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Jan 30 2013

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3 Ways to Control Home Building Costs

Home under ConstructionWhen building a new house, one of the most important things you can do is control your building budget. Without careful planning, it is easy to go far over budget when building a home. Beginning without a building budget, making changes during construction, and poor craftsmanship are just a few of the things that can blow your home building budget or cause extra expenses.


1. Most homeowners who embark on a home building project rely on obtaining a loan from a financial institution. This requires careful planning of the building budget up front. Begin by getting a feel for what things are going to cost. For example, visit several local lumberyards and find out what materials are available and their costs. Talk to the lumberyards about buying materials in bulk. Often, lumberyards will offer a better discount when all of the materials for the home are bought at the same time. This will slash your material costs. Also, compare the costs of luxury items verses budget items such as light fixtures. If a budget fixture is just as visually appealing, comes with a good warranty and serves the same purpose as the luxury item, choose the budget item. This tactic will cut wasteful spending tremendously. Using methods like these will help you save money and establish a building budget that works with your loan.


2. Next, go over your house plans carefully and discuss everything about the design, the floor plan, special elements, etc., with your builder before construction begins. It is important to have all the details worked out with your builder ahead of time. Once construction begins, making changes to the exterior of the home or the floor plan can become very costly in a hurry. When changes are made during construction, it often requires the builder to tear down or redo some portion of the home that was already complete or near completion causing a waste of time, money, materials, and labor.  


3. Finally, you might not be able to control the local labor costs, but you can control who you choose to do the work on your new home. Interview potential builders, ask to see their credentials, visit other jobsites where the builder has worked, and ask the builder for references from past clients. Researching the builder you hire (and the subcontractors) will help you choose the most qualified and skilled builder you can afford. Your new home is a major investment. You don’t want to ruin the experience of building a new home with poor craftsmanship. If you end up hiring an inexperienced builder or subcontractors, it is likely you’ll run it to problems quickly. Poor craftsmanship means you’ll be spending more later to repair things that were not properly built, constructed or installed during the construction of your home.


If you’re planning to build a new home, follow these tips to control your building costs.

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Oct 09 2012

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Large or Small? Determining the Size of your House Plans

Two-Story House Plan 007H-0123If you’ve decided to build a new house, you’ve probably already realized there a many things to consider before you begin from buying a lot and choosing a builder to selecting convenient floor plan features and securing a loan. Determining the size of your new house plan is one of the any things you’ll want to think about. Take some time to consider your lifestyle, as well as needs and wants in order to determine the size home you’ll need and the kinds of spaces you’ll want to include in your floor plan. This list will help you consider some of the key factors in many homebuyers’ decisions when it comes to choosing the right-sized home.


  1. How many people will live in the home? How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? Do you have an aging parent or another relative living with you? Will the kids share bedrooms or will each child have his or her own? If you are not married or do not have children at the present time, consider the future. Retirees and empty-nesters many consider walk-in showers and handicap accessible features in the master bath and perhaps even in another bath on the main level of the home.
  2. Are you retried and plan on the kids and grandkids coming home for the holidays? How will you accommodate them? Bedrooms? Pull-out couches in the family room and recreation room? Convert the office to a guest room?
  3. Do you plan to entertain regularly? Will you need a formal dining room for holiday meals or can you get by with a casual dining space and a snack bar? Do you prefer formal entertainment spaces or will a spacious family room or great room that opens to the kitchen and breakfast nook satisfy your entertainment needs?
  4. Would you like to have an outdoor entertainment/relaxation space such as a screened porch, deck, covered patio or lanai?
  5. What kind or relaxation spaces do you need? Can you make do with the family room or do you want a recreation room, game room, home theater or finished basement?
  6. Think about hobbies. Do you play the piano? Will you need a separate space for the piano such as a music room or will the piano fit nicely in the living room? Do you need a sewing room? Are you a DIY guy who wants your own workshop or are you a car enthusiast who will need an oversized garage with plenty of storage space for auto parts and tools?
  7. How much storage space will you need? Consider bedroom closets, linen closets and other storage spaces in the mud room, utility room, garage, basement, etc.
  8. What organizational features do you need? Do you want a drop zone with lockers or cubbies in the mud room? Do you need a kitchen island, a built-in hutch or a meal planning desk? Would you like built-in display niches or a built-in entertainment center in the great room? Would window seats with storage in the bedrooms be useful?
  9. Consider specialized spaces. Will you need a private/quiet space such as a home office in order to work from home, meet with clients or pay bills online? Do you need a playroom for the kids?
  10. Consider flexible spaces. What may work well as a nursery when raising a family can one day convert to a home office or even a guest bedroom in the future. Flexible spaces are wonderful assets to any home because they can flex and change as your lifestyle changes. What flexible spaces would benefit you?
  11. Think about future spaces. You may not need extra space for your current lifestyle, but it is worth considering floor plans that offer unfinished basements and future/bonus rooms that can be finished later. These spaces are a great way to add living space to your home should your lifestyle change and demand it in the future.
  12. If you are single, you may not need much space at all. There are many simple floor plans that offer just the basics. Can you live comfortably with the basics? If so, you may not need to consider any of the special spaces and features mentioned above.


