USEFUL TIPS : FLOOR PLANS & ELEVATIONS

What to look for in a floor plan can depend on many variables.  Are you starting a family or downsizing?  What styles do you like?  Are you looking for a plan offering open and airy space or possibly one offering plenty of defined room spaces?

Through my experience in meeting with consumers looking to build a home I have found we each have a unique idea of what our perfect home plan is and it is critical to come to an agreement in the beginning to assure all parties involved will be able to love the livable space – Yes Men, this is my friendly way of saying most women have a completely different idea of a dream home than men and this can be a struggle at times – so don’t let it be, this can be an exciting time in your life and building your new home should prove to be a positive experience – one you will likely enjoy for many years to come.

In some instances I have had men say they will choose the exterior selections and the women prefer to select the interior selections and overall functionality of the home; others have no desired preference and easily come to an agreement of the space they wish to call home.  Regardless of what the possibilities are in the beginning, upon completion the floor plan you choose will prove to be uniquely your own, so choose wisely!

Here are a few useful tips and common things to consider in regards to choosing a floor plan:

  • What is your desired budget – Are you building for functionality, aesthetic appeal, possibly to balance your home/work life or a combination.  Understanding your needs will help you to better understand your options

TIP #1 Having an idea of what you would like to spend on your home will make a huge difference with recognizing the types of homes and inclusive options available to you.  Decide on a comfortable desired living space allowance and then meet with your builder to determine products offering cost saving curb appeal and the overall look and feel of the home you desire to build within the predetermined budget.

  • What style of home do you prefer? Are you looking for a Ranch, French Country, Spanish style, A-frame, Log Cabin, Colonial, Cottage? There are thousands of possibilities and styles when it comes to floor plans and finding the perfect plan can be overwhelming at first. By narrowing some of the plan styles you may like, this process may become more enjoyable.

TIP #2 Take some time to drive around different neighborhoods looking at different styles to help narrow the selections. There is a large number of floor plans and elevations available today. There is also a plethora of home photos on the internet as well as architectural magazines and Free Floor Plan Books, so use your resources and find the one you like. Make sure to keep notes of some of the home styles you like, including keeping a photo log if you desire.

  • What is the functionality of your home? Are you looking for sizable rooms, functional space, cozy living, or outdoor living space? Know your style!

TIP #3 Imagine yourself living in your new home. As you look at plans, visualize yourself and your daily routines; walk through the events of the day to see if the plan is truly going to meet your needs. For example, if you are an entertainer and you love having people over, a plan with a small kitchen and no dining room may not be suitable for you.

There are countless items to consider when building your new custom home.  Knowing your budget, the style of home you like as well as truly understanding the functionality of your family may prove to be beneficial factors to assist you with choosing the perfect floor plan and elevation.

Once you have narrowed your selections, blind folded yourself and thrown the dart to pick the right one, give yourself a hand. This process can be overwhelming because of all of the choices available. Take comfort in knowing, with proper planning and your trusted builder by your side,  your dream home will soon enough be a reality.

For more information about floor plans or elevations and how it applies to your new custom home contact us at AmericasHomePlace.com.

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AVOIDING THE FAST FOOD BUILDER

There was a time when building a home was more like driving through a fast food restaurant.  Different builders would offer a few different plans, several different color selections for paint, a handful of flooring styles and colors and a cabinet in a basic or jazzed up version with a few colors to choose from.

Some builders even went as far as offering 4 color selections – The “tan,” “yellow,” “blue,” and “green” themes to streamline the process and move the building phase along a little quicker.  Even today most of us have heard the phrase “builder beige,” or “cookie cutter home.”  These terms were coined because so many builders were using such a similar color of neutral paint throughout their homes, and mass producing the same plans that it just became the norm.  Well in today’s fast pace world we are surrounded by new and improved products, more colors and finishes then we can imagine and the desire to have the best looking products surround us within our new home.

Think about the last time you went through a fast food restaurant and as you are gazing at the menu think of how often everything is grouped the way in which “most” people like – nowadays one can even make their meal a small, medium or large – but generally we are all grouped in the same category, choosing a number 1 or a number 3 and moving on.

