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2nd Feb, 2021
Articles, Blog

Country-inspired design can mean different things to different people. Depending on who you ask—builders, architects or home buyers—it may include traditional Ranch, Country and Farmhouse designs. For design purists, each of these design themes has specific elements that make them stand apart. As the popularity of home design and renovation shows has exploded over the past decade, the definition of “country-inspired” home design has been unofficially modified, and now includes interpretations that blend the different style elements.

“Often it’s a sense of nostalgia that draws people to ranch, farmhouse and country-inspired designs—whether it reminds them of where they grew up or their grandma’s house,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company. “Significant latitude is exercised when designing, allowing for less than traditional execution of the genre. Blending style elements has become more widely accepted, so we often end up with an essence of a specific style. Ultimately, home buyers should go with what makes them feel best about coming home.”

To understand how country-inspired design has evolved, how it differs from ranch and farmhouse styles, and what keeps these options in vogue, The House Plan Company, a house plan marketing firm based in Eugene, Oregon asked designers and architects to weigh in.

Ken Pieper, residential designer at Ken Pieper Signature Designs noted that country and modern farmhouse designs are still a very strong request among his clients. “Main level living, referred to as ranch design, plays well when the customer has property to support the size footprint,” said Pieper. “Ranch and farmhouse designs require more space, and often result in higher costs for the buyer. I always advise my clients to select a design that speaks to their lifestyle, as ‘home’ should be a true reflection of who we are.”

What differentiates these home designs, and what do they have in common?

Ranch

Typically featuring a less complicated layout, most ranch home designs offer single level living and casual, open floor plans. Spacious patios, expansive porches, vaulted ceilings, larger windows and a relaxed layout with open kitchen are characteristics often found in ranch homes.

Country

Known for their use of simple, traditional design elements, country homes are often thought to represent an “Americana” style. The use of softer, curved lines and the incorporation of wide, wrap around porches, gabled rooflines and modest wood exteriors give way to open concept interior designs that feature large kitchens and massive great rooms.

Farmhouse

With floorplans often arranged around expansive, eat-in kitchens, farmhouse designs make use of clean lines, and can incorporate features such as lap siding, steep roofs and generous porches to enjoy the outdoors. Popular because of its warm, approachable style, farmhouse design generally reflects a clean, casual approach with defined lines.

What keeps these styles current? Sometimes it’s a modern twist—smooth lines, glossy accents and neutral color schemes that add a sophisticated element. Versatile traits that blend well with industrial, modern or traditional styles are also key to these designs’ popularity and longevity.

Charles Roccaforte, Texas-based owner of Charles Roccaforte’s Hill Country Plans, Inc. encourages home buyers to consider incorporation of uncommon design elements to give these styles a timeless feel. Ideas he has recommended include stucco, rock, and use of exterior heavy trusses and metal roofs.

“High pitch metal roofs, high ceilings and a pallet of materials are what continue to draw people to these styles. Roughly 75% of my plan portfolio is represented by country-inspired styles. I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon,” said Roccaforte.

 

As seen on PRunderground
1st Feb, 2021
Blog

Looking to add to your property but can’t decide between that detached garage with workshop or the guest cottage? Why not combine the two? Detached garage plans with living areas are growing in popularity and it is not difficult to see why. Here are 5 of Associated Designs best-selling garage plans with extra living.

Craftsman Garage Apartment – Plan 20-119

https://associateddesigns.com/garage-plans/plan/20119

It is clear to see why this two-story garage with apartment is a popular plan. Its uncompromising floor plan offers parking for 2 cars plus extra for a hobby space – wood working, crafting, gear storage, etc. – all on the main floor. Upstairs is a charming and well-appointed living space. Your first step in the apartment is in the vaulted kitchen – fully furnished with dishwasher, sink, range/oven, and refrigerator. Across from the kitchen is a utility nook with washer and dryer plus a small folding counter. The floor plan opens to a vaulted great room complete with fireplace and access to the balcony. The office can serve as an extra bedroom if needed and the full bathroom has a generous sized walk-in shower and dual vanities. Anyone entertaining long term guests or housing family members will appreciate the well-appointed and comfortable apartment.

3-Car Garage with Second Floor Living – Plan 20-052

https://associateddesigns.com/garage-plans/plan/20052

For the car enthusiast this is an ideal garage plan. The main floor can store up to three cars inside with an additional three stored under the carport if tandem parking is not an issue. Those that like to spend their afternoons working on their cars will appreciate the main floor full bathroom. Upstairs is a one bedroom apartment. The great room offers a cozy fireplace framed with built-ins. There is a separate utility room off the well-appointed kitchen complete with eating bar. The dining nook provides access to the balcony which looks over the front of the garage. French doors inside open to a bedroom complete with walk-in closet and full bathroom.

