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What It’s Like To Work with Dickson Development

What it's like to work with Dickson Development

Ask architect John Pazdera what it’s like to work with Richard Dickson, and he’s likely to reminisce about the day they met. The two go back more than a decade to when Dickson Development was building an addition for one of John’s cousins. “I always remember how Richard stopped by the site during construction, and the way he paid attention to every detail. It made a lasting impression,” he says.

A Solid Foundation of Long-term Relationships

Richard Dickson has been on construction sites since he was 10 years old. The son of a builder, he says it’s all he can remember wanting to do. The firm he founded in his name, Dickson Development, has been designing, building and renovating homes in the Princeton area for more than 46 years. That kind of longevity in a relatively small geographic area can be explained in one word: relationships. With clients, trade partners and team members.

John is one of several long-standing trade partners, and an extended member of the Dickson team that includes president and CEO Richard Dickson, project manager Bonnie Foster and office manager Ronnie Rudolph. John provides the architectural design work on a majority of Dickson Development’s design-build projects.

Design-build combines design and construction into one seamless delivery method. “Basically, this means that we integrate architectural design into our construction process, and we become the single source of contact for the client. This can be very convenient and cost-effective for the client,” explains Richard. “Design-build is an alternative to design-bid-build, which separates design and build. Naturally, we are happy to work both ways. If clients bring us their own drawings, we collaborate closely with their architects to complete the project.”

After completing dozens upon dozens of projects with Dickson Development, John knows exactly what to expect. “There is a respect for details, which I really appreciate as an architect. With Richard, the homeowner always comes first, and finishing on time and on budget is a top priority,” John says. “The process is smooth and as painless as possible. They just have really good clients. It’s an enjoyable experience all around.”

signClients Know What to Expect: Attentive Service

Clients also know what to expect, and this has resulted in a great deal of repeat work and referral business. “We don’t just get repeat business from previous customers,” Dickson says. “We get referrals from generation to generation. We’re working on a project now that was referred to us by the homeowner’s parents, whose home we had renovated many years earlier.”

Both Richard and Bonnie spend a great deal of time up front getting to know the homeowner. What are their goals and vision? What do they want their living space to say about them? How do they live now, and how do they want to live when the project is complete?

Based on these conversations, Dickson collaborates with John and other trade partners to create the ideal solution. A member of the Dickson staff always accompanies the homeowner to choose appliances, flooring, cabinets and other finishes to not only help them make the best decisions, but to make sure everything arrives on time. “It’s always a pleasure when Bonnie comes into our showroom with one of their clients,” says Heather Winn, lighting manager of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Lawrenceville.

Trade Partners Are Valued Extensions of the Dickson Team

They understand how proper lighting can transform a room but also take time to understand each client’s personal style,” Heather notes. “With so many options available today, it can be overwhelming. We partner with the Dickson team to educate homeowners and provide a number of solutions. They’ll come into the showroom with specs and measurements, and visions.”

What happens when a homeowner’s visions need adjustments on-site? Dickson Development rarely takes jobs that are more than 15 minutes from their office to allow someone to be on-site on short notice. “By staying close to Princeton, we can manage and supervise the process, provide quality control, and deliver the kind of customer service homeowners demand when they make a major investment,” says Richard.

Of course, it’s not just proximity to the job site that makes Dickson successful. Dickson works only with trade partners whose expertise, talent and work ethic have been proven time after time. Ultimately, it’s the homeowner who benefits from these relationships.

“I have known Richard Dickson for many, many years and didn’t expect anything less than a stellar experience when we remodeled our entire townhome earlier this year,” says Gail Levitt of Lawrenceville, New Jersey. “There were no surprises, and there was ongoing communication and collaboration. In a matter of days, we picked out almost everything, from the cabinets at Woodhaven Lumber, to the ceramic tiles at Galaxy Tile, to the fixtures at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. “We got incredible service wherever we went.”

