Archive for July, 2009

Jul 29 2009

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Are Stock House Plans Sealed or Stamped?

Building a new house is very exciting, but it is important to be educated about the many factors, elements and requirements that should be considered before construction begins. If you are planning to build your new home using stock house plans, be aware that these blueprints are not stamped or sealed by an architect or engineered. These pre-drawn plans are designed to meet the national building codes set forth at the time and place the blueprints are created. While the stock plans may meet national building codes, they may not meet all local building codes.

 

In some cases, various states, cities, counties or municipalities require an architect’s seal or stamp on the stock house plans, meaning the blueprints have been officially approved for construction. The architect or engineer must be certified in the state in which the home is to be built. If you are building a new home using stock house plans and are required to have the plans sealed or stamped in order to obtain building permits, it will be necessary to have a local architect do this for you. Typically, your builder, building official or the building department can recommend someone to seal or stamp your house plans before construction begins.

 

Do your homework before purchasing stock house plans. Contact your building department and ask if a seal or stamp is required. Next, contact a local architect and make sure he or she can approve the blueprints. Ask how long it will take. These simple steps will save you time and eliminate headaches if you know what is required by your building department before you begin. It is no fun to purchase your house blueprints hoping to begin construction right away only to discover there will be delays because the floor plans must be approved first. Be sure to educate yourself about stock plans and whether or not an architect’s seal or stamp is required. This important step is a necessary part of the construction process.

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Jul 22 2009

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House Plans with Outdoor Living Spaces

Filed under Outdoor Living

House Plan 035H-0034If you are planning to build a new house chances are you’ve consider a wide range of aspects and elements about the interior of your home from efficiency and comfort to form and function. You’ve probably even considered the exterior appearance. But before you make your final decision about the house plan you wish to build, take some time to think about the usefulness and other benefits of choosing a floor plan with at least one outdoor living space making the most of your lot and yard.

 

Outdoor living spaces include a wide range of possibilities. They can be almost any size and can satisfy one or more purposes.  They include covered front or rear porches, wrap-around porches, screened porches, covered or open decks, patios, terraces, lanais, balconies and more. Furthermore, special features such as outdoor fireplaces, grills, outdoor kitchens, pools, hot tubs, spas, gazebos, cabanas, built in seating and planters improve usefulness, function and enjoyment of outdoor living spaces. Other additions include sound systems to listen to music or the ball game, a TV tucked into a weather proof cabinet, outdoor lighting, ceiling fans and weather poof furniture.

 

How could your family use an outdoor living space?  Think about your family and the activities you enjoy.  The following ideas will help you decide what outdoor living space is right for you.

 

·         Do you enjoy barbecues and outdoor gatherings? A deck, patio, covered porch or screened porch work well for grilling and outdoor dining. If you tune into your favorite radio station you can enjoy some music too.

·         Maybe you prefer to prepare an entire outdoor meal. Consider a grilling porch or outdoor kitchen keeping the heat outside while leaving your indoor kitchen clean and spotless. Furthermore, your family and friends will enjoy as tasty meal outside without leaving a mess inside for you to clean up when everyone’s gone home.

House Plan 043H-0155·         Do you envision your kids swimming all summer long? Does your family hope to throw pool parties through the summer months? A patio, lanai or a deck will make a nice complement to any home with a pool.  Add built in benches for extra seating and outdoor lighting so your gatherings can continue after sunset.

·         Maybe you just enjoy reading or relaxing outdoors after a day at the office.  Consider a courtyard or covered porch. Planters will add a splash of color and satisfy any gardener’s green thumb. Perhaps an upper level balcony is more what you desire, a wonderful place to watch the sunset.

·         Do you have a lot with beautiful panoramic views? Do you enjoy submerging yourself in the sights and sounds of Mother Nature? A sweeping deck or full-length covered porch will give you a great place to take in the view or observe surrounding wildlife.

·         Does your family like to entertain? Maybe a covered porch with an outdoor fireplace is the answer. You’ll have a great place for gathering and conversation without being crowded inside the house and the fireplace will give the kids an opportunity to roast marshmallows and make S’mores when they want a snack. Not to mention everyone will enjoy the warmth of a crackling fire on a crisp fall evening.

·         Looking for a romantic evening? How about dessert and stargazing with your loved one on an open deck? An open deck is also great for sunbathing. 

 

Outdoor living spaces offer endless possibilities. With a little imagination, your family can use and enjoy the spaces surrounding your new home just as much as the interior living areas. Be sure to consider the outdoor living spaces of every home plan you review.

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Jul 16 2009

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Will Stock House Plans Meet My Local Building Codes?

House Plan 021H-0134If you are planning to build a new home using stock blueprints it is necessary to educate yourself about building codes. When a home plan is drawn, each residential designer or architect puts great care into ensuring the blueprints meet or exceed the national building code in place at the time of creation. However, this does not mean the house plans will meet all or even some of the local building codes for the area in which you plan to build. Beyond the national building code, each city, county, township or municipality follows its own list of residential building codes based upon specific geographic qualities for that area. It is necessary that you contact your local building office to learn more and/or find out what is required for the construction of your new house in the area where you plan to build. Furthermore, you may need to work with your builder or building official or hire a residential designer to make modifications to your house plans ensuring they will meet any additional building codes required by your municipality.

 

In addition to your blueprints, you may need to provide a few other documents and items when you apply for a building permit. Check with your building department for the items you will need. They can supply a list which may include the following:

 

·         Energy Code Compliance – A form that must be filled out verifying the materials used to construct the house will be energy compliant.

