The House Plan Shop Blog

Nov 21 2016

4 Things to Consider when Buying a Lot for Your New Home

Lot for SaleIf you are planning to build a new house, it is important that you carefully consider your lot. While you might already know what kind of home you want to build, choosing the proper homebuilding site should not be taken lightly. Take some time to consider the following information before making a final decision about your lot.

 

Lifestyle and needs: Each person/family has their own lifestyle and needs and both will greatly influence the lot or building site you choose for your new home. Consider how close you want to live to all the places you go to on a regular basis such as work, church, school, restaurants, and shopping centers. How far do you want to live from these places? Do you need to live within walking distance? A ten-minute drive? Or is farther away going to be okay with you? Next pay attention the improved ground around the subdivision or lot you are considering? Are sidewalks and streetlights already available? Is it important to you to have these things? If they are not already available, it is important to know that purchasing a lot in the subdivision might require you to contribute a portion of the fees to install these things in the neighborhood. Finally, think about what you envision for you new home in terms of neighbors and space. While some people want to live in a neighborhood with lots of kids so their own children will have friends to play with, others prefer a more secluded lifestyle with plenty of space between them and their neighbors.

 

Affordability: When it comes to building a new home, the cost of the lot is a factor in the overall building budget. It is necessary to be sure the cost of the lot will fit your budget. Can you afford the lot and still build your dream home? While the cost of the actual property might fit your budget, you should consider all the costs associated with getting your lot ready to build. Clearing trees, blasting rock, grading the land for proper drainage and building retaining walls if necessary are just a few of the things that will dramatically increase the cost of the lot before you are even ready to begin the actual construction of your home. Before you purchase your lot, it is a good idea to have your builder visit the property with you. Builders can often see things about the lot that might cause potential problems or require extra work in preparing the lot before construction begins that will drive up your costs and could potentially blow your budget. Finally, if you choose a lot where utility services are not already available at the lot, you will be responsible for the costs associated with running water, sewer, gas, electric and other utility services to your lot. However, if you choose a lot in a subdivision or neighborhood where these utilities are already available, additional costs, if any, are substantially lower.

 

The Home You Have in Mind: Before choosing a lot, take some time to consider the home you have in mind. Is the lot compatible with the home you envision? Familiarize yourself with all aspects of the potential lot. Physical, environmental and aesthetic factors can have a profound effect on the design of your home or the floor plan you choose. You wouldn’t build a 6,000 square foot home on a half-acre lot, so the size of the lot will matter. Likewise, if you aren’t one for using the yard, maybe a smaller lot with less grass to mow is better for you. Take some time to check with your local planning and zoning board to learn more about your potential lot and the surrounding property. You wouldn’t want to build a beautiful home with plenty of decks and widows to enjoy the view only to find out a year from now that the common ground behind your home has been zoned commercial and a new skyscraper is going to block your view. Finally, think about how the home you envision will sit on the lot. Is it a sloping lot that will require a walkout basement or a drive-under garage? Sometimes the features of the lot will influence features of your home, so take some time to make sure they will complement each other.

 

The Yard: When choosing a lot, consider how you plan to use your yard. Check with your local government to determine the zoning and setbacks of the lot. This will give you a clear picture of what you can build on the lot, how close you can build to the property lines, and what will be leftover for your yard. The size and shape, topography, drainage and slope of the lot will certainly influence how you use your yard. Do you want outdoor living space such a covered patio or outdoor kitchen? Do you need a clear and open space that requires full sun such as a pool or garden? It is important to think about how you plan to use your yard or what outdoor spaces you’ll need so that you choose a lot that will accommodate your dream home and give you the outdoor space you need to enjoy life to the fullest.

 

Building a home is exciting, but choosing the wrong lot can make for a bad experience so carefully consider the information provided above to help you make a good decision when choosing your lot.

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Oct 18 2016

Home Maintenance Tips: Get Ready for Fall and Winter

Cleaning GuttersCooler temperatures are a signal that it is time to get your home ready for fall and winter. With pleasant temperatures, it is easy to spend some time outdoors working on your lawn, in the garden and on the exterior of your home. Putting in a little effort now will ensure that your home will be in good shape throughout the winter. Our list of exterior and interior home maintenance tips will help you get your home in peak condition for the cold weather ahead.