1 Story Garage Apartment with Country Style – Plan 20-018

https://associateddesigns.com/garage-plans/plan/20018

This unique garage design offers a three car garage floor plan with single level apartment plus storage. The double car bay extends back to offer a storage corner which could easily be outfitted with benches for a workshop. A charming covered front porch shelters the entrance to the living space. A great room with kitchenette makes up most of the apartment. Down the short hallway is a full bathroom and bedroom. This design offers a great guest cottage option for those who entertain aging parents on regular basis.

Hillside Garage with Living – Plan 20-008

https://associateddesigns.com/garage-plans/plan/20008

Construction on hillside lots has skyrocketed in the last couple of years. For those with challenging sloped lots take a look at this charming Craftsman detached garage design. The basement level is the two car garage. An exterior stair case or upper level vaulted porch lead to you one of the two entrances to the studio apartment. Vaulted ceilings and an abundance of windows makes the apartment feel bright and spacious. A full kitchen with stove, sink, refrigerator, and island allow guests to feel independent of the main house.

New Farmhouse Garage with Studio Apartment – Plan 20-189

https://associateddesigns.com/garage-plans/plan/20189

Quickly climbing the best-selling ladder is Garage 20-189. Its farmhouse exterior is eye-catching. The main floor is the two car garage with storage closet and wash tub. The stairs to the studio apartment are accessed from the outside and the covered stoop can be extended for those that would prefer to connect the detached garage with a breezeway. Upstairs the studio apartment is an open-concept floor plan. A kitchenette lines the left hand side of the room while opposite is a cozy wood stove. A full bathroom is upstairs.

Looking for a unique garage apartment plan? Any of these best-selling garage apartment designs can be modified to fit your specifications. Look for the Get a Free Quote button to start talking with Associated Designs talented team of residential home designers.

27th Jan, 2021
Constructed Home Plans

You’ve decided you want to build but you are having a difficult time finding a pre-designed plan that fits your needs. Plus you have some ideas for what will make this new home or garage perfect for your lifestyle or family and want something unique. Plan modifications are a great way to get a cost-effective custom design.

By taking advantage of a pre-designed home or garage that is close to what you are looking for it is like jumping into the middle stages of a custom design. Plan modifications can be a simple as moving doors or windows to better take advantage of your lot arrangement or view; to nearly custom re-designs where interior spaces are resized or the footprint of the plan is reconfigured.

Associated Designs residential home designer, Kelly Alvord, recently completed a modification to the Crestview plan 10-532. The original design is a 2900 square foot hillside design with 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms.

(Original Crestview Floor Plan)

Starting with the exterior, the client was looking to simplify the materials and replaced the cedar shingles that covered most of the exterior with classic lap siding. The stone wainscot was kept and along with the shutters. The updated exterior is now more country than Craftsman.

Inside at first glance the entry feels much the same. Vaulted ceilings welcome you to the unique, hexagonal center. In great room some of the customizations include – moving the fireplace to the center allowing its cheer to be enjoyed throughout the living area while opening up the right wall to additional views. The kitchen was also reconfigured to allow for a larger walk-in pantry – a great change for the home chef!

Some of the original features that drew the client to the Crestview was the separate owners’ suite. During the modification process they kept this configuration along with the flex space offered by the den/office.

In the opposite wing they kept the two additional bedrooms and full bathroom. The next major change to the floor plan was creating a mud hall out of the utility room and attaching the garage to the front – instead of the original breezeway connection.

The modified Crestview design was recently finished and looks great on this client’s wooded, rural property.

(Modified Crestview Floor Plan)

 

25th Jan, 2021
House Plan of the Week

Ranch House Plan - Jamestown 30-827In this 2400 square foot ranch-style home, the great room is at the core of the floor plan. Filling the back of the home, the great room is decorated with a fireplace and a stepped ceiling. The informal nature of the great room means that the dining room and living area are completely open to each other with only the kitchen's L-shaped eating bar providing some visual separation. The gain from this style of living is that for those who love to entertain no one has to be cut off from the party. A rich display of windows along the back wall fill the great room with natural light. This three bedroom house plan offers nice separation of the sleeping areas. Two secondary bedrooms are towards the front and left side of the floor plan. The office, which is accessed off the great room, provides flexbility for the Jamestown to be a 4 bedroom home plan if needed. The owners' suite fills the back right corner, giving the room a sense of privacy. Features include a large walk-in closet, direct access to the patio, and a private bathroom with dual vanities, a separate shower and soaking tub. Outside the owners' suite a pass-through utility room connects the home to the 3-car garage. Above is a bonus room adding additional flexbility or storage space.

Want to explore more? Take a look at our 3 Bedroom House Plans or Ranch Home Plans.

14th Jan, 2021
Articles, Blog

Looking to take advantage of the space you have while offering a comfortable place for friends and family to stay? Associated Designs has prepared a collection of modern guest house plans that fit a variety of needs. If your building lot has the room, adding a small guest house is a worthwhile endeavor. Take a closer look at these 5 guest cottage designs.

