YOUR NEW HOME BUILDING PROCESS

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.

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CUSTOMIZING YOUR NEW HOME YOUR WAY

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.

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FINANCING THE BUILDING OF YOUR NEW HOME

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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CHOOSING YOUR LAND

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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DOES YOUR NEW HOME HAVE SMART WIRING?

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 AmericasHomePlace.com.

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THANKSGIVING TABLE DECOR

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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ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CLEANERS FOR YOUR HOME

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 AmericasHomePlace.com

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DECLUTTER YOUR HOME AND GET ORGANIZED

Preparing for building your new home is a great time to de-clutter and get organized!  Depending on how long you have lived within your current home you may have a few boxes of unnecessary items or rooms full of items you no longer need and certainly don’t want to relocate into your new home.  Think about your new home and what new spaces you will have to fill, maybe you are adding a work space in your garage or a craft studio or home office.  As you look around your home, start with the room that seems most unapproachable. Trash bags and boxes are always good sorters for large items or soft goods like clothing, shoes or stuffed animals.

To get started, find several boxes, plastic tubs and trash bags.

Set up the boxes side by side and label them on the outside – keep / go through / donate

As you pick up items within the room, decide which box to put it in – and then stick it there.  Once you have all of the items sorted into these categories, you can break it down further and continue to organize.  The donation boxes will be easy – just find a good charity, like goodwill, salvation army or other local charities that may be able to reuse or resell  these items to help their mission.  Remember when you donate items, you are eligible for a tax donation receipt, make sure to get it.

As you move forward on organizing the “keep” items, find some small clear tubs or other baskets or useful items to organize items further.  Go through this box and find like items and house them together in these useful storage bins.  Make sure to label the boxes once you have completed, making it easier to find markers, buttons, tools, or other items you are holding onto.  Placing these items within areas they will be used will also help with the organization of your home.  If you have tools, cleaning supplies, sponges, nails, etc. you may keep these within your garage.  If you have craft and art supplies you may keep these within your craft room or laundry room.  If you have a coat closet that doesn’t get much use, you can convert this into a storage area by adding shelves.  Once you have this completed, you can store these useful small clear plastic, labeled totes to keep all of your items in one place, making finding what you are looking for much easier.

A “go through” box is a mixture of items you aren’t sure you are ready to part with, or items you just aren’t sure what to do with – they may take a little more thought on how to organize.  You can save this box for last, and as you go through it, you may find you will have some items you decide to keep, which can be added to your already organized items.  You will also find a few more items you decide to donate, and these can be added to this group. In the end, you will be left with an organized area, and possibly find more space to use within your home, while feeling good about being clutter free!  If you have tips, please feel free to share those in the comments below.

As you manage the organization of your home, you may find you could really use a craft room within your new home, or customized garage shelving to keep all of your tools, gardening supplies or basketballs, tennis rackets and frisbees!

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

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THE HOME SHOPPER’S GUIDE TO CREDIT REPAIR

If you are in the market for a new home, you are probably no stranger to understanding how important a good credit rating is. Everything from buying a car to low-interest rates on a mortgage, credit knowledge is one area of finance you can’t afford to skip. If you are like many Americans, you may have never received any formal training on finance or how the credit industry works. Many people live outside their means and truly live day-to-day, almost chasing their debt. Understanding credit and how it works may help you to be in a better position to build your dream home, buy a new car, and benefit from low-interest rates and low monthly payments.

Many circumstances can create life changing situations allowing ones credit history to become damaged. Repairing credit can be a daunting task and in many cases there is no quick fix, however time and diligence will help you to round the corner into repaired credit.

Here are a few suggestions you may implement into your credit repair strategy:

  • Check your credit report and score each year.  
  • Review your credit card balances
  • Report discrepancies
  • Pay off debt hurting your credit
  • Report paid balances to the credit reporting agencies

You can receive a free credit report at annualcreditreport.com and you may obtain your credit report free with other companies that offer monitoring services. Choosing an organization to monitor your credit may be beneficial for you, just be aware of charges and read the small print to ensure you are getting what you are looking for out of the arrangement. With identity theft on the rise, many of these companies offer services to help stop people from being victims.

