NEW INNOVATIONS IN PROTECTING YOUR HOUSE FROM A STORM

Your home is a place of refuge. A place where you and your family should be able to feel safe from the outside world. Part of feeling safe is the protection your home provides from inclement weather. It is shelter in its truest form. In the following post, we’ll discus home building methods and materials to help protect your home and family in the event of a strong storm.

Woodlwan Floor Plan- Frank Betz

When it comes to stories, less is best.

To begin with, a one story home is more storm resistant than two to three story homes. Being father from the ground puts these homes at greater risk to damage from high winds. Wind damage accounts for a large percentage of weather related incidents. Of course, your home’s exterior materials weigh heavily on their level of protection. A brick home will offer more protection than a wood or siding exterior home.

And if budget is not an issue, reinforced concrete structures are the most storm resistant.

Kensington Creek- Frank Betz

The roof over your head.

Another major factor in a home’s storm protection capability can be found in the roof. Like one storied homes, moderately pitched roofs have less exposure to wind. They reduce uplift and help reduce wind drag. When it comes to roof types, a hip roof is a better choice than a gable roof. Hip roofs have performed better in wind tunnel tests and can even garner an insurance discount. Regardless of the roof type, there are new and better methods of securing the roof to the structure of your home. These include, galvanized-steel hurricane clips, structural straps, ties, and joist hangers.

 

 

Impact resistant windows

In a storm with high winds, home damage can result from flying objects. Wind-borne objects can reach speeds of well over 100 mph. Windows are one of the most vulnerable to these projectiles. It’s recommended to install impact resistant windows that break and hold their fragments rather than sending glass through the house. Wood slatted shutters are also a preferred way to protect these areas of your home.

 

Gramercy Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Strong garage doors

Often overlooked, the garage door is a home feature frequently damaged by a storm. Typical two-car garage doors are subject to fail in storms with high winds due to their large size and relatively weak materials. Though they may cost a little extra, there are many storm resistant garage doors on the market.

 

Keep the water out

Powerful storms bring a large amount of rain with them. This wind driven rain can penetrate a home at points from the roof to the foundation. Properly sealing the roof, windows and doors, as well as ample ground drainage go a long way in protecting your home from water intrusion.

 

Swinging doors

Keeping doors closed during the high winds of a storm should also be a priority when building a storm resistant home. Doors that swing outwards were shown to drastically out perform the normal in-swing door set up. Doors that fail during storms can result in water damage and even create change in your home’s internal air pressure. This air pressure disruption contributes to the possibility of roof uplift and internal structural damage.

Mahogany Springs Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Extreme weather is always a cause for concern when it comes to safety in your home. Current building innovations can be used to strengthen potential weak points to protect your home and more importantly, the people inside it.

Stick-Built Homes vs. Prefab – What’s the Difference?

There are two main options when deciding to build a new home. These are stick-built and prefab construction. This article will help to clearly illustrate some pros and cons of both. By explaining the differences between stick-built homes and prefab, you will be able to make a better informed decision as you plan the next big step in building your new home.

Chestnut Springs Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Quality

Prefab stands for prefabricated. With these homes, machines are doing most of the initial work. Without the human factor, the structural components are often more precise. Everything is measured, cut, and assembled by computers and machines, so the occurrence of errors is drastically reduced. Like stick-built homes, the craftsmanship during the assembly of a prefab home directly affects the end result. Attention to high building standards should be the same for both methods. One point of difference with a stick-built home, is that it allows the new owner to view all steps and materials used.

Gramercy House Plan- Frank Betz

Your home will be up more quickly with prefab modules

With prefab modular homes, time is not an issue. Once the panels are delivered on site, the basic frame of the home can be put together in under a day. And weather is not a factor when building a prefab home. This enables other teams can get to work on the interior more quickly. However, the foundation measurements must be exact for the prefabricated panels to fit correctly. Unlike stick-built homes, it is very difficult to make in-field adjustments to the panels. Overall, a prefab home can be completed up to a month shorter than a stick-built home.