Open, Spacious, Bright Kitchen Remodel in Princeton NJA Stake in the Princeton Market

This is not only a reflection of long-term relationships but also of the strong reputation Dickson has built in the Princeton area. “I’ve been working with the same plumber since I started the business 46 years ago,” Richard says. “His father was my father’s plumber. Because we work with the same trade partners on every project, we know the work will be done to our high standards.”

With hundreds of building and renovation projects complete, all within a seven-mile radius, what’s up next for Dickson Development? Certainly not retirement.

“I’m 72 years old, and I still love going to work,” Richard laughs. “Why would I want to stop?”

To schedule a consultation, email or call Richard Dickson at 609-799-0220.

Today’s Discerning Homeowners Want A Peaceful, Open Kitchen

Open Kitchen Remodel - Princeton NJ Contractor - Dickson Development

Clean, clean, clean. Sleek, uncluttered, peaceful and open. Those are the adjectives that best describe the trends in kitchen design these days. And did I mention clean?

The clean and open look, which has been gathering steam for many years, is now going as far as sacrificing cabinet storage for new windows that offer views of nature and give household chefs a feeling of peaceful relief. That single window over the sink? No more. Homeowners tell us that they want sunlight and more sunlight.

“Our clients want their kitchens to be centerpieces in their open layouts. They ask us to take down walls between rooms so that when the chef is hard at work in the kitchen, they don’t feel isolated,” says Richard Dickson

That’s not to say that storage isn’t important. More than half of homeowners believe that adequate storage is the most important feature in the kitchen. So if we’re removing cabinets in favor of windows, where do we find storage? One growing trend is to build separate walk in pantries, which can hold much more dry goods, appliances and kitchenware than cramped cabinets.

Creating Storage in Creative Ways

Kitchen Remodeling Storage Ideas - Dickson Development - PrincetonAnother popular place to hide storage is under the ever-growing kitchen island. In addition to cabinetry, homeowners are also placing microwave ovens and even second refrigerators under the kitchen island.Particularly popular are refrigerated drawers that can be installed next to the sink in an island. Why? You can keep items like fresh produce within easy reach of the sink while saving space in the main refrigerator.

Hiding that microwave is particularly important for the vast majority of people who are trying to keep their counters as uncluttered as humanly possible. And the ever-important electrical outlets and charging stations tend to be recessed or otherwise hidden. Many homeowners today are subtly planting home assistants from Amazon or Google to go along with their voice-controlled appliances.

Quartz vs. Granite: And the Winner Is?

Modern Kitchen Remodel in Princeton, NJSpeaking of those countertops, homeowners today want a sleek, engineered look. And while granite is still popular, increasingly owners are turning to engineered quartz, which is impervious to bacteria and germs and unlikely to be stained by oil, tomatoes, coffee and other common kitchen items. Most importantly, engineered quartz comes in a richer range of color options than can be found in natural stone, including bright greens, blues and yellows.

But even though they can get those richer colors, homeowners tend to be sticking with the white or grey kitchen, particularly for backsplashes, countertops and wall finishes. Some designers are even recommending the same materials for the countertops and the backsplash for an even more minimalist and cleaner aesthetic.

Standing out amongst all the white is jewel-like cabinet hardware that needs to be as functional as it beautiful. Some popular finishes are chrome, polished chrome, nickel, matte stain nickel, lacquered aluminum, gold and coffee. Bright colored cabinetry and warm wood finishes are also emerging as new trends.

Everything Minimalist … Except the Kitchen Sink

Open, Spacious, Bright Kitchen Remodel in Princeton NJThose finishings, however, do not seem to be transitioning to the sink, where most people still prefer a large under-mounted single bowl in stainless steel. While the farm house sink is still somewhat popular, the stainless steel bowl wins the day, particularly since some manufacturers are adding on items such as fitted cutting boards, drying racks and a bottom grid.

Today’s kitchen has emerged as the center of activity in many homes. At the center of many new kitchens is a large island where people gather, prepare food and eat. Many homeowners are even eliminating a traditional kitchen table completely. This is a significant shift in the way we live, and in the way we design kitchens.

To schedule a consultation, email or call Richard Dickson at 609-799-0220.

