. If you are a craftier person, maybe finding an old piece of family furniture and refinishing it would be an option for you. No matter your age, making something that comes from the within will always tug on a mothers heart strings.


-Pine Ridge Homes Team

Instagram: @pineridgehomesinc

The Perfect Utility Room

What is your idea of the Perfect Utility Room?

In designing your dream Utility Room, what are some must-haves and must-nots?? Here are some inspirational ideas and tips to keep in mind when modeling a Utility Room.


1. Folding Station

A folding station is a is a must when designing a utility room. There are so many different styles to choose from and it varies on the amount of space and the look you’re trying to create. For the DIYers, hang a door from the wall like in the picture above and wallah! You have a unique, creative, and space saving folding station.

If the DIY look isn’t for you, you can always add a counter to the top of your washer for an easy accessible folding station. You can pull the clothes out of the dryer and fold them right there instead of letting them sit in a laundry basket for a week and a half! This way is also utilizing the small amount of space you usually have to work with, and will work in any utility room where the washer and dryer sit next to each other.

2. Functional Storage



Maximizing the amount of storage is important in every room in the house, but especially the laundry room. It’s easy to leave your baskets of clothes laying out, or dirty clothes on the floor (Yes, we’re all guilty of it). These pull out drawers with the laundry baskets inside are the perfect way to maintain an organized space. Not to mention, they’re super trendy! Also perfect for hiding the mess when you’re in a hurry to clean up before your guests arrive ;).




Adding some type of shelving is a have-to in your utility room. Whether it’s hung on the wall or in a nook like the picture shown, every one needs one. These little cubby holes are cute, simple, and super functional. Not to mention adding the counter on top of them to take advantage of even more SPACE!

3. Utility Sink

Sinks can definitely be useful in a laundry room, but they aren’t a “must-have” item in order to create a fully functioning room. If you have the space, and it’s in the budget, why not go ahead and add one? There are endless options to choose from as well.

c79b75de41862651b61b06de12d51a72If you have pets or live near a beach, a tiled “mini” shower may be more practical for you than an actual sink. Easy and more accessible to get your dog in and out of, and an effective way to rinse ones sandy or muddy feet off before traipsing through the house.


Using an old washtub is a cute and popular sink if you’re going for the rustic look in your utility room.


If you’re trying to remain budget friendly, just find a standard utility sink and dress it up with a curtain around the bottom to create a trendy look and to keep your storage underneath out of sight. This small transformation can change the whole look of your room!

4. How to Decorate

Available counter and wall space will be limited when dealing with a utility room, but finding room for fresh flowers and a couple of wall hangings to make the room pop will make you fall in love with your utility room even more. You don’t need to plan your room around decorations, just find a couple of small things to set it off.





Adding a sliding barn wood door to your room and dressing it with a fancy chandelier give it the perfect rustic-chic look!


An old ladder attached to the ceiling is another budget friendly, effective, and super cute way to give your laundry room the perfect look. Hang it in front of a window so when you hang your clothes to dry it gives them that extra fresh smell!



These small wooden signs are popular decor for the laundry room. They are functional too! Easy to DIY, and won’t take up too much space.




5. For the Pets

You’ve already seen the mini shower that is serviceable to dogs, but how about these cozy spaces? Our four-legged friends are always an equal part of our family, so it’s only fair that they have their own “me” space as well ;). Simply remove a lower cabinet area and add a pet bed to it. Or for those who aren’t as trust worthy, you can turn it into a kenneled area even. Turn it into a space that your pooch will love too!

6. Working with a Small Space

So you don’t have a lot of space for your laundry room? No problem! Add a fresh coat of paint and some shelves and you’ll have an adorable, yet still functional room. These options only take up one wall, leaving you with plenty of extra space.

7. Color Schemes


You always want to go with a clean, fresh look for a laundry room. I mean, it is where a lot of the cleaning and freshness in your home comes from! What colors come to mind when you think of clean or fresh? Blues, greens, yellows, and white. Those are always safe choices when painting your utility room.

8. Types of Flooring

Tile? Hardwood? Painted concrete?

Tile is clearly the most favored flooring in a laundry room. There’s a large variety to choose from. Between size, color, design, the options are endless.

Another trending design is hardwood floors. Obviously this circles back to the look you’re wanting, but if you are going for more of a rustic look, hardwood floors would be perfect!


