THE FUTURISTIC HOME

So you have LED lighting in the kitchen, automatic light accents on your outlet covers and your lights self adjust when you enter or exit a room; you have wired your home with smart wiring and can now control your lights, temperature and see who is at your front door all from a small device you hold within your hand. If this doesn’t already sound like a futuristic home, go ahead and throw in the fact that your refrigerator tells you when you are running low on something and all you have to do to order new laundry detergent when you are out is press a button – Wow! Many baby boomers will attest the futuristic home has arrived. From stories as they were children, listening to their parents on how they maintained food, without refrigerators; how they entertained themselves, as the radios and televisions were sparse and everyday transportation, well there wasn’t a lot of it!!

Our society as a whole has made so many improvements to the way in which we live and how new inventions and trendy items become the everyday staple within our homes. As you build your new custom home, it may not be as easy as just selecting a plan, choosing your colors and moving in. The thought of futuristic implementations may mean the difference of you selling your home, some day.

Generations see futuristic homes differently, some children are born into a society where they think a phone is a requirement and have no idea what an ice tray is. Futuristic homes may include robotic features to remove many of the daily tasks you currently do to keep your home functioning. You may also experience energy reducing home materials generating energy through solar leaves, or possibly solar pods, designed like micro-beads and added to housing materials to help produce energy.

The Inclusion of robotic skills will most likely be within the futuristic home and as imaginations unleash new ideas and innovation puts it to work, the new home may include self-adjusting paint based on temperature, grass cutting techniques we can watch instead of doing and a virtual type of existence within a physical world of living.

Every year there are new products on the market and if you are considering building a new home, you may want to include some time to research some of the great products available today. Work with your builder to incorporate these selections to assure you are building the home of your dreams while maintaining a reasonable budget.

Check out these futuristic designs:

  • Single Stack Kitchen by Massimo Facchinetti
  • Computerized Refrigerators
  • Transparent Televisions
  • Self-sterilizing door handles
  • Google Home

When it comes to the future of homes and home designs the possibilities are only limited to our imaginations. What are some things you think of when it comes to the futuristic home or designs you would like to see within more home plans?

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

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UNDERSTANDING STANDARD FEATURES IN YOUR NEW CUSTOM HOME

Whether you are searching for a home plan to build or you are already working with a builder to build your new custom home, the words standard features, may come up throughout your building experience. So what are standard features and how does it relate to your building project?

Most builders offer a set of standard features, which are inclusive features when it comes to the beginning sales price of your new home.  In order to properly set a sales price the builder must set certain standards to know the cost, and at what price it should be sold based on this cost.  Understanding these standard features may help eliminate any frustrations throughout the process.

Consider all the variables that are involved with building a home.  Ceramic tile could be $5 per square foot, or it could be $30 per square foot, depending on the type of tile, size, color, etc.  Lighting could be brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, contemporary or traditional in style.  Flooring could include engineered hardwood, solid hardwood, laminate, etc.  Without having a starting point it would not be possible for a builder to understand the cost associated with the house.  At that point everything would have to be custom priced, and it would be hard to market to their customers.

Take some time to fully understand the product that is built into the price of your home.  Identify any gray areas with your builder to make sure you have a complete understanding of these features.  Many times a builder may include an allowance for cabinetry or countertops, and simply say that maple cabinets with granite tops are standard.  If you know much about cabinets and granite you also know that this cost could vary greatly.  Identify which maple cabinet and what grade of granite is included with your sales price.  At that point you may choose to pay additional to make an upgrade, or perhaps you like laminate tops and would want to take a credit for not using granite.  If you know the inclusions it helps to make sure you are pleased with the product, and also helps to understand where you may have a chance for cost savings.

Many reputable builders try to align their standard features with the particular area they build.  If granite and hardwood are common in the “normal” new home, they try to align so there is no unnecessary confusion.  In some instances builders are strictly using a mild form of deception by pricing their product under the market norm, as a way to get you in the door and on a contract.  Be aware of this technique and make sure the contract comes after you have a good understanding of what your home will include.

