Tag: house design

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR OUTDOOR LIVING SPACES

Your living space doesn’t have to end once you step out of your home. Taking advantage of your little slice of the great outdoors is part of what homeownership is all about. With the right approach you can dramatically extend your home’s living space. Outside living areas add so much to a home not only from a value standpoint, but as a unique gathering space for family and friends.

Falkirk Ridge House Plan- Frank Betz

A true extension of your home
The best outdoor living spaces can create a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors. By utilizing colors and other tonal accents from your home’s interior, you’ll be able to subtly tie the two together. Whether it’s a stone patio, terraced deck or well kept grass area, these outdoor spaces can be great for dining, play and just to hang out. Dinner with the whole family is nice. Dinner with the whole family at a table under the stars can be extra nice.

 

Woodlawn Floor Plan- Frank Betz

The great outdoors
Spending time outdoors, whatever the season, is good for you both mentally and physically.
Fresh air and sunshine can positively affect mood and overall happiness. So why not create an outdoor living space that your family wants to be a part of? Getting out of the house and away from the TV and other screens promotes a healthy lifestyle. Not only is your family more apt to take part in beneficial outdoor activities, but they’ll be more engaged and present.

Summerlake House Plan- Frank Betz

Room with a view
If your home is lucky enough to be located in an area of natural beauty, creating a comfortable outdoor living space is a great way to immerse yourself in that surrounding. Taking in the view of a mountain, ocean, lake, golf course or even a stand of trees is an added bonus for your outdoor living space. And in the evening, sitting around a fire pit or stone fireplace with friends or family can be a great bonding experience.

Summerlyn Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Exterior design
Just like the interior of your home, there are many ways to design your outdoor living space for maximum comfort and usability. Weather proof seating, pillows and rugs can help bring a softness to these areas. While dining tables and umbrellas can help you enjoy these outdoor rooms with protection from the weather. Adding potted plants and a small water feature are further methods of enhancing the space.

Sweetwater Floor Plan- Frank Betz

With the arrival of air conditioning in the home, families tended to move their lives inside. While this provided a modern level of comfort, it led to a disconnect with the outdoor world and its associated benefits. Nothing inside a home can replace the nourishing experience of spending time in the fresh air, sunshine and beauty of the natural world. By creating an outdoor living space on your property, you can bring back that inherent connection with the nature while adding to the value and comfort of your home at the same time.

 

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.

Home Designs for Small Lots

Building a house on a small lot does not mean you have to compromise on style and space.

With the right home plan and design strategy, you will be able to best utilize every available square foot. By eliminating any wasted square footage, you can build a home with all the typical amenities and living space of a home built on a regular lot. Best practices for building
on a small lot include the following:

 

Positioning

With the small lots usually found in denser urban areas, you will have less leeway on how you position your new home on the land. When possible, a south-facing home is preferred. This position will allow the most light and warmth from the sun. Installing large windows to capture the light is also recommended. Not only will it help with warmth, the natural light will brighten those front rooms making them appear larger. That said, if you live in a hot climate, you will want to minimize your southern exposure either by positioning the home, using blinds to block the sun and extending your roof’s overhang.

Cherbourg House Plan- Frank Betz

Think Tall

More often than not, small lots are usually thin and deep. Take advantage this layout by building your house with two or more stories. Most narrow lot homes have footprints no wider than 40 feet. By building stories and thus stacking your living spaces, you will maximize the amount of house for your lot. These home plans locate the main living areas like the family room, dining room and kitchen on the bottom floor, while the bedrooms and full bathrooms reside on the second or third.

Morningside Manor Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Open Up

Since homes designed for small lots are usually not wide, the structural load of the home can be carried on the exterior walls. This allows for more open floor plans. By opening up common living spaces like the kitchen, dining and family rooms, light and air flow freely to create the appearance of a larger space throughout. Using higher ceilings and large windows also go a long way to achieving this effect.

