Outdoor Play Areas For All Ages

Designing your custom home can be a fun experience, yes there are many things you will consider and reconsider, especially when it comes to making sure everything you want to have within your home can fit into your budget, but you are sure to enjoy the process. When you consider the options available don’t forget to overlook the outdoor living spaces of your home. We live and enjoy the inside of our homes on a daily basis, but what about the outside areas we occasionally enjoy throughout the year?

Boys by tree house

Think about all of the possibilities when it comes to creating outdoor play areas for both the young and young at heart! Most every child dreams of having a tree house or play house where they can let their imagination run wild and enjoy being a kid. Tree houses can be as custom as you want them, possibly adding a rock wall entrance and a zip-line exit or transfer from multiple tree houses or play areas for kids. 

Multi Generation Family Playing Volleyball In Garden

A pool is still a classic outdoor fun area bringing much enjoyment to all ages for many years, but think about your pool parties, who will be there, and what will the kids, who may not swim, do to entertain themselves? Why not consider creating a shaded play area with horseshoes and rope or tire swings and adjacent to this area you may develop a sand filled volleyball court.

Single father wit his children. Caucasian family playing basketball together. Single father spending time with his children.

Tennis and basketball are also fun outdoor play areas and while many people don’t consider adding these full size courts to their outdoor play areas, you have several options to create a fun miniature version, which allows for both sports to be enjoyed on the same court.

The best friends playing together

For younger children you can’t go wrong with swings, slides and customized playground equipment.  To encourage family style fun interaction consider options like a miniature golf area, a Frisbee golf course, archery trail or soccer goals for those who love to get out and kick the ball around.

Obviously the size of your lot or land is going to determine the amount of outdoor play area you can incorporate within your overall home plan.  Adults and children alike will love spending more time outdoors engaging in activities they can do together and create lasting memories for many years to come.

While planning your home, make sure to explore all of the opportunities for outdoor play areas for all ages and create an outdoor living space people will be talking about!

To learn more about your custom home and how you can incorporate a fun outdoor play area and outdoor living space visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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The Millennial’s Home Office

Home office interior

The home office has changed so much over time.  Think about some of the early scholars from the 17th century and how their offices, which were lit by candlelight, were filled with scrolls, maps and old books, strange lab equipment all within dark gloomy environments.

In the 20th century a more natural lighted office, with organized filing systems, built-in bookcases, tv niches and desktop computers adorned the everyday home office.

Like many cultural shifts the millennials are responsible for bringing about a new idea of what the home office means.  First of all more and more people are working from home to balance the work-life challenge.

White living room with sofa

Technology and simplicity are the central focal points when it comes to creating the millennial’s home office.  In addition to having a relaxed overall feel, instead of a classically designed wood desk you may find a contemporary style simple line desk topped with a laptop, wireless headphones and a comfy ergonomically designed seat to pull up in.  In addition to the simplicity of this high tech home office, you may also find features like built in surround sound and a large wall mounted monitor to hold go-to meetings online with other entrepreneurs across the globe. 

Study area in teenager room

These casual spaces are filled with artwork designed to drive creativity and at the same time create a work environment that is relaxing.  Other millennial home offices are designed to incorporate workshop space to blend the creative “workable” space with their need for comfort and technology.  These spaces may include workshop style tables, couches, whiteboards and for many, an organized craft-able space to compliment an etsy or online shop space.

Green space including indoor plants, natural light and plenty of room for the treadmill designed to hold your laptop are other features this young group of entrepreneurs are incorporating into their home designs.

Creative workplace side

Geometric carpet in multifuncional workspace

When it comes to planning your home and creating a space that will give you the work-life balance you are looking for, make sure to think about what defines you and your business and the environment you want to create in order to make a lasting impression or space surely to promote ingenuity and function!

For more information on home plans that have custom home offices visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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Understanding Flood Zones

Flooded street

With all the flooding we have encountered over the last few years, many of us have become much more conscientious of flood zone categories. Some of the most beautiful and sought-after land in the world is included in some kind of flood zone. As you search for the perfect spot to build your new custom home it’s important to be aware of flood zones and how this may affect your home investment.

There are many types of flood zones, and there is no reason to be scared of these zones as long as you understand what it means. Most of us actually live in some kind of flood zone.

The 100-year flood zone is a zone of land that has been attached to a high likelihood of flooding about every 100 years, which defines the chance per year of flooding. This type of zone uses historical data, along with land modifications to determine the chances of a flood in the area. In this particular zone, it just means the ground could become saturated for an extended period of time at some point, but probably not very often.  In these flood zones it is important to comply with the recommended finish floor elevation requirements to ensure minimum home damage if a flood should occur. Otherwise, enjoy your new investment and know that there may never be a problem with flooding in the near, or even in the distant future.

Another type of flood zone is a Coastal flood zone. This is a zone of land associated with a high likelihood of flooding when a storm surge occurs as a result of a tropical depression, or hurricane. These flood zones also include a finished floor elevation, which is the elevation at which they do not anticipate flooding, based on historical and drainage data for the area. In a Coastal flood zone some of the finished floor elevations can be pretty high. A good bit of engineering and design may be required to ensure the final product is suitable, and meets all requirements, not only for water but also for wind in many cases.

In summary, a flood zone sounds like a scary word, but the truth remains it is only a descriptive word to help us understand the building requirements for the area. This helps keep your home investment safe, and helps to ensure your investment of home ownership is protected for years to come. All in all, no area is 100% secure when it comes to water, wind or seismic conditions. When building a home it’s important to remove as much risk as possible, and by better understanding flood zones and how they relate to your property you are sure to have some peace of mind as you enjoy your new home. To learn more about flood zones and how it may affect your new custom built home, visit us at AmericasHomePlace.com

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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 AmericasHomePlace.com

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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 AmericasHomePlace.com

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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 AmericasHomePlace.com

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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 AmericasHomePlace.com.

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 AmericasHomePlace.com.

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.  Home buyers 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 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 AmericasHomePlace.com.

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