Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

May 20 2014

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Hurricane Season: How to Prepare – The House Plan Shop

HurricaneHurricane season can last almost a half year (typically June – November), and with hurricane season quickly approaching, you don’t want to be caught off guard. If you live in a coastal area, now is a good time to review your emergency plan and prepare your home and family in case disaster strikes. Review these tips and hints to help you prepare:

  • Create an Emergency Supply Kit – Create your own emergency supply kit. Consider storing these items in a waterproof container: First aid kit, flashlights, blankets, clothing, shoes, water, non-perishable food, radio, prescriptions, toiletries, insect repellant, extra keys, important documents like insurance policies, emergency phone numbers and some cash. Include a phone charger that plugs into the car’s power system for at least one of your cell phones. If you have children, include toys to keep them occupied and of course bring the usual diaper bag contents for infants. Don’t forget leashes and carriers for the pets.
  • Prepare you Auto – Keep your car maintained and the tank full of gas. Know ahead of time the safest route to an emergency shelter and keep in mind alternate routes in case yours becomes blocked.
  • Safety – Safety features in your house should include smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. Consider learning first aid, including CPR. Know when and how to turn off your utilities. Review with your children how to call 911 and other emergency numbers.
  • Have a Plan – Everyone may not be at home when the storm hits, so designate a meeting place and review it with all family members. Also, designate a friend or relative that lives away from the storm’s path, as an emergency contact. Write down all contact information for each family member to carry with them. Practice your plan so that everyone can remain calm and competent when the storm actually hits.
  • Keep Informed – Register for emergency alerts for your cell phone, tablet or computer. Bad weather can take out phone lines and cell towers so be sure to keep a battery powered radio tuned to the appropriate channel/station. Know the difference between a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning. A watch means a hurricane could happen, while a warning means that it will happen. This is when all of your preparation and practice will go into effect.

With these helpful tips and a little planning your and your family will be better prepared should a hurricane make land fall in your area.

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Mar 25 2014

Profile Image of M.K. Tenney

National Walk to Work Day: Pedestrian Safety Tips – The House Plan Shop

Filed under Miscellaneous,Safety

National Walk to Work DayWhether it’s jogging, walking the dog, or running to catch a bus, all of us join the ranks, sooner or later, of the most vulnerable users of the road. Thousands of pedestrians are injured or die every year along our roadways. As we look forward to National Walk to Work day on April 4, 2014, review these reminders of how to keep yourself safe on the road.

1. Use the Crosswalk – Of course everyone remembers the rule about not crossing in the middle of the block, we just need to remember to follow it. When crossing at busy intersections don’t assume drivers will yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

2. Increase Visibility – During the day wear light or bright colors. Add reflective clothing at night and carry a flashlight to help you see and to be seen by motorists.

3. Use Sidewalks – Take the sidewalk whenever one is available. If a sidewalk is unavailable and you must walk in the street, walk on the side facing the oncoming traffic.

4. Be Aware – Avoid the distractions of using electronic devices. Keep headphone volume low enough to still be able to hear what’s going on around you. If you have a particularly distracting phone call or text, stop a moment in a safe place to attend to it.

5. Walk Defensively – It’s no different than what you do when driving. Keep an eye out for cars displaying erratic behavior or speeding. If the driver is too preoccupied to control his vehicle, he is not watching out for you.

6. Don’t Drink and Walk – Okay that may sound like a joke or a cliché, but seriously, a third of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents are legally drunk. Alcohol impairs judgment and slows reaction times. Well, you know the drill, just don’t do it.

So if you choose to walk to work on April 4th or any other time you opt to walk instead of drive or take the bus, remember to follow these pedestrian safety tips.

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Oct 21 2013

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Halloween Safety Tips for Your Family – The House Plan Shop

Trick or TreatersWith Halloween just days away, it is necessary to think about your family’s safety on this special night. Below are some Halloween safety tips that you probably already know, but please read through them as a reminder to stay safe this Halloween. Remember scary is only good if it’s fun!