Wellstone Place- Frank Betz Associates

Costs are actually similar

Often associated with lower quality and cost, modern prefab homes are in line with stick-built homes in both aspects. Initial costs are lower for prefab homes as much of the construction happens in a factory, instead of using manual labor to build on site. One must account for shipping the panels and the costs of special materials.

Variety of design options

This is where the prefab option falls behind stick-built. While there are an ever growing number of prefab design options, a stick-built home design can be completely original. Prefab homes floor plans are often modular in scope, but many allow for highly customized interior and exterior appearances. That may work for most, but there is no comparison to the customizable possibilities when starting a home design from scratch.

Amelia House Plan- Frank Betz

The best decision on your new home direction will come from carefully weighing both options. Explore the prefab design options from different manufacturers. If you find one that truly hits the mark, make sure your builder is experienced with this building process. A builder accomplished in prefab building methods can help you feel confident the quality will be on par with a stick-built home. But for true originality, a stick-built home is the way to go. It may take a bit longer, but a one-of-a-kind dream home will be yours.

 

MATCHING OUTBUILDINGS TO YOUR NEW HOME

If you’re thinking about adding an outbuilding to your property, there’s a few guidelines to follow to make sure this new building fits in. Whether your outbuilding is a garage, pool house, garden shed or storage shed, the same forethought and planning should be applied to achieve a positive result. When incorporating a new outbuilding to your current property, you will want to create a visual harmony between the two. The two buildings will be in close proximity, so creating similarity is a must.  Not doing so will make your outbuilding design look like an afterthought.

Frank Betz- Custom House

Continuity

Continuity is not a word normally associated with building a free standing garage or other adjacent outbuilding, but it’s actually quite important. Start by identifying some of your home’s exterior details. The roof line and exterior style are of greatest importance. Matching these characteristics with your existing home structure will help create a cohesive look across your property. If you have a brick home, it is recommended to use the exact same brick for the exterior of your new outbuilding. Two different kinds of brick on the same property will stick out like a sore thumb. The same goes for paint colors, other exterior materials, window styles and roofing materials. Additionally, you will want to use the same landscape aesthetic to help establish even more of a visual flow.

Frank Betz- Custom House Plan

Neighborhood Standards

Beyond creating visual harmony, using like design elements for your outbuilding will fall in-line with any architectural review board or HOA requirements. Specifically, in newer neighborhoods there are strict guidelines put forth by homeowner associations in respect to outbuildings as an effort to uphold property value. This can be true of older communities, as well. Many have requirements to meet the historical standards of residential buildings. It is uncommon to drive through an older neighborhood with traditional architecture to see a modern outbuilding adjacent to one of the homes. Making changes to the existing structure in historical zones is carefully watched. So adding a new building in these neighborhoods is usually followed even more closely and will require design approval before any additions can be made.

Southern Trace- Frank Betz House Plan

Overall Visual Harmony

In addition to continuity and neighborhood standard compliance, coordinating your new outbuilding with your home will just look better. Mismatching these buildings has the possible effect of creating a visual dissonance between the two and will probably effect resale value. Any increase you may have seen by adding this feature to your property could be erased when you go to sell. So do your homework and plan your build accordingly. Designing similarities into your new outbuilding are guaranteed to complement your existing home.

Sweetwater House Plan- Frank Betz

So in review, you should consider a number of factors when planning to build an outbuilding on your property. Assess your home’s exterior design features like materials, shape and color. Make an effort to use the same elements in your new building. Be sure your design is in-line with any neighborhood standards. And finally, from a broad perspective, verify that the new building looks like it belongs. After the project is complete, someone new to your property shouldn’t notice any differences between the two.

WHAT TO EXPECT BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER CHOOSING AN ARCHITECT/DESIGNER

You’ve made the decision to build a new home. That was the easy part. Now’s the time to find and choose an architectural firm. If you have a home design style in mind, and you should, you will want to look for a firm that has experience designing that same kind of home. You can compile a list of firm options by asking the owners of local homes you admire or searching architecture firm websites in your area. Once you have identified a number of candidates, you will want to set up in-person meetings. By meeting first hand with the perspective firms, you will be able to get more information and gauge the working chemistry. You’re about to begin an intensive working relationship that will last months, so feeling comfortable with your architect or architects is highly suggested.

