Category: Curb appeal

HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR HOMES’ CURB APPEAL

Walk down any residential street and it’s the homes that make up most of the scenery. How your home looks from the curb point of view makes a statement. It’s a first impression that conveys a lot about who and what lives inside. Whether you’re looking to maximize your home’s curb appeal because it’s going on the market or you just want a great looking home, this article can help you get there.

Aspen Ridge Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Knock Knock

The front door is most often the centerpiece of a home’s front exterior. As people approach your home, they’re headed for the front door. As a major focal point, you should create a front doorway that is both strong and welcoming. Depending on your door type, this can be achieved with a fresh coat of paint or stain. While well-crafted hardware that includes the door knob, knocker and even the doorbell can dramatically contribute to the overall look of your front entry way. Long story short, a great front door is a must for curb appeal.

Azalea Farm House Plan- Frank Betz

A porch that says, “come on up.”

If your home has a front porch, it already has a head start in the curb appeal department.

Nothing says “come on up for a visit” like a well-appointed front porch. Taking into consideration the style of your home, furnish your front porch with comfortable chairs or even porch swing. Potted and hanging plants and other attractive ornaments like windchimes, a door mat and sculpture are additional ways to turn up the welcome factor in this out-in-front space.

Heritage Pointe House Plan- Frank Betz

Landscaping matters.

Attractive landscaping means more than just freshly cut grass. From the curb, is there a path leading to the door? Make sure this path is well kept and even. Trimmed bushes, flowering plants and carefully pruned trees all add up to create a beautiful landscape. And remember, it all starts at the curb. The sidewalk and driveway are also important areas to keep looking neat.

Maplegrove Cottage House Plan- Frank Betz

A detailed approach.

Another step in increasing your home’s curb appeal is sprucing up the architectural details. These include any elements that can be seen from the curb. Make sure that any fencing is in order, the roofing and gutters look good and light fixtures and hardware are working and clean.

Even a neat mailbox can help. These items may seem insignificant alone, but together they have a substantial visual effect.

 

New Albany House Plan- Frank Betz

What a difference a color makes.

Finally, and quite important, is your home’s paint. Freshening up the exterior of your home with a shiny new coat of paint is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to boost its curb appeal. Shades of green and brown blend well with most landscapes. Light and dark tones of blue also work well to instill a look of calmness. And if your home is modern or traditional, white is a nice way to emphasize clean lines.

 

There are many simple ways to increase your home’s curb appeal. Start by standing on the curb and observing your home from an objective perspective. You’ll be able to identify key issues that can be easily addressed. With a little time and elbow grease, your home can be looking its best to you and anyone who happens by.

 

DESIGN TIPS FOR YOUR NEW LAKE HOUSE OR MOUNTAIN HOME

Building a home where your family spends most of its time can be a project of a lifetime. Building a second, vacation centered home on the water or in the mountains is an adventure on a whole other level. A vacation home is just that, for a vacation. With that means every facet of the home’s design should be geared to comfort and relaxation. This article will help illustrate some of the best practices when designing your dream vacation home.

Kensington Park Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Rooms with a view

 

Whether it’s on the water or in the mountains, the positioning of your vacation home should always be oriented to achieve the maximum view of the natural surroundings. When designing a floor plan, locate the most frequently used rooms toward the back of the home. This includes the kitchen, dining and living rooms. Take advantage of the beautiful scenery by installing as many large windows and glass doors as possible. Not only will this expansive glass optimize your view, but the natural light can reduce electricity bills. Less used rooms like the garage, laundry and bedrooms should be situated toward the front of the home.

Summerlake Floor Plan- Frank Betz

The positives of a sloping lot

 

Due to their remote locations, vacation homes are often set on rougher terrain. This usually means the lot will be located on a hill or mountain. These slopes can work in your favor if planned correctly. By putting the foundation into the slope and building upwards, you’ll have at least two stories that are open to the views and sunlight. A proper retaining wall will be needed to address water drainage from the downward slope.

Tillman Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Make every square foot count
Because it’s a vacation home you’ll want to maximize every inch of space. If you like to entertain, friends and family will probably be visiting and staying overnight. Designing a terraced home with multiple levels will allow you to pack in as many sleeping quarters as possible. Basement bedrooms are also a less expensive way to make room for guests.

Blue Ridge Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Outside is the new inside

Your vacation home will hopefully be located smack dab in the middle of nature’s beauty. To best enjoy the surroundings, try to include as many exterior spaces as possible. Porches, decks and even outside kitchens and fireplaces are great ways to enjoy nature in functional comfort. An abundance of fresh air and sunlight are the keys to relaxation. A true vacation home will take these resources into account and blur the line between the indoors and outdoors.