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

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RESIDENTIAL IRRIGATION SYSTEMS

How many hot summer days do you think to yourself that it would be nice if the landscaping could somehow tend to itself, so you have more time to do other things, or to spend with your family during these fun summer days.  Sometimes the landscaping gets neglected because of these tough choices during the summer on how we should spend our time.  Should we water the shrubbery and the turf, or should we go to the pool with our kids?  We can always water the bushes tomorrow.  These are probably similar words spoken by many people who now look outside to dry, brown grass and shrubs because tomorrow just didn’t come quick enough.

Ultimately, you want to create and implement a good landscaping plan that considers maintenance as much as beauty.  By installing a simple irrigation system many of these maintenance issues can become a lot easier to deal with long-term.  If you let your landscaping go for a day or even longer, at least it is being watered so it maintains the green lush life that makes it so beautiful.  You can always trim it up and cut the grass, practically restoring it to its original breath-taking image.

For the cost conscious budget it may not be practical to add irrigation to your entire yard, but typically several landscaped areas can be covered for a modest amount of money.  Although these costs vary in different parts of the country, it may be considered small in the long-term as you aren’t tasked with replacing those dried out, drooping plants and shrubs.

Like many other features in your home there are many options when it comes to irrigation.  You can set it up on a timer, or on a programmable timer.  There are even smart sprinklers that allow you to control these features from anywhere with your phone.  You can even synchronize these smart sprinklers with the weather forecast so they do not run on rainy days.  Although the sky is the limit, don’t let impressive costs that come with impressive systems sway you from the importance of making irrigation part of your landscaping plans.  It definitely pays off in the long run, and helps to make those hot summer days much more enjoyable since you have one less thing to worry about.

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

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CREATING A ROOM WITH A VIEW

In today’s world of plans and lot options we sometimes get overwhelmed with trying to make everything perfect.  You want the perfect house on the perfect lot, in the perfect neighborhood or on the perfect piece of property. Based on all the variables, this can sometimes seem to be a tall order. There are ways to compromise in certain areas without making it seem like anything was compromised.

At the end of the day your goal is to create an inviting home, which is warm and comfortable for yourself and your family to enjoy. This comes in many different forms, but one huge part of the process is making sure you take advantage of the natural beauty within sight, inside and out.

If your home will be placed on a higher elevation, consider placement of the windows to enjoy the view of beautiful sunsets in the evenings.  You will also want to plan your home so the hot afternoon sun isn’t bombarding your living room from windows that are directly across from the television.  Positioning your bedroom windows with morning light, may bring about a natural way of awakening each day.  As you review your lot and your selected home plan, think about garage placement, deciding if the garage should face left or right.  As you look at both options, try to determine which direction may offer the best privacy for those days you are in the garage tinkering on your car or shooting hoops with the kids.

Each room of the house matters when it comes to creating a view inside and out.  If it is a living area where you and your family relax, make sure it has soft light and is oriented to take advantage of any natural beauty on your lot, or in the distance.  Bedrooms work best focusing on the theme of the room, with any type of scenery outside being a secondary consideration.  Your master bedroom is primarily a private retreat, a place to unwind, possibly lounging in the bed watching a movie on lazy evenings.  It too can take advantage of views, or leave those views for shared living space throughout your home.

Once all the natural beauty outside has been considered, it is time to decorate each room, based on your style and preference.  If you have a mountain view from your Living room you may decide to integrate some rustic features or a nice stone surround at your fireplace, etc.  These items help to tie the inside of the home to the outside.  Of course it can work with whatever the view may be.  It could be pasture land, or a nice park like setting.  It may be a lake view, or a view of some large Oak trees.  Whatever it is can be pulled into the interior home décor as much as desired.  It just takes a little imagination, and sometimes it becomes a work in progress, getting better with time.