Design Phase
Once you have chosen your architect, you are ready for the initial design meeting. It’s a good idea to bring a house design wish list of wants and needs including photos and/or material samples. This will help your architect or designer get a feeling for your style vision. After this first meeting, the architect will compile the information and use it to create a preliminary home design with floor plans and elevations. A follow up meeting or meetings is advised to allow for your feedback and enable the architect to make the needed design updates.

Embry Hills House Plan- Frank Betz Associates

Documentation Phase

With your custom home design nailed down, the architect can move on to develop the working drawings. These are the drawings needed to obtain a development permit. Once approved, a structural design is then created to include your selections for exterior materials and finishes. Solidifying the floor plan, materials and finishes will also help the architect calculate a more accurate, overall project budget.

Frank Betz Material Workbook

Permitting Phase

After completing the documentation phase, your architect can now get a development permit. That permit allows them to create site plans and drawings needed for a building permit. These new drawings include more detailed floor plans, exterior elevations, exterior and interior details, sections, roof and electrical plans. After acquiring a building permit, the builder now has a green light to proceed with the construction process.

Heritage Pointe House Plan- Frank Betz Associates

Construction Phase

During this final and increasingly active phase, your architect/designer should still be available to oversee various aspects of your home’s construction. Being there throughout the construction process to make sure the home design is built according to the plans, can be very advantageous. A competent architect should also serve as a consultant on interior details like lighting, plumbing, hardware, glass and finishes.

If you are new to the home building process, choosing the right architect can make everything go more smoothly. An experienced architect will help you through every phase of the home building process. From taking your ideas and creating a design concept, to properly documenting the house design for the needed permits and finally getting through construction to the finish line, an architect will be one of the most important members of your home building team. Take the time to vet the right person or firm. Your new home and your sanity will be better off.

 

Should I have a Design in Mind Before I Find a Builder?

To have, or not to have a home design in mind before finding a builder. That is the question. Regardless of the correct answer, as a person or persons about to take the bold step of building a house, you are probably going to have an idea of what type of house design you’d like. Given those preferences, it is very unlikely that you will approach a builder without at least some of those ideas in mind. That said, there are reasons for and against how defined your home design desires should be when looking for a builder. Here’s a few of them.

Gentry House Plan- Frank Betz

Pros

Having a definite design idea for your new home can be an asset when looking for a builder. It will allow you to focus your search only on builders who are accustomed to building that type of home. For example, you would not want to hire a builder who specializes in building modern homes, if you have your heart set on a farmhouse style. Builders typically have a select range of styles they are familiar with working on. You will want to make sure your style is in that range and preferably go and see examples first hand.

Additionally, with a house design in mind it’s easier to get competitive bids from builders. Having built that style before, they know what to expect from a time and materials perspective. This will provide more accurate bids for your new home to compare with other builders.

Summergrove Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Cons

There are a few downsides to having a predetermined house design, however. For one, your pre-selected house plan may not fit your lot. That may mean working with an architect to create another house plan design or adjusting the present one. This will require more time and expense in the long run.

Some builders tend to have better offers if you use one of their home designs. If your design is much different, you may not benefit from these discounts. Working outside their parameters tends to drive up the cost.

You might also encounter the fact that your desired plan does not fit your future neighborhood’s Home Owner’s Association requirements. Most of the time, an HOA will have its own pre-requisites for home designs. That’s especially true if you want to build in a neighborhood that has a set style. Your design just might not fit in.

Wellstone Place- Frank Betz Associates

Conclusion

Taking into account all the pros and cons, getting bids using your new home design and with builders’ options may be an optimal solution. Either way, being flexible with your design expectations is always suggested. Building a new home is a process. And if you stay fluid, your home’s design will evolve for the better.  Above all, take your time on the front end. Figuring out what you want design-wise, in the middle of a build can not only lead to longer build times, but could negatively effect the end result. In the end, it’s quality that matters the most. So whatever home design you and your builder pursue, attention to craftsmanship should be the ultimate priority.