So in a world filled with many builders and even more choices – how do you make the right choice?

  • Customer Service is a great place to start! What are the people like?  Knowing the people who are going to be building your home is an excellent indicator of the service and experience you will have throughout your building process.
  • Educate yourself along the way! Know what you like and what you don’t like.  We all have ideas of styles, colors, designs and true functionality of our house flow and when you venture out to build your home it is important to end up with a home you are satisfied with; to ensure this happens educate yourself along the way.
  •  Expect Quality! Just like no two burgers are exactly the same, no two builders are exactly the same, so seek out a Quality Builder.  Look for a builder who is experienced and who can offer an ongoing level of quality to exceed your expectations of your new home.  There are also many different types of builders. There are those who specialize in production homes, those who specialize in a particular price range and those true custom builders who set themselves apart by allowing you to “build” your home on your lot just the way YOU want it!

Most importantly remember building your new home isn’t as easy as driving through a burger joint to pick out a number 1! Your home is unique, your family is unique and you deserve to enjoy your home just the way you envision it – Uniquely Your own!

For more information about working with the right builder and how it applies to your new custom home contact us at AmericasHomePlace.com.

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HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR NEW HOME’S ATTIC

The attic of your new custom dream home is more important than you may think. The attic consists of any space under your roof and above the top ceiling. Depending on the style and construction  you choose, your attic space may be a crawl space or  area large enough to use as storage or even make into separate rooms. The one notable exception will be if your custom house is built with roof trusses. In this case you won’t be able to use the area for storage.

Storage  – If your new custom home has an attic space suitable for storage, your new custom home might homes have attic spaces which can be used for storage.  First of all don’t go putting too much weight on that attic floor.Because attic walls are usually not insulated, the area in your attic will endure extreme heat and cold temperatures, so don’t be storing anything up there that can be damaged by extreme temps one way or the other.

Insulation  – We have constructed your new custom home to be energy efficient. The attic insulation is part of this overall energy efficiency. Therefore, don’t store anything up there that will crush the insulation. Crushed insulation loses its effectiveness. This is going to be true whether your attic has traditional fiberglass insulation or blown-in cellulose insulation. If you are up there storing and moving things around be careful that no insulation becomes detached or moved. If this happens, replace it or it will interfere with your attic insulation and ventilation.This includes any insulation covering the opening of your attic; a lot of heat and cooling can be lost through the attic entrance if it is not properly insulated.

Note: If you are up there working with the insulation, be careful. Wear protection for your skin, eyes and nose.

Louvers  –  A lot of attics have louvers in them for warm, moist air to breath out. Make sure nothing is obstructing these louvers. Harmful moisture can accumulate in attics when louvered ventilation is blocked.

To imagine how your attic may be used as a storage facility or even be converted to a spare room, go over your Free House Plans with your custom home building consultant.

For more information about attics and how they apply to your new custom home contact us at Americashomeplace.com.

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CARPET CARE

Your custom home may have beautiful carpeting and you want to keep it that way.  Most carpeting is engineered to be stain resistant. Even so, clean up spills, dirt and pet mishaps promptly.

Use furniture rests on the feet of your furniture. This will distribute the weight more evenly and help preserve the carpet and help keep your new custom home looking like new!

Carpet stain removal products can be good and bad, meaning some may be too abrasive or contain solutions damaging to your carpet. Read the directions carefully and whatever product you decide on, use it in a small, out-of-view area first to test it and make sure it doesn’t discolor the carpet.

To view samples of our new custom home carpeting and other flooring options, get our Free Floor Plan Book.

For more information about home carpeting and how it applies to your new custom home contact us at Americashomeplace.com.

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CHOOSING GREEN ON A LEAN BUDGET

With all of the improved energy efficient and green home products out there today – is it possible to build green while keeping your budget lean?

Let’s start by taking a look at “Green” products.  Many of the green products today are energy efficient. It is known that some of these products may come with a higher price.  Most of these products are manufactured here within the USA, and as a result of the labor cost being higher the end retail price is typically higher.  You may have heard the saying “with higher cost comes a better quality product.” This may be the case with some products, however it is not a blanket reality covering the span of each and every product within the building marketplace.

