Tag: new home

HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR HOMES’ CURB APPEAL

Walk down any residential street and it’s the homes that make up most of the scenery. How your home looks from the curb point of view makes a statement. It’s a first impression that conveys a lot about who and what lives inside. Whether you’re looking to maximize your home’s curb appeal because it’s going on the market or you just want a great looking home, this article can help you get there.

Aspen Ridge Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Knock Knock

The front door is most often the centerpiece of a home’s front exterior. As people approach your home, they’re headed for the front door. As a major focal point, you should create a front doorway that is both strong and welcoming. Depending on your door type, this can be achieved with a fresh coat of paint or stain. While well-crafted hardware that includes the door knob, knocker and even the doorbell can dramatically contribute to the overall look of your front entry way. Long story short, a great front door is a must for curb appeal.

Azalea Farm House Plan- Frank Betz

A porch that says, “come on up.”

If your home has a front porch, it already has a head start in the curb appeal department.

Nothing says “come on up for a visit” like a well-appointed front porch. Taking into consideration the style of your home, furnish your front porch with comfortable chairs or even porch swing. Potted and hanging plants and other attractive ornaments like windchimes, a door mat and sculpture are additional ways to turn up the welcome factor in this out-in-front space.

Heritage Pointe House Plan- Frank Betz

Landscaping matters.

Attractive landscaping means more than just freshly cut grass. From the curb, is there a path leading to the door? Make sure this path is well kept and even. Trimmed bushes, flowering plants and carefully pruned trees all add up to create a beautiful landscape. And remember, it all starts at the curb. The sidewalk and driveway are also important areas to keep looking neat.

Maplegrove Cottage House Plan- Frank Betz

A detailed approach.

Another step in increasing your home’s curb appeal is sprucing up the architectural details. These include any elements that can be seen from the curb. Make sure that any fencing is in order, the roofing and gutters look good and light fixtures and hardware are working and clean.

Even a neat mailbox can help. These items may seem insignificant alone, but together they have a substantial visual effect.

 

New Albany House Plan- Frank Betz

What a difference a color makes.

Finally, and quite important, is your home’s paint. Freshening up the exterior of your home with a shiny new coat of paint is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to boost its curb appeal. Shades of green and brown blend well with most landscapes. Light and dark tones of blue also work well to instill a look of calmness. And if your home is modern or traditional, white is a nice way to emphasize clean lines.

 

There are many simple ways to increase your home’s curb appeal. Start by standing on the curb and observing your home from an objective perspective. You’ll be able to identify key issues that can be easily addressed. With a little time and elbow grease, your home can be looking its best to you and anyone who happens by.

 

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MUDROOM DESIGN

Similar to an airlock on a space station, the mudroom is a vital transition area between the outdoors and indoors. Coming in from outside, it’s a place to take off and store your outerwear and other daily belongings. When leaving your home, it’s the last stop to gear up with the needed essentials. Coming or going, a well-designed mudroom is an essential part of any home.

Kensington Creek House Plan- Frank Betz

A heavy traffic area

One of the keys to a properly designed mudroom is making sure it’s located adjacent to the most used entry way. Consider what door your family will be using the most often and that is the place for the mudroom. This is probably the area where everyone’s shoes, boots, gloves, coats, backpacks, keys and hats will live. So, it should be designed into the floorplan according to convenience and easy access to your home’s most popular doorway.

Barrington Hills House Plan- Frank Betz

Everything in its place and a place for everything

Accessibility and organization are two very important components to a functional mudroom design.
Built-in shelving and cabinets are nice for storage. While racks and hooks to hang coats and hats make getting in and out of the house more efficient. If there is room for a bench, not only will it provide a comfortable place to sit while removing shoes and boots, but with the right design, the area under the bench can be utilized for storage, as well. Installing a small mirror is also a nice amenity, for a last-minute look before you head out the door.

Ingrams Mill Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Size is relative

Beyond location, the size of your mudroom should be determined by the number of people and pets in your home. Remember, with each person comes at least one set of shoes, a coat and hat. And for our
four-legged family members, you’ll need room for a leash and outdoor toys. If there’s space for its own room great, but a mudroom can be designed into a hallway, laundry room or larger closet.