Exterior Home Maintenance

  1. Seal openings and cracks. Inspect the foundation of your home and brick work or stone work for cracks and caulk or seal the openings. This will prevent water from freezing in the cracks which can cause more serious damage later.
  2. Check your driveway and sidewalks for cracks. Clean any debris out of the cracks and repair damage with driveway filler and seal with a coat of commercial sealer.
  3. Apply weather stripping in areas where two surfaces meet such as around doors and windows. Also weather strip the garage door creating a tight seal between the door and the ground. This will eliminate drafts and prevent small critters from seeking shelter inside your garage.
  4. Before you light a fire in the fireplace this fall, hire a chimney sweep to clean the chimney and flue removing all creosote buildup from last year. Also, inspect the chimney for cracks and repair them.
  5. Clean the gutters. Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause a wide range of problems throughout the winter months including damage to the foundation or landscaping as well as flooded basements. Take some time to clear debris from the gutters and downspouts or hire a professional to clean them. Additionally, make sure downspouts carry water away from the foundation.
  6. Inspect the roof for minor damage such as curling or cracked shingles, missing shingles or holes. Make necessary repairs immediately preventing leaks from winter storms and melting snow that can cause more serious damage in the future if not properly repaired.
  7. Inspect porch and deck railings. Make sure they are safe and secure for use during bad weather this winter.


Interior Home Maintenance

  1. Inspect plumbing. Prevent costly damage and repairs to pipes by taking action before the onset of winter. Use foam padding or special insulating tape to protect both hot water pipes and cold water pipes against freezing. Throughout the winter check pipes in basements and little used areas every few days to make sure no ice or frost is accumulating on the pipes and that no cracks are developing.
  2. Hire a professional to service (clean, inspect and repair) your heating system. Your heating system will use fuel more efficiently and last longer if it is running properly. A few minutes of prevention at the onset of winter can save you hundreds of dollars on costly damage and repairs to pipes and plumbing. Insulate pipes or use heat tape or a thermostatically controlled heat cable to prevention pipe bursts. Jump into action now, and prevent major issues in the future. Also, replace your furnace filter.
  3. Check the controls of your heating system/thermostat to make sure it is operating properly, or consider installing a programmable thermostat.
  4. Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger.Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently
  5. Test and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  6. Inspect insulation. Attic insulation protects your ceilings from air leakage. If your insulation is old and worn from years of harsh weather (or damaged from pests that have made a home in your attic) your furnace will have to work twice as hard to heat your home this winter. Hire a professional contractor to install new insulation in your attic.


Lawn and Garden Maintenance

  1. Clear leaves from your yard or better yet, mulch your leaves when you mow. The mulched leaves will decompose adding nutrients to the soil.
  2. Winterize your lawn mower by draining the fuel tank or running it until the fuel tank is empty. Wipe down the lawn mower removing all grass and debris for the exterior. Store it in a dry place for the winter.
  3. Prepare lawn and garden equipment for storage. Drain fuel from gas-operated power equipment like chain saws and leaf blowers. Additionally, clean, organize and store other summer garden tools like shovels and small hand tools.
  4. Reseed patchy areas of grass.
  5. Fertilize your lawn. While the top layer of grass will go dormant for the winter, fertilizer will provide necessary nutrients for the root system which will continue to grow. (If you’ve reseeded your yard, follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging as some fertilizers should not be used with new sod or grass seed.)
  6. Trim trees and shrubs. Trimming in the fall after the leaves have fallen creates less mess and makes it easier to see what limbs and growth should be trimmed. Removing dead limbs and those that are growing too close to your home and powerlines will prevent excessive damage during an ice storm.
  7. Plant bulbs for flowering spring plants such as tulips and daffodils.
  8. Drain, roll up and store garden hoses and sprinklers (do not leave them attached to outdoor faucets during the winter.) If you have a lawn irrigation system, make sure it is drained properly.
  9. Turn off exterior faucets.
  10. Stock up early. Don’t wait until the first snow to purchase ice melt, snow shovels and ice scrapers for your car. Buy these items in advance so your ready when the first snow falls. Additionally, find a snow removal service in advance so you’re not out of luck when your driveway and sidewalks need to be cleared of snow.

