Category Archives: News

Save Money With Solar Panels

Save Money with Solar Panels

Building a home can be an expensive endeavor, and most people preparing to embark on this project are on the lookout for ways to save money- both in the construction phase and in the future years of living in your dream house. The decision to go with alternative energy sources is one that is best made early-on as you browse for floor plans, as the house plan you choose to build from will impact your options for alternative energy sources.

Solar panels have been on the commercial market now since the 1950’s and recent developments in technology have greatly improved the efficiency and storage capacity of solar panels. Versions of this technology are available in hundreds of smaller products, in everything from landscaping lighting options to solar cell phone and tablet chargers. But solar panels on the roof of your new home can save you hundreds of dollars each year in utilities and reduce your dependence on traditional sources of electricity.

Forbes magazine estimates that installing solar panels of your roof can reduce your family’s carbon footprint by as much as 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide each year, doing the work of 88 trees. For those interested in green structures and efficient houses, this is an impressive statistic. And with so many people interested in this option, there are now several ways to go about it.

Many companies will lease solar panels and include installation in the overall cost of the agreement. The benefit of this arrangement is mostly financial, as the company who leases the equipment stores the electricity and sells it back to the consumer, often at a lower rate than the electrical company.

For some, installing permanent solar panels will be the best option. There is an initial cost investment in the materials and the skilled labor required to install them, but you can expect to begin recouping that investment right away. Electricity can be harnessed to power lights, heat, hot water heaters, swimming pools and hot tubs, and any other electricity-based appliance. Solar panels are also estimated to increase the resale value of your home by as much as 20%, so for many home builders it is a worthy venture.

Fenced In

Fenced In

It was Robert Frost who intoned over 100 years ago: good fences make good neighbors. A visible boundary around one piece of property to separate it from the next one, a fence is called upon to serve many purposes. But when considering building your dream house on a new lot, the decision to include a fence can be based on several factors.

Security

At its most basic level, a fence is a safety feature. Designed to protect your yard and your home from unwanted attention, security fences can be anything from solid wood to chain link. Highly security-conscious consumers can set up electrical fencing as part of an alarm system to warn of intruders and dissuade against the impulse to violate the boundary.

Property Division

Fences are often used to mark out the boundaries of one parcel of land. These can be as simple as occasional markers stuck in the ground to denote a property line or a single wire strung between posts at the corners of the lot. In older pieces of land, the property line can sometimes be marked by naturally occurring divisions, such as a change in landscape or a line of trees or shrubbery.

Aesthetics

A fence is also often used as a decorative touch to the overall vision of your dream house. The ever-popular picket fence is just one example among many of this kind of addition. Ornamental fencing can complete the overall look of your home and can be either quite affordable or very expensive, depending on the materials you use. Because the intention of this kind of fencing is aesthetic, the options are unlimited and can be easily matched to the style of home you are planning to build.

As you put the finishing touches on your vision for your dream home, consider the reasons for building a fence as you choose how to proceed. And with house plans that feature wrap around front porches or verandas, some will choose not to build a fence at all, creating an open feel to the yard and enabling the porch railings to serve double-duty as a protective boundary around the home.

Country House Plan

This has been one of our most popular house plans for several years. This is a home that is designed to support lots of activity, changes in family structure over time, and offers an expansive living space beyond what just the inside can offer. With its large wrap around porch and features that rank utility over tradition, this country house plan is a perennial favorite for families of varied arrangements.

The wrap around porch greets family members and visitors alike with an expansive, welcoming feeling, while the screened in portion in the back makes for a very versatile space year-round. The inside design prioritizes function over appearance, as can be seen with the large open floor plan, kitchen with eating bar and island, and walk-in pantry. The master bedroom is located on the main floor and good for temperature control year round as well as serving as an option for aging parents or those who have trouble navigating stairs. Upstairs are two additional bedrooms with the option of a gaming room or family media room that many people are choosing to include these days. Alternatively, that space can be used as a home office or third upstairs bedroom.