 

Pine Meadow House Plan- Frank Betz

Durable materials

The very definition of a mudroom describes a place where muddy and wet clothing is taken off before entering the rest of the home. It’s there to protect the rest of your home from the outdoor elements. With that, a mudroom should be designed using materials that can handle dirt and moisture. Tile flooring or an easy to clean rug will help keep things tidy. Metal hooks and wire baskets are also moisture resistant features that make for durable storage and organization.

Wellstone Place Floor Plan- Frank Betz

All told, the mudroom should be designed for function. It is a place to keep outdoor clothing and any other daily items used outside the home. But just because the mudroom is designed for utility, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be attractive and complement your home. Incorporating the same color pallet and material styles will help weave this room into your home’s established décor. Yes, it is a mudroom, but it can be a beautiful room, as well.

DESIGNING HOME PLANS FOR REAL PEOPLE

When designing a new home there’s sometimes a tendency to get a bit off track. Yes, it’s nice to peruse the magazines and posh websites for fantastic home design ideas. But do all those fancy features and amenities fit into a normal family’s lifestyle? Usually not. Too often we’re mesmerized by a home design that makes a great magazine photoshoot, and not what really makes sense for day to day living. Beyond beauty, your home needs to be functional for everyday life. This article will help outline real world design tips that can make your new home beautiful and most importantly, practical.

Embry Hills House Plan- Frank Betz Associates

Get organized

During the planning stage, it’s time to determine what you want and need out of your new home. Beyond ample living space for your family, what other features and amenities make sense? A new home can help a family keep their lives organized. The latest smart home technologies designed into a home can aid in organization. These products include smart thermostats that adjust temperature according to living habits, smart security, lighting and HVAC systems, and even smart locks that do away with keys. Carefully planned closets, kitchen cabinets and drawers have also evolved to increase storage and reduce clutter. Many home plan designs already dedicate spaces such as mudrooms, larger laundry rooms, working pantries and office nooks to encourage home efficiency.

Kirkwood House Plan- Frank Betz

 

Location matters

Take into account your location, climate and outdoor activities. Hot climates may dictate a swimming pool and proper protection from the sun, like covered porches, awnings and high-performance windows. Colder regions need a home with extra insulation and when possible, a southern facing lot position.  House plan designs that offer covered porches, screened porches and sunrooms can expand your living space while taking climate concerns into consideration. Whether hot or cold, energy efficiency should be factored in to the design. Features like energy efficient appliances and zoned HVAC units are popular and sensible methods.

Kensington Park House Plan- Frank Betz

All the comforts

Comfort should be a major factor when designing a home for practicality. Beyond shelter, your home is a place to feel safe and relaxed. With that, a home plan should have an adequate number of bedrooms and bathrooms for all members of your family. If the budget allows, enhanced amenities like spa tubs, walk-in closets and hardscaped outdoor living areas can help dramatically ramp up the home relaxation factor. Also, a large, open kitchen with an island can act as a central living area for the whole family to gather.

Springmill Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Accommodations that adapt

Another realistic consideration when designing a new home, takes into account the adaptability to lifestyle changes. If you’re building a family, a nursery is a must. As your family grows, you’ll need the right amount of bed and bathrooms. Will you have guests often? If so, a guest room is in order. The same goes for visiting or permanent older family members. Seniors in the home mean accommodations such as an in-law suite or second master bedroom.  And if these seniors have mobility issues, wider doorways and easily accessible bathroom amenities need to be incorporated into your home design.

Holston Farm Floor Plan- Frank Betz

There are many defining components that should be considered when designing a new home. Creating a place that fits the basic needs of your family is the best place to start. From there, you can expand the home plan design to include practical amenities that keep your family safe and comfortable with attention to efficiency and environmental concerns. The ability to support a changing family dynamic is an additional design aspect. Once all the functional elements are included, the creature comforts can be added to your home plan as the icing on your home cake.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.