DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION ARTICLES Home Design & Construction
Remodeling with Tile
Remodeling an older home is always a rewarding project but one that is filled with frustrating decisions , numerous " I should haves" and endless murmurings of " whatever possessed me to begin this project " And the most challenging time spent in the remodeling process is the time spent in determining the flooring materials to be used . And whenever considering flooring options for an older home remodeling project , the first step is to get down and get dirty! By that I mean checking out the underlying sub floor and supportive floor joists for any rotting wood, loose boards or incorrectly spaced joists. So before you consider a heavy weighted flooring system, such as ceramic tile , for use throughout the entire first floor of your older home, be sure that you have a good strong 16" on center 2 x 12 floor joist construction UNDER your first floor … then by all means…. Go with the design savvy first choice for timely and easy to keep flooring - ceramic tile!
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Selecting the Right Moldings
Question: My husband and I are building a house and want to use white trim and molding. Would you suggest using wood trim and painting it white or using some of the vinyl-type trim found in most building centers and painting that white? What is the best route to go and should the trim be painted before or after being nailed to the wall?
Casings, moldings and trim are the main area of any homebuilding process that seems to be given the least amount of attention but yet will make the largest impact on the finished house. Trying to save a few dollars by option to install the pre finished white vinyl clad casings, moldings and trim is one area that I would only recommend if the house will be for rental use only. For any house that will be your main residence, by all means, please do yourself a favor ( one that will reap the rewards when it comes time to resell your home ) and install only quality wooden moldings in the largest size or profile possible. For most 8 foot ceilings I recommend at least a 5 ¼ base board and a 3 ½ inch casing while 9 foot ceiling spaces can handle a 7 inch base and a 4 ½ inch casing . And as for the paining….by all means you can save yourself a few dollars and at least 10 hours of work by applying an alkyd primer prior to installation; the final coats of paint will have to be applied after installation .
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Open Floor Plan
Question: We are moving into a different house and I like the country look. We have navy leather and I was thinking of painting the walls.I am not scared to use color however, the living room is open to the dining room and I don't know how to paint it so that each room is its own? Should I just use accent walls with color? What colors would look
country with the navy leather? Thanks!
Working with an open floor plan is always a daunting decorating challenge but one that could be your greatest accomplishment if you understand the design element of LIGHT. By that I mean utilizing the tool of light as if it were a paint color or a decorative accessory within your rooms for without the correct lighting conditions, all of your paint colors, fabrics and decorative accessories are going to look lost when trying to compete with dark blue leather furniture. So with that in mind, for your open floor plan country style home, you might want to consider a wall color in a green based brown for the great room section and a deeper but yet greener shade of the same color for the dining area. This color of paint usually will be identified as a bronze or mossy tone brown Don't worry your walls will NOT look as dank and dark on the walls as they do on the tiny paint swatch! Now for the most important ingredient to pulling your design project off like a pro. The all important light element! To insure that you will have enough artificial lighting in the room to make the wall colors come alive and act as a wonderful back drop for your blue leather furniture, make sure that your overhead recessed light fixtures are fitted with PAR halogen light bulbs and that each and every table lamp has a halogen bright white coated bulb installed. And don't forget to install R- 30 75 watt bulbs in all track light heads…you'll love the impact the right light will have on showcasing your furnishings ! And for the final touch, be sure to include large floor plants in every corner of the room ; fitted with compact fluorescent bulbs behind EACH and EVERY plant is a must! With the addition of the floor based lighting, your rooms will now take on a completed professional look and be a wonderfully comfortable place to call … home!
© copyright 2000 DESIGN SERVICE INC.