For the earth conscious person there are so many benefits these days and some beautiful products available.  Finding the right products may depend on your budget and your overall concern for which type of “green” products you are looking to install within your new custom home. Let’s look at some of the options.

Towards the beginning stages of construction items you may need to consider have to do with insulation, energy efficient water heaters, filtering systems or windows offering a potential reduction in UV exposure and radiant heat within the home. When you think about purchasing a green building product determine your basis for the decision.  Are you choosing these options because you want to save money over time, do you want to do your part with recycling or other reasons?  Knowing the reasons why you are choosing these products may help you to determine which options will bring the results you are looking to gain.

For example, if you are looking to save money over time and it is a net cost savings you are looking for, you cannot only consider the cost of the option at the front end, but also the value over time as well as the perceived value to any potential consumers in the event you resale your property.  High Energy Efficient HVAC units have the ability to lower your monthly utility bills while at the same time provide better air quality and filtration throughout your home.  The savings on the utility bill can be an excellent source of gained revenue on your monthly budget and the added potential health benefits by adding this option within your home may have the ability to offer a better living environment for your family, which in turn may offer a financial savings.  These systems are great for families with allergies or other health issues which may benefit from cleaner air purity.

Insulation is another item that has many “earth friendly” products available.  From foam insulation Systems to recycled denim insulation – the choices are quite broad and the margins for cost are in line with the overall benefits to the addition of the products within your new home.  Let’s take a glance at foam insulation systems.  This is a type of application that reduces the pockets of air that can allow for air/heat exchange.  This type of insulation product itself is likely to be the aristocracy of insulation in regards to the overall cost savings in the long run.  For many people in the south you understand how hot the attic can be during the mid-summer months, on a similar day in an attic that has foam insulation the temperature may be 10 – 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature.

So what benefit does this have for your home?  The overall insulation product has a huge impact on your utility bill as well as increases the functionality of your home in some areas.  An example of this may be an over the garage bonus room or bedroom.  Many homes are constructed with these types of rooms and on some occasions homeowners are unaware of the temperature differences in a room over a garage versus a room surrounded by other heated footage.  Typically these rooms have more heat exposure due to being surrounded by attic area such as knee walls or vaults. Additionally, garages are not as well insulated as heated footage and these bonus areas are sometimes located directly over this unheated square footage of your home.  This can sometimes cause temperature variances.  A home using the foam insulation system will potentially offset these variables, making your living space more comfortable and also making the utility bills lower in some instances.

Now if you are more concerned with the aesthetic look and application of “green” products – you are entering into a plethora of options!  There are several products that come to mind offering a great look and are similar in price to some of the other available popular upgraded options.  One product that comes to mind is the Alkemi countertop displaying recycled aluminum shavings.  The color selections are modern and appearance has a traditional or contemporary look depending on the rest of your surrounding products.  Another product that may be considered would be on your deck application.  If you consider the cost of a standard deck and compare the lifetime expense of upkeep to maintain the desired look of the deck and compare this with a composite decking you will likely see that over time your net cost savings will be pleasing, all while having a net savings of time and maintenance as well.

There are certainly benefits to making decisions to use products offering sustainable design. From cost savings to earth-friendly products the benefits have the potential of offering longer wear, reduced utility savings and potentially provide and promote an overall sustainable lifestyle for your family and the environment. Make sure to know which types of products you may be interested in and invite your building consultant to assist you with these products during your selections appointment.

For more information about sustainable design products and how it applies to your new custom home contact us at AmericasHomePlace.com.

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CARING FOR YOUR COUNTERTOPS

If you are like most owners of a new custom home, your kitchen countertops were chosen carefully and you have big plans for them! That’s excellent. Now, how do you care for them?

Caring for your new countertops is pretty much intuitive. A majority of countertops are generally resistant to heat and stains. Other countertops may require you to refrain from setting hot pans or baking dishes on them fresh from the oven.

