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1st Dec, 2015
Articles, Blog

There is more than enough to think of when planning out your next home, and with so much on your plate, the future can often be overlooked. Yet, the decisions you make now are important and will affect you while growing older. Thinking about adding bars and ramps in your dream home might not sound too enticing, but there are strategic ways to implement features that will allow you to age in place that are both beautiful and subtle.

Every year Associated Designs conducts the Home from the Heart survey and this past year asked participants about aging in place and design elements they would implement in their home. The results reflect what features are essential when consider a home to age in place.

Aging In Place, Tetherow 31-019, Craftsman House Plan, 1 story home plan

Single Level

For your dream home to serve you in years to come, it is important to consider the rooms that you use on a daily basis. A single level home is an easy solution, however, if your idea of a dream home is a two story design creating a home to age in is still possible. By making sure that main living areas as well as a master suite are located on the main level, or design an interior closet that could be converted to an elevator should the future need ever arise.

Wider Everything

Something that might not seem as important now but will be later is the width of doors and hallways. The Tetherow home plan, from Associated Designs, uses this aging in place concept for when a day may come someone needs to navigate through the home with a wheelchair or walker, the wider passageways will make things much smoother. Plus the side benefit of larger doorways and wider hallways creates a spacious and open atmosphere. Also, adding width to the garage will provide additional space for car doors to open, making the transition in and out of the car during inclement weather easier.

Easy Flow

A key aging in pace feature that received a lot of support from survey participants is flush transitions between interior and exterior spaces (as well as the transition from the garage to the interior living area). Yes, ramps can be considered to be built in at the start or planned out for easy installment later, but creating a natural flow of living has been quite popular for aging in place and can be very well done. Planning out your forever home with zero-steps may be the direction you want to go, even if it’s just for the beautiful design aspect of this look.

Bathroom Access

Large curb-less walk-in showers are a popular and attractive choice even if you haven’t considered aging in place measures. Planning for a curb-less walk-in shower now will be easier than a bathroom remodel later. Additional aging in place features when considering bathroom design are chair height toilets and easy tub access. While bringing in grab bars might not be essential at the moment, planning out where they will be in the future will make a smoother transition if they ever need to be installed.

 Effortless Reach

Making sure every room and function is easy to reach really helps with aging in place. For example, having easy touch light switches and placing outlets higher throughout your home are painless adjustments that have great benefits later. Making sure areas in the home are well lit is also key to improving aging in place features. One way of increasing the amount of light in a room is by lowering window heights and installing larger windows. Adding pull-out cabinets is also something that many don’t really think about now, but makes it much easier for people to reach things as they age.

Aging in place is truly on the cutting edge and you will thank yourself later for considering this now. Implementing these details into your forever home from the beginning, or even remodeling now, won’t be a compromise your ideal attractive living space like some may think. Sitting down with a home designer to discuss including these important aspects into your home will help you see how just a little bit of planning can result in a beautiful and functional design. Having a universal approach will make anyone who comes through feel right at home. 

As seen on Newswire
30th Nov, 2015
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Ranch House Plan, Home Plan, Marlow 30-362

Gracefully arched trim crowns the Marlowe's porch, dining room window and garage openings, while two stately columns stand sentinel on either side of the porch. This handsome contemporary ranch home plan could easily be adapted for wheelchair accessibility.

A bright and spacious vaulted family room and kitchen are at the center of this home. The rear has more glass than wall, and two French doors access the patio. Arch-topped display shelves nestle into the wall opposite the entry to the owners' suite.

Storage and counter space are both abundant in the large, kitchen. Standing at the sink, you look into the family room across a raised eating bar. 

On the right are a walk-in pantry and a pass-through utility room that offers direct access to the garage. Natural light spills down through a skylight, and the room features a deep sink, cabinets, and a counter for folding clothes.

Arched openings in the high-ceilinged entry lead into the dining room on the right, and a study on the left. The study has a gas fireplace flanked by shelves.

