Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

Jun 19 2011

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House Plans for Every Phase of Life – The House Plan Shop

House Plan 001H-0058If you are planning to build a new house, it is important that you choose a floor plan that will satisfy your needs, as well as, accommodate your lifestyle and your phase of life. House blueprints are as diverse in exterior appearance as they are in size and layout. It is important to find the style of home you like along with a floor plan that fits well with your stage of life.

Small and affordable house plans work well for couples starting out and those wishing to begin a family. These designs offer a modest square footage ranging from 1000-1800 square feet. They can be one or two levels and generally offer two or three bedrooms. The floor plans feature practical elements that support and promote family living like an open layout and an attached garage. They usually offer convenient and efficient features like a kitchen island, main floor laundry room and ample closet space, all elements a new family will appreciate. Couples and young families are sure to find an ideal floor plan for their starter home in our extensive house plan collection.

Large and growing families are usually drawn to house plans with a greater square footage than that of most starter homes. These designs generally offer more than 1800 square feet of living space and three or more bedrooms. Maybe you’ve found a floor plan with four bedrooms, but only need three for your family. The extra bedroom can serve as a den, hobby room or guest room. Keeping family living in mind, the floor plans of larger homes deliver practical living spaces and often an open floor plan. Many include outdoor living areas such as a patio, covered porch, deck or screened porch. Larger home plans are different from starter homes in that that may offer additional living spaces not found in smaller homes such as formal living and dining areas as well as casual living and dining areas. Entertainment spaces such as a lower level game or recreation room or an upstairs home theater or playroom are common. These extra spaces give large families room to roam, quiet spaces to rest and relax and a place to entertain on special occasions.

Singles and couples with no plans to raise a family might prefer homes designed for entertaining. For these homebuyers, there are floor plans designed with gatherings in mind. The floor plan may only include a master bedroom and a secondary bedroom for guests, but the living areas are stylish, spacious and comfortable. Often open floor plans incorporate and state of the art kitchen with an elegant great room and dining area while promoting conversation among guests. Decorative elements like special ceiling treatments and built-in elements such as a fireplace surrounded with shelves or cabinets enhance the gathering spaces, making them suitable for formal and informal get-togethers.

Once the children are grown, retirees and empty nesters often opt to downsize from the larger homes in which they raised their families. At this point in life, retirees have an eye on their golden years and find their needs have gone back to the days when they were single or young couples starting out. Large homes require more upkeep and maintenance and higher utility bills that may not be feasible for retirees. Also, they need practical and functional rooms to satisfy daily needs. There is no sense in having a home theater or a rec room anymore if no one is going to enjoy it, so downsizing often makes sense. Furthermore, aging homebuilders are now focused on their future lifestyle and must consider potential health problems and mobility issues. Smaller ranch house plans are popular among retirees because they eliminate the need to climb stairs reducing the possibility of falling and make it easy for those with walkers or in wheelchairs to access all rooms in the home. Retirees often look for universal house plans that are handicap accessible offering wider hallway to accommodate scooters and wheel chairs, more spacious bathrooms with walk-in showers, and sometimes even lower counter tops that can be accessed while sitting in a wheel share or scooter. Seniors and retirees might opt to make their new home even safer and more practical by adding a security system that will alert the police and/or send medical help in the case of an emergency. Also, they can choose to install grab bars no-slip flooring and other special features that will keep them safe and in their homes for years to come.

From a single or a young couple starting out to large families and empty nesters, The House Plan Shop, has an extensive collection of best selling home plans that are sure to satisfy every phase of life and every lifestyle.

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Apr 11 2011

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8 Super Spring Cleaning Tips – The House Plan Shop

Cleaning SuppliesIf you keep up with house cleaning chores, the thought of spring cleaning doesn’t have to be so scary. If you perform the daily and weekly touch-ups, spring cleaning is limited to just the extras – the cleaning tasks that only need to be done once a year.

 

1.    Clean the Carpet – In some cases, it is necessary to have your carpet professionally cleaned every 12-18 months to keep up a new carpet’s warranty. If that’s not the case, do it yourself. Rent or buy a professional-style deep carpet cleaner designed for home use. Many leave carpets and rugs dry within about an hour which means you won’t have to inconvenience your family.

2.    Clean under furniture and behind appliances – First enlist someone to help you move big pieces of furniture and pull kitchen appliances away from the wall. Sweep and vacuum the floor under each item and use the vacuum hose to clean under and behind appliances.

3.    Wash windows – Save this chore for a cloudy day. If it is too sunny, the cleaning solution will dry quickly on the glass leaving streaks. Wash inside and out. Have a system. Wipe with vertical strokes inside and horizontal strokes outside. If you do end up with streaks, you’ll know what side of the window needs a little more attention.

4.    Wash door frames, walls and baseboards – These surfaces are easy to overlook on a daily basis, but they deserve a little attention once a year. Just mix a squirt of dishwashing soap with a bucket of warm water and wipe with a sponge. Tough scuff marks, fingerprints and even crayons can be wiped away with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

5.    Clean sliding glass door tracks – Begin by sweeping or vacuuming the track to remove the large pieces of debris. Scrub the tracks with a toothbrush and soapy water. Wipe clean with a wet sponge.

6.    Clean window treatments – If your curtains can be laundered, take them down and throw them in the washing machine. Be sure to follow the label directions for cleaning. For other windows treatments that cannot be washed, go over them thoroughly with the upholstery attachment on the vacuum.

7.    Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures and light bulbs –  Use a lint-free cloth to dust the glass fixtures and bulbs you can reach. For ceiling fans and other light fixtures that are out of your reach, visit the local home improvement stores. There all many types of tools available to help you reach things that would ordinarily require a ladder.