It’s important not to use your countertops as a cutting board either, unless you want scratches or nicks in the surface. If your new custom kitchen doesn’t have a built-in butcher’s block, consider getting a portable cutting board and use that for cutting your food.

Cleaning countertops depends on the material it is made from. Plastic-coated wood or metal countertops clean up nicely with a detergent solution.

Marble countertops require some special attention. They are pretty easily stained and scratched, so look over your manufacturer’s literature on care. They will most likely recommend sealing, polishing, and cleaning products just for marble.

With granite you are pretty much home free. They are not as prone to stains and scratching as marble. Ask your hardware or home improvement store to recommend a good polish.

For more information about countertops and how they apply to your new custom home contact us at AmericasHomePlace.com.

 

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LAND OR HOUSE PLAN: WHICH COMES FIRST?

So how do you plan properly for the future construction of your home?

This situation can work in two different ways – for some people they choose their dream house plan first and then set out to find the perfect lot or piece of land.  For others, the land or lot is already secured and the time has come to build. Both circumstances can ultimately result in the custom home you want.

Whether you have the land or not yet, there are several things you’ll need to know about your land or should consider as you select your lot:

  • Do you have any covenants or building restrictions to follow?
  • Is your lot going to require a septic system, is it part of a community treatment center or will it be connected to city or county clean-outs?
  • Is the electricity in your area overhead or underground?
  • Are you going to select gas, propane, electric, solar options or geo-thermal utility resources?
  • Is your house pad location already cleared or will you have to cut trees to clear a house pad and a driveway?

There are certainly a lot of things to think about before the construction process begins.  Having a licensed builder involved along the way can truly help relieve what could become a headache in the building process.

Many people set out to build the American Dream and feel as though they can save a lot of money if they build it on their own without professional assistance.  Please note, this can happen, but all too often the story after construction is complete reveals a different appreciation for the experience of a professional and reputable builder.  In many cases when people choose to build without an experienced builder, the American Dream is converted to a nightmare.

In the same way, we can all probably pull our own teeth out if they were hurting bad enough – not many of us choose to do this, we seek professional assistance and the process is much less painful and saves money and time in the long run.

The building process is very similar – so why choose to learn lessons the hard way when you can choose to make your building experience a reliable and enjoyable one – and most importantly, keep it within a reasonable budget.

If you have chosen your lot first, once you have some basic knowledge of your lot or land in hand, it is time to start looking for the desired custom house plan.

There are countless plans to choose from and most plans can be changed or modified to meet the exact expectations of you and your family.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog and never miss a post. In a few weeks we will talk about, “Prepping the House Plan to Your Lot or Land.”

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INSIDE THE OUTDOOR KITCHEN

Outdoor living spaces have become a popular request over the past few years.  More and more, people are moving their engagements outdoors and enjoying the seasons.  The outdoor kitchen has become one of the most popular features of new custom homes built today.

There are many benefits to having an outdoor kitchen, and certainly a few things you want to consider when planning this space.

Designing your outdoor kitchen can be almost as enjoyable as designing your new home.  With all of the design styles and options in the market today you can turn your outdoor kitchen into the centerpiece of your outdoor living space.  Whether your design is under porch or built with a customized pergola or arbor overhead there are a few things to consider when planning your outdoor kitchen.

Decide what components you will need for your design.  Do you want to have access to a grill, gas or charcoal, running water, electricity for a small refrigerator, wine chiller, other bar-top appliances or possibly an outdoor range?  Depending on your year round climate, choose appliances and products tolerable for the weather in your area.

Next, think about your environment.  Are you looking to add an outdoor bar or patio furniture?  Maybe you want to have a customized concrete based seating area close to a central fireplace. Do you hope to have an outdoor fire pit, maybe a kiva-style fireplace also functional as a pizza oven, or a brick surround wood-burning fire box?  Regardless of the style you choose, make sure it is functional and family friendly!

Next, think about your environment.  Are you looking to add an outdoor bar or patio furniture?  Maybe you want to have a customized concrete based seating area close to a central fireplace. Do you hope to have an outdoor fire pit, maybe a kiva-style fireplace also functional as a pizza oven, or a brick surround wood-burning fire box?  Regardless of the style you choose, make sure it is functional and family friendly!