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PROTECTING YOUR HOME WHILE AWAY ON VACATION

Thinking of a warm coastal breeze with waves crashing in as you enjoy a sunset view, or planning your winter trip to the Appalachian or Rocky Mountains brings about an automatic sense of relaxation as you begin planning your vacation. While heading out for a lengthy stay somewhere else can be fun, you want to make sure as you leave your home it is safe and well protected.

Here is a checklist you can follow to give yourself peace of mind while away:

  • All windows and doors are locked
  • If you have a monitored security system, make sure your contact numbers are up to date and notify them of being away
  • If leaving during cold weather, make sure pipes are well insulated and exterior hose bibs are properly covered.
  • Make sure garages are closed completely and locked
  • Notify the post office to halt your mail delivery until you return
  • Notify your newspaper delivery or arrange for someone to pick up your papers
  • Set your thermostat to a reasonable temperature to avoid expensive utility bills while away
  • Leave a key with a friend or family member in case of an emergency
  • Notify your neighbors so they can watch for suspicious activity
  • If you are leaving pets behind, ensure they have proper food and water, or in some cases proper caretakers to check in on them
  • Make sure water faucets are off and toilets are not running
  • Turn off lights you will not need while away.

With all of the high tech options available today you may also choose to install cameras, which can be easily accessed from your cell phone.

Vacation is a time to relax and enjoy family and friends.  Whether you are out of the country on mission trips, racing down roller coasters at amusement parks or being adventurous in the great outdoors knowing your home is safe while you are away offers some comfort.

Another area you want to remember is making sure you have proper insurance, whether you are a homeowner or a renter, so in the event of an unwanted occurrence you and your home are protected.  Adding a few extra steps to protect your home prior to heading out on your adventures is a great way to start off any vacation.

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

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FUNCTIONAL ENTRIES FOR YOUR NEW HOME

As you drive around looking for the perfect home design you will notice some homes give a grand presence from the street, while other homes have a modest classic feel. Upon entering these homes the foyer will usually compliment the exterior design of the home.  A foyer is designed to be a greeting place for friends and family upon their arrival. It can set the overall tone for the house and making this space functional may prove to be a benefit for your family.

Some features to consider when designing your foyer include:

  • Custom tile, marble or wood floors
  • Decorative columns or fluted accents on adjacent doorways
  • Wainscot or wall accents
  • Ceiling medallions or Timbers
  • Decorative chandeliers
  • Built-in niches or hall trees

You first want to decide the type of feeling you want visitors to have upon entering your new home.  Are you looking for a “wow” effect with dramatic lighting, wall accents and custom flooring or would you prefer a functional designed foyer to include a built in hall tree, designed to store jackets, backpacks or hats as people enter?  Your entry layout can prove to be a beneficial space within your home if some thought goes into how you will use this space.

For larger families with children, the customized entry with space to drop backpacks, coats and other grab and go items may make heading out in the mornings easier.  Some families use a garage or side entrance as their main entrance and if this is the case with your family, you may want to incorporate these ideas into a mudroom style area instead of the foyer.

If your home will be utilized for entertaining, dinner parties or in a more formal way you may choose to show off some of the home’s features by incorporating selected design accents in the foyer itself.  This may look like large doorways with high ceilings, adorned with rustic timbers or decorative wood accents bringing focus to a unique chandelier and as the eyes are brought up and around within the entry surroundings, the selected trim and wall accents will give the grand appeal you are looking for.  You may choose to incorporate a coat closet instead of open built-ins and enough space to add accent furniture and decorative lamps.

As you envision your everyday life within the home, you will be able to consider what type of foyer will work best for you and your family.  Discuss these ideas with your building consultant to unleash the perfect design for the entry of your new home.

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

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HOME FITNESS ROOMS

Each New Year brings a myriad of people away from their normal routines flooding to gyms and personal trainers across the nation.  If you are in the market for a new home, a fitness room may be a feature you want to consider.