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Great Ideas for Laminate Flooring
Over the years I have been asked to comment on numerous design innovations, upcoming trends and of course the ever present question of WHAT'S NEW. I have also been requested to provide answers to literally thousands of design and decorating questions and the vast majority is just a rehash of the same basic question …. How can I make my house look like a million without spending a great deal of money and without blowing my budget. And, believe me, when I say that it's not just the budget conscious DIY homeowners asking " isn't there anything better in a price range that looks as great as the more expensive item but one that I can afford ?" Unfortunately this was the same question that I was recently asked by a wealthy residential client who was in the throws of an all too common problem when it comes to selecting flooring for a new home. For you see, they too suffer from what I call the scourge of anyone undertaking to build or remodel a home; the frustrating dilemma of the CHAMPAGNE taste with only a BEER BOTTLE pocketbook! Now before you get skeptical and think; wait a minute yeah right, deep pocket clients paying a high dollar designer to assist them with interior finishes surly these folks are not your typical budget poor homebuyers! But you see they are, because in EVERY case, no matter how deep the budget runs, there comes a point when you have to say…. 'sorry that's too pricey for me and out of my range'. And the sad part is that everyone, no matter how wealthy, will face this same dilemma because in home remodeling and new construction there is ALWAYS something better, trendier, and costlier. Consider the wealthy clients, when I had to inform them that the manufactured $85.00 each floor tiles were in fact the best that their budget would allow. And for these folks, this meant that they had to pass on the gorgeous hand molded $135.00 each tiles and settle for a floor tile that although the same color was not as deeply defined or richly hued as the more expensive tile… once again 'CHAMPAGNE taste and ( for them ) a deep but still BEER BOTTLE POCKETBOOK! With that in mind, here's a few flooring tips on how to overcome this dilemma and discover that sometimes what you can afford really is the BEST champagne for your overall beer budget! Think straight, level and water free. No matter the depth of your pocket book, all foSince Since most homes in America are constructed with one of three types of foundations; #1 above-grade sub floor overtop of an unfinished crawl space, #2 grade level concrete slab, or #3full basement with wooden sub floor, here's a tip that covers all three construction methods and will provide the best possible results in your final selection of main level finished floor. For you see no matter what your foundation, without a straight, level and water free sub floor no matter what finished flooring you select, you'll never be happy with the results. And it's here where the average homeowner fails to take the bull by the horns and take it upon himself to inspect the actual sub floor for flaws and imperfections prior to the installation of any finished flooring including hardwood, resilient vinyl or even porcelain tile. Simply by asking your builder to inspect and insure a level, dry and relatively smooth sub floor this very action will go a long way in guaranteeing a perfectly installed floor because without a dry, smooth and flaw free sub surface your finished floor will not stand a chance. •FINDING THE RIGHT FLOOR IS A CHORE no MORE! For the overwhelming majority of homeowners shopping for the perfect new floor is not an easy task. In fact, without the help and input of a design professional, most folks tend to select a basic no frills flooring thus robbing themselves of a great opportunity to make their home a truly beautiful and comfortable place to call home. But since the additional cost of hiring a design pro is out of most budget ranges, here's a way for you to select the right floor and get the job done with style ! And believe it or not, the answer lies in your existing furnishings and accessories. So many times in our rush to select a floor that will go with everything we fail to realize that everything means EVERYTHING including dishes, lamps, linens, knick knacks and more … in other words everything that will be eventually used in our home. And since EVERYTHING has a color and pattern associated with it, we have to consider these very important design elements and how they will compliment and coordinate with the colors and patterns contained within the flooring. So when shopping for new flooring I recommend that you gather together paint chips of your wall colors, swathes of fabrics and a few small items that will be prominently displayed within the finished room and keep them in a large file or handy basket. Next take the basket with you to the flooring store and select a few samples of floors and literally place the store samples into the basket with your other samples. Now for the fun part, add and subtract flooring samples till you get a perfect carpet, tile, resilient vinyl or hardwood that seems to be a perfect "fit" with your other samples. In other words, floor samples that appear a little too harsh, not quite right or boring when compared with the other items in the basket, get rid of them and key in on other flooring samples till you find the one sample that seems best to compliment and support the overall SCHEME and FEEL of the items in the basket. And since this exercise will not only allow you to experience all of the best possible options for your design scheme, you might even discover that what you previously thought of as out of your budget range is really an affordable champagne element for your home! And the high end floor without the high cost that I recommend most is ADURA. With numerous indigenous hardwood varieties, exotic wood species and ceramic tile-like patterns, ADURA is manufactured with and an exceptionally high level of nature inspired realism that this durable product is a must when it comes to easy care and true to life appearance and performance. And with the wide range of wood species and harmonious colorations found within wide plank configurations it's easy to select the right floor for your active family. Here's a design suggestion for a rustic soft contemporary styled home featuring an open floor plan filled with pewter accents and up to date accessories in shades of aqua blue, lime green and rusty reds; for this home I recommend a floor that is stylish, rugged and warm but not dark and overly formal… in other words a floor that can take abuse and cleans up in a snap to welcome company! For me, it's the ADURA floor pattern of COUNTRY OAK in RAWHIDE. It's a warm, exciting and uniquely different barn wood wide plank flooring that will act as a counterpart to your stylish and clean line comfy furnishings and will also help to support the overall look of your home; a kind of country gal meets city slicker live happily ever after look! And the best part is that this floor will not only color coordinate with your whole house but will actually help to set the comfortable atmosphere you are seeking because the quality is underfoot with a softening appeal and ageless charm. But the best part is that the end result will be CHAMPAIGNE; and only you'll know that a beer bottle pocketbook paid for it!
