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Split-Level Homes

The split-level home has long been a popular choice in the American landscape. Beginning in the 1950’s, with lots getting smaller as the home owning population grew, the sprawling Ranch-style home was getting more difficult to build and more expensive to maintain.

Early Ranch style homes evolved into the more modern split-level.

Early Ranch style homes were large, sprawling homes that required large lots; the split-level evolved out of this horizontal design and a need for more space.

 

Existing homes were modified and new homes being built kept the long lines and horizontal orientation of the ranch and prairie home but added more compact design concepts. The resulting home offered more interior living space on a smaller lot by stacking levels and using short staircases as conduits between gathering spaces. Now instead of a two story home, the house is divided at mid-height creating a third level and allowing more options for how to divide the space.

Most often, a split-level home will maintain those traditional ranch-style details like overhanging eaves and low pitched roofs. But considering the many ways a space can be differently utilized when stacked, there are several modern designs now entering the market with quite a high level of popularity. There are also new ways of utilizing the split-level design. A side-split denotes a split-level house plan where the two floors are visible from the front elevation of the home, while a back-split appears as a single-story from the front; only in the back are both stories visible.

Perhaps the most popular benefit of a split-level home design is the ability to divide living areas. For many families with children at home, a lower level with bedrooms or recreation space for games is a perfect way to lower the noise level and keep kids safely entertained yet separated from gathering adults. The daylight basement is another benefit of this design. Finished above-ground space that can be utilized for a number of purposes is appealing to many families, as future needs cannot always be predicted. Bonus space that can be used later on is a comfort to many.

Whether the traditional design or the more modern look is appealing to your family, split-level house plans have come a long way since their early needs-based inception. They continue to serve the modern family unit with efficiency, clever design technique, and classic exterior appeal.

Mountain and Rustic House Plans

Mountain homes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Rather than being an architectural distinction, mountain house plans represent a collection of common features designed for rugged landscapes. Also called Rustic house plans, these homes tend to be on the smaller side and boast design elements perfect for vacation homes in beautiful settings.

rustic home design exterior view

Natural materials are often used in mountain house construction: treated wood siding, unfinished logs, and stone elements are commonly seen in these types of homes. Metal roofs are desirable for their low maintenance as much as for the uniquely peaceful sound of rainfall they provide. A mountain house plan will often have lots of windows from which you can watch the changing of the seasons. Formal rooms are replaced with cozy gathering spaces usually centered around a stone fireplace. Traditionally open designs make these smaller mountain house plans feel simultaneously expansive and intimate. Rustic house plans will have several covered patios or a wrap-around porch for taking in the fresh mountain air.

Seasonal weather in mountainous areas can be unpredictable and extreme, and a good rustic house plan will reflect the sturdiness required to withstand colder seasons. A-frame designs are quite popular in areas where annual snowfall is high, while other mountain house plans will be multiple stories high to separate bedrooms from living areas and are suitable for building on a sloping lot. It is somewhat common for a mountain house plan to not include a garage, as these are often used as vacation homes. However, for those attracted to the style and wish for a permanent residence with a rustic feel, garages can either be added to existing plans or you can choose from the many larger sized mountain house plans that include space for storing vehicles.

Having a quiet place to escape to feels vital for many families living in densely populated areas. And for those who cannot build their dream home just yet, a vacation property is an approachable first step: a uniquely designed home on a slightly smaller scale and perfectly suited to your family’s needs is a choice everyone can get behind.

 

Search for Mountain and Rustic House Plans here

A Vacation Home Is A Solid Investment

There are numerous studies to show that Americans take trips more frequently when they have a permanent vacation home as a destination. The peace of mind that comes from staying in your own space is a powerful motivator, and the ability to store necessities on site is yet another big incentive. In the busy lives we live, time away from the daily grind can be hard to come by. Vacations are complicated things to pull off: making travel arrangements, taking time off from work, packing, researching, and staying in unfamiliar accommodations can all put a damper on the experience, and many people just don’t have the spare time to put all the details in order.