Amenities in the owners' suite include patio access, a deep walk-in closet illuminated by a sun tube, and a deluxe bathroom.

Secondary bedrooms share a bathroom with a dual vanity and roomy linen closet.

24th Nov, 2015
Blog, New Home Plans

New House Plan, Mediterranean Home Plan, Summerdale 31-013

A blend of stucco and cultured stone highlights the Summerdale’s crisp clean lines. This Mediterranean-style design takes advantage of views front and rear.

A lofty portico opens to a two-story foyer, which leads to two-story living room with a fireplace. This large space is open to the great room, which in turn opens to the dining room and kitchen. A covered vaulted deck is along the rear.

A den, guest suite, and utility room complete the main floor. The den’s location, just inside the door, is ideal for a home office. The guest suite is to the rear, on the far side of the stairway. It features a walk-in closet, a two-section bathroom and access to the deck. The utility room is on one side of the hallway to the garage, across from a roomy pantry.

Family bedrooms are upstairs. The owners’ suite features a spa tub, dual vanity, private toilet and shower, and a balcony. Bedrooms three and four also have walk-in closets and private bathrooms and share a balcony.


23rd Nov, 2015
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Hillrose 30-269, Country House Plan, Ranch Home Plan

Dormers and a wide railed porch give a friendly, welcoming look and great curb appeal to the Hillrose, a midsize country-style home. Doors to the three-car garage face to the side.

Places to gather are many. Entering the home, you step into a vaulted foyer. Light flows in through the high dormer. The parlor is also full of natural light with a vaulted dormer, along with a wide bay window that fills at the front.

The vaulted family room has wide windows and a gas fireplace trimmed with cabinets on both sides. Ceiling height drops to nine feet in the dining room and kitchen. A wide window bay brightens the dining area, which is open to the kitchen.

A raised eating bar in the kitchen rims the opposite side of the large work island with a stove. Other amenities include a large walk-in pantry, built-in desk and appliances.

Utilities are close by in room outfitted with folding counters, a deep sink, cabinets, shelves and a coat closet. A half bath with a shower is linked to both the utility room and a small office or workroom with an exterior entrance.

Luxuries in the Hillrose's owners' suite include a large walk-in closet and an elegant bathroom with dual vanities, a deep soaking tub and private toilet and shower.

16th Nov, 2015
Blog, House Plan of the Week

European House Plan, Home Plan, Featured House Plan of the Week, Mirabel 30-201

The Mirabel's front exterior is a graceful blend of arched openings, interesting roof lines and intriguing windows. This four-bedroom European-style design also features a large bonus room over the garage.

Family living spaces are at the rear in an area brightened by a plenty of windows. This generously sized room feels both dramatic and relaxed. Shelves or cabinets that trim the fireplace in the sunken family room are ideal for a home entertainment center.

Two steps up is the dining area that's open to the large kitchen. French doors swing inward and provide access to a large patio.

A work island adds to the generous counter and cupboard space that wraps around three sides of the C-shaped kitchen. 

There is plenty of space in the utility room, where counters rim two walls. The end counter could house a sewing machine. If desired, a laundry chute could be installed in the upstairs linen closet.

Off the foyer is a room that could be furnished as a formal living room or a den. 

An elegant soaking tub lends a feeling of luxury to the second floor master suite. Other features include a large walk-in closet, twin lavs, and a private shower and toilet.

Left unfinished, the bonus room is great for storage. Finished, it could be another bedroom, recreation room, or you name it.

13th Nov, 2015
Blog, New Home Plans

Craftsman House Plan, Ranch Home Plan, New Home Design, Silverbrook 31-012

Craftsman style windows, gables and posts give the Silverbrook a warm and inviting look. 

This ranch home plan's family living spaces are at the heart of the home. The den is to the right of the entry, and a morning room or breakfast nook is to the left. This room links with the kitchen through a sliding door. The foyer flows into a large family room with a gas fireplace in the back corner.