Clarksville House Plan- Frank Betz

Amenitize

Building costs for homes built on small lots are usually less. One way to take advantage of this cost savings is by adding upscale amenities. Kitchen appliances like high-end refrigerators and stoves often feature streamlined designs that save space. The same goes for washers and dryers in the laundry room. Adding smart systems like temperature and light control are also nice space saving touches that add comfort and efficiency.

Holly Ridge Floor Plan- Frank Betz

As people desire to reduce their commute and live closer to work, small urban lots are steadily increasing in popularity. Though these small lots may appear restricting, they should not dictate a small house. There are many home plans designed specifically to maximize every inch of space. These homes provide ample living space with all the trappings of larger homes. Coupled with locations in more walkable and vibrant areas and the lower cost of upkeep, small lot homes are becoming a more attractive option.

 

 

How To Ensure a Timeless Design

 

When designing a home, there is a number of different aspects to consider. Most home buyers want a modern design with staying power, something that won’t fade out of style as the years pass. This can be a difficult assignment for a home designer. ‘Modern’ doesn’t necessarily mean timeless though, and trends fade as the years march on. If you want a timeless design for your home, you will need to actually think inside the box. Because when it comes to home design, the tried and true ways are often still the best.

Kenthurst House Plan- Frank Betz

Accept Traditional Design Standards That Are Established, Don’t Veer Too Far Off Course

Everyone wants their home to be unique, but there are certain proven methods that have become established for a reason. They work both from a style and a functionality perspective. So when you start the design process, do not throw decades of design practice out the window. You can still have a one of a kind home while sticking to more traditional design standards. Venturing too far outside the established norms can turn your home into a funhouse, something that will really come back to bite when it’s time to sell. Keep it simple here.

Havenbrook House Plan- Frank Betz

Traditional Designs Have More Acceptance and Appeal To Buyers When It’s Time to Sell

Unfortunately, you cannot just think about your own personal preferences when it comes to home design. Especially if you are a first time home buyer. Unless you plan on living in the house for the rest of your life, you need to consider what the design will do to the resale value. Sure, a gothic style might appeal to you now, but it could turn off potential buyers later on. The Colonial, Georgian, or Victorian styles have proven to stand the test of time and will entice future buyers down the road.

Baldwin Farm House Plan- Frank Betz

Timeless Designs Can Be Fresh and New Without Losing Traditional Appeal

Know that your new home is not destined to be cookie cutter. Traditional designs can be updated with new ideas and still hold their timeless appeal. For example, you can borrow bits and pieces from traditional style and use them to give your modern home a more classical appearance. Use neutral color schemes and motifs to give rooms a traditional feel. Also, elements like granite and wood give even the most modern houses a nod to the traditional. And as far as furniture is concerned, done tastefully, it is okay to mix traditional furniture with modern architecture and vice versa.

Witherspoon House Plan- Frank Betz

Regardless of your home design preferences, traditional styles are tried and true and have mass appeal to potential buyers. Traditional design aesthetics like room placement, ceiling height, and window choices to name a few have stood the test of time for a reason. They work and can work incorporated in to most other home styles. Mixing in traditional features will give your house a timeless appeal, not to mention the resale value you are looking for.

Why New Homes are More Efficient

Most everyone desires a comfortable and safe place to live. Older homes may offer historic charms, but more often than not, they are models of inefficiency. Older homes usually have poor insulation, single pane windows and insufficient heat and air conditioning. These deficiencies can add up and create wasted costs just to maintain the home. Modern building technology and materials are taking new homes light years ahead of their predecessors. The following will help clearly illustrate why a new home is more efficient:

Panola House Plan- Frank Betz

Better Insulation

New homes are simply better insulated. Insulation helps retain the cool temperature from your air conditioning system while also keeping the summer heat out. On the flip side, insulation keeps a homes warmth inside during the cold season. New homes are more efficient since they use the latest insulation materials. Today’s products have high R-Values. This is the rating system used to gauge thermal performance. Highly efficient insulation products include fiberglass blanket, foil face Polyisocyanurate sheets, and cell spray foam.