Especially popular in recent years are vacation homes in the mountains.  These rugged, sturdy floor vacation house plans are designed to withstand seasonal storms and provide a haven from day to day life all year long. Typically low-maintenance materials are used in construction and mountain house plans are uniquely suited for sloped lots and breath-taking views.

Whether you build a fishing cabin in the mountains  or a beach cottage on the coast, there are numerous benefits to be found in building a custom vacation home:

  1. Tax Incentive

Depending on the tax laws in your state, there is a possibility that you can write off the property value from your annual income. Check with a professional in the area you want to build to make sure you’re getting the most accurate tax advice.

  1. Earned Rental Income

Many folks don’t mind others using their vacation home and with the advent of sites like Air B&B and VRBO home owners can generate income by renting their vacation properties when not in use.

  1. Vacations are Good for Your Health

There are countless medical studies to show the positive effects of fresh air and the increased activity that mountain travel inspires. Lowered blood pressure, increased oxygen in the body, and a relaxed state of mind have all been linked in correlation to longevity and lower incidences of major chronic health issues.

For many families who feel that building their dream home is out of reach at this time, considering a vacation home is a perfect first step. Smaller in scale and often quite simple in design, working from a vacation house plan that had been modified to your specifications makes the possibility of regular vacations a reality.

Architectural Styles in the Modern World

Human societies have been building and living in homes for thousands of years. These historical architectural styles reflect regional influences as well as the ongoing development of human architectural stylesculture. As societies form, the structures echo the needs of the present place and time and, over the years, this has come to provide us with numerous architectural styles that reference these past design trends and point towards our future.

These days, we use architectural styles to denote those sociohistorical trends that guided past design choices. They are quite helpful when searching through a large archive of house plans on a site like MonsterHousePlans.com. Ultimately, however, many of the distinguishing features of one house plan design style will also be reflected in other styles of house plans. The wide front porch of architectural stylesthe Southern Country style house plan is similarly a common feature of the ever-popular Craftsman house plan as well. It’s difficult to say which claimed the front porch feature first, or if they developed simultaneously. But this is just one example of the way seemingly-signature features are often incorporated into other design styles.

This is good news for those shopping for their dream house plan. A good designer will meld various styles into a seamless reflection of the current trends while also applying an expert’s hand in terms of structural integrity and feasibility. As our lifestyles grow custom architectural stylemore diverse, the homes we choose to build echo our evolution. With modern families taking so many various forms it’s quite amazing really to see the way our clients are taking full advantage of the opportunity to create something unique and functional for their lives. And although there are always some house plan styles that remain popular in the long term, there will also always be room for artistic development and socially-influenced modifications. Perhaps this is what draws us as architects to this field: this constant evolving of form and function, and the ultimate pay-off of a happy family loving the space they live in.

Best Evah Bar-B-Que Sauce

Why buy store-bought when you can impress your guests with this homemade sauce packed full of flavor? Make up a batch of this ahead of time to let the flavors meld together. It’ll keep in a jar in the fridge for about a month.

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1 ½ cup honey

1 cup ketchup

1 6oz. can tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tbsp. curry powder

1 tbsp. paprika

1 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. Tabasco sauce

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Makes about 3 cups.

Cajun Shrimp Skewers

It couldn’t be easier to infuse your grilled shrimp with tons of flavor with this easy marinade. Your backyard entertaining just got kicked up a notch!

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2 lbs. shrimp, uncooked, deveined, with tails on

Large resealable plastic bag

1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup peanut oil

2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. rosemary

1 tsp. thyme

Wood skewers, soaked in water

 

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Place shrimp in the plastic bag and pour marinade over. Refrigerate for 2 hours or so. Bring the grill to medium heat. Thread shrimp on wooden skewers and grill 5 to 7 minutes, turning and basting frequently with the rest of the marinade.  Serve with Cajun butter for dipping.

 

Cajun Butter

½ lb. melted butter

1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. tarragon

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning

½ tsp. garlic powder

2 to 3 drops Tabasco sauce

Jade and Ivory Pasta Salad

Tired of serving the traditional macaroni salad at your backyard bar-be-que, this classic from Pasta and Co. is a brilliant deviation. Make ahead and keep in the fridge the day before if you’re short on time.