© copyright 2000 DESIGN SERVICE INC.
The Wonders of Hardwood Flooring
As a little girl, I always looked forward to the approaching spring days and dew drenched early summer mornings for one reason…going barefoot! Through the soles of my shoeless feet, I could feel the cool ticklish stubble of the newly mowed grass, the comforting warmth of the slate tiles baking in the sun, and the sheer joy of sloshing through rain puddles as the underlying earth gushed mud between my bare toes.
Then, as is now, the unrivaled peaceful and relaxing quality experienced from the earthen textures beneath my feet has made an indelible mark on the way I specify and invite flooring materials into my client’s homes. I guess you can say that as a designer who remains a child at heart, I prefer to specify interior flooring materials that have a deeply textural and naturally inherent quality that realistically mimics the textures, patterns, and colors found on the surface of the earth. And, as a design pro on the cutting edge of doing whatever it takes for my clients to experience a truly comfortable place to call home, I’m not alone on specifying and recommending products that are nature’s true inspiration in more than just looks. Nationwide, designers, homeowners, and flooring manufacturers are all starting recognize the many health, safety and aesthetic benefits realized by specifying and manufacturing products that not only are good for the earth, but truly look, sound and feel like the natural elements that they are trying to mimic. In fact, recent groundbreaking research from biologist Janin Benyus supports this approach as well. In her book ‘Biomimicry-Innovation Inspired by Nature’ she sites numerous examples of how we can all benefit emotionally, physically and economically simply by incorporating textural design elements that are found abundantly in Mother Natures playground.
Recently, Mannington Mills http://mannington.com has gained national attention with resilient vinyl flooring selections that truly mimic nature’s colors, textures and patterns. Not your grandmothers kitchen vinyl, the patterns and textures of these modern foot pleasers are truly amazing; from the sensual appeal of water washed African Slate to the deeply carved randomly pitted surface of realistic Lava Stone and the upscale elegance of Garden Linen http://mannington.com a muted woven floor cloth that has been artistically hand painted with random brush strokes; these are all patterns that have been designed with realism in mind. Presented as a nature inspired affordable luxury, Mannington’s line of resilient vinyl flooring has over 300 styles and patterns all styled to enhance every room of your home while adding a realistic textural serenity so that you too can kick back, go barefoot and feel the difference nature makes!
And to help you get started on selecting a pattern and style that is right for you; here’s a few ideas on how to creatively bring in nature’s realism for a truly comfortable place to call home:
Every family dreams of a large spacious home with plenty of room to grow, but sometimes the challenge of too much open floor space can be a bit overwhelming. And in the case of a large open-plan family room with a minimalist design style, the challenge is even more daunting because the unadorned empty floor space between the limited use of furniture, area rugs and cabinetry can make a large room seem cold and uninviting. For this situation, I recommend a flooring option that is both highly textural and inviting for both your eyes and feet; and the smaller scale low luster pattern of Mannington’s Highland Slate http://www.mannington.com fits the bill perfectly. I just love the earth warmed terra cotta hues infused with mottled mossy greens and sun kissed golden browns all within a rusticated 6” pattern of hand thrown tiles. The smaller size tiles within this pattern are creatively designed to help support your rooms color scheme as well as lend a human scale to the wide open empty space between furnishings, cabinetry and area rugs. And by selecting a smaller scale low luster pattern, the flooring material will actually visually define the oversized square footage with a comforting appeal and help to unify adjoining rooms thus wordlessly inviting everyone into the family friendly space. Unlike large scale, high shine directional pattern flooring, the use of a resilient vinyl flooring featuring small mid size pattern is an excellent choice for larger rooms with wide open space between furnishings because it will not only help defray unwanted acoustical noise but will also act as another textural element within the room thus ensuring a warm and cozy appeal.