Don’t rule out your chance of having a cute utility room if yours is located in the basement. Simply spice it up with a coat of paint on the floor!

9. Unique Organization

This is where you can really make all of your creative dreams come true. There are SO many ways to organize a utility room that will make your OCD peak with happiness.

Get a slide out card to store between your washer and dryer. Install a fold out ironing board in your cabinet to utilize more space.


If you make your own laundry soap, store it in a large drink dispenser! Not only is this super cute, its easy to store on a shelf and completely functional at the same time.

Utility Knife16012505

Again, for the DIY lover: glue a magnet to the side of your utility sink to hang your paint brushes from so you don’t have to worry about the left over color staining or making a mess on your counter or sink.



Last but not least, here are a couple ideas of putting your space to use to benefit the pooches. Using a pull out trash can to store dog food is mess-free and just plain genius!

10. Inspirational Pictures

For even more laundry room inspiration, follow our “Utility Rooms” board on Pinterest!

Nontoxic Methods to Get Rid of Pesky Ants


It’s that time of year again! Dealing with those pesky ants in and around your home can become quite the job. Don’t like using toxic chemicals in your home? No worries! Here are a couple of remedies to get rid of them with nontoxic products you probably already have laying around your house.



If you’re noticing an abundance of ants outside of your home, cornstarch is a safe alternative you can use to rid of them. You can use this method inside of your home too, but it could get a little messy. Simply apply a generous amount around the area where the ants are located. You want there to be enough cornstarch for them to carry it back to their home.

Once you have done that, you will need to make the area wet. Whether you turn your sprinklers on, use a watering can or spray bottle, make sure the cornstarch is nice and damp. It will then turn into a concrete like substance that will eventually kill the ants. It may take a day or two for the process to completely work.


DIY Spray

TWO Ingredients:

1. White Vinegar

2. Any Essential Oil

Find an old spritzer bottle and fill it with white vinegar. Depending on the amount of vinegar used, add several drops of an essential oil (I use peppermint or lemon because I like the smell of those best). Shake it up a little, and you’re good to go! Just spray the designated area and your ant problem will be gone. This method is especially good to use in the home because you don’t have to worry about dumping/storing toxic chemicals around.

Hope this helps! Follow us for more useful tips and tricks to use around the home.


-Pine Ridge Homes Family

Advantages of Modular Construction vs. Stick-Built Homes

Advantages of Modular Construction

Why should you buy a System-Built Home instead of a traditional Stick-Built Home? The reasons may surprise you.


Below are some of the main advantages of our system-building technology.


  • Climate Controlled Environment- Since the harmful effects of the weather are eliminated, the wood used to construct your home is more true and square. that in-turn results in a better quality home that is free from weather related defects.
  • Consistent Quality- Our factories have refined a detailed building process, resulting in superior and consistent quality. They maintain quality through the steady employment of experienced, skilled and highly trained employees who have a sense of pride and ownership in the homes they build.
  • Quality Control Inspections- Throughout the building process, quality control inspections are performed by employees, as well as third-party inspectors to ensure consistent quality and code compliance that meets or exceeds local, state and national building codes.
  • Superior Strength- Every home is built with 1/3 more lumber and fastening materials than traditional stick-built homes to withstand the stress of transportation and erections, resulting in a more durable end product.
  • Cost Savings- Our ability to build your home, while also completing a site preparation, reduces total construction time and lowers interest payments on a construction loan.
  • Precision Engineering- Computer aided drafting (CAD) allows precision customization and flexibility in floor plan designs. We offer a wide variety of ranch, cape and two-story floor plans and elevations.
  •  Energy Efficiency- The vast majority of our suppliers are ENERGY STAR* partners and committed to using energy-efficient building methods and materials. Our homes are capable of being ENERGY STAR* verified through an optional third-party home energy rater to ensure.
  • Outstanding Customer Service- Every home comes with a full, one-year limited warranty and a 10-year structural warranty. Pine Ridge and our suppliers have a dedicated service department that works with you to provide professional service. In addition, many of the brand name components, such as appliances, shingles and siding used in your home, are covered by separate manufacturer warranties.


Feel free to contact us at or give us a call at 618-283-4340 with any questions.


-Pine Ridge Home Family