 

With winter fist approaching, this home maintenance tips will help you have your home and yard ready for the cold months ahead.

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Sep 26 2016

Classic Country House Plans

Country House Plan 055H-0007Just imagine yourself living down a quiet gravel road lined with shade trees in the middle of nowhere. Just image a cozy yet comfortable home where you can relax on the front porch with a glass of iced tea while the dragonflies and butterflies flit by. Just imagine living in the perfect country home…..

If you like the idea of peaceful and relaxed living with a comfortable floor plan, chances are you’ll like one of our country house plans! Country house plans are designed for comfort and everyday living whether you’re living along that quiet little road you imagined in the middle of nowhere or in the suburbs of a bustling city. These homes are most easily recognized by their covered front porches featuring columns and rails or covered wrap-around porches, but country house plans have some other notable characteristics too!

Dormer windows and window shutters are sometimes easily recognizable as exterior highlights of a country house plan. While they offer visual interest to the exterior, they keep the décor to a minimum. Dormer windows also have another purpose. They deliver plenty of natural light to the interior living spaces.

Counrty House Plan 064H-0043Country kitchens or eat-in kitchens are popular among country house plans. They are designed to enjoy a meal with a large group of people but are comfortable enough for everyone to relax and talk at any time. Additionally, the kitchen is the ideal place for the kids to do their homework while Mom or Dad prepares dinner and lends a helping hand with those tricky math problems and writing assignments.

Country house plans are often informal in design and generally feature an open floor plan that delivers free-flowing spaces and functionality. The open floor plan easily accommodates a crowd for holiday get-togethers or delivers relaxed space to share popcorn and a movie with the kids. These flexible spaces allow homeowners to use home in a variety of ways without a need for dedicated spaces designed for specific purposes.

In addition to covered front porches and the wrap around porches mentioned above, country house plans are often known to features plenty of outdoor living spaces. Outdoor living spaces such as covered patios, screened porches and grilling porches, extend the living areas outdoors easily blending the interior and exterior spaces. This is an added bonus for those who love to entertain. With expanded entertainment space the possibilities are endless!

Practical spaces and features abound with country house plans. Kitchen islands, walk-in pantries, built-in desks and shelves, and mudrooms are just a few of the elements that deliver practicality with these homes. Bonus rooms and oversized garages provide room to grow and extra storage space.

Though the idea of a country house plan seems to promote a sense of a rural, rustic or even a nostalgic way of living, don’t be fooled! Many of the designs in our collection feature some of today’s most sought after features and up-to-date amenities like home theaters, wine closets/cellars, main floor laundry rooms, vaulted ceilings, and luxurious master suites.

If you’re looking for a home with a relaxed floor plan, practical features and a few special extras, take some time to browse our entire collection of country house plans.

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Aug 31 2016

Attention Hunters: Cabin House Plans for the Fall Hunting Season

Attention all hunters! The fall hunting season is nearly upon us, and you are probably already imagining a chilly fall morning with a trophy buck in your sights. Do you know what would make your fall camping trip even better? A brand new hunting cabin! If you like the idea of giving up the rickety ole’ camper on cold rainy nights for the comforts of a more accommodating “camp,” you should consider building a cabin house plan. Cabin house plans are designed to provide all of the basic necessities and blend nicely with wooded surroundings. While most are rustic looking, they vary in style, and typically offer no more than 1200 square feet of living space.