‘Mom, are my jeans clean yet?’ Ahhhh, that ever present cry heard around America that is prompting a redesign of the true work center of the home – the laundry room. Unlike laundry and mud rooms of the past, today’s cloth centers are anything but dark and crowded closets. With life’s demanding work schedules and little time left to do the laundry, the location of the washer and dryer are now regularly incorporated into the core of the kitchen area with upscale custom cabinetry so that homeowners can multitask like a pro juggling skillets, laundry powder and folded sheets with ease. And for larger homes with livable floor space over the national average of 2400 sq. ft., it’s not uncommon for a special ‘laundry center’ to be the size of most bedrooms with a location close to the kitchen and back door giving new meaning to the phrase “hot runaway fashion”. So with all of this attention and added floor space dedicated to maintaining and cleaning dirty clothes, why not consider a flooring material that will actually enhance the beauty of the space while repelling dirt? For me, a gal who is constantly doing laundry in bare feet late at night, I just live the look and feel of the Garden Linen pattern. This warm and cozy flooring has a deeply embossed woven linen texture featuring a modern stylized free-form botanical artistic design, and easy–to–keep resilient vinyl flooring actually repels surface dirt because it’s protected with DUPONT TEFLON surface protector; I guess you can say it’s the best of both worlds with the look, touch, and fresh appeal of natural linen…without the wrinkles!
So no matter your style preference, color palette or budget, the first and last thing to keep in mind when selecting flooring for your home is to always trust your feet! By selecting a pattern that is both pleasing to your eyes AND bare feet, you’ll be assured that your new nature inspired texturally realistic flooring will remain a source of pleasure for years to come.
© copyright 2000 DESIGN SERVICE INC.
New Home with Design Savvy
Stuck on Stucco
Synthetic stucco, or what folks refer to as dry-vit, has been around since 1969 but it's just in the last few years that homes in our area have begun to use this exterior facade treatment and construction style. If you're not familiar with what I'm talking about, just drive around any new subdivision and look for the houses that appear to have large textured stone accents on the corners and elaborate curved moldings or entire houses that appear to be solid stucco or textured cement over block walls. Fooled you…And you thought it was limestone corners, stone trim accents or really sturdy block walls with a texture. Don't worry you're not alone, most folks WOULD be surprised to learn that all of these curves, trims, and entire houses are nothing more than 1-2 inch pieces of expanded polystyrene, a special Styrofoam! Yep, that's right … the entire exterior of the home is not brick, wood, or even siding…but insulating Styrofoam sheets with a textured paint like substance applied overtop of a mesh to keep it all in place. Now, don't panic, it's not the flimsy stuff that you would find packed around a new set of dishes, but rather a specially designed polystyrene sheet that has a reinforced plastic mesh embedded in polymer modified cement topped off with a tinted durable stucco-like finish coat. So you see, instead of having a house built of Styrofoam, you have an EIFS. An elf?? No an EIFS. Pronounced: eefs" it stands for exterior insulation and finish systems. And yes it is durable, in that it offers about the same structural resistance as vinyl siding with one big exception: there's no BOUNCE BACK. That's important to keep in mind if your new home is situated on a golf course, but if a few patchable holes don't bother you, then the EIFS house is really a great way to boost the exterior insulation from the typical R-11 to R-16+. And just think…the extra insulation doesn't add any additional costs! There's a rare find, especially in building a custom home where EVERYTHING costs more than expected. But there is one big drawback in the EIFS constructed building…faulty workmanship. It seems that all over the country EIFS systems are failing, causing thousands of dollars in damages, all due to incorrect installation practices. It seems a lot of sub contractors who actually apply this system are failing to flash, seal, and construct correct drainage angles around all of the openings (windows, doors, etc). The resulting potential problem will show up a few years later when the underlying substrate board and stud walls start falling apart due to water dripping in around each of the improperly installed openings. So what should a homeowner do? Well if you're a homeowner with an existing installed EIFS, I recommend you self inspect around all windowsills etc. looking for signs of mushy or weak understructures. If you find any damage, get it repaired quickly, before the rot spreads causing major structural problems. For those of you about to build a house constructed of this highly insulating and fashionably trend building material, you need to insist that your contractor check out the EIFS sub contractor's installation methods to be sure he correctly adheres to the manufacturers instruction TO THE LETTER!!! What may seem like installation overkill is actually an insurance chip that you'll be a great looking quality home still standing in a few years. For additional information call the EIFS Association (EIMA) 800-294-3462.