  • Accompanied by an Adult – Children should always be chaperoned, preferably by their parents. There is safety in numbers, so travel in groups if possible, and know where you are heading before you start out on Halloween night.
  • Unrestricted Costumes – Make sure your children’s costumes are short enough that they won’t trip when walking. Enlarge the eyeholes in masks or use makeup instead, to help them see where they are going. If they are carrying any props like swords or brooms, make sure they are flexible to prevent injury if they should fall.
  • Light It Up – Bring along flashlights with fresh batteries to help brighten your path. Use reflective tape or glow lights on costumes to help little ones to be seen. Try to stay on well-lighted streets and go only to the houses that have a porch light on at the front door.
  • Don’t Eat the Candy – Wait until you get back home and have time to go through all the loot your children receive.  Inspect wrappers for tampering of course, but also check for choking hazards like small hard candies or toys and items your children are allergic to.
  • Identify Your Auto – If you are staying with the car while sending your trick-or-treaters up to the porches, remember cars can look alike in the dark. Decorate your dash board or radio antenna with something that lights up so the little ones can easily identify their ride. Be sure they are aware to enter the car on the curbside instead of the street side. Don’t forget seatbelts, even if it is a short ride.
  • Obey the Law – Remind little ones the proper way to cross the street, using crosswalks and signal lights when possible. Stay on sidewalks and do not cut through alleys. Some communities post a curfew for trick-or-treating, so start early and get home in a timely manner.

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Jul 30 2013

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

5 More Home Building Tips – The House Plan Shop

Home Construction SiteBuilding your dream house is exciting. But be aware, it can have its challenges, too. In a recent blog post, 5 Practical Tips for Building a New Home, we provided tips to help make the home building process run smoothly for you. Below are five more tips that will help you through the construction process, prepare you from some of the challenges you might face, and ensure success with your home building project.

  1. Choose your location carefully. One of the most important decisions you’ll make about building your new home comes well before construction begins – choosing your lot. It is necessary to be selective about where you build. If building in a neighborhood, ask your yourself, “What makes each possible neighborhood stand out from the rest?” What amenities does each possible neighborhood offer? Walking/bike trails? A community playground? Stoplights and crosswalks at intersections? Next consider if a particular neighborhood will accommodate your lifestyle. Is it closet to work, school, shopping centers, etc.? Is it neat and clean? Drive through the neighborhood at various times of the day over period of a week or two. Pay attention to what is happening in the neighborhood. If you have kids, look for kids playing, riding bikes, etc. Is this a kid-friendly neighborhood? Get a good feel for if this neighborhood is the one you have imagined living in by observing all the activity as you drive through it. If you are building on acreage outside the city or suburbs, you might be looking for property with a view, something that offers natural resources like wooded areas or a pond, or maybe you just want a lot that has good lighting allowing you to take advantage of natural lighting in your new home. It is OK to be choosey. You are going to build your dream home here.
  2. Be familiar with your construction timeline. Constructing a new house doesn’t happen overnight. It usually takes several months to build a new house. During the construction phase, many things must be arranged and coordinated, such as pouring the foundation and delivery of other materials. Your builder or general contractor will take care of the majority of elements related to the actual construction of the home. However, there will be a lot for you to take care of, too. If you currently own a home, your current house must be sold and you must arrange for a new mortgage, all the while you are making decisions about your new home such as what type of kitchen cabinets you want, and whether you prefer hardwood floors or carpet in the dining room. Talk with your builder to get an estimated completion date and plan accordingly.
  3. Monitor progress. Once you and your builder have established an estimated date for completion, it is in your best interest to monitor progress closely. One of the best ways to help prevent construction delays is to be involved in the building process. Visit the construction site regularly and keep track of what is being done. Talk to your builder often and keep up-to-date on progress. Ask questions if something seems incorrect, is taking too long, etc. Carry your own set of blueprints in the trunk of your car and refer back to the construction drawings when visiting the jobsite. This will help you keep a close eye on progress.
  4. Pay attention to your budget. When building your dream home it is easy to go overboard on adding amenities that you’d like to have, but these often add up to BIG BUCKS! Choose upgrades carefully and know exactly how much each one is going to cost. The last thing you want to do is blow your budget half way through the project. And remember, some upgrades can be added later. If you don’t have enough for that fancy chandelier in the dining room, choose a modest light fixture now that will do the job and then upgrade in a couple of years when you’ve had an opportunity to save up for the fixture you really want.
  5. Avoid changes. During construction, you might realize you want to change one aspect or another about your home. Be aware, sticking to the blueprints will help you stay on budget and on time for your scheduled completion date. Try to avoid making changes to your house plans once construction begins. Changes are often costly and can delay the completion of your home. Avoiding changes will help you finish on budget and on time.

