Storage Unit: To Have or Have Not

Storage units in a self storage facility at outdoor

As the amount of baby boomers retiring is growing and more and more millennials are branching out creating a new way of life, escaping the traditional trend of passing furniture and heirlooms from generation to generation – the question arises – what to do with all of this stuff?

Our society as a whole is in a lifestyle shift and although the idea of not hoarding multiple tables and sets of china is not a typical concern of people in their 50s and above, the younger generation is creating an influx of storage units and their desire to be utilized on a fast whim.  The reality is the younger generation is choosing to live more freely and not be bound by stuff.  This presents a question as you get ready to move your parents into assisted living or determining what to do with your parents furnishings as they choose to downsize.  Do you choose to get a storage unit or not?

Storage units were originally designed to be used as a temporary means to “store” items between moves or for shorter periods of time.  For many families the months and sometimes years of storage payments made almost don’t make sense when it comes to comparing the value of items being stored with the cost of long time storage.

If you are in the process of building a custom home, you may want to consider building a storage space within your garage area, added expandable bonus space in attic areas within your home or a detached storage unit.  The cost of long term storage units can be just that – costly!  So instead of throwing money away, plan your home design to include potential storage space for items you may encounter.

The multi-generational way of life is a reality these days, three generations of families living among each other at different stages of their lives and this situation can incur a reason to store practical items.

Before you choose to use a storage unit or determine if adding storage space to your floor plan is practical ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you need all of the items you are wanting to store?
  2. How long do you intend to store these items?
  3. Do these items need to be in conditioned storage space?
  4. Do you have a plan to retrieve the items out of storage?

The last thing you want to experience is paying for a storage unit for a lengthy period only to discover you really didn’t need the items or uncover the items were damaged due to not being in conditioned space, as is the case with artwork or invasive animals nesting in your stored items.  The other reality you do not want to face is realizing 2 years of payments has gone by and you still don’t have a plan to recover your stored items.  Take time to review your options and surely your decision to store or not store will meet your expectations and not put a dent in your budget. To discuss storage options you may want to consider for your new custom built home, visit us at

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Moisture NOT Welcome Here


Many of us have associated the word moisture with mold and mildew and structural failure when it comes to excess moisture within a home. The truth is there is a place for moisture when it comes to our everyday home environment. The key term, like with so many other things in life, is “in moderation”. Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night with dry mouth, dry lips or dry eyes? The furnace within our homes, during winter, not only warms the air passing through it, it also dries it out to some degree, leaving the humidity in our homes less than what is desired. This can be corrected by ensuring the heating system is properly designed, distributed properly throughout the home, and in some cases with an in-line humidifier added to achieve optimal comfort.

Moisture is also important in the summer time, as it relates to the humidity in our homes. By having the proper moisture level in the air, it makes the inside temperature seem more comfortable. In the summer this isn’t usually a big problem, but in some instances if the humidity levels are too low, the home may seem warmer, even when the thermostat says 72 degrees. The science behind this is the fact that 72 degrees can feel much different with a minimum difference in humidity. Recall a time you went outside just after a rain on a hot summer day. It always seems so much hotter than the thermometer says it is.

Some places within your home where moisture may not be welcomed are those areas more prone to problems when there is just too much water. This could include mold in an improperly ventilated area or mildew in an area lacking daily sunlight. It could potentially mean structural failure for an area that is meant to stay fairly dry, such as footings of your home. It could also mean pest problems when the moisture is just too much. Termites, ants and other pests are attracted to damp areas, especially when wood is part of the equation.

All in all, no panic should set in if you notice a little condensation on a window, or maybe a little moisture forming near an air vent. These things are pretty normal in the full scope of typical house life. The areas you should watch for, which aren’t normal, include water dripping from the ceiling, a returning wet spot on the floor, or maybe even discoloration in some drywall or woodwork. These are typical signs when something may be awry. Understanding what too much moisture is and being mindful of good and bad moisture levels within your home can ensure good air quality and prevent further damage.  To learn more about how to maintain reasonable moisture levels within your new custom built home, visit us at

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Backup Systems

With all the green initiatives today, adding extra focus within any new home can be a challenge for some builders when dealing with the growing eco-friendly, efficient minded consumer. It’s ideal for a builder to produce an appealing product suitable for the general public, however home-buyers looking to have custom features are looking for a little more “oomph” when it comes to their home design.