2-Story Guest House - Bayberry Cottage

Bayberry Cottage Rendering

Offering a total of 1382 square feet, the 2 story Bayberry Cottage is multi-functional and an ideal choice for those that only entertain guests seasonally. The first floor can be furnished as a recreation room or as a small great room. With a beverage bar along the back wall guests can prepare snacks and drinks without heading into the main house. The second floor studio could be arranged as a spacious bedroom with space enough for a sitting area.

1-Story Craftsman Cottage Getaway – Wolf Creek Cottage

Wolf Creek Cottage Rendering

If you are looking for a small Craftsman guest house plan, look no further than the Wolf Creek Cottage. At 704 square feet, this one story plan provides an open recreation room with corner beverage bar and a full bathroom. The recreation room can be furnished as a studio apartment offering space for a bed and sitting area. The beverage bar allows guests to feel independent from the main residence providing a space to prepare snacks and drinks. The full bathroom even has a stacking washer and dryer tucked away in a bi-fold closet. Those that love spending time outdoors will enjoy the large covered patio and balcony.

Modern Guest House Design – Birkland

Birkland Rendering

Luxurious touches are throughout the small guest cottage Birkland. Its modern exterior is eye-catching while it’s interior will leave guests feeling welcome and comfortable. Vaulted ceilings are throughout the floor plan. The living room can be separated from the kitchen by a sliding barn door. A ladder in the kitchen leads to the storage loft. At the back of the floor plan is a vaulted bedroom and full bathroom. This small guest house would also make an ideal cottage for college aged children or rented out as an accessory dwelling unit.

Small Lodge Retreat – Clarkridge

Clarkridge Rendering

If you are looking to match your Northwest house plan with an equally charming lodge guest cottage take a look at the Clarkridge. This cozy, small guest house plan provides a separate great room with full kitchen and one bedroom with vaulted ceilings. A full bathroom is along the back of the floor plan and laundry appliances are stored away in an alcove. The Clarkridge amenities are ideal for those that entertain long term guests.

Tiny Guest House Plan – Guest Cottage

Guest Cottage Rendering

The original guest cottage plan, this tiny 1.5 story retreat offers 414 square feet. With covered porches along the front and back, guests are sure to have a space to enjoy the views from any urban, hillside, or rural lot. Inside the floor plan is open. The vaulted great room offers a wood stove and small beverage bar. A small mud hall is along the back of the floor plan with a bench and hooks for organizing bags, coasts, and shoes. A full bathroom is just around the corner. Adding to the functionality of the Guest Cottage, two ladders lead to generous sized storage lofts.

Ready to find the perfect guest house plan? Find inspiration with our small house plan collection. Or see how our design services and team of residential designers can help you create a custom guest house design.

5th Jan, 2021
Articles, Blog

Homebuilding offers the unique ability to create a custom living space suited to your needs and design tastes, but the process is rarely a simple one. Knowing what to plan for can ensure the end result is a home that matches your vision and will be a place you will love living in for years to come. But what are the most important things to consider before committing to a new build? What steps are overlooked or often unanticipated by homeowners interested in building for the first time?

The House Plan Company, a house plan marketing firm based in Eugene, Oregon asked builders to offer advice to those interested in building a new home to help set their expectations.

According to Kent Smith, custom home builder and owner of KLS Construction, one step that is often overlooked is determining the orientation of the home on the lot that was selected. “I always recommend that homeowners visit the property in the morning, look at the views and see where the sun is coming through. Go back mid-day and in the evening when the sun sets. Think about living in the house. What do you want to see and look at? Is the home design you picked out something that will work on the property? Do the windows face the right direction? I’ve had clients turn the house 180-degrees so the sun comes into the kitchen in the morning,” said Smith.

Both Smith and Pete Slayden, owner of Slayden Homes, Inc. agree that selecting a builder who has the homeowner’s best interests in mind and will listen to your needs and desires for the project is critical.

“The most important thing homeowners can do once they decide to build is share their ideas. When they meet with the builder and contractors they select, they should paint the picture of what they want their home to look and feel like so that the whole team is on the same page and excited about what they’re creating together,” said Pete Slayden, owner of Slayden Homes, Inc. “As builders and designers, we are proud of the work we do, and we love working with clients who have a vision and the desire to create a unique living space that stands apart from typical tract home builds.”

Here are five key recommendations from contractors about what homeowners should know about design and construction before starting a new home project:

Ensure you have time for a new build. In addition to the time it takes for custom finishes, time for activities like securing permits, preparing the land, and undergrounding utilities will be needed before construction can truly get underway.

