Archive for May, 2011

May 25 2011

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The House Plan Shop – House Plans with Basements: 5 Ways to Use the Space

House Plan 053H-0011If you are building a new house and have the opportunity to build a house plan with a basement or walkout basement, it is well worth considering. Basements are beneficial in many ways, but perhaps many of us value the extra space a basement can offer more than any of its other attributes. When building a home on a full basement, the possibilities are endless when it comes to how you might use all the additional space. Furthermore, they offer flexibility. From finished to unfinished, basements offer enough space to accommodate your ever-changing lifestyle. Here are a few things you can do with a basement foundation:

 

  1. Unfinished Storage: The easiest thing you can do with a basement that doesn’t require extra work, finished space, paint, carpet or furniture is to leave your basement completely unfinished. This allows for plentiful storage space for all your needs from packing up the holiday decorations until next year to a place to keep memorabilia from your younger years, not to mention tools, file cabinets, or boxed items like used toys and children’s clothes you plan to pass on to a family member or friend.
  2. Drive-Under Garage: Depending on the slope of your lot and its orientation to the road or street, some house plans with basements are perfect for drive-under garages. In this case, a portion of the basement is dedicated to parking and the garage area can be accessed from the front, rear or side of the home. The remainder of the basement can be used any way you wish.
  3. Gathering Space: Consider finishing a room or portion of your basement as a gathering space you can enjoy with your family and friends. A family room, rec room or game room encourages relaxation, conversation and family time well spent. Other possibilities might include a playroom for the kids or a home theater. Adding special elements like a full or half bath and compact kitchen or wet bar makes it easy to use the restroom or serve drinks and snacks to friends and family without having to go upstairs.
  4. Additional Bedrooms: In the instance that you may have lot restrictions limiting the size and footprint of your home, it may not be feasible to arrange all the bedrooms on the main level. For those with a large or growing family, finished bedrooms in the basement give all the children a place of their own while working with lot limitations. Likewise, you may have room for the kids’ bedrooms on the main level but would like to have a guest room for overnight visitors that is somewhat private. A basement bedroom can be quite accommodating and comfortable.
  5. Private Retreat: For those who need a quiet space to get away from it all or need a peaceful place to work, a finished basement is a great place to add a home office, a den, hobby room, exercise area or workshop.

 

Homes built on a basement foundation not only offer plenty of space, but they have other great benefits too. Take some time to review, Beneficial Basements, to find out what other advantages they offer.

 

If you’d like to browse house plans with basements and walkout basements, visit The House Plan Shop’s website and use our advanced search feature. 

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May 18 2011

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7 Tips for Outdoor Rooms and Enjoyment All Summer Long – The House Plan Shop

House Plans 035H-0034 Covered PatioWhile you might have found the perfect house plan and built your dream home, you may not be quite sure of how to make use of your backyard. One thing is certain, if you love being outside, you’ll want an outdoor room. Below is a list of tips from The House Plan Shop to help you come up with an outdoor living space that is right for you.

 

1.    Divide your space – If you have a large backyard or even a small one, it is important to divide your space. Determine where you want your outdoor room, what portion of the yard will be for the kids to play and the dog to roam, and where do you plan to have a vegetable or flower garden. (Keep in mind your outdoor room does not necessarily have to be the back porch, deck or patio.) Use archways, hedges, fences, gates and shrubbery to define each of the necessary spaces within your backyard.

2.    Consider an outdoor room with a view – Be creative. Your outdoor room does not need to be connected to the home or situated next to the back wall. Try positioning your outdoor room away from the house by building an open-air gazebo or constructing a pergola on a concrete slab. If it is next to the house, orient the living space to the view whether it is the deck looking over the lake or pool or a patio with a view of the golf course.

3.    Dress up your space – Trim your outdoor room with lush plantings such as hostas, evergreens and colorful perennials. Add hanging ferns and container plantings of greenery and flowers to your porch, deck, patio and lanai for more visual appeal. Container plantings are easy to water and move making it easy to spread color throughout your outdoor room.

4.     Add furniture and seating – Make your outdoor room comfortable and inviting by incorporating weatherproof outdoor furnishings and accessories. Anchor the space with an outdoor area rug. Add weatherproof wicker furniture outfitted with thick cushions covered with outdoor fabrics crated to withstand the extremes of the elements including mildew, fading, stains and rot. Choose water-repellent fabric that can sustain freezing conditions.

5.     Consider lighting, privacy and noise – Add privacy to your room and block the view of neighbors’ wandering eyes by adding decorative, folding metal screens. Control sunlight and privacy with bamboo blinds hung from your covered porch, patio or gazebo. These versatile blinds can be raised or lowered to block sun and views. They also help control the noise of your outdoor gatherings as not to disturb the neighbors. Consider installing a soothing water fountain to screen the noise from the street and busy subdivisions. An added bonus: water fountains contribute to a soothing and relaxing atmosphere to your outdoor room.