 

What do I need to ask a Potential Home Builder?

 

So you’re ready to build a new home. One of the first steps should be to pick a builder. If you live in a decent sized town or city, there is a good chance you will have a lot of potential options. There are many things to consider when making the choice, but by asking the right questions of the candidates, you should end up with the best builder for you. Here are some question topics to keep in mind:

References

Besides being licensed, the best builders will always have a wide array of references. It’s a good idea to meet the builders past clients to not only view the builder’s craftsmanship but also get an insight into their customer service. Industry websites can also be a reference source for the local area. A builder who is not forthcoming with references is a major red flag.

Catawba Ridge House Plan- Frank Betz

Do they allow customization or do you have to agree with standard finishes?

A good home builder will always offer the ability to customize your design. You probably want your home to be a reflection of your taste and style. Standard finishes may work for a car, but you shouldn’t have to settle when building a home. A qualified builder will use standard finishes as a starting point, and be open to customization from there.

What warranty does the builder supply?

Builder home warranties are a must. When interviewing each builder, be sure to get the length and coverage of their warranties. Your new home’s products, systems and components should all come with extensive warranties. Make sure your builder will honor the warranties and provide ample service if needed.

Beaufort House Plan- Frank Betz

Pricing

Builders price building a new home a number of different ways. Do they calculate everything per square foot, do they have a flat fee? If you customize, will there be additional costs? Will they keep you up to date on the costs as you go through the building process? It is important to have a thorough understanding of a builder’s pricing before you commit to working with them.

Frank Betz Material Workbook

Estimated time length for the project

A building time frame is another piece of information you should have before choosing the builder. You don’t want a builder who will take too much time, but on the other hand, you don’t want someone who will rush through your job. A fast build often means reduced craftsmanship and lower quality. If your builder has his hands full with a bunch of other homes, that may mean less time and attention to your home build. Finding a good balance between the two is a solid choice.

Bucknell Place House Plan- Frank Betz

Overall, it is a good idea to interview as many builders as possible. The more questions you ask, the better. The answers will help you make a better informed decision. With the right questions you will find a builder that fits your style, temperament and budget. If possible, spending a bit more for the right builder will pay off in the long run. After all, this is your new home we’re talking about.

Getting reference for New home construction through online industry reports and home shows

As you approach the new home building process, there a number of ways to gain a base knowledge of construction that will help in the long run. A quick search online can lead you to applicable reference materials and various industry reports. Visiting local home shows are another beneficial method. Gathering as much information about the industry will help increase your building knowledge and thus be better prepared to start this quite big undertaking. You’ll get a broader, non-biased view of home building trends in your desired area, find information on credentialed builders and know what questions to ask going forward.

Frank Betz Farmhouse Plan- Hemlock Falls

Before you get the keys to your dream home, there’s a long road ahead. As a first step, it is advised to research the topic on various online construction reporting websites. These sites include www.contructionmonitor.com, www.rakenapp.com, www.nahb.org. While these sites are directed toward industry professionals, the content can be useful to someone looking to build a new home for the first time. By familiarizing yourself with industry terminology and processes, you’ll better understand what’s going on, as it’s going on. You’ll also get to see the major players, popular vendors and construction techniques in your area.

Frank Betz Farmhouse Plan- Tanglewood

Most of these sites focus on building permit data as the key resource to gauge market trends and activity.
Building professionals use this information to find new business opportunities, source general contractors, subcontractors and vendors, but you’ll be able to get a feel for who’s doing what and where, as well. Because these are sites for professionals, you’ll also be able to verify the credentials of your perspective builder and vendors. Additionally, they frequently have updates on the latest happenings in the building industry like vendor expos and home shows.

Frank Betz Farmhouse Plan- Hickory Flat

Home shows feature exhibits, product demonstrations and seminars on a variety of home building topics.
Anything and everything having to do with the home can be found at a decent sized home show. Here you’ll find info on house plans, building materials, landscaping and lawn care, kitchen appliances, fixtures, flooring, roofing, siding, concrete, windows, heating and air conditioning, patios, insulation, and more. If you’re interested in building a green home, there are many shows that travel the U.S., specifically geared to that topic. There you’ll learn about green building methods and products that include the latest insulation, radiant floor heating, energy efficient appliances, zero VOC paint and green roofs. And no green home show would be complete without clean energy alternatives like solar panels and wind power.