Find a builder who can bring your vision to life. This person and their team are critical to helping ensure not only that your dream home looks and feels like what you had in mind, but that the plans you select work with the site, and that permits can be obtained. They should be able to help identify any zoning laws or attributes that could result in the land being more expensive to build on.

Select the perfect location. While this sounds easy, it’s important to involve a real estate agent and the builder in this process. The goal is to find a lot that meets the homeowner’s needs and fits the design and floor plan of the home that will be built. Other considerations include the topography of the lot and access to nearby utilities—elements that may require additional engineering.

Bring ideas. Beyond design ideas related to the home’s internal and external style, it’s important for homeowners to consider other customizations or unique home features they want incorporated into the build. This may include use of eco-friendly materials, smart home technology, or the design and functionality of outdoor space.

Consider all the costs, and budget for the unexpected. In addition to the cost of the lot and the actual construction, homeowners must consider where they will live while construction is underway, permitting fees, engineering costs and the costs associated with submitting architectural drawings before the project is approved. Unexpected expenses that weren’t anticipated could include the need to alter the land before construction can begin, construction delays, fees for special permits, or things like damaged or defective materials.

How long will it take to build? That depends. “When time is an issue, I’ve found that the most efficient way to move a project forward is to meet with the clients before the building process starts. This allows them to pick out everything ahead of time, know the associated costs and better control the timeline,” continued Slayden.

Smith agrees, adding “you want to be comfortable with the builder you select to where you can call them as the project progresses and even a few years later. Request a list of references and actually call those people. Discuss in detail whether the builder was able to stick within the budget, whether the client was able to speak directly with sub-contractors, and whether the builder was easy to talk to.”

Building a new home can certainly be a daunting task for some, but for those who enjoy planning, decision-making and the excitement of creating, it can also be incredibly rewarding.

One final consideration? “Homeowners should also take future resale value into account when building a new home,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company. “If the potential to sell the home exists—whether in a few years or down the road—resale value in relation to the neighborhood the property is in could have an impact on design decisions during the build.”

 

As seen on PRUnderground

 

3rd Jan, 2021
Articles, Blog

Drive around any city or through any neighborhood, and you’ll find the property world’s quiet achiever – duplexes. Most times, you don’t even realize that the house you just drove by is actually two homes on a single lot. And that’s intentional. Duplexes aren’t meant to stand out, but when the design is right, they can do more and be more for families of all sizes and lifestyles. 

Home Trends Report, Duplex Housing Market

“Traditionally, duplexes are more reminiscent of a single-family home with a mirror-image layout,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of Associated Designs. “And yet in modern times, duplexes have gotten a bit of a makeover. You don’t feel like you’re on top of or right by your neighbor. Individuality is key.”

The concept of a duplex often conjures up images of young couples or college-aged adults renting cookie cutter designs that all look alike. But that’s not always the case. In fact, nowadays duplexes are built with a unique style, amenities and living spaces that appeal to everyone. They have great rooms, dens, and sometimes the common wall is between the garages. They don’t look like typical duplexes, and they have their own personality and purpose.

Duplexes, therefore, are at the heart of modern living, allowing families to grow, invest and join the real estate market without breaking the bank.

“If they’re not building it as income property,” said McAlexander, “clients are building it to move in and develop that future income potential. So it’s true that a duplex has that connotation as a rental, but nothing is ever as it seems.”

Take for example the Corydon home plan (60-008) from Associated Designs. Set on a corner lot, you won’t believe it is, in fact, two homes in one. Both units have spacious great rooms (an important facet of any modern home) and full-size garages, but that’s where the similarity ends. One unit has two stories and three bedrooms, while the other is a single-level, two-bedroom unit. The units are well separated, offering plenty of privacy. It’s ideal for families who want to keep aging parents nearby, but still want a somewhat independent life. The Corydon, therefore, is not your standard mirror-image duplex. 

Corydon Duplex Plan - 60-008

“It’s becoming much more common for families to purchase two units for extended family use,” said McAlexander. “Most often that means that there is a larger home alongside a smaller one, and that’s exactly what the Corydon does.”

Of course, the majority of duplexes are built as income properties. With rising home prices and slow income growth, millennials have been slow to enter into the housing market. Duplexes are changing that, and even those properties can be unique and modern. The Kentland (60-015) looks like a fairly classic duplex in a two-level Craftsman style. Each unit has a wide, covered front porch and smaller covered rear patio. And the family living spaces are partially open to the kitchens, with three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. But the occupants won’t feel like they are living in a multifamily home at all.

Kentland Duplex Plan - 60-015

“The great thing about the Kentland is that while it has the mirror-image look, the living spaces are separated by the garage so privacy is easy to come by,” said McAlexander. “By renting out one unit and living in the other, millennials have the opportunity to be homeowners with the potential for additional income. And yet they won’t feel like they’re living in a duplex.”