Standing at the kitchen’s cooktop, you look into the family room and can serve up snacks or meals at the angled eating bar. 

The owners’ suite is separate from the secondary bedrooms as well as from activities in the family room. The suite's features include a spa tub, large walk-in closet, two-section bathroom and direct patio access.

Stairs leading to the bonus room are next to a large utility room that links with the garage. 

9th Nov, 2015
Blog, House Plan of the Week

A Frame House Plan, Home Plan, Cabin Plan, Vacation Home Plan, Chinook 30-011, Log House

The Chinook is an A-Frame-style log cabin, expanded by two wings and a lofty V-shaped window bay.

Logs give this vacation cabin a rustic look, while the metal roof and abundance of sparkling glass lend to the contemporary flavor.  This plan is also availabe in standard 2x6 contruction.

High windows in the living room provide plenty of natural light. The front section of this space has sliding glass doors that open to a wide deck, and is open to the second floor ceiling. A loft caps the rear.

When the weather turns chilly, you can fire up the woodstove, nestled in a front corner by the windows. A good woodstove can provide needed heat throughout the seasons.

Refrigerator, stove and sink are close together in a galley kitchen larger than you'd expect to find in a cabin this size. The eating bar serves as additional counter space. Utilities are behind folding doors in a passageway that opens to the rear.

A small two-section bathroom is accessible from both the owners' suite and the living room, allowing two people to use it at once in privacy. Another bathroom is upstairs near the bunk room, loft and storage area. If needed, the storage area on the right could be outfitted as another bunk room.

Outside, the railed deck mirrors the V shape of the window bay and provides a delightful setting for outdoor dining during the summer months.

6th Nov, 2015
Blog, New Home Plans

Lodge Style House Plan, Luxury Home Plan, View Lot Design, New House Plan, Petaluma 31-011

The two wings of this luxurious Lodge-style house plan angle out into a V shape, focusing the viewer on the Petaluma’s eye-catching and grand entry portico.

Families that enjoy entertaining will appreciate the linked gathering spaces, inside and out of this home. The vaulted and richly windowed great room is open to the large kitchen and dining area. Two sets of sliding doors in the great room and one in the dining room open onto a expansive vaulted covered patio.

Fond of fireplaces? This design has four, in the great room, family room, den, and the owners’ suite.

A media room and two bedrooms fill the rear of the right side. Along the front side, a hobby room and utility room with a mud bath line the hall that leads to the three-car garage. Stairs located from the side of the dining and media room access the large bonus room.

Features in the owners’ suite include a fireplace, spa tub, two-section walk-in closet, walk-in shower, and access tp a private covered patio.


2nd Nov, 2015
Blog, Under Construction

In the 2009 movie "It's Complicated", Adam Schaffer (Steve Martin) tells Jane Adler (Meryl Streep) "Did you know it's good luck to start building in the rain?". 

Today construction has officially begun with the excavators, and there's lots and lots of luck coming down on us.

This lucky superstition left me feeling like I should educate myself in regards to other interesting tidbits.

I found the usual "never walk under a ladder", and have also found that when you move out of a house one should leave the broom behind. A new broom signifies a fresh start in your new home. BUT, it's BAD luck to carry a hoe into the house, so make sure you are grabbing the correct tool before you cross that threshold.

Apparently, one should also carry bread and salt with you when you enter a new home and sprinkling salt wards off evil spirits, but I couldn't find what you are to do with the bread.

So when it's time to move in, I need to make sure I have a new broom, a loaf of bread, a shaker of salt, and a bottle of wine. The wine is not part of the superstition, but I figure it will go well with the bread.

2nd Nov, 2015
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Craftsman House Plan, Home Plan, River Glen 30-223

The River Glen's front exterior reflects its name through a harmonious blend of wood and stone. Wooden handrails line a porch supported by painted wooden posts with tapered stone bases. Decorative wooden supports accent the front-facing gables, and gracefully curved trim overarches the windows in each.