Frank Betz Farmhouse Plan- Gulfport

Doing your new home, homework ahead of time, will get you better prepared for your building adventure. Knowing the process, the players and building language, will be a major advantage as you move forward. Spend some time online and attending a home show or two. It’s a great way to get ideas, get inspired and most importantly, get educated.

Yearly Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Home ownership has many benefits, but it comes with the cost of upkeep and repairs. Homeowners can minimize these costs and keep their home running smoothly with a little consistent care. Getting into a routine of periodic maintenance can go a long way to sustaining the overall condition of your home. Want to cut down on the expected home expenses? Do these tasks at least once a year.

 

Clean gutters
Yes, no one likes cleaning the gutters, but it’s a necessary chore to prevent serious damage. Your gutters keep rainwater from seeping into your roof, siding, and foundation. A leak in the roof can be expensive and labor intensive to fix. Cleaning the gutters might be a pain, but the cost of not cleaning them is worse.

Falkirk House Plan- Frank Betz

Check A/C units
The A/C unit is a favorite hiding spot for all kinds of unwanted critters, so give it a sweep and ensure no guests have taken up residence. Cleaning the vents is also a good idea, especially if you have pets or allergy sufferers in the home.

 

Check water heater
The water heater does a lot of work regulating the temperature in your showers and faucets. If you notice problems with your water temperature, you might need to test the water heater elements or thermostat. This might be a job best left to a technician if you don’t know what you’re doing.

 

Inspect roofing and siding
Inclement weather can cause all kinds of damage to the exterior of your home. If your house endures cold northeastern winters or stormy southern summers, always inspect your roofing and siding for damage after the season.

Castle Rock Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Maintain pest control
Left unchecked, bugs and specifically, termites can cause damage to your home. It is very important to have a continuous termite control treatment plan for your home. Roaches and ants can be a nuisance, but termite infestation can be devastating.

Pressure wash decks, patios, and driveway
If you have concrete surfaces outside your home, pressure washing once a year will maintain their value and appearance. Driveways can get especially dirty with oil stains and weed growth, so make sure you wash those carefully.

Glen Abbey Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Winterize hose bibs and pipes
Hose bibs are outdoor faucets attached to the side of house. During the winter, these bibs can fill with water and then freeze, causing the water to expand and crack the pipe. Keep these dry by installing a frost proof hose bibs.

 

Re-caulk around windows and doors
Gaps in your window and door frames are costing you money by allowing cool or warm air to escape. If you notice an increase in your energy bill, you might need to re-caulk some windows or doors and seal them properly.

 

Have chimney professionally cleaned
If you enjoy a roaring fire in the winter, don’t forget to have the chimney professionally cleaned after the cold season ends. Ash and soot buildup can create a fire hazard inside the chimney, in addition to damaging the foundation. An annual cleaning is a must for all active fireplace users.

Olde Heritage Manor Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Making sure to follow these recommended tasks is just part of being a responsible homeowner. What may take you a little time to check out, can save you a lot of time in the long run. Home ownership is great if you do it right.

 

Do I need an interior designer?

When building a new home, an interior designer may seem like an unnecessary luxury, but one you might want to consider before getting too far deep into your home design. An interior designer isn’t just for the rich and famous – anyone who wants to make their home unique but consistent can benefit from the skills of a good interior design specialist. Taking on this task yourself might leave you with some unexpected (and unfortunate) results. Here’s a few good reasons to high a professional interior designer.

Gastonia- Frank Betz House Plan

They keep communication between builder/homeowner on track

For most of us, Architects and home builders speak a different language than we’re accustomed too. An interior designer speaks this language and can make sure clear communication is kept between both parties. As a member of your team, an interior designer can help lead you through the steps of the home building process and keep your vision on course.