Here are a few things you may want to think about when designing your fitness room:

  • Equipment type
  • Ceiling fans & vent placement
  • Mirrors
  • Customized Built-ins
  • Water Station

Many people building a new home fail to think about all of the ways in which they actually live each day.  This is how fitness areas end up in garage spaces and exercise equipment lands in bedrooms and living rooms instead of a perfectly designed fitness room.

Planning your fitness room will ensure you have the amount of space you need for equipment like rowing machines, treadmills and other free standing exercise machines. While you do not have to have a huge area to create a nice fitness environment within your home, planning for machines you actually use or desire to incorporate will be the start to any planned fitness space.

Once you have narrowed down the equipment you want to include, you want to consider keeping the area comfortable.  Proper ceiling fans and vent placement will help with cooling the room during workouts.  You may want to consider adding a separate air zone for this room if it will be heavily used. Another design idea you want to incorporate is window placement, so you have the advantage of utilizing natural light and cool breezes during certain times of the year.

Some fitness rooms may be the size of a standard bedroom, while others may be closer to a large master suite, or even larger.  If you want to create the appearance of a larger space, add a mirror. Mirrors can be placed to help the room feel more open and help with making sure your form is accurate, as you exercise.

Customized shelving or built-ins can nicely store items like medicine balls, yoga mats, towels and other fitness accessories. A section of the fitness room can be stationed with a small refrigerator to hold water bottles or possibly use an independent water dispersing system.

Fitness rooms are a great addition to any custom home.  Creating a comfortable and functional environment to promote healthy living within your family is a great reason to consider this option. For more information about this topic and how it applies to your new custom home, contact us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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HOME USES FOR SCORED & STAINED CONCRETE

A common question with scored and stained concrete floors is whether or not there will be cracks in the concrete. While no one can determine prior to installation if the concrete is going to develop cracking, cracks within concrete are likely. This is typically caused by shrinkage. The moisture content in the concrete, when it is first installed, has a lot to do with whether or not cracks may appear once the concrete has entirely cured. Proper installation and qualified professionals may reduce the errors that can create this flaw within concrete installation.

Stained concrete floors are available in many color schemes and by adding a scored design you can choose to layout a border with an accent color. Scoring concrete takes a true artistic talent and not all scored and stained floors are the same. Many installers hand draw their patterns and make sure the layout is pleasing prior to scoring. These patterns can include a hardwood look, brick pavers, large or small tiles or more intricate custom designs.

Working with your installer is important. If you have seen their work, on other job sites, or you trust their artistic ability you may choose to relay color choices and patterns you like, and then allow them the freedom to design and plan the layout for you, making recommendations they feel will bring about focused attention to your new home. For others, you may choose to go with stained concrete flooring all of the same color throughout the home, which at a later time you could have scored if you choose to do so.

If you choose to only have the stained floors, this process can take place once the foundation is set, prior to framing. It is recommended if you are using a scored pattern to wait until the walls are framed so the patterns will be laid out the right way for each location.

It is important to inform your framer prior to installation, so as they frame the walls unnecessary holes are not placed within the foundation and the right color chalk can be used so it doesn’t interfere with your future floor patterns. In some cases the stained floors will be installed prior to the paint within the home and if this occurs, you want to make sure the painters are aware there will be stained or scored concrete floors. You may also request once the floors are complete they are covered with protective paper as to not hinder the final appearance. Once the home is complete the concrete finisher will typically return to clean and buff the floors, leaving a nice addition to your new home.

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

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ORGANIC GARDENING AT YOUR HOME

In anticipation of spring imagine flowers, popping with color, soon to be in bloom; the cold weather will subside and the desire to get outside and prepare your Spring Garden will be on your mind!  Even if you are new to gardening, you will find it to be an experience of which there is always something to learn.  Organic Gardening is a popular choice, and while it can be a healthy choice to avoid pesticides, there may also be a few things you want to brush up on prior to diving all in.