Entering this Craftsman home, you enter into a high-ceilinged foyer naturally bright by a sidelight and transom window. Double doors to the left open into a bright and inviting bayed living room with clipped corners. A hallway on the opposite side of the entry hall leads to the secondary bedrooms. Walking straight ahead leads to the high-ceilinged family room.

This spacious great room has a fireplace trimmed with bookcases on both sides. These could also be used as a home entertainment center.

A raised eating bar curves across the front of a work island that houses the sink and dishwasher. Standing here, a person can remain engaged throughout the dining and family room areas, and keep a watchful eye on activities in the back yard and covered patio. Cupboards and counters wrap around three sides, and a large walk-in pantry is in one corner.

Laundry appliances are close by, through a pocket door just past the stairway to the bonus room over the garage. A long utility room has a half-bath at the far end, and links directly to the garage.

The spacious owners' suite features a luxurious bathroom, large walk-in closet and direct access to a private covered patio, ideal for a hot tub.


2nd Nov, 2015
Articles, Blog

You’ve made the decision to build your dream home or you want take on the home remodel project that can turn the home that you like to the home that you love. Now you need to find someone who can help turn that dream into reality. Hiring a home designer doesn’t need to be tedious or overwhelming and if you start with a well thought out approach, it can be a smooth and exciting journey.

Custom Home Designer, Home Designs, Remodel, Plan Modifications

First off, reach out to friends or relatives who have gone through the process and ask about their experiences and who they worked with. The AIBD (American Institute of Building Designers) or your local chapter of the HBA (Home Builders Association), and contractors can be other resources to find out who the local home designers are in your area. Next, have a phone consultation with your list of perspective designers. This will help weed down your list as a few professionals may decline due to project scale or are unable to complete your project in your time frame.

Once you have a list of potential designers, follow up with a second phone interview asking more extensive questions about their process, fee structure and schedule.

After the second round of interviews, you should have a list that is narrowed down to two or three designers and it’s now time to set up some face to face appointments. Before meeting make sure you have a grasp on your basic goals, expectations, and budget. Present this summary to the designer before your actual meeting so there is room for them to prepare and have realistic expectations.

During the conversation, be on the lookout for a great communicator and someone you could get along with. Leaving questions open ended will bring light to how your home designer visualizes the big picture you have in mind, while considering and communicating all the small pieces of the puzzle. Give them the room to point out issues you may not have considered and the ability to incorporate their creative touch.

Asking these questions is crucial to find an excellent fit in making your project a success.

  1. Have they worked on projects similar to yours?

A home designer that understands your goals for your custom home or remodel project is one thing, but to have already done similar projects to yours in the past and then to find them enjoyable is a great advantage. Having someone working on your project, that is just as excited as you are, shows they genuinely love what they do. Be sure they present their portfolio of comparable projects, as well as a list of references. They should have a track record that shows they finish projects on time and within budget.

  1. How will they approach your project?

Find out what their design philosophy is. What sets them apart from any other home designer should be effortlessly apparent. A great designer will have a unique style that is artfully incorporated into your project, going above and beyond your expectations. It is a true talent to see someone’s dream and execute it creatively and smoothly. Also, be aware of their attention to details. For example, if they fully see your vision, they should be able to suggest a great contractor that could see your specific project to completion.

  1. What steps are involved in the design process?

The home designer must be able to have a clear and organized plan they can effectively explain. They need to plan and account for any challenges before hand. At this point in the conversation, there should be an estimated time the design process will take for your specific project. Your involvement must be included in their plans, and they should mention what you can actively do to help keep your project on target.

  1. How do they establish and structure fees?

No one appreciates being surprised by fees or “fine print”. This breaks trust and the project that was supposed to achieve your dream home quickly becomes a burden. Have your home designer explain all basic and extra services up front, with an explanation of additional fees. If the scope of your project changes throughout the process, they need to let you know what this entails and how much more it might be. Be sure they outline how frequently you will be billed and the conditions of payment for work to progress on your project.