Summerlyn Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Designing a vacation home is a perfect opportunity to push the bounds of creating a dwelling that embraces the tranquility of the natural world. A home with expansive views of the surroundings, cozy and ample sleeping quarters, as well as generous outdoor amenities should all be cornerstones of the design. Again, this home should be a place of serenity and outdoor fun. So, design with nature in mind.

DESIGNING HOME PLANS FOR REAL PEOPLE

When designing a new home there’s sometimes a tendency to get a bit off track. Yes, it’s nice to peruse the magazines and posh websites for fantastic home design ideas. But do all those fancy features and amenities fit into a normal family’s lifestyle? Usually not. Too often we’re mesmerized by a home design that makes a great magazine photoshoot, and not what really makes sense for day to day living. Beyond beauty, your home needs to be functional for everyday life. This article will help outline real world design tips that can make your new home beautiful and most importantly, practical.

Embry Hills House Plan- Artlantica

Get organized

During the planning stage, it’s time to determine what you want and need out of your new home. Beyond ample living space for your family, what other features and amenities make sense? A new home can help a family keep their lives organized. The latest smart home technologies designed into a home can aid in organization. These products include smart thermostats that adjust temperature according to living habits, smart security, lighting and HVAC systems, and even smart locks that do away with keys. Carefully planned closets, kitchen cabinets and drawers have also evolved to increase storage and reduce clutter. Many home plan designs already dedicate spaces such as mudrooms, larger laundry rooms, working pantries and office nooks to encourage home efficiency.

Kirkwood House Plan- Frank Betz

 

Location matters

Take into account your location, climate and outdoor activities. Hot climates may dictate a swimming pool and proper protection from the sun, like covered porches, awnings and high-performance windows. Colder regions need a home with extra insulation and when possible, a southern facing lot position.  House plan designs that offer covered porches, screened porches and sunrooms can expand your living space while taking climate concerns into consideration. Whether hot or cold, energy efficiency should be factored in to the design. Features like energy efficient appliances and zoned HVAC units are popular and sensible methods.

Kensington Park House Plan- Frank Betz

All the comforts

Comfort should be a major factor when designing a home for practicality. Beyond shelter, your home is a place to feel safe and relaxed. With that, a home plan should have an adequate number of bedrooms and bathrooms for all members of your family. If the budget allows, enhanced amenities like spa tubs, walk-in closets and hardscaped outdoor living areas can help dramatically ramp up the home relaxation factor. Also, a large, open kitchen with an island can act as a central living area for the whole family to gather.

Springmill Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Accommodations that adapt

Another realistic consideration when designing a new home, takes into account the adaptability to lifestyle changes. If you’re building a family, a nursery is a must. As your family grows, you’ll need the right amount of bed and bathrooms. Will you have guests often? If so, a guest room is in order. The same goes for visiting or permanent older family members. Seniors in the home mean accommodations such as an in-law suite or second master bedroom.  And if these seniors have mobility issues, wider doorways and easily accessible bathroom amenities need to be incorporated into your home design.

Holston Farm Floor Plan- Frank Betz

There are many defining components that should be considered when designing a new home. Creating a place that fits the basic needs of your family is the best place to start. From there, you can expand the home plan design to include practical amenities that keep your family safe and comfortable with attention to efficiency and environmental concerns. The ability to support a changing family dynamic is an additional design aspect. Once all the functional elements are included, the creature comforts can be added to your home plan as the icing on your home cake.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR OUTDOOR LIVING SPACES

Your living space doesn’t have to end once you step out of your home. Taking advantage of your little slice of the great outdoors is part of what homeownership is all about. With the right approach you can dramatically extend your home’s living space. Outside living areas add so much to a home not only from a value standpoint, but as a unique gathering space for family and friends.

Falkirk Ridge House Plan- Frank Betz

A true extension of your home
The best outdoor living spaces can create a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors. By utilizing colors and other tonal accents from your home’s interior, you’ll be able to subtly tie the two together. Whether it’s a stone patio, terraced deck or well kept grass area, these outdoor spaces can be great for dining, play and just to hang out. Dinner with the whole family is nice. Dinner with the whole family at a table under the stars can be extra nice.

 

Woodlawn Floor Plan- Frank Betz

The great outdoors
Spending time outdoors, whatever the season, is good for you both mentally and physically.
Fresh air and sunshine can positively affect mood and overall happiness. So why not create an outdoor living space that your family wants to be a part of? Getting out of the house and away from the TV and other screens promotes a healthy lifestyle. Not only is your family more apt to take part in beneficial outdoor activities, but they’ll be more engaged and present.