Question: We are building a home in a rather upscale neighborhood. Most of the homes look to be constructed from stucco. What is stucco and how durable is it?
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Question: I plan to build a new home in a few months. It will be small (1650 sq.ft.) but I would like to make it look as large as possible. We have budgeted for a few "extras" to upgrade our basic plan. Do you have any suggestions?
Anytime a new residence is considered, the topic of discussion in most households always turns to money. Example: "Just how much is that going to cost? We can't afford to build that! Do you know house much that size house would cost?" …so on and so on…you get the picture. So how do you decide what size house is right for you and your pocketbook? Most bankers and realtors can quickly access you financial situation and advise you on the price range house you should be seeking, but what if you plan to build and are just browsing through some house plan books; how do you know which plans will build-out to be within your financial range and your style expectations? First, you can get a rough idea on the building costs by using the square footage calculation method. (Keep in mind this does not include land costs, soil prep work, etc.) Then check with local builders to determine the average dollar cost per square foot you can expect to pay. In middle Tennessee, the average house will usually start around $55.00 per square foot. Simply multiply your heated sq. footage by that dollar figure and you can get a good idea of what an AVERAGE house will cost. Keep in mind this is just a guesstimate on an average house, one that does not have all of the fancy moldings, up-grade cabinetry, real hardwood floorings, and nice plumbing fixtures and faucets. To upgrade to this nice "finish" level you can expect to pay between $75.00 to well over $100.00 per sq. foot. It's no wonder that most folks are now considering to build a new residence that is smaller in overall sq. footage just so that their budget can handle the extra touches that a $$$$ per sq. ft. cost will bring. To help keep these additional costs to a minimum, but still give an expensive and spacious look to a plan with reduced square footage, here's a few suggestions:
* ELIMINATE HALLWAYS. By making rooms "flow" one into the other, eliminating the wasted space of a definite hallway, can add several sq. feet of actual living space to you smaller plan; floor plans with angled room arrangements make the most of this concept.
* Use SKYLIGHTS AND TALLER CEILINGS. By using skylights in all rooms, even the bedrooms, can add a sense of spaciousness while keeping the need for oversize (and $$$) windows to a minimum.
Two "Must Have" Decorative Elements for New Homes
Question: We are currently in the process of purchasing a new home. As is the case with most home buyers I would like to get the most house I can within a budget I have defined. With that being said, what are the must haves and things to look for that can separate an average house from one that has great curb appeal and a wow factor once inside without breaking the bank.
Aside from the very impressive design and architectural elements that are standard on most new homes, there are two 'must have' decorative elements that are key to turning an ordinary home into a comfortable and attractive place to call home. The first is COLOR, and by that I mean, a coordinated effort needs to be established in selecting all of your finishes and building materials so that one uniform color is found throughout your new home… in other words, if grey is your universal color preference, then everything must have a touch of grey or at least a grey undertone in every surface. This can be rather tricky, but with patience and a good eye , you can base your selections including brown wooden cabinetry and off white painted walls so that each area and selection has a grey undertone so that a whole house 'color coordinated' effect is achieved . To determine the sometimes hard to define 'undertone 'color' which is found in every object simply take the finish sample ( cabinetry, tile paint chip etc ) outside in a an area located away from direct sunlight and place the sample on a sheet of extra bight white copy paper. Since all copy paper is not alike, make sure that the paper quality is at least 24 pounds and that the brightness factor is a minimum of 106. Once viewed against the stark clear white surface, most samples can then be assessed for the true color found within that sample… in other words, you'll be able to tell if the off white paint chip is really a yellow off white or a pink off white etc.
