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Jun 06 2012

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3 Tips for Building a House

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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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Sep 21 2011

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Building a House: Where to Begin?

House Plan 054H-0077Have you found yourself asking, “I want to build my dream home, but where do I start?” If so, you’ve come to the right place. There is a wide range of resources available to help you get started on your home building project. Most of these resources are easy-to-access and will offer insight and knowledge about the construction project you are about to tackle. Below are just a few of the house building resources available to you.

 

  • Talk to family members and friends who have built a home or completed another residential construction project such as building a garage. These people will speak from experience and have a wealth of knowledge to share. Ask them what worked, what didn’t go so well, what that would have planned better and what things they would do differently if they were to build again.
  • Spend some time talking to professionals at local lumberyards. These people are especially knowledgeable about building materials.
  • Take time to check with your local building department or building inspector. Find out what is required in your city, town or municipality for new home construction. Ask about building permits, building codes and other regulations you’ll be expected to follow.
  • Contact local building professionals that have experience with residential construction and ask lots of questions. Some of these people include builders, contractors, residential designers, carpenters, electricians and other various professionals.
  • If you need to get a loan, check with various mortgage lenders. Find out what steps you need to take to qualify for a loan and what the lender expects throughout the lifetime of the construction loan.
  • Use the Internet. There are all sorts of construction and building websites that offer a wealth of information about the building process from beginning to end.
  • Don’t forget about The House Plan Shop! We have an extensive resources page with many articles and tips to help you through the home building process. Also, you can follow us on Twitter and check out our Facebook page for current postings about building a house, residential construction, green building and other related information.

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Aug 31 2011

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What Information is Included in House Blueprints

House BlueprintsIf you are considering purchasing a home plan from The House Plan Shop, you may be wondering what is included in the blueprints we offer. Below is a listing of the elements typically included in the pre-drawn house plans we published:

 

  1. Cover sheet
  2. Foundation Plan
  3. Floor Plan(s)
  4. Interior Elevations
  5. Exterior Elevations
  6. Basic Electric
  7. Simple Plumbing
  8. Details
  9. Sections

 

To find out specific information about each one of these elements, please review The House Plan Shop’s FAQs.

 

Note: Not all pre-drawn home plans incorporate every element listed here. Blueprint pages vary by designer.

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