Summerlake House Plan- Frank Betz

Room with a view
If your home is lucky enough to be located in an area of natural beauty, creating a comfortable outdoor living space is a great way to immerse yourself in that surrounding. Taking in the view of a mountain, ocean, lake, golf course or even a stand of trees is an added bonus for your outdoor living space. And in the evening, sitting around a fire pit or stone fireplace with friends or family can be a great bonding experience.

Summerlyn Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Exterior design
Just like the interior of your home, there are many ways to design your outdoor living space for maximum comfort and usability. Weather proof seating, pillows and rugs can help bring a softness to these areas. While dining tables and umbrellas can help you enjoy these outdoor rooms with protection from the weather. Adding potted plants and a small water feature are further methods of enhancing the space.

Sweetwater Floor Plan- Frank Betz

With the arrival of air conditioning in the home, families tended to move their lives inside. While this provided a modern level of comfort, it led to a disconnect with the outdoor world and its associated benefits. Nothing inside a home can replace the nourishing experience of spending time in the fresh air, sunshine and beauty of the natural world. By creating an outdoor living space on your property, you can bring back that inherent connection with the nature while adding to the value and comfort of your home at the same time.

 

Stick-Built Homes vs. Prefab – What’s the Difference?

There are two main options when deciding to build a new home. These are stick-built and prefab construction. This article will help to clearly illustrate some pros and cons of both. By explaining the differences between stick-built homes and prefab, you will be able to make a better informed decision as you plan the next big step in building your new home.

Chestnut Springs Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Quality

Prefab stands for prefabricated. With these homes, machines are doing most of the initial work. Without the human factor, the structural components are often more precise. Everything is measured, cut, and assembled by computers and machines, so the occurrence of errors is drastically reduced. Like stick-built homes, the craftsmanship during the assembly of a prefab home directly affects the end result. Attention to high building standards should be the same for both methods. One point of difference with a stick-built home, is that it allows the new owner to view all steps and materials used.

Gramercy House Plan- Frank Betz

Your home will be up more quickly with prefab modules

With prefab modular homes, time is not an issue. Once the panels are delivered on site, the basic frame of the home can be put together in under a day. And weather is not a factor when building a prefab home. This enables other teams can get to work on the interior more quickly. However, the foundation measurements must be exact for the prefabricated panels to fit correctly. Unlike stick-built homes, it is very difficult to make in-field adjustments to the panels. Overall, a prefab home can be completed up to a month shorter than a stick-built home.

Wellstone Place- Artlantica

Costs are actually similar

Often associated with lower quality and cost, modern prefab homes are in line with stick-built homes in both aspects. Initial costs are lower for prefab homes as much of the construction happens in a factory, instead of using manual labor to build on site. One must account for shipping the panels and the costs of special materials.

Variety of design options

This is where the prefab option falls behind stick-built. While there are an ever growing number of prefab design options, a stick-built home design can be completely original. Prefab homes floor plans are often modular in scope, but many allow for highly customized interior and exterior appearances. That may work for most, but there is no comparison to the customizable possibilities when starting a home design from scratch.

Amelia House Plan- Frank Betz

The best decision on your new home direction will come from carefully weighing both options. Explore the prefab design options from different manufacturers. If you find one that truly hits the mark, make sure your builder is experienced with this building process. A builder accomplished in prefab building methods can help you feel confident the quality will be on par with a stick-built home. But for true originality, a stick-built home is the way to go. It may take a bit longer, but a one-of-a-kind dream home will be yours.

 

MATCHING OUTBUILDINGS TO YOUR NEW HOME

If you’re thinking about adding an outbuilding to your property, there’s a few guidelines to follow to make sure this new building fits in. Whether your outbuilding is a garage, pool house, garden shed or storage shed, the same forethought and planning should be applied to achieve a positive result. When incorporating a new outbuilding to your current property, you will want to create a visual harmony between the two. The two buildings will be in close proximity, so creating similarity is a must.  Not doing so will make your outbuilding design look like an afterthought.

Frank Betz- Custom House

Continuity

Continuity is not a word normally associated with building a free standing garage or other adjacent outbuilding, but it’s actually quite important. Start by identifying some of your home’s exterior details. The roof line and exterior style are of greatest importance. Matching these characteristics with your existing home structure will help create a cohesive look across your property. If you have a brick home, it is recommended to use the exact same brick for the exterior of your new outbuilding. Two different kinds of brick on the same property will stick out like a sore thumb. The same goes for paint colors, other exterior materials, window styles and roofing materials. Additionally, you will want to use the same landscape aesthetic to help establish even more of a visual flow.