·         Site Plan – A drawing or sketch of the lot reflecting the location and positioning of your future home as well as locations of other structures presently on the lot. Your builder will be able to help you with this.

·         Septic System Design – A diagram showing the details of the septic system. This is not necessary if your lot is served by a sanitary sewer system.

 

Be aware, some areas of North America have very strict engineering codes. It may be necessary to hire a local engineer to review your house plans and provide additional drawings, details and calculations required by your building department. For example, Northern areas have snow load and 2×6 wall framing requirements. There are wind load requirements for hurricane-risk areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Earthquake-prone areas of California follow seismic zoning regulations and demand additional structural elements.

 

If you need further information about any of the items mentioned above or have questions about local residential building codes, be sure to contact your building official regarding the requirements in your area.

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Jul 08 2009

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House Plans for Baby Boomers

0062-front-photoThe nation’s baby boomers are reaching a point in their lives when it is time to downsize from their larger homes to something that is a bit smaller, comfortable, accommodating and requires less maintenance and upkeep. This group of potential home buyers is growing and these people are faced with changes in lifestyle that were not found in the generations before them. To accommodate these changes, “baby boomer trends” are popping up in new home construction now more than ever. This collective group covers a broad spectrum of people ranging in age from their late 40s to their mid to late 60s. They include singles, working couples, retired couples, and those who have lost a spouse. Most of these people have raised their children and are now finding themselves in a home far too big or extravagant for their needs. Furthermore, many are discovering that even though their children are gone, they still have someone in their care, aging parents or other relatives. Others have an eye on the future when they may have an aging relative living with them or they are considering their own futures, in regards to health and abilities in the years to come. Keeping these thoughts in mind, review the following list describing many of the most requested features baby boomers are looking for in their next house plan.

 

Less total living area – Face it, now is the time to be enjoying life. Who wants to spend time cleaning and maintaining rooms that are rarely or never used like the three extra bedrooms and finished basement you needed 20 years ago when you were raising your kids?

Low maintenance exteriors – While opting for less space to take care of inside, many baby boomers are opting for less to take care of outside as well. Low maintenance exteriors with a siding or brick façade and few decorative frills mean less time spent on the upkeep of the home’s exterior appearance.

Open floor plans – Barrier free living spaces with few dividing walls make it easy to move about the home. This makes it easier for those who use canes, walkers or wheelchairs to move about independently with having to maneuver around obstacles.

Single-level homes – Arranging living and sleeping areas all on one level allows accessibility for everyone, especially those who are challenged by stairs.

Fewer bedrooms and baths – Most baby boomers are asking for a nicely sized master bedroom with a deluxe, private bath and one extra bedroom or bath that can be used as a guest suite for visitors, sleepovers with the grandkids or accommodations for an older relative who is not able to live alone but does not wish to live in a retirement home, assisted care facility or the like.

0169-int-8Walk-in showers – Baby boomers caring for an aging relative are realizing now more than ever the need for walk-in showers. Stepping into the shower can be a great challenge. A walk-in shower offers a convenient and safe solution that is perfect for many people that face physical challenges and limitations. Not only is this nice feature a solution for those that baby boomers are caring for, but it may come in handy years from now when this generation is faced with the same challenges their parents and other family members are faced with now.

Home offices – Many baby boomers are still working full time but have opted for telecommuting requiring a home office that can accommodate a computer, phone lines and more. Others have retired from one job just to start up a business they have dreamed about for a long time.

Exercise areas – More than ever, the baby boomer generation is becoming aware of the need to practice good health habits. With that comes a desire to have a home gym, workout area, etc. Many are looking for homes that incorporate a dedicated space for working out such as an exercise area where they can practice yoga, pop in an aerobics video, walk on a treadmill or do some strength training with a home gym machine.

Spaces for relaxation and enjoyment – Baby boomers owe it to themselves to kick back and relax from time to time or spend time enjoying their favorite hobby. There is an uptick with this generation requesting features in their homes that promote relaxation and enjoyment. Weather is it is a hobby room, garage workshop, soaking tub in the master bath, state-of-the-art entertainment center, quite den or expansive deck, baby boomers are asking home builders for the things they enjoy most.

 

If you plan to build a new home and you are indeed part of the baby boomer generation, think about all of these features. Review and consider house plans that incorporate the elements that will be most beneficial to you. Chances are you will appreciate for these thoughtful features for many years to come.

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Jul 02 2009

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House Plans: One Set of Blueprints Stamped “Not for Construction”

If you are planning to build a new house, it may seem possible to build the home using only one set of blueprints, especially if you are doing all the work yourself. You may think it is only necessary to buy one set of blueprints. However, before purchasing stock house plans, it is important to know that a single set of blueprints is stamped “not for construction.” While the stamped set of construction drawings is a complete set of blueprints, it is considered a study set and is intended for review only by you the homeowner and/or the builder. A stamped set of home plans allows you to view the floor plans in more detail and obtain estimates and bids for the labor and materials for your new house.

 

Once you have reviewed the house plans and decide to move forward with your construction project, you can upgrade your one-set blueprint package to a greater set of blueprints. Most house plan publishers allow upgrades for a limited time. For example www.thehouseplanshop.com allows customers to upgrade their one-set house plan package to a greater blueprint package within 90 days of the original purchase. This means that you will only be required to pay the difference in cost between the single-set package and the larger blueprint package.

 

Other important information before you order:

  • You cannot apply for building permits with a stamped set of house plans.
  • If you order a one-set blueprint package, be aware that shipping charges apply again when you upgrade your house plan package to a greater number of blueprints.
  • Copying or building from a set of blueprints that is stamped “not for construction” is considered copyright infringement and is punishable by law.

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