 

Can assess your personality and ensure your home is a true reflection

Everyone has different wants and needs from their new home. A good interior designer is adept at interpreting those desires and helping to convey your personal style throughout the home. With an interior designer, you won’t need to describe every minute detail of your ideal home. A professional will take your personality into account and try to weave those unique nuances across your home’s design.

Aspen Ridge – Frank Betz House Plan

 

Mindful of the budget

Though an interior designer will come with a fee, they can actually save you money in the long run. Perhaps the most important skill an interior designer has is making sure a homeowner’s wishes can be carried out while staying under the assigned budget. DIY home design is a great way to spend more than you really want to. Designing homes is what interior designers do everyday. They know the ins and outs of home design and their associated costs. If you need to stay on a budget, an interior designer can be your best ally.

Northfield Manor- Frank Betz House Plans

 

Does some of the “behind-the-scenes” work that is tedious and not so glamorous

It may seem like an easy/fun job, but designing the interior of your new home takes a lot of work and hours. An interior designer knows the home building process inside and out and hiring one will save you a lot of time/money. They have the inside connections to source materials and samples. And once they’ve helped you choose a design direction, your interior designer will do all the homework regarding material acquisition and getting them to the builder.

 

If not for anything else, a capable interior design will keep tabs on all the above while also keeping  an eye on the big design picture. As a future home owner, sometimes it’s hard to see the whole picture when you’re moving through the process on a step by step basis. You might get caught up on something happening in the kitchen and completely neglect an issue in another part of the home. Your interior designer sees all the pieces and knows how they all have to fit. In the end, your home will have your unique theme that’s consistent from the ground floor to the top.

 

Must Have Safety Items for Your Home

Our homes have always been a place of refuge and comfort from the outside world. But since we spend so much time there, it’s also a place where accidents can happen. We do so much to keep our families safe outside our houses and often neglect the dangers present right under our noses. By taking a few simple precautions, you can make your home a much safer place. Here’s a few items to consider just in case of an emergency.

Greythorne House Plan- Frank Betz

 

Fire extinguishers – Plenty of common appliances and accessories can be fire hazards if used improperly. Ovens, microwaves, even curling irons can pose risks if left unattended. Make sure you have fire extinguishers present on each floor and test them once a year.

 

First aid kits – Accidents are inevitable, especially if young children live in the home. They might get their hands on a sharp knife, get a finger pinched in a window, or touch that hot curling iron we talked about above. To treat cuts, bruises, and burns, keep a complete first aid kit in the house. A proper first aid kit will contain band aids, antiseptic spray, antibiotic ointment, sterile bandages, gloves, medical tape, and a thermometer.

Smoke, CO, and Radon alarms – Sometimes it’s the things we can’t see that pose the biggest threat. A smoke detector needs to be present in every room in the house, but don’t forget about CO and radon alarms. Carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless, but very deadly after exposure. You should probably test these alarms every six months to ensure working batteries.

 

Deadbolt locks – Keeping unwanted guests out of your house is a top priority for all families, but not everyone can afford a sophisticated security system. However, most of the time a quality deadbolt lock will dissuade most bad guys from getting inside. Place one on every door that faces the exterior of the house.

 

Brookwood Park- Frank Betz Home Plan

Wi-Fi Thermostats – If you travel a lot, a Wi-Fi thermostat will regulate your home’s temperature without you being present. You can adjust the heating and cooling levels right from your phone. No more burst pipes in the winter!

 

Emergency contacts list – You aren’t always going to be home when bad things happen, so leave an emergency contacts list in plain sight for anyone in the house to see. Include the numbers for police, fire, ambulance, and any friends or relatives who live close by.

 

Non-toxic house plants – This is a must-have for any home with pets. Make sure no small children or fluffy friends get sick from nibbling on your plants.

Abbotts Pond- Frank Betz Floor Plan

Disaster kits – If bad weather knocks out your power, you need to be prepared. A good disaster kit contains water, food, blankets, batteries, flashlights, first aid kits, and tools.

 

The essence of a home is a place of safety and comfort. Incorporating the above items will not only help protect your family, but go a long way to giving you piece of mind. To achieve the age old maxim of Home Sweet Home, you should start with Home Safe Home.