  1. Who will be the project leader?

Right from the beginning, it needs to be clear who your project leader is and how they will be communicating with you. This is where the true chemistry in a professional relationship needs to be experienced. They must exhibit signs of impeccable service, dedication, responsibility and ownership of your project. Your project should be made a priority, not just something to check off their list.

Remember, although this is your project and dream, they are professionals in this area. Giving them the freedom to offer insight and expertise could give you a plan that is more than you ever envisioned. The right home designer will be confident and reassuring in bringing your vision for your home to life.

As Seen on Newswire
1st Nov, 2015

Southwest Home Plan, House Plan, Under Construction, Northrop 30-096

Thank you Mr. L for the purchase of the Northrop 30-096 plan and allowing us the opportunity to follow along with the construction process.

We look forward to watching the progress, and appreciate your participation on the blog.

29th Oct, 2015
Articles, Blog

Upgrading your home’s exterior by adding an outdoor living space can be an expensive endeavor but a proper outdoor living area can enhance your lifestyle and increase the value of your property. Adding an outdoor patio or deck can make an attractive addition to any home and is consistently one of the number one projects for homeowners.


In a post-recession period, prudent spending hails supreme. Instead of putting hard earned cash in expensive room additions, the wisest homeowners will quickly invest in cost-effective exterior remodeling projects to boost the appraisal value of their home. According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost Vs. Value report of 2015, an outdoor living space can add value by providing another enjoyable living area to the home at a lower cost per square foot as opposed to adding another interior space or addition. This makes outdoor livings space the most economic choice all while adding a beautiful new area to your house.

This statement could entice even the most zealous indoor enthusiasts. However, there are many considerations to be aware of before constructing an outdoor living space. So before you put your work gloves on, here are three things you need to keep in mind before adding an outdoor living area to increase your bottom line: Budget, Labor and Materials. Fortunately for you, we have put together this handy guide to show you some steps you can take to get the most out of your investment.


Knowing the costs associated with making your ideal outdoor living space a reality is an important first step. Set a realistic budget that will cover your minimum expenses, then, establish the maximum amount you would be willing to pay for extra additions. To be safe, make a checklist. Will you be hiring a contractor or “DIYing” it? Are you using traditional wood or alternative materials? What enhancements will you include? These questions are great to ask yourself when drafting a budget.

Your initial budget should include the costs for design, materials, labor and any extras you will use to enhance your space. The size, shape, elevation, and built-in accessories added to your outdoor living space such as benches, hot tubs, lighting, or fire pits will greatly affect the total cost of your project. However, do not be afraid to tweak your budget as the need arises. Ultimately, flexibility is important when taking on any home remodeling project.

Overall, the amount you spend on your project will play a big part in determining how much value your outdoor remodeling project will add to your home.  Knowing your needs before you start, calculating the costs and sticking to a budget will save you significant amounts of time, energy, and most importantly, money.


Selecting the right method to construct your outdoor living space is crucial. Whether you are hiring a remodeling contractor, “DIYing” it yourself or enlisting a deck installation company, the quality of the work needs to be impeccable to enhance the value of the space for years to come.

If you are a seasoned “DIYer”, constructing an outdoor living space without enlisting a professional can be a viable option. But remember, safety is key! Even if you are confident in your construction skills, always wear personal protective gear, familiarize yourself with local building code regulations and the manufacturer’s instructions and know when to ask for professional backup.

On the other hand, if you are not familiar with the nitty-gritty details of construction safety, permitting restrictions and building code compliances, or you simply do not have the bandwidth or expertise, hire a pro to help you out. A professional contractor can manage complex projects that require a fine-tuned level of skill. So before hiring a professional contractor, consult other home remodeling and design platforms like Houzz, Home Advisor or Guild Quality and the manufacturer’s website for experienced builders to find the right contractor to fit the specific needs of your project.  These platforms have an array of project inspirations that contractors post to entice potential leads. However, it is important to spend time reading what past customers have to say about their contracting experience. Often, these review sites act as social networks comprised of former patrons who write reviews to help others make more informed decisions before hiring a contracting professional. Having their input on a similar project you may be considering can save you from making a costly mistake in the future.