Prepping Your Home for Nicer Weather

Update your deck for summer - Princeton NJ

With the longer, colder days – hopefully — soon over, now is the time to think about dedicating a sunny weekend day for starting to prep your house for spring and summer.

Some of the best ways to check your home’s post-winter integrity is to grab a pair of binoculars and scan your roof for curling, cracked or missing shingles. Also check for damaged metal flashing around any chimneys, pipes and skylights.

And while you are checking the roof, make sure to scan the rest of your house for any damaged siding, which can be easily fixed. A good scrub brush and sturdy cleanser should eliminate winter dirt and mold on vinyl, aluminum or engineered wood siding. Think about getting your gutters cleaned out, powering washing your siding and checking for any possible winter damage.

Now is also the time to make sure your air conditioning systems are going to be ready. Replace your air conditioner’s filter or have your central air system professionally checked (or maybe think about getting a more energy-efficient system installed). Give us a call for help or referrals for these and other necessary fixes.

Get Your Home Ready for Spring and Summer:

  • Get your deck ready for SummerConsider dedicating a spot in your garage to outdoor sports gear. Sports storage racks – either wall mounted or sitting on the floor — can make the most of your space and keep the complaining down from the kids who can never ever find anything!
  • What about that porch or decking? Summer is the time for outdoor living so make sure to make your outdoor spaces as comfortable as possible with ample seating, fresh cushions and candles. If bugs and mosquitos bother you, consider an overhead fan or have your porch screened in. It may also be time to consider redoing your decking and upgrading to engineered wood.
  • And why not make this the year that you finally invest in the outdoor feature that you and your family have been dreaming about? A fire pit, grilling area, pizza oven, outdoor shower, hot tub … the possibilities are endless and these types of upgrades can add long-term value to your property.

To schedule a consultation, email or call Richard Dickson at 609-799-0220.

3 Deck Remodels at Princeton’s Province Hill

Outdoor Kitchen and Deck Renovations - Princeton NJ

Princeton Deck Renovations and Deck Builder

Outdoor Living Spaces for Every Taste and Lifestyle.

Whether you are building a new deck or remodeling an old one, durability and function are just as important as a sharp design. You will want to choose the right materials. Make the best use of available space. Consider the various ways in which you plan to use the deck. And, yes, you will also want to create an outdoor living space that is just as comfortable and inviting as an interior one.

Outdoor Kitchen and Deck Renovations - Princeton NJ

A deck is designed to connect the inside to the out. Before you get started, ask yourself a few practical questions:

  • Will you use the deck to entertain guests, reflect and relax, or keep the kids outdoors during the summer?
  • Do you have room to expand your current deck outward or upward, or both, as multilevel decks are becoming increasingly popular?
  • Do you want the deck to adjoin a hot tub, pool or gazebo, or a particular room in the house?
  • How much privacy do you want?
  • Do you have the time and budget to maintain a natural wood deck, or should you investigate a low-maintenance, composite material such as Trex?

The three decks featured on this page were all designed to create comfortable, easy-to-maintain living and entertaining spaces that enhance the individual lifestyles of the owners. They are all located in Princeton’s Province Hill Development.

Province Hill is a gated community of 34 single-family, ranch-style homes built by Dickson Development between 1979 and 1982. Dickson designed the homes to have a rustic, West Coast feel, with ample space around the properties. Many but not all of the original homes had wooden decks. Over time, some of the decks were replaced by patios or reconfigured by new owners, while others may not have been maintained regularly.

“It is always a pleasure to get a chance to work on a home we built, especially when we can reconnect with the original homeowner,” says Richard Dickson. “In each of the decks, I had the opportunity to enhance homes I originally built using new construction techniques, materials and design trends.”

Princeton Deck Renovations

A Deck with Trex: A Low-Maintenance Alternative to Wood

This deck was designed to have a smooth flow from the house to the deck, specifically from the kitchen and formal areas of the living room and dining room to the outdoors. It was also designed to be low to the ground so no railing was needed. The structural frame was constructed with ground contact–approved treated lumber.