As you review your credit card balances, it is recommended to avoid having high balances on your credit cards. Of course, this is a catch 22, because it is almost a requirement to have credit cards in order to build credit, but the credit agencies really don’t like to see people using them completely – it is recommended that your balance not exceed 30% of your available credit. This is typically known to show discipline and may help improve your overall credit worthiness.

In regards to small collection accounts, pay them. These accounts may hurt your credit score and the sooner you can pay them off the better. In many instances you can contact the collection agency who has bought the debt and arrange to pay a pre-determined settled amount, which is lower than the original debt.  If an agreed amount is reached, make sure you have this information in writing to avoid being responsible for the full payment instead of the reduced amount agreed upon.

Judgments and tax liens can be a little more tedious to remove from your credit, so communication is key when it comes to arranging a debt reduction and following through with your payment plan. Collections and general bad debt is typically reported for 7 years, after which it may be removed from your credit file.  Judgments can stay on your credit report until the debt is paid in full, or removed through the court system. It is generally a requirement to pay off and have judgments removed prior to being eligible for a mortgage.

Even though you pay off your debt, as you work to improve your credit score, you want to make sure you update the credit report agencies with debts you have paid off. They may or may not be corrected automatically and it may require your involvement to get your credit report correct. This process can be a tedious and aggravating at times. There are many companies who will assist you in this process, guiding you through each step and offering tips to improve your overall credit worthiness, however you can choose to handle the process yourself if you are willing to educate yourself with the process.

Either way, be aware of what is on your credit, report discrepancies as you find them, pay off unnecessary debt, reduce your collections and watch your credit score improve over time.

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

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MANAGING LEAKS IN YOUR HOME

Although water is a necessity of life and is welcome in many parts of our life, there is one part that can cause some issues.  Introducing water into an environment that is meant to be dry can lead to certain issues, depending on the circumstances.  Your home has been designed so that a calculated amount of moisture, air, ventilation and other variable are a part of your environment, but if one of these items gets a little out of measure, it can affect the other items, and have an influence on the quality of life in your home.

There are many types of leaks you must consider, and make sure you take steps to prevent throughout the year.  Roofing leaks can occur when a piece of flashing has been compromised, or maybe a shingle has been damaged at a critical location on the roof.  Sometimes stopped up gutters can allow a leak from the roof by allowing water to wick into the roof decking at the eaves and overhangs of the house.  Any of these leaks can lead to bigger problems if they are not managed properly.

The building materials within your home are generally designed to perform in a dry environment, with a certain level of average humidity.  If this humidity or wetness becomes so large that the rate of evaporation does not exceed the rate of saturation, it could cause materials to rot, which could promote the growth of mold and mildew, it could even invite certain pests like termites to come into the home.

Many times these leaks may go unnoticed for a while based on where they are located.  This is why it’s a good idea to have a regular roof inspection every few years to try and prevent a problem before it happens.  Left untreated, a roof leak could lead to thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, or even cause the air quality in your home to be less than ideal.

Other types of leaks may include water lines, condensation lines, or even plumbing fixture drains.  A few common leaks include shower heads, dishwasher lines and washing machine lines.  Any time you see evidence of a water leak, it is worth investigating to ensure larger problems do not come up at a later date.  In some cases you may not see a leak, however a peculiar smell can be an indication of a leak in certain areas of your home.  Sometimes a small leak may be resolved by tightening the shower head, the washing machine hose, or adding gasket material under a sink faucet plate.  Much of this does not require a professional, but may require an instructional video online.  As always, be sure to take proper steps to avoid any dangers and quickly remedy potential additional damage.

If a water heater furnace is leaking it is highly recommend to hire a licensed professional to inspect and resolve the problem. If a water line under the sink has a drip, pull out the plumbers tape and a wrench and have a go at correcting the problem yourself.  Just make sure the water is off before getting too deep into the project.

It is a great idea to prepare a home maintenance plan, and follow it as closely as possible. Just like with automobiles our homes have moving pieces and these pieces can wear out over time.  By staying ahead of these potential “break downs” we may avoid costly and inconvenient repairs, which tend to occur when least expected.

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

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