Frank Betz- Custom House Plan

Neighborhood Standards

Beyond creating visual harmony, using like design elements for your outbuilding will fall in-line with any architectural review board or HOA requirements. Specifically, in newer neighborhoods there are strict guidelines put forth by homeowner associations in respect to outbuildings as an effort to uphold property value. This can be true of older communities, as well. Many have requirements to meet the historical standards of residential buildings. It is uncommon to drive through an older neighborhood with traditional architecture to see a modern outbuilding adjacent to one of the homes. Making changes to the existing structure in historical zones is carefully watched. So adding a new building in these neighborhoods is usually followed even more closely and will require design approval before any additions can be made.

Southern Trace- Frank Betz House Plan

Overall Visual Harmony

In addition to continuity and neighborhood standard compliance, coordinating your new outbuilding with your home will just look better. Mismatching these buildings has the possible effect of creating a visual dissonance between the two and will probably effect resale value. Any increase you may have seen by adding this feature to your property could be erased when you go to sell. So do your homework and plan your build accordingly. Designing similarities into your new outbuilding are guaranteed to complement your existing home.

Sweetwater House Plan- Frank Betz

So in review, you should consider a number of factors when planning to build an outbuilding on your property. Assess your home’s exterior design features like materials, shape and color. Make an effort to use the same elements in your new building. Be sure your design is in-line with any neighborhood standards. And finally, from a broad perspective, verify that the new building looks like it belongs. After the project is complete, someone new to your property shouldn’t notice any differences between the two.

Yearly Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Home ownership has many benefits, but it comes with the cost of upkeep and repairs. Homeowners can minimize these costs and keep their home running smoothly with a little consistent care. Getting into a routine of periodic maintenance can go a long way to sustaining the overall condition of your home. Want to cut down on the expected home expenses? Do these tasks at least once a year.

 

Clean gutters
Yes, no one likes cleaning the gutters, but it’s a necessary chore to prevent serious damage. Your gutters keep rainwater from seeping into your roof, siding, and foundation. A leak in the roof can be expensive and labor intensive to fix. Cleaning the gutters might be a pain, but the cost of not cleaning them is worse.

Falkirk House Plan- Frank Betz

Check A/C units
The A/C unit is a favorite hiding spot for all kinds of unwanted critters, so give it a sweep and ensure no guests have taken up residence. Cleaning the vents is also a good idea, especially if you have pets or allergy sufferers in the home.

 

Check water heater
The water heater does a lot of work regulating the temperature in your showers and faucets. If you notice problems with your water temperature, you might need to test the water heater elements or thermostat. This might be a job best left to a technician if you don’t know what you’re doing.

 

Inspect roofing and siding
Inclement weather can cause all kinds of damage to the exterior of your home. If your house endures cold northeastern winters or stormy southern summers, always inspect your roofing and siding for damage after the season.

Castle Rock Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Maintain pest control
Left unchecked, bugs and specifically, termites can cause damage to your home. It is very important to have a continuous termite control treatment plan for your home. Roaches and ants can be a nuisance, but termite infestation can be devastating.

Pressure wash decks, patios, and driveway
If you have concrete surfaces outside your home, pressure washing once a year will maintain their value and appearance. Driveways can get especially dirty with oil stains and weed growth, so make sure you wash those carefully.

Glen Abbey Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Winterize hose bibs and pipes
Hose bibs are outdoor faucets attached to the side of house. During the winter, these bibs can fill with water and then freeze, causing the water to expand and crack the pipe. Keep these dry by installing a frost proof hose bibs.

 

Re-caulk around windows and doors
Gaps in your window and door frames are costing you money by allowing cool or warm air to escape. If you notice an increase in your energy bill, you might need to re-caulk some windows or doors and seal them properly.

 

Have chimney professionally cleaned
If you enjoy a roaring fire in the winter, don’t forget to have the chimney professionally cleaned after the cold season ends. Ash and soot buildup can create a fire hazard inside the chimney, in addition to damaging the foundation. An annual cleaning is a must for all active fireplace users.

Olde Heritage Manor Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Making sure to follow these recommended tasks is just part of being a responsible homeowner. What may take you a little time to check out, can save you a lot of time in the long run. Home ownership is great if you do it right.

 

Home Designs for Small Lots

Building a house on a small lot does not mean you have to compromise on style and space.