Dependability is one area everyone can agree is important when it comes to building a lasting home. We all want to know if the thermostat is set on 72 degrees, it will be between 70 and 74 degrees throughout the house.  For most homeowners, panic sets in when the thermostat is set on 72, but the temperature within the home is registering at 82 degrees.  Your mind may start racing wondering if it is the AC unit, or possibly bad batteries in the thermostat.

As winter sets in, freezing temperatures can sometimes cause a few days without one of our main staples, water!  You awaken in the morning to discover nothing is coming out of the pipes and all of sudden your day became a bit more challenging.

In these situations, from power outages, lack of water or heat, knowing it could have been somewhat avoidable doesn’t bring comfort when you are in the middle of a crisis.  Any motor or mechanical device will fail at some point. The best way to plan for these emergencies is by considering backup systems where it makes sense. It isn’t a bad idea to have a generator backup that is designed to feed the main breakers if there is a power outage for some reason. This helps to ensure the food in the fridge is safe from ruining, and keeps air temperature in the home at a comfortable level during extreme conditions.

A few backup systems you may want to consider as you plan your new custom built home are wood burning fireplaces and propane heaters. With these systems you just need to ensure you have a reasonable amount of wood/fuel available if a need should arise. This doesn’t do anything for the food in the fridge, or keep the water running, but it does help to ensure you have warmth if needed. Some old-fashioned wood burning stoves, in addition to providing heat even allow you to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or stew should the time arise.

Another backup system you may want to consider is a water reserve. Many people have  several gallons of water on hand during an emergency situation, however installing a large quantity professional water reserve may be an option to consider when it comes to the “extras” you want within your new home.  The time to consider these back up systems is not during a power outage or after the pipes in your yard have frozen.  As you consider all of the custom aspects available to you as you design your new home, make sure to learn more about features such as these. To discuss more options you may want to consider for your new custom built home, visit us at

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Each department within America’s Home Place plays an important role during the home building process.  Once you have selected a floor plan, met with a Building Consultant and made all suggestions for requested changes, the drafting department receives the red lined plans and prepares a preliminary design plan for the customer to review prior to construction.  Upon reviewing these revised plans during the pre-construction meeting, you will be able to visualize what your home will look like and once the finalized plans are approved by the home buyer our drafting department will move forward with the permit plans.

The drafting department creates and adapts the plans, verifying all components within the home are in the right location and that everything is prepared and ready to build.  This process includes each phase of the plans, from the design set to the full set of construction plans.

Open floor plans are very popular, many of our homebuyers look to socialize among rooms, while entertaining friends and family.  Tile showers, hardwood and raised ceilings are also very popular options. Craftsman architecture is a nice feature, incorporating larger overhangs and columns.  Some floor plans extend outdoor livable spaces.  As you plan your custom home consider all possible options so the drafting department can design a plan that is unique to your family.

Additional changes the drafting department usually sees may include increasing a bathroom size or layout, adding a bonus room, selecting where additional built in shelving is located or raising countertop height.  Raised ceilings, or having a treyed ceiling in the foyer and living room can offer a spacious feel.  The exterior of the home is also a great place to consider adding architectural flair.   Consider cement siding with brackets and corbels along with oversized spacious porches and decks for a way to enjoy your living space outdoors.

Our drafting department creates new plans every few weeks and we are always updating our existing plans to include new features and optional architectural elevations.  At America’s Home Place we listen to our home buyers and in many cases, upon hearing similar requests, our drafting department will incorporate features as standard within our floor plans.  You can request a free floor plan book and you are welcome to visit our open house events in a location near you. For more information on the Building Process visit us at

Learn More About the Home Building Process

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If you have questions regarding your new custom home, you may submit your questions through Twitter and allow us the opportunity to help others like you discover how easy it can be to build your new dream home.  The first step is to build with a reputable builder.  Our building consultants will work with you, allowing you the option to choose all of your selections within our customized design centers.  Upon your initial appointment, a floor plan will be chosen and an appointment will be scheduled to review the plan and select all of the options for that specific plan.