Other duplexes hide their multifamily aspect entirely by looking exactly like a charming, two-story, single-family home. The Tupelo design (60-006) has a second floor apartment with its own private entrance. The lower unit has two bathrooms, three bedrooms and a utility room. The upper unit is smaller and has two bedrooms and one bathroom. But the exterior is a Craftsman-style design that looks like any other Craftsman single-family home.

Tupelo Duplex Plan - 60-006

“It’s a classic example of a home that’s more than what it seems,” said McAlexander. “The end result is that families can have their older children get a taste for independence after completing college. Just let them rent the upper unit.”

Duplexes are ubiquitous in most cities, but they aren’t what they once were. They have the potential to be both an income property as well as a way for families to evolve and grow. It’s modern living at its best and brightest. 

As seen on Newswire
1st Jan, 2021
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Traditional House Plan, Home Plan, Ranch House Plan, Akron 10-038

Relatively simple in its layout, traditional house plan Akron is a compact home designed to fit on a narrow lot. But simple doesn't mean mundane. Many of the Akron's features are as appealing to first time home buyers as they are to empty nesters.

Vaulted ceilings expand the sense of spaciousness in both the living room and dining room. Even the entry has a 10 foot ceiling and a transom window above the front door. Tall ceilings and richly windowed walls fill the gathering areas that fill the right side of the floor plan with natural light.

A waist high wall, with columns at either end, divides the dining room from the living room. The space between the columns is bridged by a high shelf. A high arch, stacked with multi paned windows, fills most of the boxed front living room wall.

Another notable feature is a bathroom that can be entered from either the bedroom wing, or from the family room side. An inner door provides added privacy for the toilet and tub.

The dining room is only one of many places to enjoy a meal. A window bright eating bay expands the combination kitchen/family room, and an eating penninsula is handy for snacks and meals on the run. In summer, you could even dine on the deck, accessed by a door near the fireplace.

The Akron's owners' suite features a large walk in closet, a spa tub with glass block wall, and a separately enclosed water closet and shower. A utility room is tucked in the passageway between the garage and house.

It is clear to see that this one story, three bedroom house plan is filled with features sure to be appreciated by many. The combination of formal and informal living spaces and its attached 2 car front load garage make the Akron a well-rounded house plan. 

2nd Dec, 2020
Articles, Blog

You’ve been looking through home designs trying to determine the style and layout that you want to build. Throughout your search you’ve probably run into barndominium and wondered what exactly this emerging trend is.

A blending of the words “barn” and “condominium” the barndominium is a home with strong country influences mirroring the exterior look of the classic red barn. A departure from the popular farmhouse style, barndominuim plans will feature gambrel style roofs, vertical or batt & board siding, bays that mirror the aesthetics of silos, or roofs adorned with cupolas.

Oregon residential design firm, Associated Designs’ Fairheart plan showcases many of the barnominium features. From the exterior the simply, gable end roof with batt and board siding evokes the look and feel of a classic barn. A second story window mimics an opening to a second floor hay loft and sliding barn doors on the main floor open to reveal a richly windowed great room. Inside the floor plan is open and filled with modern features such as the desirable main floor master suite and great room layout.

Barndominium plans have an exterior that are evocative of pole barns that have been remodeled into living spaces. This style is suitable for accessory dwelling units to year round residences to garages with apartments or living quarters.

For a small house plan wrapped in barn aesthetics look no further than the Jersey. This two bedroom home design provides an open floor plan and a generous second floor study that can be furnished as a hobby space, second living room, or whatever else suites the homeowners’ lifestyle.

Once inside, barndominium floor plans are modern and open. Great rooms or informal open-concept living areas fill the core of the floor plan and can offer all of the same comforts and amenities as classic single family home designs.

For a unique house plan, Garage 20-183 offers all of the amenities of a single family residence built around a central two car garage with two separate offices. The entry is outfitted as a mud hall with guest bedrooms around the corner. As you move up to the second floor you get to the vaulted game room. The third floor is where the great room and owners’ suite can be found.

2nd Nov, 2020
Articles

The dream of a custom-built home isn’t restricted to the seasoned homeowner.

Newlyweds and younger parents are increasingly eyeing the benefits of a custom design, one that is versatile and can evolve as their family grows.

Home design experts have seen young families create practical, serene starter homes that become the setting for priceless memories – but have also seen them make mistakes that lead to design regrets and resources poorly spent.

“Get the most function out of your livable square footage,” said Kirya Duncan, founder and building designer with Design Evolutions in Snellville, Georgia.

Young families today are a bit more willing to sacrifice some size in their homes and yards than their parents’ generation. But they still need to consider how to best utilize their home lot, design and budget. They should also keep in mind what their family might look like a few years down the road.

“Consider the future growth of your family, but don't make a design too custom,” Duncan said. “A functional and flexible home design will always attract future buyers when you decide to move.”