6.    Build for entertaining – If you plan to entertain in your outdoor room, make sure it is built and furnished for entertaining. Add an outdoor kitchen and bar. This can include everything from a grill or built-in stovetop to a sink, mini-fridge and wine rack. A fully functional kitchen helps keep everyone and everything outside while you are entertaining. There is no need to run in and out of the house as you prepare a meal. With an outdoor cooking station, you can visit with guests, enjoy pleasant weather and prepare a hassle free meal. Consider adding counter with bar stools for snacking and conversation. Create an outdoor dining room beneath your covered porch with a patio table and chairs. Hang a chandelier or lighted ceiling fan above to anchor the space. If you like dining alfresco, make sure you are ready to do so with a group. Include versatile furniture such as benches that can be covered with a cushion and used for extra seating or remove the cushion and use the bench for an extra table when company arrives.

7.    Other elements – Don’t forget to incorporate the things you love. If you’ve always wanted a hot tub, choose a space for it. If your family enjoys sitting by the fire, add an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, perfect for gathering and conversation on a crisp fall evening. If you want a backyard pool, create a sidewalk or pathway connecting your outdoor living area to the pool.

 

If you’re planning to create an outdoor room, carefully consider these ideas and formulate the best plan that will accommodate your family’s needs and wishes.

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May 12 2011

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Simple, Yet Charming Cottage House Plans – The House Plan Shop

Cottage House Plan 027H-0119For those who don’t require a lot of living space, cottage house plans are a good choice. Though they don’t offer everything you might find in a family-sized home, and they will never compare to a mansion, cottage floor plans are designed to be comfortable and accommodating. Small in nature, cottage home plans are well suited as a primary residence for a single person or a couple and provide all the comforts of home without all the fussy extras. Furthermore, they make great vacation homes and are even a nice selection for a mother-in-law suite or guest house on a large estate. Cottage house plans are sometimes referred to as English cottages. They are quaint, but deliver plenty of outward charm. Though the floor plan is usually simple in design, cottages usually enjoy decorative exterior details and trim such as a railed porch, window shutters and flower boxes. Their interiors are neatly decorated as well. These small houses typically provide basic accommodations including one or two bedrooms and baths, an open floor plan with combined living and dining areas, a modest kitchen and occasionally, a space for a stacked washer and dryer unit. Cottage designs blend nicely in a variety of settings from the side of a peaceful country road to a cozy and peaceful neighborhood. The House Plan Shop’s cottage collection features floor plans that offer no more than 1200 square feet of living space and do not include a garage. Because of their small nature, cottage home plans are closely related to cabin floor plans. Known for their charming designs and cozy accommodations, cottage house plans deliver comfortable and relaxed living year-round or just on long weekends.

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May 04 2011

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Get Ready for Summer: Home Maintenance Checklist

Filed under Home Maintenance

Air ConditionerSummer is just around the corner. It is time to get your home ready for the hotter months ahead. Below is a checklist of things to do in your home to prepare for summer.

 

1.    Open windows on warm spring days. Let the fresh air flow through your home and let natural light fill as many living spaces as possible. Open curtains and blinds. The sun’s ultraviolet rays will do more than fill the home with cheer. They are lethal to many harmful bacteria that may have found their way into your home throughout the winter.

2.    Pull the refrigerator away from the wall. Vacuum the coils carefully sucking out dust and anything else that found its way behind or under the refrigerator.

3.    Take some time to wipe down, dust or clean space heaters. Check electric chords and plugs to make sure they are still in good condition. Store units that are in good working condition for next year.

4.    Now is the time to prepare the furnace for the off season and get ready for next season. Inspect the furnace filter and change it if it is dark and dirty. Vacuum openings and grilles at the heating vents, registers and ducts.

5.    Before cranking up the air conditioner change or clean the filter. Remove the pan from the bottom of the unit and clean and replace it. Trim shrubs surrounding the unit allowing for proper ventilation.

6.    Make the transition from winter to summer by having your furnace and air conditioner serviced by a professional. Make an appointment early to avoid the summer rush and have a better choice of appointment days and times.

7.    Clean the windows, window coverings and trim inside and out. Start by brushing away dirt with a soft-bristle, dry broom. Then get down to business washing each window with a rag or sponge and warm, soapy water. Don’t forget to remove and wash curtains or dust the blinds.

8.    Clean and repair windows screens. Remove the screens for the windows. Brush off dust with a rag or clean, dry paintbrush. Then, gently scrub each screen with a soft-bristle brush and warm, soapy water. Rinse the screens with the hose. Check for rips and tears in the screens. Many can be mended with a needle and thread. Replace the entire screen for those that cannot be easily mended.

9.    Check hoses, sprinklers and other irrigation systems. The freezing and thawing of winter can crack pipes and hoses so turn on the water and see how your watering system is working before the temperatures rise and you need to use it. Check for leaks, puddles of water, breaks in the lines and hoses, and broken sprinklers and clogged sprinkler heads. Repair or replace what needs to be fixed before you have to worry about your grass and other landscaping turning brown in the heat of summer.

10.  Examine the outside of your home. Trim trees and shrubs that may be touching the siding or brick, windows or trim. Experts recommend maintaining a distance of at least two feet between the home and plants to keep damaging insects and moisture away from the home. You may even consider power washing the exterior of your home to remove dust, mud, mildew and debris. If you find cracking, peeling or blistering paint, move quickly to repaint yourself or schedule a new paint job.

 

Summer is quickly approaching so take some time to prepare your home for the rising temperatures ahead.

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