The second and most important decorative feature of any home is LIGHT. Without ample areas of both natural and artificial light, a house will never transform into a comfortable place to call home and will never achieve the WOW status you are seeking. Since David Weekley floor plans make a point of offering oversized and numerous window openings, the natural light consideration is already fulfilled so it's up to you ,the homeowner, to add the pools of artificial light necessary for each and every room to come alive with decorative appeal and vitality. Adding light is easy, simply be sure to include at least 4 table or floor lamps per bedroom and a minimum of 8 sources of artificial accent lighting for the public spaces including the den and living room. And don't forget the kitchen and dining areas … lots of great opportunity to add the all important decorative pools of light by way of wall sconces, small novelty lamps tucked underneath cabinets and tall classical torches on either side of dining buffets or china cabinets.
© copyright 2000 DESIGN SERVICE INC.
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WORKING FROM HOME… COMFORTABLY!
Affordable design and decorating tips for creating a home that WORKS for you!
The Springtime is a great time of the year to catch up with family and old friends; outdoor parties, bridal showers, weddings and endless community and charity functions. For the past few years, it seems that every party I've attended, someone has announced the blessed event ; they are finally going to leave the office behind and start working from home. Then they proceed to tell me of their plans to build a new larger home , one that will accommodate their dreams of working from home. When I hear those words, I am so pleased for my friend's good fortune, until I hear these unfortunate words…." and of course it will be a few years before we can afford to furnish, do the draperies, add the accessories and purchase the workstation / desk ”. My first thoughts are …Oh no…what a mistake!
As a residential building contractor and registered interior designer, I’ve had numerous opportunities to offer my professional cautions to hundreds who are approaching the building process with the mindset of “ build it big and I’ll furnish it later” . The advice I offer is predicated on years of watching folks go through the agonizing construction process only to realize that they have run out of funds needed to truly ‘finish’ the project. My advise , although simple, is one of common ‘decorating sense’. And it’s this common sense approach to building a new home that will ensure your complete satisfaction, ultimate personal comfort, and attractive functionality of the new house upon project completion.
CONSTRUCTION + DECORATION = HOME
It takes more than square footage, bricks, mortar and drywall to complete the transformation of turning a house into a livable home, especially one that will also accommodate a functioning home office space. And whether it’s actively realized or not, well appointed furnishings, decorative accessories, and upscale lighting fixtures producing greater interior light levels , are all necessary ingredients when it comes to creating a home that is truly suited for your ultimate comfort and individual needs. After all, why go through the building process if when you’re finish it’s not fully furnished or even truly comfortable?
LARGE SCALE PLANS REQUIRES DEEP POCKETS
Sadly, most folks get carried away with the keeping up with the Jones ‘bigger is better’ square footage game plan , and end up short on cash for the really important things that will make their new house a truly comfortable place to call home; color coordinated furnishings, well chosen accent pieces , and ample bookcases just to name but a few of the hundreds of details that go into turning a new house into a home. ! And that includes the furnishings geared specifically towards making our home office hours more productive and comfortable such as ample work desktop space and adequate file storage. All of these elements combine in creating a new home in which you can live and work surrounded in functional comfort which, after all , is the BOTTOM LINE REASON why you are considering building in the first place!
SCALE BACK FOR AFFORDABLE COMFORT
As in all of life, everything comes with a price and the necessary decorative elements needed to turn the house into a home are no exception. So, do yourself a big favor and please keep this basic rule of common ‘decorating sense’ in mind when selecting the size of your next home;
ONLY BUILD WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD TO DECORATE!
© copyright 2000 DESIGN SERVICE INC.