The home building process is going to be more enjoyable and more exciting to experience if you are prepared for what to expect in the building process and make careful decisions. If you are considering building a new house, these tips will help you be ready for what is to come.

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Jul 02 2013

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

5 Practical Tips for Building a New Home – The House Plan Shop

Construction SiteWhile building a new home can be very exciting, it can also be challenging and exhausting. Follow these five home building tips to help ensure the construction of your new home goes smoothly and is stress free.

1. Choose a qualified and reliable builder. While there may be many builders to choose from, you might not want all of them to have a hand in the biggest investment of your life. Not all builders are created equal, therefore it is recommended that you do some research to find the most qualified and reliable builder that fits your budget. Ask for recommendations from family members, friends and co-workers who have recently built a home. Ask the following about each builder: Are they easy to work with? A good listener? Punctual? Do they do high quality work? Would you hire the same builder again? Furthermore do some research online. Which builders have a good reputation? Check with the Better Business Bureau. Finally, interview potential builders to get a feel for each one’s personality, work ethic, etc. Ask to see proof of insurance. Collecting all of the above information will help you make an educated decision about which builder you will hire.

2. Get pre-qualified for a mortgage/construction loan. Before you purchase land or blueprints, it is recommended that you get pre-approved for a mortgage or construction loan. This process requires you to contact a lender and provide them with basic financial information such as your income, debts, assets, etc. By doing so, you can find out what size mortgage you’ll qualify for with the lender. Then, complete the mortgage application and provide the necessary and required financial documentation for credit check to finalize the pre-approval for your mortgage. This way you’ll know exactly how much you can afford to spend on your new home well before you begin the building process.

3. Keep resale in mind. Though you might be building your dream home, it is highly possible that this might not be the last home you own. As you make all of your home building plans, keep resale in mind. Ask yourself if the features you are incorporating in your home will appeal to a potential buyer years down the road. Be mindful of adding upgrades. If you add too many upgrades, you might overprice your home for the neighborhood making it hard to sell ten years from now.

4. Expect delays. While you might expect your builder to stick to the construction schedule, there is always a chance for delays. Be prepared to be flexible as there is always the possibility that inclement weather, labor problems or a shortage of supplies could delay the construction schedule. Ask your builder to add some extra days into the schedule to accommodate delays. If you’re prepared for delays going into the building process, you won’t be nearly as surprised, stressed or frustrated when various delays arise.

5. Make arrangements for temporary housing. Often there is a delay or gap in time between the time your lease expires on your rental unit or you sell your existing home and the time construction is finished on your new home. If this happens to be the case for you, make temporary housing arrangements in advance. This could be necessary for a few days, a few weeks or a few months depending on your construction schedule. Make sure that your temporary housing arrangement is affordable and doesn’t disrupt your daily routine too much (i.e. staying in your parents’ basement that is more than a hour’s drive from work when you’re used to driving only 10 minutes to get to work.)

It is definitely more exciting and easier to enjoy the home building process when things go smoothly. These tips will help you prepare for what is to come as you start off on your home building adventure.

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