The deck also features a popular composite material called Trex, which is available in a variety of shades that never need staining. With this alternative to wood, you don’t have to worry about termites, rotting or splinters. The initial investment is higher than natural wood, but you save on maintenance over the lifetime of the deck. Trex is also made of 95 percent recyclable wood.

“This material did not exist when we were building the Province Hill neighborhood. Trex is low maintenance and should last for decades,” says Richard.

The deck adjoins the gazebo, which needed to be removed and reinstalled. “We did not build the original deck and gazebo; there was a patio here instead,” adds Richard. “Our challenge was to lift it off the deck, intact, and then reinstall it after the deck was constructed, which involved a lot of labor.”

The refurbished gazebo now has new siding and screening, which match the materials on the inside. The newly painted gazebo fits nicely into the deck, yet another comfortable transition from one space to the next.

A Deck to Connect: Welcoming Nature HomePrineton Deck Renovations - Princeton NJ

This simple yet elegant outdoor space was also built using Trex decking as well as Trex railing. The deck was just one part of a major renovation that included a completely remodeled bathroom and kitchen. The new kitchen offers direct access to the deck, and inviting views of the deck and yard.

Dickson built the home in 1981, and it’s still owned by the same person. The home originally had steps from the dining room/living room area to a paver patio that adjoined a small deck off the kitchen. Dickson removed the patio and steps as well as the original deck. The new deck was constructed to coordinate with the renovations happening inside.

When the new kitchen was installed, the doorway to the original decks was closed off. “There is now direct access to the deck from the kitchen and dining room/living room,” Richard explains. “New Anderson sliding doors lead to the deck, creating a wonderful flow from the inside to the outside.”

Outdoor Kitchen and Deck Renovations - Princeton NJA Deck to Entertain and Relax in Comfort and Style

The most notable feature of this expansive deck is a perfectly appointed outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, refrigerator and under-mounted stainless steel sink. Other details of the kitchen area include granite countertops and sleek cabinetry built to withstand the outdoor elements.

“The homeowner selected an outdoor refrigerator from Coyote, a grill from American Muscle Grill, a stainless steel sink from Elkay, a kitchen faucet from Grohe, and cabinets from Atlantis Outdoor Cabinetry,” says Richard.

This 1,000-square-foot outdoor space is perfect for entertaining family and friends, with a comfortable and spacious sitting area alongside the kitchen. It’s easy to access the space from the house or the driveway. “We constructed a blue stone walkway from the driveway to the front side of the deck, and a coordinating blue stone patio on the back side, leading out to the yard,” says Richard.

The decking and railing are made from a low-maintenance material from Timbertech. Stainless steel wiring is used as railing. The step risers and top railing feature LED lighting that can be controlled from inside the house, and is on a dimmer.

Dickson built the original home in 1981 with a patio. This new deck and patio space take outdoor living to a new level.

“While each of these decks has strong, unique qualities, they have one thing in common: They are great places to live and entertain.”

Call 609.799.0220 to schedule a consultation.

Zoning Prohibits Adding Space? Go Up!

Creative Home Renovations

When zoning prohibits your expansion plans, there’s no place to go but up.

A Princeton family needed to increase the size of their home as it was no longer big enough for their growing family. Yet adding on to the existing first or second floor was prohibited by Princeton’s zoning regulations.

 After working with an architect to solve the design problem, they approached Dickson Development to do the construction. “We added a new 1,000-square-foot master suite over part of the existing house,” explains Richard Dickson.

Freestanding Bathtub in large bedroom suite additionThe renovation and expansion of this 1960s home has brought the family’s lifestyle to a new level of comfort. The master bedroom suite includes a large, well-lit dressing room and a contemporary bathroom featuring a separate freestanding bathtub, an elegant tile shower with a sleek, frameless shower door and a custom, double-sink vanity with furniture-like cabinets. The third floor also includes a lovely study.

Dickson and his team extended the original stairway using the same oak lumber on the stairs and railing, creating a cohesive transition to the third floor.

We always work with our clients to find creative solutions to make the best use of available space, integrating design, function and lifestyle,” says Richard.

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Watch This Master Bedroom Suite
Go Up in Princeton