This country house plan is the very example of modern efficiency in balance with a traditional, intimate exterior. This is a house plan designed to be welcoming and functional, and the inherent versatility makes it clear why it remains one of our top sellers. It is also available for our exclusive Intelligent House Plan service, which delivers a 3-D digital model, including 12 unique house plan views and a materials list, to your inbox immediately after purchase. This is the single most valuable tool available as you prepare to build your dream home, allowing designers and builders to come together for custom alterations and design improvements unique to the needs of your family.

Front Doors for Every Taste

In a world full of conformity and sameness, there are many opportunities to show your unique vision through your dream home project. Creative solutions to common problems are the specialties of many architects, and these types of issues that require them to accomplish something typical in a new and fresh way is often the bread-and-butter of a design assignment.

Some of these creative decisions do not require expert guidance, however. Consider that the street view is the first impression your home makes to your family and your guests alike. Curb appeal is a big deal at every stage of your dream home project: it is important in everything from the way you feel as you walk up the front steps and insert your key into the door to the potential increase in overall home value to potential buyers by drawing them in.

Your front door says a lot about your family. For many home builders and home owners, a front door is the single most effective way to make a strong aesthetic statement. It is the perfect bend of beauty and function, as the front door is your welcome statement and also serves some very important purposes. In addition to serving as the entrance space for your home, your front door is also a security feature. When considering an artistic flair for your door, make sure that the basic functionality remains intact. While fancy plate-glass windows might appeal to your decorative sense, you do sacrifice some privacy aspects that a door can provide, and that might not be the best idea in high traffic areas. Dutch doors are quirky and wonderful, but are often preferred in the back of the house as they offer a more intimate entry into your home space.

As you choose your front door to perfectly accent the façade of your dream home, look for ways to balance beauty and function. Often the most aesthetically pleasing choices are embodiments of these two elements in harmony.

Outside Dining

Outside Dining

As these first warm evenings of a warm springtime begin to occur, many of our families feel the urge to take our dinner plates outside and enjoy this in-between season.

When it comes time to plan for your outside eating space, there are many things to remember in order to prepare for the best use of your space. Does your chosen house plan boast a large porch or desk area? Is it an enclosed patio, or is there merely an overhang? Features such as these are worth considering in preparation for a time when you’re faced with bothersome insects, or rain fall on a pleasant evening.

If you enjoy playing the host, consider building a deck or patio area that can not only support many people at a time but is also in close proximity to the kitchen for ease in dinner service. These modified porches make entertaining a simple and enjoyable affair by providing ample space for preparing and serving meals; rather than running back and forth from the house to the patio, your time is freed up to focus on your guests and the meal you are serving.

By thinking of these spaces as extensions of your home you become empowered to evolve an evening out into the yard with ease. Whether it’s a simple dinnertime affair on a weeknight or a larger celebratory event, expanding your home area to include your outside space is one of the very best ways to maximize your investment with adaptive spaces.

This is just the beginning of the season of longer days and hotter temperatures. Whether you’re escaping the heat of the house in the afternoon or taking in a cool evening breeze, remember how you will use your yard and porch spaces when choosing your dream house plan. With a bit of foresight, these areas can be built in conjunction with your house project, saving money and time in the long run.

Pray for Tucson

I would like to offer a prayer for all of the families and friends of the victims of the horrible tragedy that occurred last Saturday in Tucson Arizona.  This was the work of a totally deranged person.  At a time like this, we need to resist the knee-jerk reaction to assign blame to this.  There is absolutely no evidence that this had anything do to with politics as some pundits have tried to suggest.  This is not a time to use this horrific incident to get in political points or assign blame to political philosophies that had nothing to do with this.  Unfortunately, there is no way to completely prevent this type of tragedy.  In a country of over 300 million people, there are going to be insane people that will do insane things.  I feel that our focus needs to be on the victims of this event, period. Read the stories of the people involved.  From those that perished to those that exihibited extreme heroism in face of unspeakable terror.  America will survive this and become a stronger nation if we keep this in perspective and continually strive to make this a better place.  Violence is never the answer and we must reject it always.