Back to Top Whenever building a deck, be sure to plan your overall size to be within the common standard lengths of lumber; 10’ – 16’ foot planks. An overall size suitable to fit most 1500 sq foot one story homes is a deck that measures a minimum 12 x 16. For a two story home, the minimum deck size increase to 16 x 20
75 Construction Tips
Whenever selecting your building site, be sure to keep in mind the overall styling and configuration of your foundation floor plan. A basement plan requires a sloping lot while a slab construction foundation and most a crawl space designs work best with a relative flat terrain.
Keep in mind the utility accessibility whenever selecting your building site, especially with a rural lot. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the further the house from the road the more the building costs will increase. A good portion of the additional costs will be incurred in order to access the necessary, telephone, electrical and other services.
When specifying your new deck, consider the overall size of your home’s roof line and pitch; a too small deck ( 10 x 12 ) looks out of proportion on a 2 story home and, when finished, will not offer enough room to grill, eat and relax in peaceful enjoyment of your new home.
Building a new home? Check with at least two lenders before finalizing your construction and permanent loans. The lender who takes the time to answer all of your questions will most likely also have the best rates for your situation.
Want to add more natural light to that back bedroom without adding big bucks ? Why not consider specifying a skylight. The new designs are easy to install, virtually maintenance free, and usually cost less than most name brand window units.
When choosing a builder, be sure to ask how often he’ll visit your job site. An on-site builder can save you $$$$ and ensure greater quality while completing your new home because his/her daily visits will catch situations before they turn into expensive problems
When specifying the location for TV cable and telephone jacks, be sure to locate an electrical outlet nearby. Most modern home entertainment/office systems require access to all three wirings for optimal use and enjoyment of your high tech equipment .
Ongoing energy concerns and rising costs are continuing to be a major factor in monthly housing expenses especially in the area of heating and whole house cooing. Get a jump on keeping costs contained by asking your builder to recommend only those HVAC units that are perfectly sized and determined to be an economical use of energy for your specific floor plan requirements.
Nothing is more important than a good foundation. Without a properly positioned, sized and sited foundation location your home will never be open for a host of problems and unsightly cracks and unforeseen openings. Be sure to insist that the foundation location be properly determined by “ shooting the grade” with a benchmarked transit to ensure accurate measurements and lot set back restrictions .
The most economical time to consider a home security system is during the ROUGH-IN ELECTRICAL phase. This is stage before wall defining insulation and sheet rock are installed and only the thousands of feet of wires are exposed between the wooden studs. During this phase, your builder can advise you on the ideal location for the system panel and assist your security specialist with installation and placement .
Want to add more comfort to your new home for just a few extra dollars… why not consider adding additional electrical, TV and telephone outlets for every room. When added during the ELECTRICAL ROUGH –IN stage, the extra outlets will prove their weight in gold when trying to arrange furniture and entertainment systems especially in light of the fact that most new homeowners # 1 complaint is a lack of electrical and cable outlets in convenient locations.
For the latest in design styling and building trends consider asking your builder to install the new taller height bathroom vanities. The 34 – 36 inch overall height cabinets are great for making a small bath appear larger and are much easier on your back since you don’t have to bend over as far to wash your face or brush your teeth each day.
Trying to decide on the ideal time to build? A sure bet is whenever the ever fluctuating lumber prices are down and interest rates are low. Since these prices can change in a matter of weeks, it’s always a good idea to have plans and building options ready prior to seeking a builder so that he/she can get a jump on saving you money by starting during the low price period. Call your builder today to get the current market conditions.
Selecting your exterior finishes prior to breaking ground will expedite the building process and save you money in the long run. Be sure to co-ordinate and pre-select your roofing colors, siding selections, brick colors & patterns, paint trim selections and shutter/door colors. You can then insure a speedier building process by and presenting these to your builder at least 2 weeks prior to the foundation excavation and pour.
While shopping for a homebuilder always remember the old adage ” compare apples to apples” . This saying is also true whenever deciding on a licensed homebuilder. In order to give all of your candidates the same information so that they can be bidding on the same project , be sure to have handy several copies of the floor plans and a written list of any extras or changes you may require. It is also a good idea to have any specifics such as ceramic tile pattern numbers, plumbing style #’s etc handy as these vary greatly and can drastically change the overall cost of a project by thousands of dollars. Once you have this pertinent information , it will then be easy for each of your perspective builders to give you a accurate assessment of your final housing costs.