Options you will select from include flooring, counter tops, cabinets, hardware as well as all exterior materials. There are a variety of colors, styles and finishes for most products, including bathroom faucet style and finishes.  If you already have an idea in mind of items you want to include within your custom build, we welcome you to bring in these ideas so our Building Consultants have the opportunity to work with you to design your new custom home.  A selection appointment usually takes between 1 – 3 hours.  Our model homes and selection centers give many ideas and options for building and we invite you to explore these options in person, or through our many available online virtual home tours.

Granite counter tops are standard in our kitchens and some bathrooms.  Customers frequently asking for hardwood, encouraged us to include this as a standard option in several locations within specific  house plans.  At America’s Home Place, we understand you have your own unique style, and designing your home and selecting every detail is truly a custom experience.  During your home customization process, you have the option to see completed homes, design options that have worked well together, as well as work with Project Managers and Building Consultants to offer experience with color selections you may prefer. 

Bringing all of the components of the building process together within a single location is an easy process we have already prepared for you.  Within our building center locations, America’s Home Place team of Building Professionals enjoy working with each family, bringing their home to life.  For more information on customizing your new home, visit us at

Learn More About Americas Home Place Custom Home Features

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Many customers want to know how they can become a homeowner, essentially wondering how they can finance a home.

Getting a home loan to build a house is a little different than buying an existing home.  The pre-qualification is the first step to determining which program works best for the customer and what budget and house payment they can afford.  Once a pre-approval is in place, a loan officer will review the steps involved with a construction loan, explaining what to expect, out of pocket expenses, and in some cases explain how 100% construction financing works.  The pre-qualification process requires limited information, including name, income information, social security number and authorization to run credit report to determine liabilities and financial responsibilities.  Once the proposed lender has the pre-qualification information completed, they will be able to tell you how much home you will qualify for.

When a customer comes to America’s Home Place, picks out a house and receives a pre-qualification, the next step is to complete a full application package.  Once this step is processed the results will give the breakdown of the approximate closing cost and an appraisal request will be placed on the property to be built.  It typically takes 7 to 10 days to get an appraisal back on the property and at that time the lender will submit for the permanent loan approval and closing will generally take place within 30 days.  Once the loan is closed construction funding will be made available and construction on your new home can begin.

The approval process for lenders may vary.  Homebuyers should be employed for about 2 years with a steady source of income.  All parties must meet the minimum credit score requirement, which is typically 620.  In some cases lenders are able to provide tips to increase the credit score when repairs are needed.

Debt to income ratios have to be reviewed, and usually do not need to exceed 41%.  This will allow the lender to know how much house you will likely be approved for.  If you complete a pre-qualification and your credit score isn’t quite high enough to qualify for permanent financing, Hamilton Bank has a lot of tools they can use to help determine what factors are needed to increase your credit score.  In many cases there may be a few things needing correction or paid in order to bring the score up as quickly as possible.

Some red flags may include high balances on credit cards and reducing these balances can help improve the credit score. America’s Home Place is not affiliated with Hamilton Bank, but does work with them as one of their preferred lenders available to serve new homeowners.  Once the loan is established, the lender will explain how and why interest payments are due while the home is being built and it is recommended at that time to secure the initial years homeowners insurance.  If there are changes during the building process, a customer may want to verify their approved funds will cover the expense and in some cases these budgets can be increased if necessary.  If you are unsure, check with your lender or inquire with a Building Consultant for more information.  Once the home is built the lender attempts to convert the construction loan into a permanent loan within 10 days.  After the conversion of the loan, the first home payment is typically due within 30 to 45 days. 

Some loans offer 100% financing, including VA loans and USDA loans.  In order to find out what loan you may qualify for contact your local America’s Home Place office here.

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Helping customers find land is a part of our everyday service.  A common question America’s Home Place Building Consultants hear is “Do I have to own my land before I schedule an appointment?”  The answer to this question is No!