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Ingredients:

1 cup olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, peeled and run through a press

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

20 grinds of fresh pepper- preferably green peppercorns

3 tablespoons whipping cream

1 pound fresh pasta

1/3 cup Myzithra cheese, grated

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 cup chives or green onions, finely minced

½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 cups frozen peas, thawed and drained

2 cups blanched asparagus tips, cut no longer than 2 inches

Additional green onions sliced on the diagonal for garnish

 

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes and ground pepper, and whipping cream. Set aside.

Cook pasta al dente in salted boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss the pasta in the dressing and allow to cool at room temperature. Gently fold in the remaining ingredients and serve with additional green onions for garnish.

Spicy Pulled Pork

Always a crowd pleaser, pulled pork can be prepared the day before and warmed on the stove top or in a crock pot before serving. Use hoagie rolls for full sandwiches, King’s Hawaiian dinner rolls for excellent sliders, or, as the Pioneer Woman suggests in this recipe, serve with tortillas and lime wedges.

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Ingredients:

  • One 5-7 pound pork shoulder
  • 1 whole onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, combine the onion, chili powder, brown sugar, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. Pulse until totally combined.
  3. Pour the mixture over the pork and rub it in well, covering every accessible part.
  4. Place the pork into a roasting pan or Dutch oven and add 2 cups water. Cover tightly and roast for 6 or 7 hours, turning once every hour.
  5. Check to make sure it’s fork-tender. Increase the heat to 425 and roast uncovered for 20 minutes or until the skin gets crispy. Remove from the oven and allow the pork to rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Shred the meat, using two forks to pull it apart. Place the shredded meat on a large platter lined with lime wedges.
  7. Pour the pan juices over the shredded meat. This will ensure that the meat stays extra tender.
  8. Serve with warm tortillas

We Honor With Our Thanks

Memorial Day weekend is seen by many as a cause for jubilant celebration: the first three-day weekend of the year, the opening of the summer season, a social history of bar-be-ques and garden parties, and a good chance to get out of town for camping and other outdoor activities. Friends and family gather together and it’s an all-around good time for many.

As a designer of dream homes, what better way to celebrate building your custom home than to be able to host gatherings of loved ones there? I would never begrudge anyone for having a party this weekend, but I would suggest that we all interject a little thoughtfulness into our celebrations. There is, as we all well know, a patriotic element to this weekend that sometimes goes under-recognized. At its inception, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day, and families would decorate the headstones of the many men lost during the Civil War. Over the years the holiday has evolved to include those lost in all wars while serving in the United States’ Armed Forces, and now is often barely a mention amidst the fervor of the long weekend.

Decorated graves of U.S. soldiers

Decorated graves of U.S. soldiers

Take a few moments to remember those you have known and lost to the unthinkable horrors of war. Consider the incredible blessings bestowed upon us by our constitution, when so many people in this world do not enjoy such privilege. Offer a moment of gratitude for the simple joy of having your friends and family around you and, in this season of political mayhem, relish the opportunity we all have to formulate and share a unique opinion. Thank the heroes in your life for their service and, if they are willing, listen to their stories.

Bravery | Courage | Service

Bravery | Courage | Service

There is so much to be grateful for in this world, even in the face of difficulty and uncertainty. No matter how you choose to celebrate this weekend, make a little space to be thankful for the good things in your life, and tell the people close to you that you love them. Believe me, it makes all the difference.

Finding ways to give back for all the goodness I receive is a foundational issue for me. In honor of Memorial Day, MonsterHousePlans.com will donate $50 to the Gary Sinise Foundation for every house plan sold between now and Flag Day, June 14th. We are honored and privileged to offer our small support of this wonderful organization, and are excited to share the power of this donation with all of you as well.

Be safe and well this weekend, and we look forward to all the exciting projects we will share with you in the future!

We honor with our thanks.

We honor with our thanks.

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.