What to save a few extra dollars each month on your energy bills? Why not pre-wire and install 52 inch ceiling fans in every room with ceilings over 9 foot in height. In summer the rotating blades will keep the air circulating and in winter it will help to keep the heat down where it’s needed most.
Here’s a quick way to prevent a wet basement that will keep your walls and floors dry with just the use of a ladder and some elbow grease. Four times a year, including the winter months, inspect and clean out your gutters of all leaves and gutter clogging debris. Once a gutter is stopped up or clogged, the water will overflow the gutter and naturally seep into your basement and cause lots of unwanted problems.
Whenever adding a new deck, porch or sidewalk to your home’s exterior, be sure to design it first on paper and then create an actual mock up. Since most folks have a hard time in perceiving and realizing the overall size of a project while looking at printed plans , an actual lay out of the boundaries or perimeters of the project will go a long way in providing a true picture of the finished project. Start by simply ‘laying out’ the location and size of your addition or sidewalk project with the use of rope, electrical cords or an ordinary garden hose. By physically marking the overall size and location of your new addition using a flexible hose or cord, you can be sure the size will fit your needs and be in proper proportion to your home’s overall size appearance.
On any home improvement or building project, be sure to keep up with the miscellaneous receipts for items such as door knobs, towels bars, etc. When it comes time to sell your home, the validated improvement costs will actually help to lower your capital gains and cost you less in taxes if the house is re- sold within two years of the finished project.
When specifying the paint for your home’s interior, be sure to require a good oil base or alkyd primer for all wooden surfaces throughout the residence. Even if the top coat will be latex, it’s always a good idea to get the extra durability of an alkyd ( oil base) primer to first seal and then prep the wood prior to the finished paint coat.
During the rough -in electrical wiring phase, be sure to inform your builder of any large furniture pieces that will cause your dining table to be positioned off center in the room. Otherwise, your chandelier and table will never match up since most electricians mount the chandelier in the center of the floor space without regard to the table’s finial position.
To save money on rising energy bills, spend a few extra dollars during the building process on the new LOW-E windows. The invisible specialty glass finish will help to increase the energy efficiency of your windows by actually working with the sun’s radiant energy and UV rays. For more information ask your licensed homebuilder to explain how LOW – E windows can save you $$$$.
To expedite the final stages of homebuilding plus give you a head start on moving in, be sure to consider locating and graveling your driveway early in the building process. Once the heavy traffic has subsided, ( usually after the sheet rock is delivered) you can finish the surface of the driveway and begin final grading of the yard. Be sure to alert all of the sub-contractors of your plans so that they will park their vehicles accordingly.
Looking for a building lot that will suit all of your requirements plus fit your pocketbook? be sure to check with your local banker and also the building inspector. These are among the many “pros’ who are the first to be in the “know” for available building lots.
In rural area, underground utilities are worth the extra $$$$ when it comes to curb appeal. The dollars you pay now will really pay off big when it comes time to sell. The dollar value will be evident when calculating a selling cost because underground utility lines and services always boost the selling price as compared to a house whose front yard is cluttered with poles and overhead power lines.
Want more personal privacy in your new home? Why not consider asking your builder to install a minimum of R-11 insulation in all the bath, bedroom and laundry room walls. The additional expense is minimal when compared to the peace and quiet you’ll experience when washing clothes late at night, enjoying a romantic evening or indulging in a ‘shower concert’
When designing your front walkway, why not consider forming and pouring the concrete walk at least 54” wide. The additional walkway width will accommodate two people walking side by side and, unlike the standard 36 inch width, the widened walkway will actually better suit the proportion of your home’s overall size and 2nd story taller roofline.
© copyright 2000 DESIGN SERVICE INC.
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Check out Deborah's article on flooring
© copyright 2000 DESIGN SERVICE INC.
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Deborah Burnett appears regularly on HGTV, National TV and worldwide radio with design ideas and decorating tips. She is a nationally recognized health and wellness design authority and keynote presenter bridging the gap between science and evidence based epigenetic design which explores how the body and brain are affected by the interior environment. As a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine she specializes in research and design pertaining to how color, light, sound and daylight affect sleep.