Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

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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May 20 2013

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

Canadian House Plans from Leading Canadian Residential Designers – The House Plan Shop

Canadian House Plan 027H-0047Our customers often ask if we offer Canadian house plans. The answer is YES! The House Plan Shop offers home design collections from two Canadian, residential designers. These collections include single-family homes, multi-family homes, a small group of carriage house plans, and even a log home. Just like the house plans drawn by our US designers, those drawn by our Canadian designers are designed to meet national building codes. We do not guarantee these plans will meet all provincial building codes and they are not engineered. It will be up to you, the homeowner, or your builder, to hire a local design professional to review the plans and add any notes or make any necessary changes to meet specific provincial codes. Likewise, if you are required to have your house plans engineered in order to get building permits, it will be up to you or your builder to hire a local engineer to review the plans and seal or stamp them.

 

Below are the links to our Canadian home plan collections:

Canadian house plan collection A

Canadian house plan collection B

 

Note: Collection B includes single-family house plans, multi-family house plans, and a small selection of carriage house plans

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Jan 04 2013

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

New Year’s Resolution: 15 Ways to Live Green in 2013 – The House Plan Shop

Recycling CenterSometimes we make New Year’s resolutions that are hard to keep, but making a commitment to live a greener lifestyle is easy because there are so many ways to start living a little more eco-friendly. Below is a list of ideas for living green in 2013. Even if you just get into the habit of doing of few of the things suggested below, you’ll be making a positive impact for future generations while protecting our environment.

  1. Switch to using natural cleaners at home like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice instead of harsh chemicals. They are better for the environment and your health.
  2. Turn the thermostat down 5-8 degrees when you are not home and while you’re sleeping during the winter months to save energy and money on your heating bill. In the summertime, do the opposite. Set the thermostat a few degrees higher when you are not home so the air conditioner doesn’t run so much. Also, open the windows when the outdoor temperature is comfortable instead of using the air conditioner.
  3. Make the most of natural lighting by arranging furniture such as a desk or reading chair near a window and do homework or read by natural light instead of turning on the lamp whenever possible. Open up the blinds during the daylight hours instead of switching on the lights.
  4. Turn the water off. Whether you are washing your hair or brushing your teeth, turning the shower or faucet off while your scrub and brush will save a precious natural resource – water.
  5. When doing laundry, only wash a full load of clothes.
  6. Clean the lint out of the dryer after every load. This makes the dryer more efficient and eliminates a fire hazard.
  7. Use reusable shopping bags for every shopping trip whether you are headed to the grocery store, shoe store or the mall. This eliminates waste.
  8. Don’t waste unwanted holiday gifts. Re-gift them or donate to charity.
  9. Grow your own vegetable garden. You’ll save on your grocery bill, reduce trips to the grocery store and be eating something healthy that you know wasn’t sprayed with harmful pesticides.
  10. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Set up a recycling station in your home or garage and teach the kids what things can be recycled from aluminum cans and newspapers to glass jars and plastic packaging. Additionally have a yard sale to get rid of any items in your home that you don’t need but are still usable, or donate them to charity.
  11. Walk or bike to work and other activities whenever possible. Or car pool with friends. This saves you money, while reducing wear and tear on your car and reducing emissions.
  12. Shop online to reduce fuel emissions.
  13. Purchase appliances with Energy STAR ratings ensuring the energy efficiency in the kitchen and laundry room.
  14. Turn off lights and appliances when not in use.
  15. Connect your kids with nature – appreciation now leads to preservation for future generations. Plan a monthly outing such as a hike at a state park or an afternoon of fishing at a nearby lake.

These are not the only things you can do to live greener in 2013. Maybe our ideas will inspire some of your own.

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