 

Smarter Designs  

New homes are designed and built with the latest and most efficient design innovations. This involves creating larger indoor spaces or properly-zoned areas to control improved airflow. New homes are also employing cool roof technology, windows with multiple panes, radiant floor heating, efficient water fixtures, strategic landscaping and more.

Magnolia Springs Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Better HVAC Systems

Current HVAC systems are a huge factor in new home efficiency. By providing consistent heating, ventilation and air conditioning, a home doesn’t suffer from wide swings in both temperature and humidity. This consistency is also aided by smart thermostats which have almost become the norm in new homes. These systems are a beneficial investment as well, since the improved the energy efficiency reduces utility bills.

Latimer Farm House Plan- Frank Betz

Renewable power

Renewable energy is more frequently being used to power homes. These products can reduce or completely eliminate your utility bills. These systems include solar panels, wind turbines and large rechargeable batteries that can store several kilowatt-hours of electricity.

 

More Efficient Home Appliances
Modern homebuilders are almost exclusively using energy efficient appliances. Beyond HVAC systems, appliances like tankless water heaters, water saving plumbing fixtures and kitchen appliances are all geared to conserving energy and running more effectively. Another innovation in lighting has come from LED light bulbs. These typically use about 25%-80% less energy than the traditional incandescent bulbs from the past and can last up to 25 times longer.

Wellstone Place House Plan- Frank Betz

With all the advances in residential building technology, new homes are running more efficiently than ever. Sealing the homes with high R-Value insulation, designing rooms to maximize air flow, installing the latest HVAC systems and appliances and even incorporating renewable power sources are making a big difference in home efficiency. When beginning the new home building process, take time to carefully plan these elements with your builder. He should be familiar with all the latest techniques and be able to guide you accordingly. In the end, you’ll have the home you always wanted and a highly efficient one at that.

 

How much does a new home really cost?

Building a new home can be an appealing and exciting experience. Yet, if it is the first time, few people really know how much work is involved. Not to mention an accurate estimate of the cost. Variable costs that include architectural fees, permit fees, construction costs and the builder’s fee and land costs all need to be considered to formulate the final price tag and to protect your budget.

Frank Betz House Plan- Ansonborough

Before the first nail is driven, you will need to have a good set of architectural drawings. This usually involves hiring an architect or residential designer. The architect or designer will work with the customer to design the home, produce construction documents, aid and assist with product selection and sometimes manage or monitor the construction of the home. Typically, an architect will cost between $7,500 and $30,000. He or she may also charge a percentage of the construction costs or base their fees on a price per square foot. As an alternative, there are many quality pre-designed house plans available through various media outlets by very talented architects and designers.

Frank Betz House Plan – Sterling Heights

Land is another major cost consideration. As the population increases in major cities, so has the cost of building lots. In the U.S., a buildable lot averages $85,000.00. This number includes survey and financing costs.

Once the lot is secured, the homeowner needs to factor the builder’s fee. Typically, the builder will charge a 10% to 20 % fee. Though this fee might seem excessive, hiring a builder saves both time and money and minimizes waste. Builders can bring valuable expertise in land selection, preparation of your lot, the construction process, obtaining financing and appropriate material selection. They also bring much needed experience to navigating the complicated permitting and inspection process.

Frank Betz House Plan – Maplewood

Next on the list, is materials. Steel prices have increased significantly over the past years: from May 2017 to December 2017, the global steel price has almost doubled. Future prices are predicted to continue growing, considering the recent 25% tariff imposed on steel imports. Costs like drywall average $11,000 while a typical roof goes for $10,000. Other hard material costs that effect framing, and flooring have become costly as well. The choice of exterior finishes such as brick, siding or stucco also have a major effect on the final home price. And let’s not forget about the cost of appliances, cabinets, countertops, windows, doors, interior trim and plumbing and lighting fixtures.