Though modest in size and design, cabin house plans make efficient use of space and offer all of the basic comforts of home:

  • A full bath offers a hot shower at the end of the day
  • Compact/galley-style kitchen is enough to prepare a hot breakfast or warm evening meal
  • Combined eating and living area allows room to relax or talk about the “good ‘ole days” with your hunting buddies
  • Private bedroom or a sleeping area combined with the living space offers a place to rest

Depending on its size and design, some cabin house plans offer more than one bedroom providing extra room for friends and family who might be hunting with you. Additionally, some floor plans provide room for a stacked washer/dryer unit ensuring you’ll have a place to do laundry when necessary. Other accommodations that are sometimes offered with cabin plans include a crackling fireplace, a sleeping loft, and covered porches or decks for grilling, relaxing and enjoying the scenery. Take a look at the three cabin plans listed below and imagine yourself enjoying your next hunting trip in one of these comfortable getaways:

 

Cabin House Plan 032H-0005032H-0005: This two-story cabin house plan is just right for a couple of hunters or your family. With three bedrooms and two baths you can accommodate the kids or your hunting buddies. A compact kitchen and dining area make it easy to enjoy a warm meal after the hunt, or fire up the grill or smoker on the deck if you prefer. Everyone will appreciate the living room fireplace on a cold day. There’s plenty of storage upstairs offering a place to store your hunting gear until the next hunting season.

 

Cabin House Plan 066H-0033066H-0033: A rustic exterior and covered front porch make this cabin house plan the ideal fit for a wooded lot with a view. Its 216 square foot floor plan makes the most efficient use of space. Combined living and sleeping areas eliminate the need for walls while ensuring a warm place to relax and rest at the end of the day. A compact kitchen offers a place to make coffee or cook a pot of stew. A space-saver bath completes the design. For those who spend the majority of their time in the woods, this cabin house plan offers just the right amount of space.

 

Cabin House Plan 072H-0185 072H-0185: Here’s a cabin house plan with a modern twist! The covered porch and plenty of windows allow you to enjoy the view of your property while still blending nicely with the surrounding wooded landscape. With just 480 square feet of living space, the floor plan delivers modest accommodations. The kitchen lines one wall of the combined living and dining space where you can kick back and relax at the end of the day or plan tomorrow’s hunt. A comfortable bedroom and a full bath complete this cozy cabin plan.

 

If you have a special property that you head to every year for the fall hunting season, enhance the value of your property and enjoy your next hunt by building a comfortable cabin house plan.

While cabin house plans offer the ideal living quarters for hunting, they are also just right for rental property, a lakefront getaway or your vacation home. Cabin plans are flexible, comfortable and accommodating, making them suitable for a variety of uses. Take some time to browse our collection of cabin house plans to find one that is just right for your needs.

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Jul 26 2016

Will My Stock House Plans Be Stamped or Sealed by an Architect or Engineer?

House Plan 062H-0088Are you planning to build a new house using a stock house plan? If so, it is possible that your state or province, city, county, or local building department will require your house plans to be stamped or sealed by an architect or engineer. This is not something that The House Plan Shop can provide with your blueprints. The house plans published on our website are pre-drawn stock plans. This means they were designed to meet the national building codes in place at the time the blueprints were created. Therefore, we do not guarantee the house plans will meet all of the specific requirements and local building codes for the specific location or area where you plan to build. Since our house plans and multi-family designs are sold and built throughout the United States and Canada, it is impossible for our residential designers to ensure the blueprints will meet or exceed all local building codes for every state, province, city, county, municipality, or jurisdiction. If you need an architect’s or an engineer’s stamp or seal on your house plans in or
der to obtain building permits from your local building department, please be aware that the stamp or seal is a local building requirement and we cannot provide it to you. The items required for the architect’s stamp or engineer’s seal in one part of the country are completely different than the requirements for a customer building the same plan in another part of the country. They are commonly influenced by local climate and geography in the area where the house plan will be built making the stamp/seal a local requirement. For example, a home owner building a house along the coast of Florida will need engineering to meet hurricane codes while a customer building the same home in certain parts of California will need engineering for seismic codes. If yoHouse Plan 069H-0027u need your blueprints sealed or stamped, it will be up to you or your builder to hire a local architect or engineer to review the house plans and stamp or seal them before you apply for building permits. The design professional who provides the stamp or seal must be licensed in the state or province where the house will be built. The House Plan Shop strongly recommends that you find a design professional in your area that you can work with before you purchase your blueprints. Sometimes the architect or engineer you hire will have a preference as to which plan package he or she wants to work with when sealing or stamping the house plans. This will influence which blueprint package you purchase. Take some time to discuss your needs with your local design professional before making your blueprint purchase. For additional information, please review our FAQs and Resource page.

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