Before you run out to your local nursery and purchase plants to house within your garden, there are a few things to consider. Each part of the country is divided into zones, which help to determine what plants will best thrive in these particular areas.  Knowing your zone can help speed up the success of your garden.  In addition to understanding the temperate zone you live in, educating yourself on the types of vegetables and fruits you may want to grow is important.  It’s a good idea to start your garden plan on paper.  It’s recommended to layout the design for your garden, determining plant placement and include proper spacing.  You will need to know if you are starting your plants from seeds or starter plants, the full maturity time for each of the plants, and determine the types of nutrients necessary within the soil and proper watering techniques.  All of these steps with increase the chances of a full producing garden.

Once you have designed and planted your organic garden, you might want to learn about the types of pests to watch out for and find proven tactics to ward off these pests when they arrive.  Snails can be one problematic creature in the garden, and while there are several remedies to ridding these pests, the ultimate goal is to protect your plants allowing them to grow.  As you plant seeds and starter plants, use a toilet paper roll at the base of the plant, protecting the stem.  The snails do not like the rough feeling of the cardboard and this will help keep them away.  Another item you can use at the base of your plants is broken up eggshells, again most of the smaller pests trying to make it up your plant, will be deterred as they approach these natural fences.

Keep in mind some insects and bugs are good for the garden, while others are not.  Educating yourself as you see new life within your garden can be a huge asset.  Ants are another pest hard to remove from the garden.  A few tips you may want to try, keeping your area pesticide free, include mixing coffee grounds within or around your soil, or in extreme cases you may wish to spread cornmeal which will help with the removal of the ants.  Another organic option to consider is ordering praying mantis eggs and ladybug larvae, both once acclimated to your garden will eat some of the unwanted insects like aphids.

Allowing your garden to grow organically, free of harsh chemicals and pesticides can take time and patience.  Creating an environment for friendly insects and bugs to cohabitate with your fruits and vegetables is a learning process.  When you reach out to buy those fast acting chemicals to rid your garden of unwanted pests, recall the reason you wanted to start an organic garden in the first place.  Nature is a lovely, complicated mix of life and upon taking the necessary steps to produce the fruits of your labor, you are sure to be pleased with the patience and education you gained in the process, while enjoying a healthy, home grown, home cooked meal!

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LIVING OFF THE GRID OR ON THE GRID?

There is a lot of talk about living off the grid, becoming more self-sustainable.  The reasons vary from escaping the everyday rat race of life to simply understanding better what we are exposed to and expose our children to, desiring to reduce your living expenses and enjoying your lives more. Whether you choose to live off the grid, or on the grid there are a few things you want to consider to make sure your home living expenses and daily management of time proves to be fruitful and allows you the lifestyle you choose to live.

Things to consider when building a home off the grid:

  • Decide how extreme, or off the grid you want to live.  You may want to research and inquire with people who have made this transition.
  • Will you use solar or wind power, or possibly a generator to generate electricity?
  • If you are installing a well, how far you have to drill will determine the cost.  You may ask yourself what all is involved with testing drinking water to protect you and your family from water borne illness.
  • Will you have a septic system or use a grey water system to process your waste?
  • What about cooking and comfort heat?  Will you use a propane or natural gas system or will you depend on wood burning stoves?

If you are living in a southern region, where there may be more moisture, do you have a plan to avoid or reduce the potential growth of mold and mildew?

If you are making the choice to be more self-sustainable through food as well, you want to also make sure you understand how to create the proper garden space.  If you garden, how will you water your garden– maybe consider rain barrels and grey water systems for irrigation.  Other garden considerations are compost piles and determining if you will use pesticides or attempt organic gardening.

A few questions to consider when building a home on the grid:

  • Does the size and style of your home fit your budget?
  • Are your windows, doors and appliances energy efficient?
  • Does your lot provide the space you need to garden?
  • Will you have a septic system or connect to city water and sewer?
  • Are you working with a reputable builder?

There are pros and cons to both types of living and ultimately your lifestyle will help determine which way you choose to live.  Understanding the budgets of both types of living as well as maintenance can help your environment be as comfortable as you desire.

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

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