8.    Clean furniture – Use the upholstery vacuum attachment to clean fabric covered sofas and chairs. Restore smooth leather with the appropriate upholstery cleaner and conditioner. Polish wooden furniture pieces including dining room chairs, the coffee table and end tables.

 

Using these tips as your spring cleaning guide, you’ll be well on your way to a clean and fresh home.  

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Feb 23 2011

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The House Plan Shop: 6 Reasons to Use a Safe at Home

Home SafesMany people use a home safe to protect valuables from burglars. With home burglaries, burglars generally break into a home and leave within minutes taking all the items that are easily accessible like money, purses, jewelry, small electronics, wallets, guns, and anything else that is easy to “grab and go.” Many of the most commonly stolen items would be inaccessible to burglars if they were securely stored away in a home safe. But other than keeping your valuables safe from criminals, there are a number of other reasons to keep your things locked away in a home safe.

 

Below is a list of other good reasons to use a home safe:

 

1.    Safes are a great place to store prescription medications, especially when they are purchased in large quantities such as a three-month supply.

2.    They are a great place to store valuables and keep them out of the reach of children.

3.    Home safes provide a secure place to store important documents such as passports, health records, insurance policies, bank account information, etc.

4.    Some home safes are large enough to store guns allowing you to have access to your firearms without compromising the safety of the occupants of the home.

5.    Safes can protect important documents and valuables from fire and flooding.

6.    Wall safes offer reliable storage that can be hidden completely out of site.

 

Today’s home safes are available in a variety of models offering convenient entry systems that do not require keys. They come in a range of sizes allowing you to select the one that is right for your needs. With a home safe, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your valuables are securely stored in an easy-to-access place. Think of a home safe as a more convenient safe deposit box because you have 24-hour access.

 

Don’t let a potential burglary at your home become a crime of opportunity. Burglars usually take only the items that are left out in the open and easy to carry. Home safes help prevent “in-and-out” burglaries and deliver an all-purpose, secure containment solution for all your important belongings and documents.

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Feb 02 2011

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The House Plan Shop – 6 Tips to Save Time and Money on Laundry

Filed under Miscellaneous

Washer and Dryer  Plan 025H-0151Nobody loves to do laundry, but we all have to do it. The House Plan Shop recommends these six laundering tips for your next load saving you time and money. We’ve even include a few tips to help keep laundry chores a little more earth-friendly.

 

1.    Clip coupons – It is easy to find discounts on laundry detergent, stain removers and dryer sheets in the weekly coupon circulars. Check out the website of your favorite detergent company for online coupons.

2.    Stop over-laundering – Your clothes only need to be cleaned when they look, feel or smell dirty. Get double use out of your clothes before you wash them. Air out barely worn garments on a hanger and then return them to your closet for another wear.

3.    Measure detergent – Most laundry detergent companies have begun using highly-concentrated formulas for regular and high-efficiency detergents so you may need less detergent than you are used to using. Read the label and carefully measure the detergent for your next load of clothes. Not only does using too much detergent per load waste money, but all the extra detergent leaves a residue on your clothes and washing machine.

4.    Use cold water – When it comes to energy use, most of the energy consumed in laundering is used to heat the water. Many leading detergent companies now produce a cold water formula that does not require the use of hot or warm water for washing. Heavily soiled items as well as bedding and clothing used when sick often require hot or warm water for washing, but they can always be rinsed in cold water.

5.    Select a shorter wash cycle – Slightly soiled garments will only require a short wash cycle to get them clean. This uses less energy and water resulting in lower utility bills.

6.    Do not over-dry – Consider air-drying dark colored clothes. This keeps them looking vibrant, preserves elasticity in stretchy clothes and cuts energy costs. When you use the dryer, use automated settings. Today’s machines have sensors that eliminate over-drying, which can cause garments to shrink and cloth fibers to become brittle.

 

From clipping coupons to washing in cold water and air drying your laundry, these helpful laundering tips are sure to help save time, money and energy.

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Jan 10 2011

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The House Plan Shop: Crash-Testing Residential Construction to Improve Strength and Safety

You’ve heard of the crash-test dummies used to test the safety of automobiles. Home insurance companies recently began using this concept to “crash-test” residential construction. The goal is to provide insight, feedback and concrete evidence about home construction that will help devise new disaster-proof construction practices for home building. Home insurance companies can sponsor a test chamber that simulates severe weather conditions and the effect they have on model houses. For example, tests can simulate Mother Nature’s harshest weather conditions by inflicting gale-force winds, torrential rains, hail, fire and debris. The chief engineer for the Institute for Business and Home Safety, Time Reinhold, says “This is an opportunity to create demand for better construction.” The IBHS lab is designed to subject model homes to simulated weather conditions typical of a Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane such as 140 mph winds produced by fans, hail created by freezing water in different size molds, fire produced by blazing embers (burning mulch hurled by fans), open gas lines and burning shrubs and trees, and rain with up to 8” per hour produced by sprinklers.

 

The IBHS’s test facility debuted in October of 2010 with two test homes side-by-side. One was built to typical building codes used in the Midwest. The other one incorporated structural reinforcements and more durable materials. The results were impressive with the reinforced home suffering only cosmetic damage while the standard-code home collapsed in minutes.

 

The results were clear. It is worth investing in reinforced construction when it comes to durability and safety. For more information about cost and additional details, review this “crash-test” article.

 

Source: Crash-Test Homes Show Value of Better Construction, by Clare Kaufman

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