About 50% of our customers have already purchased their land while the remaining 50% is still searching for the right location for their new custom home.  Your Building Consultant will gladly meet with you to discuss what type of property you are searching for and help you find a lot.  In addition to finding a lot, you will have the opportunity to search floor plans meeting the needs of you and your family.  If you are interested in receiving a free floorplan book Click Here!

Once your floor plan is selected and you have several pieces of land you are taking into consideration, your building team will assist you with a site evaluation to make sure the floorplan you choose will work well on the properties you are considering.  In addition to this, our Project Managers will review your budget and offer suggestions regarding each of the lots you are considering so you have the information you need to make the best choice for the location of your new home and your financial budget. 

Once you have selected the property, a customer can make a contract on the lot, and within a short period of time the closing for the lot and home can take place, allowing construction to begin.  In some cases, the home buyer, the Realtor and the Building Consultant are working together throughout the closing process, making sure everything goes smoothly.

If you are relocating and looking to build away from where you currently reside, America’s Home Place Building Consultants will gladly work with you virtually, emailing lots to look at and in essence becoming the bridge to assisting you with the steps necessary to build the home you want on the land you choose.

Our Building Consultants, Project Managers and Superintendents typically live within the local area they serve, which is an added benefit to our homebuyers.  This allows our homebuyers to have access to dependable contacts within the area including the knowledge of available land, which is a good resource for customers.  Whether you are looking to reside within a specific school district, being close to shopping resources or looking for a rural property close to state parks the team of Building Professionals with America’s Home Place welcomes your search.

So if you own your property or are considering a new home location, America’s Home Place welcomes you to visit one of our local offices to see for yourself all of the many available services we offer when it comes to building your new custom home.  For more information on Choosing your Land visit us at

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Behind the walls, switches and electrical components built deep within your home lays the foundation of creating a smart home. With technology all around us, it is no surprise how fast the adaptation to smart wiring within a home is growing. Smart wiring allows for access to your lighting, temperature controls and even viewing your family while you are elsewhere. The extensive ability to walk into a room as it automatically illuminates, allowing the air system to adjust to your family’s comfort automatically or to be able to press a button and allow your shower to heat to the perfect temperature for you – there is a growing market for smart home component applications.

Smart wiring holds a few different meanings in today’s world.  Originally it was a way to bring certain wiring components into a single box (platform) so that the different zones throughout the house could be manipulated at a single point instead of having to physically move wiring, add wiring, change wiring, etc. In other words all the cable locations throughout the house would come into the panel, and the cable company could literally carry one wire from the cable service in the yard to the panel, and then hook up any of the stations that are required (ie. Greatroom, bedroom 1, den, etc.). This could be done with the phone lines, data lines, etc. This could also be a platform for media wiring for entertainment devices such as surround sound speakers, projectors, etc.

Today the idea of smart wiring goes a little deeper. With the technology available the device itself can play into this idea of “smart” with programmable thermostats that can be broken down to the zones of the home (with proper equipment installation), the ability to control thermostat, lighting, locks, etc. from a computer or smart phone.  Security cameras that can send streaming footage to our phones based on motion sensors, etc. or lighting that can be programmed to come on and off at certain times on certain days of the week. The possibilities are vast and can be customized to the specific needs of your family.

Additional features within the home are now adaptable to include refrigerators that can let you know you are out of a certain product, stovetops that indicate heat levels to you to prevent unnecessary burns, or determine if it needs to do a self shut-off. Even products like google home and alexa take the smart home one step further by implementing our inherent nature of inquisition to include the vocal interaction with smart devices. There are plenty of resources available if you would like to learn more about smart wiring your new custom home. Visit websites to learn more about Z-wave,  Moen Smart showers, or light bulbs compatible with Alexa.

For more information on incorporating smart wiring into your new home construction visit us at

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Soon the smell of spiced apple cider and fresh pumpkin pie will fill the air.  As you approach this holiday season, giving thanks for family and friends, planning your Thanksgiving Day will soon be on the agenda.

As you entertain the ideas of food preparation, decorating your Thanksgiving table will be the centerpiece of your mind.  Creating a warm environment to share this tradition can begin with planning your table decor.  You can also use this time to fellowship with friends and engage your children to help plan an event that will bring memories to last a lifetime.