House plans come in all shapes and sizes. There are plenty of large homes that are suitable for large and growing families including two-story house plans and those with finished basements. There are also plenty of smaller homes for singles and couples. And there is even a vast array of floor plans designed for retirees and empty-nesters looking to downsize. Whatever phase of life you’re in right now, there is sure to be a right-sized home plan to satisfy your needs. Take some time to browse our house plans collections for find the right home design for you!

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Jun 06 2012

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3 Tips for Building a House

Filed under Building a House

Home BuilderBuilding a new house is no easy task. From the professionals you hire to build your home to how you communicate your ideas to those involved in the home building process, many factors will determine how smoothly construction goes and the quality of the finished product, your home. These tips from The House Plan Shop will help you get started and carry you through construction resulting in a dream home you couldn’t be more proud of.


  1. Assemble a team of professionals. There are many people involved in the home building process, and it is important that you select professionals have a good reputation for home building whom you can work with and trust. Ask family and friends who have built for recommendations for contractors/builders. Interview them. Find out how long they’ve been in business. Check references. Ask to see proof of insurance and if they are bonded. Finally, ask if you can see their work at a jobsite they are working on currently. Do not settle for a builder who doesn’t communicate well with you or who has below-standard references.  After you’ve hired a builder, team up with him/her and hire a panel of sub-contractors such as a concrete professional to pour the foundation, plumbers, electricians, etc. Your builder might already have a good relationship with a variety of subcontractors that he/she works with regularly. Find a mortgage lender you are comfortable with who has a strong knowledge and plenty of experience with new home construction. Hire a residential designer to draw your blueprints or make any changes to your pre-drawn stock house plans that you might require. Hire a local engineer who can review your blueprints and provide any engineering for your local building codes. As for the professionals that you don’t get to choose for your team but must be a part of it (i.e. city building inspector), be sure to establish a good relationship with them from the start.
  2. Choose a floor plan. When a couple is building a home, both parties may have certain requirements for their future home, and some may be more important than others. Each person should create a list of the most important features of the floor plan. Review each other’s lists together and decide on one list of the most important features. Create a new list for the top three to seven items that are important for the home. Be sure to consider the size of the home and the number of levels, the number of family members you must accommodate, any special spaces you need such as a guest suite for your live-in mother-in-law,  and the activities that will happen in your home (do you prefer formal entertaining during the holidays or casual gatherings?) When you’ve determined the most important elements of the home find a pre-drawn floor plan that will accommodate your needs or hire a residential designer to draw a custom floor plan for you.
  3. Communicate thoughts clearly. When building a home it is necessary that you communicate clearly with your team of professionals and all other parties involved in the construction and finishing of your new home from the contractor to the person ordering custom drapes for the great room. Consider designating a point person for different aspects of the home-buying process so information is not delayed or communicated to just one or two of the people involved. You might even set up a special email address to keep all emails regarding the home building process in one place. You might specify that all sub-contractors contact the point person directly with estimated dates of completion for each professional’s work, etc. No matter whom you communicate with and not matter what the reason, be clear and concise, provide examples to illustrate your thoughts or ideas, and follow up with your building team to make sure everyone is on the same page from the start of construction until you close on your home. 