When constructing an outdoor living space, materials matter! Determining the needs of your space and lifestyle is an important first step when choosing materials. Any expert in the decking industry would recommend selecting materials that are designed to withstand the elements and everyday wear and tear if you want to get the most value out of your outdoor living space. As winter approaches it is important to consider what materials you will be using for both your outdoor space and your outdoor furniture. Harsh weather in your area can quickly freeze certain materials and can lead to rust and erosion.

According to industry studies, traditional wood leads the pack when it comes to materials that homeowners select to construct an outdoor living space. For many thrift-minded homeowners, wood is a cost effective material that boasts a high return value. According to Remodeling Magazine's "Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for 2014", 87.4% of the cost of building a wooden deck may be recouped during resale. However, a wood versus composite decking study conducted by Fiberon, a leading decking manufacturer reveals that homeowners spend on average $450-$850 maintaining a wood deck each year. Wood decks are highly susceptible to rot, deterioration, pests and discoloration, factors which account for its high cost. On the other hand, composite decking recoups 74.3% percent of the cost upon resale.  But unlike wood decking, composite decks require less upkeep and have an annual maintenance cost between $5-15 over the lifetime of the deck.

In order to make a cost-effective decision in this case, it is important to consider which material best fits within your budget and lifestyle. Still, if you are not satisfied with wood or composite, consider materials like aluminum, stone and PVC which are excellent alternatives that fit a wide range of needs and lifestyles.



Regardless whether or not you built your outdoor living space to increase your property value, you deserve a space where you can build lasting memories. After all, one of the best ways to measure the true worth of your outdoor living space is assessing the value it adds to your life and sense of wellbeing. So put down the calculator! Have a realtor or licensed appraiser assess the monetary value of your addition while you spend well-deserved time enjoying it with family and friends. And be sure to visit Fiberon to learn more about our decking and fencing materials.


26th Oct, 2015
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Mediterranean House Plan, Home Plan, Veracruz 11-118

The Verzruz has gridded windows that fill all of the gently arched openings giving this sun-bright stucco home a breezy Mediterranean-style ambiance. Dramatic stucco columns soar two stories high to support and highlight the grand entry.

The interior is breathtaking. Double doors open into a two-story foyer filled with natural light from the sidelights and transom. Arched openings access the formal rooms: the living room on the right, dining room on the left. Then the double doors straight ahead lead back out into an open courtyard. The arched-opening colonnade that runs along two sides of the inner courtyard provides direct access to most of the ground floor rooms.

Informal gathering spaces are on the left. Decorative columns anchor the four corners of the kitchen's work island. An eating bar runs along one side, while another flush eating bar rims the peninsular counter close to the ovens, prep sink, and roomy corner pantry. The double sink boasts a pass-through garden window with view to the courtyard.

The kitchen is open to the family room, and just a few steps from a large utility room with a powder room at the end. Past, or through, the living room, on the right side of the entry, is a large media room with a gas fireplace, adjoining bathroom, and covered patio.

Bedrooms are upstairs, joined by a lanai overlooking the courtyard. The luxury owners' suite has one large walk-in closet, and a smaller adjacent one. Secondary bedrooms and a bath are on the opposite wing, and has another set of stairs which lead to the family room.

23rd Oct, 2015
Blog, New Home Plans

Traditional House Plan, Country Home Plan, Small House Pla, Alderbrook 30-913

The Alderbrook features a trio of gables that welcomes you to this traditional house plan. Once inside you are lead down the vaulted entry way past two bedrooms and main bathroom that are on the right.  The entry hall then opens to a vaulted great room that features a cheery fireplace which can also be enjoyed from the kitchen. The owners' suite has sliding glass doors that offer  private access to the rear deck.

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