With the recent uptick in the U.S. economy, new home building has increased and this has made labor harder to come by. Skilled labor is needed to prepare the lot for building, pouring foundations, framing, flooring, roofing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, insulation, drywall, interior trim, painting, lighting, and much more. With demand for this skilled labor, up, so is the cost.

Frank Betz Material Workbook

And before you put your pencil down, you’ll also need to figure in landscaping materials, outdoor structures like carports, sheds or barns, decks and porches, patios and the driveway. These and other exterior accessories can quickly add up and exceed your budget if not accounted for in the beginning.

Frank Betz House Plan- Aspen Ridge

Taking all this into account, the national average for the overall cost of a 2,000 square foot home is around $285,900.00. A typical low price will be approximately $74/square foot to a high price average of $360/square foot depending on location and materials used. Since building a new home may be the purchase of a lifetime, much preparation and planning should go into the cost considerations. Knowing all the variables up front will make the whole building process run more smoothly and successfully.

Frank Betz House Plan – Greyhawk

Checklist for First-Time Home Buyers

 

Preparing to purchase your first home is usually a thrilling experience. However, when looking at the process as a whole, it can seem a bit overwhelming. Taking it step by step makes the process much easier. A checklist for first time home buyers can help move from creating a sensible budget to finding a suitable home within that budget and finally, to signing the mortgage.

First Time Home Buyers Checklist

 

  • Know what you can afford and manage the budget.

 

Nothing is more important to the first time home buying process than accurately assessing how much home you can afford and calculate a mortgage that fits within your budget. A mortgage of not more than 2.5 times your household gross yearly income is a nice benchmark. Consider your financial scenario and factor in any of you and your partner’s current debt. 

Remember, owning a home is a commitment, and you must plan to live in it for about five years to receive the benefits of equity.

Frank Betz House Plan – Brookhaven

 

  • Control Credit/Debt

 

One of the most powerful ways to save cash on your mortgage and enhance your financial picture is an excellent credit score. It can take some time, so make refining credit your priority for you and your partner, if applicable.

 

Take note; you’re eligible for a free credit report once a year from all three credit bureaus. Make sure to check the reports for any faults and guarantee that all your bills are paid on time. New credit accounts can impact your score as well. Try not to open new lines immediately after applying for a mortgage.

Frank Betz House Plan – Culbertson

 

  • Have Savings/Down Payment Money

 

Making a 20% down payment is a perfect way to receive initial equity in your home and prevent having to pay mortgage insurance. It’s not needed to qualify for a home loan, but will save you money in the long run. You can also find different local and state down payment assistance programs accessible to first-time homebuyers. Just keep in mind to borrow within your means.

Frank Betz House Plan- Kensington Park

 

  • Create/Fine Tune and Stick to A Budget

 

After you find the ideal home for your needs, it is time to get down to the business of making the purchase. Determine how much you’re willing to pay for the house, make a genuine offer and stick to your budget. Anticipate negotiation, but try to refrain from lowball bids which could risk frustrating the seller. If you prefer to make a bold statement of interest, you can consider an earnest money deposit along with the offer.

Frank Betz House Plan- Laurel River

 

  • Get Pre-Approved, So You Know What Size/Price Home You Should Be Looking For

 

Mortgage preapprovals help you determine how much you can afford. It also puts you in a dominant negotiating position with a home seller. Preapproval is different from prequalification. Prequalification is only an estimate from the lender of how much they’d be willing to lend you depending on various factors. Sellers tend to prefer homebuyers who are preapproved. It makes the financing and closing procedure move more smoothly.

Buying your first home is a major life event for most. Careful preparation and a methodical approach is always the best course. It will make all the difference as you take that first walk across your very own threshold.

Frank Betz House Plan- Randolph Place