There are many other things you can do to ensure the building process will go smoothly from start to finish, but these handy tips will get you started.

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Feb 02 2012

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Today’s Home Building Trends

House Plan 023H-0102There is no doubt home building trends have changed throughout the years and continue to evolve. Today’s home building trends are influenced by environmental factors, homeowner preferences, the availability of land and other factors. Some of today’s building trends keep the comfort and lifestyle of the homebuyers in mind as well as call each of us to be more environmentally responsible. Check out these home building trends:


  1. Gathering spaces are open to one another allowing for easy interaction among family members and guests. For those with an eye on the golden years, open floor plans allow for easy mobility should you one day find yourself using a walker or wheelchair.
  2. Kitchens are becoming larger in size as most families consider the kitchen to be the hub of activity throughout the day.
  3. Master bedrooms and bathrooms have become larger and more spacious serving as a quiet retreat at the end of the day while offering homeowners a place to relax, refresh and pamper themselves.
  4. Plenty or organizational spaces are a must. Floor plans are including built-in shelving, display niches, abundant closet space, built-in desks, drop zones/lockers near the garage entry and convenient linen closets.
  5. Garages have grown in many cases to accommodate over-sized vehicles like trucks and SUVs while others use the extra space to provide a workbench or storage cabinets. Some garages are becoming environmentally-friendly offering a space for a charging station for electric vehicles or leaving room for a charging station in the future.
  6. Use of sustainable and environmentally-friendly building materials is becoming more common.
  7. Energy-saving and eco-friendly features such as low-flow toilets and energy efficient windows are gaining popularity and add vault to the home.
  8. Multi-generational living is trending upward and homeowners are finding a need to include a guest or in-law suite in the home or a mother-in-law cottage or garage apartment located behind or adjacent to the home. This allows aging relatives to continue to live in a home or somewhat independently with assistance nearby if necessary.
  9. Designers and builders are making an effort to take advantage of natural lighting by carefully positioning the home on the lot and the windows in the home to draw natural light inside, thus saving on lighting and energy bills.
  10. Home builders are making an effort to use less toxic materials and incorporate recycled materials when possible.
  11. Many builders are incorporating security systems including alarms and motion lighting around the perimeter of the home.
  12. Home designers are carefully arranging floor plans to have a narrow footprint especially in densely populated areas where land is precious.
  13. Floor plans often include large porches, screened porches, decks, patios, etc., for outdoor living and entertaining.
  14. Designers are including flexible spaces in their floor plans. For example, a full bath might be included in a den or office so the space can easily convert to a guest room with weekend visitors arrive. For those who only have occasional visitors, there is no need to have a designated guest room that is only used a couple times a year. In other cases, the flex space is meant to change and flex as your lifestyle changes. What might serve as a nursery when the kids are young can convert to a home office or hobby room as you move through the various phases of life.

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Oct 19 2011

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Will My House Plans include Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC Details?

House Plans 001H-0044The home plans published by The House Plan Shop are considered stock plans or pre-drawn blueprints designed to meet the national building codes in place at the time each was created. They do not necessarily meet any state, county or municipal building codes. Furthermore, pre-drawn house plans do not include extensive information regarding HVAC, electrical and plumbing details.


Information about the HVAC will be determined locally. The HVAC system will depend on the climate, types of unit(s) you use, and the size of your home/amount of finished living space to be heated and cooled. Necessary ductwork will be determined by the type of heating and cooling system selected and local building codes. Discuss and review all HVAC information with your local HVAC professional or your contractor.


While some stock home plans include a simple electrical plan indicating the suggested locations of outlets, switches and fixtures, it will be up to your builder or local electrician to install all electrical elements according to local electrical code. Take time to review the electrical information and details with your builder or electrician before construction begins.


Finally, plumbing fixtures are included in stock house plans. However, the blueprints will not reflect a plumbing schematic. The sewer system and flow of water lines are site specific and must be determined by local professionals. Talk with your plumber or contractor to discuss plumbing details.

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