Duncan’s #49175 and #31053 designs featured on The House Plan Company incorporate many of the elements that are ideal for young builders and new families. The first design places a vast majority of the home – a vaulted family room with adjacent kitchen and dining rooms, a master bedroom and two additional bedrooms – on the main floor. But a staircase off of the kitchen accesses a bonus room that’s easily convertible into a fourth bedroom if needed. The second design puts central gathering spaces and a single bedroom on the ground floor, with the master bedroom, two additional bedrooms and a large bonus room on the second floor.

A bonus room can be a valuable asset in a home plan. These rooms can be framed during construction but finished later, once a family has a clearer sense of the best use for it. Including a bonus room in the design is also much cheaper than a home addition later on.

Storage is another important aspect for young families to consider. Storage needs can change dramatically as families grow, and things like toys and holiday decorations start taking up more and more space.

“Look for opportunities to use the attic space, dead space in the design, or any other space that is suitable,” Duncan said.

Above all else, families need to have a realistic sense of the possibilities and limitations of a design, as well as their resource constraints. One home built on a set budget simply can’t check every single box on a dream list. So a family wanting a home office and a guest bedroom in their design may be best served by creating one room that serves as both, for instance.

“The biggest hurdle with young families is trying to fit all of their design needs and wants into the home design,” Duncan said. “Young families tend to have a tight budget and a limited amount of square footage to work with. I try to open them up to the idea of multi-purpose rooms as opposed to designing specific rooms, which makes the home more flexible in its use of space.”

 

As seen on PRUnderground

 

6th Oct, 2020
Articles, Blog

The land and financing are lined up, and the decision has been made: It’s time to build that dream home.

But there’s a lot to consider in the time it takes between choosing to build and starting construction, from an initial site analysis to home design, engineering and eventually permitting. The House Plan Company, a home plan marketing company out of Eugene, OR, has teamed up with a couple of their home design experts to share tips for aspiring custom homeowners, to help them navigate through the process and make it a pain-free experience.

“Put together a solid team to help with your project. Hiring an experienced and qualified designer and contractor to guide through the decision making process will help avoid frustration and disappointment,” said Rick McAlexander, owner of Associated Designs in Eugene, Oregon. “If there are going to be other team members such as interior decorator or landscape designer they should also be brought into the project early.”

McAlexander has helped countless homeowners bring their visions to reality, and seen clients struggle through some of the same trouble spots. Many clients start the process wanting to know exactly how long it will take to get through the planning process and start construction.

Designers like Ken Pieper, owner of Ken Pieper Signature Plans in Evergreen, Colorado, stress patience. It can be typical for six months to pass between a project getting from initial design consultation to the permit application stage. Projects on simple lots may proceed a bit faster, but it is just as likely that the planning phase will take longer. Timelines can also vary by jurisdiction, depending on local regulations.

“Creating a new home, if it is designed from the beginning, will take time, and a very liberal amount of patience,” Pieper said. “Should the client purchase a pre-designed house plan, the construction timing can still become a challenge. I always instruct and advise to expect the unexpected. Patience and flexibility are a must.”

If a couple are planning the project together, being able to express clearly what each person wants to accomplish with the home early in the planning process will prevent potentially costly disagreements or second-guesses further along.

Impatience or distraction can also lead to important design elements being overlooked. That’s especially true when owners are balancing jobs, families and other life distractions with the challenge of designing a new home.

“It is not uncommon to need to gather additional engineering and specifications for your project prior to being able to apply for a building permit,” said McAlexander. “This can add weeks to the project.”

For clients working under a narrow construction window, Pieper advises creating a detailed schedule with key milestones to meet, working backwards from the targeted completion date to the present. Owners investing in a project need to have a clear-headed view of whether their timelines are attainable.

Research at the outset can give owners a clearer sense of who the architects, contractors, planning and building officials involved throughout the process are, as well as the key events to check off along the way. 

“When I meet with my clients, I give them an outline, a schedule of events, individuals and authorities that will be involved during the design and build process of their home,” Pieper said.

While a custom build requires careful planning, the rewards of a truly unique home are worth the challenges. And no owner needs to go through the process alone.

“It’s never too early to bring in any professional who will be working on the project,” McAlexander said. “Their participation may be limited in the initial phase, but their feedback can be valuable and help avoid delays.”

 

As seen on PRUnderground

 

 

21st Sep, 2020
House Plan of the Week

Designed for a hillside lot, this split-level Northwest Contemporary Prairie-Style home design provides an open concept floor plan and takes advantange of a large sweeping forward view. The large kitchen with a covered patio to the rear is open to a large great room with a twelve foot ceiling. Natural light flows in through large windows across the front of the home that will keep your home bright even on the most overcast day. The lower level two car garage opens into a mudhall with a drop zone and stairs leading to main level living. The unfinished basement can be finished to provide extra living space.

