by Christy Heitger-Ewing | photos by 360 Tour Designs

The beauty of high-end finishes naturally draws the eyes of prospective homeowners, but it’s the high-quality “behind the scenes” products in the structure of your home that truly make a difference for years to come.

“I always tell people that what’s most important is what’s hidden behind the walls that you don’t see,” says Joe Garcia, owner of G&G Custom Homes. “I’m big into the structure of the home, and at this price point, more and more people want structural integrity.”

For example, Garcia uses 2×6 exterior wall construction rather than 2×4. As a result, the blow-in fiberglass insulation that he uses provides two additional inches of insulation. That, in turn, improves the home’s energy efficiency by providing a higher R value. Garcia also recommends using high-efficiency HVAC systems for improved air quality and Low-E (low-emissivity) windows to reduce UV and infrared light entering a home.

The trend toward large picture windows in modern homes makes efficiency especially important. A window wall can provide scenic views for the back of your home, but they also create a greenhouse effect that can leave parts of the home more exposed to variable temperatures.

“We want to make sure windows are as efficient as possible, but we also need to make sure that the HVAC system we install can handle it,” says Garcia. “You can have a house with windows facing a certain direction of the sun, but without the right HVAC system, the house will either be hot in the summer or cold in the winter.”

The direction of your floorplan and number of windows on sun-facing walls can dramatically change the size of HVAC necessary for your property. Experts like the team at G&G build these considerations into the design process, so that your new home is perfect from the day you move in.

“What’s the point of having a beautiful house with a dynamite view if it’s too hot to sit in the room with all the windows?” says Garcia.

It’s critical to hire a builder you can trust who knows all of the important things to incorporate. For instance, Garcia uses ZipWall to create a tighter structure on the exterior prior to covering it up with brick or siding. The seams get taped with this product, improving the R-value insulation barrier that protects the home.

“You’ve seen homes under construction with a house wrap,” says Garcia. “If it’s not done right, the paper flaps in the wind.”

The right lighting also helps elevate a home to the next level – not the decorative lighting above kitchen tables and vanities but the canned lighting in the ceiling that’s meant to blend in and disappear. Homeowners can purchase lighting options where the lighting color and intensity adjusts depending on the time of day. This can set the mood in the evenings, queuing homeowners that it’s almost time for bed, or time for work in the morning. It can also help to keep your home utilities low. The lights dim or brighten based on the natural light coming in.

Sometimes a homeowner will question why a custom home with similar features and square footage to a spec home costs more money. The answer always lies behind the walls. Increasingly, Garcia is finding that homeowners are eager to pay for these better quality products because it really does make a difference.

Many homeowners still want to upgrade their appliances, countertops, cabinets, and finishes, but they are equally as interested in ensuring the structural integrity of the home. These investments help to build a structure that will stand the test of time.

“I don’t skimp on the insulation, windows, furnace, or the AC unit,” says Garcia. “I’m only going to build nice, efficient structures that are going to last.”

To learn more about how to raise the “behind-the-scenes” quality of your home, visit