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.

 

Continue Reading

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.”

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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 

Continue Reading