Plan an evening dessert, where you and your family can enjoy some goodies as you decide together what will be included on the Thanksgiving menu. Everyone has their favorite dishes, and this is the perfect time to come together to kick off a great holiday tradition. Once you decide on the menu, maybe you can create a chalk board display highlighting your choices; this can become part of your decor.

If you prefer traditional decor, take advantage of the lovely fall colors and make sure to include them within your planned tabletop design.  If you want to go with something different, choose a different main color, like turquoise blue, burgundy or grey and then work in other complementing colors to bring about the desired look you want to display.

Here are a few things to consider as you prepare your table decor:

  • Main table-cloth – select your main color using a solid or pattern
  • Tablecloth accent – use a vintage crocheted tablecloth or a different color cloth to overlay on the main tablecloth
  • Centerpiece – A classic look will include floral arrangements, and if you want to do a more modern look you could use a gourd style vase and mix in a few small trays featuring festive edible fall accents, maybe roasted garlic with thin bread sticks or brie and baked figs.
  • Chargers, plates and napkins – Chargers make a nice simple accent to dress up any table.  Decide if you will use paper napkins or stylish cloth napkins.  When choosing your plates, maybe everyday plates will be perfect or pull out your grandmother’s china for a more elegant venue.
  • Cups, silverware – Will you choose to use plastic cups, don’t forget the sharpie! Or will you use crystal or everyday glassware.  Silverware will also be a choice, and many families pull out their special silverware, which has been used for years on formal holiday dinners, or go for the modern path and use plastic, either way your guests will be amazed at the thought you have placed for this special time with family and friends.

In order to keep your children and grandchildren excited, keep them involved by assigning tasks to help set the table, create handmade name place settings or creative napkin foldings using online video tutorials.  You tube and Pinterest are great places to learn fun ideas to incorporate into your holiday tradition.

Deciding on whether to set your prepared dishes on the dinner table, passing prepared dishes to each other as you feast or create a buffet style serving area is your preference and many times decided based on the number of people attending.  Also keep in mind if you have a separate children’s table, help to coordinate their decor so they get to enjoy the fun of eating at an elegantly styled table.  This is a great time to enjoy stories of Thanksgiving past, while together creating memories to enjoy for many years.

We hope you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving with many happy memories within your home.

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For some of the same reasons people choose organic gardening over traditional gardening, more and more people are using environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.  The cleaning supplies you choose to use inside your home can include harsh chemicals.  These chemicals may be abrasive to the skin or unhealthy to breath and in some cases can be harmful for animals and small children.

Environmentally friendly cleaners are typically better for anyone using them or exposed to them, including the environment.  Learning which recipes to create on your own, or finding the right cleaners to use can be a process, however the internet has made this so easy for us!

To start, we must understand the basic ingredients for many of these cleaners.  These include baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice.  Others may also incorporate soap, washing soda or borax.    You want to make sure you are careful when mixing ingredients, and it’s always good to follow recipes that are known to work.  Pinterest is a great place to search for these cleaners.  Sprouts Farmers Market has a nice Pinterest link showing a few recipes you may want to try.

To clean Mirrors and Windows, try this recipe:

  • ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 12 drops of lemon essential oil

Pour the ingredients into a clean spray bottle and shake well.  Spray on surface and wipe with a clean cloth.

And for a general cleaner, try this one:

  • 1 tbsp. of liquid castile soap
  • ½ cup of white distilled vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups of water

Take an empty spray bottle and combine liquid castile soap, white distilled vinegar and water.  Replace the cap on and shake well.  This makes a nice multipurpose cleaner.

In addition to some of the basic ingredients that go into making these environmentally friendly cleaners, you can also use essential oils.  Different essentials oils may have antibacterial qualities as well as offer a fresh scent to your cleaning supplies.  If you have tips and recipes you have used around your home, let us know in the comments section.

Building the house you want is only one part of creating a home, and you do have a choice when it comes to the chemicals you bring inside your house.  Whether you are using environmentally friendly cleaners like simple green, or making your own cleaners at home, discovering some of the benefits of using these products may help your family as well as the world we live in.

For more information about this topic and how it applies to your new custom home contact us at

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