The Nahalem is a new plan in our concept house plan collection

 

8th Sep, 2020
Articles, Blog

Anyone who has searched for or purchased house plans online can attest to how easy it is to quickly become overwhelmed by the volume of plans that are available. Whether building a forever home, garage or investment property, homeowners can successfully navigate the search process when they know where to start, what questions to ask, and how they can most effectively (and efficiently) find what they’re looking for.

Georgia based Design Evolutions, Inc. building designer Kirya Duncan says the online pre-design plan market is great for both design professionals and consumers. Specifically, “consumers benefit because they’re able to browse through thousands of designs and choose a home plan from some of the nation’s top designers, paying only a fraction of the cost of a custom home design.”

Duncan notes that customers looking for plans are best served when they find a site with a diverse portfolio of pre-designed home plans. “The larger the pool of contributing professional designers, the better the chances of finding the ideal home design,” he continued.

Because of the vast number of choices in the online house plan marketplace, Ken Pieper, residential designer at Ken Pieper Signature Designs asserts that “searching through many thousands of plans online can be exhausting without a specific list. Be realistic and educate yourself on cost before starting this journey in order to eliminate many avenues for disappointment.”

The House Plan Company, a house plan marketing firm based in Eugene, Oregon compiled the most important considerations recommended by design professionals for homeowners to better navigate the online plan shopping experience. Here are five tips architects and designers recommend in order to save time and money when searching for the perfect house plans online:

  1. Create a concise “wish list.” This should include the family’s priorities for the home, including the architectural style of desired home, the square footage, how many floor levels, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and other design elements that are important to those who will call it home.
  1. Establish a budget. Be mindful of the cost before embarking on a new project and be sure the selected plan fits your budget. Keep in mind that just because two home designs have the same square footage, that doesn’t mean they will cost the same to build; the less complicated the design, the less costly the construction.

In addition to construction costs, the budget needs to encompass the lot that will be built on, the purchase of the house plan itself, landscaping and other elements that could arise as the project gets underway. This includes the development of site plans, additional engineering drawings or other plans that may be required by the city or county where the home is being built.

  1. Plan for the future. It’s rare to find a perfect home design, but when homeowners are looking, it’s important to consider not only the family’s immediate needs, but potential expansion and lifestyle changes that may be necessary down the line.
  1. Match the plan to your criteria. The best sites have search engines that offer the ability to search for plans using pre-defined criteria to quickly find the plans that align with your specific desires. Find a plan that is as close as possible to what fits your needs, or only needs minor modifications. This will save time and can also save hundreds or thousands of dollars.
  1. Ask questions. Make sure you understand the complete layout of the selected plan. And, in the event you want to make changes, before purchasing plans online, find out if the design professionals who created them offer plan modification services. It’s also important to find a reputable builder who can bring the plans to life.

“The pre-design plan market offers homeowners tremendous value,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company. “This market has made it possible for many people to build homes that are tailored to their needs without spending the time and money that might be required for a truly custom build.”

The advantages of buying house plans online are numerous. In addition to considerable cost and time savings as it relates to creating custom home plans, buyers have significantly more choice and the ability to search plans at their leisure. This affords the opportunity to locate plans by hundreds of architects and designers that appeal to the buyer’s design sensibilities. Online house plans can also serve as a great jumping off point for those who are interested in a custom design. With modifications, plans that are “close” can often be adjusted to achieve the right design elements the buyer is searching for.

“The pre-design plan market is here to stay. This market has made it possible for millions of people to realize their dream of building a home that is custom to their wants, needs and lifestyle,” said Duncan.

 

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4th Aug, 2020
Articles, Blog

Thousands of home and garage plans exist online that can be searched as future homeowners envision their perfect house design. The odds that one design will include every desired feature a homeowner wants are slim however, and that’s where house plan modifications come in. Architects and designers are often able to adjust and refine plans to make the layout work or the style fit better with what a homeowner has in mind. These modifications, when made prior to the start of construction, can result in one of the most cost-effective ways for homeowners to create and customize their dream home. The House Plan Company, a house plan marketing company based in Eugene, Oregon asked professionals in the field for their insights about how to make the home building process easier for homeowners. Here’s what they had to say:

“House plans provide a starting point for those who are interested in having their home built to meet specifications that work for them,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company. “Having the ability to alter existing plans is often both less expensive and less time intensive than designing a custom home from the ground up.”

Through the plan modification process, clients work with designers to customize a specific design with changes that can range from simple door or window adjustments, to adjusting exterior elevations by adding dormers or changing the texture of the façade. More complex adjustments can also be made, such as a complete kitchen redesign, or the addition of rooms or other spaces not previously in the plan.

“House plan modifications really offer the customer the ability to add a personal touch to a house plan they will soon call home,” said Jessica Langlois, modification project specialist at Drummond House Plans. “Big or small, the ability to make these adjustments help customers feel creative and allow them to be part of the design process. It also results in the construction of a home that meets their specific needs.”