The size of outdoor kitchens and living spaces really depends on you and your needs.  If you are incorporating the design with other outdoor living spaces such as pools or water features, keep this in mind and make sure to plan enough space to comfortably entertain with your family and friends.

Selecting the floor components of your outdoor kitchen can also engage you in some highly creative design.  Some popular selections include brick pavers, scored and stained concrete in many patterns, tile or slate.

Make sure you don’t forget to add the element of soft lighting to compliment your new outdoor living space.  You may choose to incorporate landscape lighting with wired fixtures to help transition the surrounding outdoors with the outdoor kitchen area.

Once you coordinate all of the perfect elements to showcase your custom outdoor kitchen, be sure to select the most comfortable furniture, pair it with a delicious meal and then welcome your family and friends to join you in your new outdoor living space.

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

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CHOOSING A CUSTOM HOME BUILDER

Choosing to build your custom home on your own land should be one of the most exciting and positive experiences of your life. “Customizing” means that you’ve chosen not to be satisfied or “make do” with a cookie-cutter home that looks and functions like every house in the subdivision. A custom home is an extension of your personality and should fit you and your family like a hand-tailored suit.

The most essential component of the custom home building process is choosing a builder that can not only do the job, but one you can trust and rely upon to treat you fairly and translate your unique vision for your custom home into a reality. Sadly, many people who embark upon what should be a positive exciting event find their hopes and dreams dashed because they chose the wrong contractor.

Here are some important points to keep in mind when choosing your custom home builder:

1. Papers, Please.

Demand to see and review copies of the builder’s licensing and certificates of insurance, for both liability and worker’s compensation. This is never negotiable. If they hem and haw or act offended, run away.

2. Says Who?

Require references and a history of homes the builder claims to have built. If the builder hedges on this, drop him or her like a hot potato. Also, since he is a local builder, ask around about him. His reputation will precede him.

3. The Shingle

Visit the builder at his or place of business. If he works out of his “home office,” ask yourself if it is a real office or clutter desk in his living room. Is the guy working out of his truck? Judge his credibility accordingly.

4. The Big Rush

The builder who trivializes the normal process of signing contracts, especially while demanding earnest money from you, is either incompetent, lacking in integrity, or both. Don’t trust your custom home – and your money – to this person.

5. Check, Please

A custom home, by definition, means that run-of-the-mill fixtures like cabinets, special flooring, moldings, windows or other accoutrements will need to be purchased. If your builder asks you to write a check to him personally for these items, beware. It can mean that his credit is bad or he is shopping them at substandard providers and pocketing the difference, or both.

6. The Deal of the Century

If you’ve done your homework – and you should have – you already have an idea of what your new custom home should cost. Builders with little or poor track records will often float bargain prices if you sign up now or agree to let him use your home as an example of work he can do for future clients. This never works. A custom home costs what it costs and a competent builder will explain that up front.

7. Changes in Latitude

Within reasonable considerations of structural, architectural and code required necessities, a custom should be just that, custom. If your builder starts reinventing your desired plan to suit his limited abilities, don’t put up with it.

8. The Bully

Unscrupulous builders often frighten their customers into signing off on unnecessary extras. If he tells your project requires something expensive and unplanned-for, he’s probably a con man trying to capitalize on your relative ignorance of the building process. Be wary. End the discussion and go to another builder for a second or third opinion.

9. Just Feels Creepy

Every school of modern psychology gives credibility to the “gut feeling.” After you and your spouse meet with your potential builder, wait a while, then have an honest talk about how he or she made you feel. If something is amiss with your potential builder, your gut instinct will tell you. Listen to it!

Your dream of custom home ownership is possible. And the process can, and should be, as positive as the outcome you dream of.  Choose your builder wisely. Ask every question and listen to every answer. Do your homework by visiting with different builders and compare their responses. Reputable, competent builders with honesty and integrity do exist. Determining which one you choose should be a process. We invite you to include the reputable, competent builders at Americas Home Place in your selection process. Visit www.americashomeplace.com 

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