With the right home plan and design strategy, you will be able to best utilize every available square foot. By eliminating any wasted square footage, you can build a home with all the typical amenities and living space of a home built on a regular lot. Best practices for building
on a small lot include the following:

 

Positioning

With the small lots usually found in denser urban areas, you will have less leeway on how you position your new home on the land. When possible, a south-facing home is preferred. This position will allow the most light and warmth from the sun. Installing large windows to capture the light is also recommended. Not only will it help with warmth, the natural light will brighten those front rooms making them appear larger. That said, if you live in a hot climate, you will want to minimize your southern exposure either by positioning the home, using blinds to block the sun and extending your roof’s overhang.

Cherbourg House Plan- Frank Betz

Think Tall

More often than not, small lots are usually thin and deep. Take advantage this layout by building your house with two or more stories. Most narrow lot homes have footprints no wider than 40 feet. By building stories and thus stacking your living spaces, you will maximize the amount of house for your lot. These home plans locate the main living areas like the family room, dining room and kitchen on the bottom floor, while the bedrooms and full bathrooms reside on the second or third.

Morningside Manor Floor Plan- Frank Betz

Open Up

Since homes designed for small lots are usually not wide, the structural load of the home can be carried on the exterior walls. This allows for more open floor plans. By opening up common living spaces like the kitchen, dining and family rooms, light and air flow freely to create the appearance of a larger space throughout. Using higher ceilings and large windows also go a long way to achieving this effect.

Clarksville House Plan- Frank Betz

Amenitize

Building costs for homes built on small lots are usually less. One way to take advantage of this cost savings is by adding upscale amenities. Kitchen appliances like high-end refrigerators and stoves often feature streamlined designs that save space. The same goes for washers and dryers in the laundry room. Adding smart systems like temperature and light control are also nice space saving touches that add comfort and efficiency.

Holly Ridge Floor Plan- Frank Betz

As people desire to reduce their commute and live closer to work, small urban lots are steadily increasing in popularity. Though these small lots may appear restricting, they should not dictate a small house. There are many home plans designed specifically to maximize every inch of space. These homes provide ample living space with all the trappings of larger homes. Coupled with locations in more walkable and vibrant areas and the lower cost of upkeep, small lot homes are becoming a more attractive option.

 

 

Choosing A Houseplan

A little neighborly advice for choosing the right house plan.


Building a new home can be an exciting and sometimes daunting experience.
However, deciding to start with a proven and well-crafted house plan is a great first step. Purchasing a house plan will go a long way to making your home building process less stressful and more successful.

 

To begin with, there are thousands of house plans available. Choosing the right one will make all the difference, not only to fit the needs of you and your family, but the homes marketability if and when you ever choose to sell. With a little planning before you pick a plan, you’ll be on the right path to laying out the welcome mat.

Tried and true considerations for choosing a house plan:

  • What are your lifestyle needs?

  Do you have a family? If so, how big? You’ll need a certain amount of bedrooms and  
  bathrooms. And if there are more children planned or relatives who visit often, you should   
  also plan for that additional living space. The interior size needs of your future home is one of
  the most important factors when choosing a house plan.

Chestnut Springs House Plan- Kitchen and Keeping area
  • What’s your style?

  From traditional to contemporary to rustic, there a many different house design styles.

  And each style has its own type of house plan. Your furnishings, and neighborhood can also

  affect the type of house plan you choose. For example, mid century modern furniture may not
  be suited for a traditional farmhouse style home.

Summerlake House Plan – Rustic Elevation
  • Where will your house live?

  In addition to the surrounding neighborhood style, the size and shape of your lot is a major

  factor when it comes to choosing a house plan. If you like the outdoors, you’ll need a plan
  that allows for outdoor space like a yard, garden, patio, decks or even a pool. A house plan  

  needs to comfortably fit the lot and the natural surroundings, while addressing additional

  uses for your property. Factors such as the width and depth of your lot and whether it’s flat or

  sloping will dictate the type of house plan. Also, if privacy is a concern, the right house plan

  with the right layout is a must. Nobody wants to their kitchen staring into the neighbor’s  

  bedroom. And vice versa.

Falkirk Ridge House Plan – Courtyard
  • Got space?

   Space and its uses are key when determining which house plan is best. Are you into cooking?   
   Then maybe a house plan with a larger kitchen is a must. Will you need a home office,
   storage areas or other special interests that might call for certain space needs? These

   usability details need to be considered not only for your enjoyment but future owners.

Northfield Manor House Plan- Office

 

Taking the time to carefully consider what you want out of your new home is guaranteed to make the whole building process easier. Choosing a house plan that fits these needs, pushes you to think about your house from the inside out. Elements like exterior details and interior finishes are easily adaptable to most house plans and are easier to plan once the floor layout, room count and lot orientation are nailed down. Think of them as the icing on your new, house cake.

Kensley Downs Photo Realistic Rendering
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