The House Plan Company’s experts in the architectural and design fields suggest that the ideal time to modify plan designs is during the blueprint phase – not in the field when the project is under construction.

“The advice I give clients about plan changes is to trust the designer to look at all of the elements that modifications to the original plan may cause to be altered,” said Charles Roccaforte, owner of Charles Roccaforte’s Hill Country Plans, Inc. “Plan modifications should be done by the designer and not on the job site. When changes are made in the field once construction has started, it can be disastrous – and expensive.”

Ken Pieper, residential designer at Ken Pieper Signature Designs believes the customer willing to select a home plan and go through the construction process is a much more invested buyer than someone purchasing an already built new or resale home. His advice? “The most important contract the home plan buyer will have between the builder and themselves is the set of construction documents the homebuyer delivers to the builder or contractor. The need for accuracy and specificity that must be and should be required in a professional set of construction documents is paramount,” said Pieper.

Architectural design experts agree that key considerations homeowners should keep in mind when modifying existing home plans include:

  • Agree to the design plan before construction begins. Changes are less costly when made on paper before the build begins, however homebuyers must realize there is a cost to alter plans. Even “simple” changes require experience and time to adjust.
     
  • Never improvise during a building project. Improvisations on the build site not only present the opportunity for errors, they can be detrimental to the budget and the project timeline.
     
  • Know the qualifications and experience of the architectural designer hired for the project. House plans can sometimes be difficult to interpret, especially to the untrained eye. Designers must have the experience to review all of the details to verify that the changes are possible, comply with building codes and meet the client’s goals.
     
  • An architect or designer’s title is not the most important consideration. When selecting a design team, experience, creativity and a satisfying connection with the chosen individuals or team should be the most important and relevant considerations.
     
  • Clients should consider working up a rough sketch of the desired outcome. Putting ideas down on paper in the planning stage will help the designer gain perspective related to the client’s likes and dislikes. Gathering ideas from magazines or social media can also contribute to this invaluable insight.
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7th Jul, 2020
Articles, Blog

The joy of a vacation is universal across countries and cultures. For many, a second, vacation home can add to the bliss of getting away by providing welcoming comfort in an exotic locale.

But as tastes change, so too do the features that vacation homeowners look for when choosing a design.

“We’ve had vacation homes forever, but today people want to have more flexibility because they’re more mobile than they used to be,” said Ken Pieper, owner of Ken Pieper Signature Plans in Evergreen, Colorado.

Pieper’s Summerfield #53614 and Laramie #56656 are featured on The House Plan Company with vacation home owners in mind. The two-story Summerfield brings a southern charm to any location, with a wraparound covered porch and wood posts giving the farmhouse design an idyllic flair. But the country lodge-style Laramie plan speaks to many of the trends in vacation homes today. At a bit over 1,300 square feet and with a log sided cabin façade, the plan incorporates all the elements of a classically rustic retreat in a modern, modest-sized design.

“Don’t overbuild,” Pieper said, adding that more and more families in the market for vacation homes are eyeing smaller properties with flexible spaces instead of larger cabins with bedrooms that may be seldomly used.

The same considerations have been taken in many of the vacation home plans designed by Drummond House Plans. The Quebec-based designer has found success by packing modern amenities into moderately sized spaces.

“In the past few years at Drummond House Plans the best sellers are divided between the modern, sleek styles and rustic chic country,” said Jennifer Larocque, designer with Drummond House Plans.

Such is the case in its Lakewood #11215 and Olympe #86940 vacation home plans, featured on The House Plan Company. A contemporary craftsman design, Lakewood boasts a front façade of stone and natural stained wood, highlighted by posts that support a multi-level gabled roof. Olympe offers vertical siding beneath a metal roof, with an open floor plan inside centered around a main area fireplace rising up to meet a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams.

Each fit two bedrooms, distinct living and dining areas into just over 1,200 square feet. Their sizes reflect what Larocque calls the changing tastes of vacation home buyers in recent years.

“Our modern chalets seem to attract a younger clientele to the search for original, clean and minimalist lines,” Larocque said. “The bedrooms are secondary, all attention is paid to common family spaces such as the kitchen, living room and dining room.”

They’re the same trends that Pieper has noticed among younger home buyers, many of whom are bucking the long-held ideal of large, cabin-style vacation homes for extended families to gather. Instead they are focusing on the needs of their immediate family, and using flexible spaces like living rooms and even porches to accommodate any additional guests.

“What I’ve found is that for generations now, like the millennials, those old traditions are falling away,” Pieper said. “The designs, whether it’s a contemporary beach house or a waterfront house, it’s all regionally driven, and driven by individual customers’ tastes. Cost is a big thing, but it also depends on what you’re trying to achieve with the vacation home, what it means to you.”

 

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