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Tips for Choosing the Right Floor Plan

Categories: Blog, Home Building 101, Homeowner Tips | Posted: April 12, 2018

The process of choosing the design for building a new home is exciting but can also be overwhelming. There are lots of decisions to make that will have a lasting impact. As you browse the home designs, here are some tips for choosing the right floor plan.

Make sure it measures up. You might have a certain square footage figure in mind as you look at homes. However, some floor plans are smartly designed and can make better use of the space. You might be able to “live large” in a home that’s slightly smaller than you expected.

Follow the flow. When you’re looking at a floor plan, imagine yourself walking through the home. Go from the laundry room to putting the clothes away. Is it convenient? Does the flow of the kitchen to the dining area feel right? Will the bedrooms afford privacy for the occupants? When you’re coming in with an armload of groceries, will you have an easy path to the kitchen?

Level it out. How many levels will suit your lifestyle? Do you need a two-story home to accommodate everyone in your household, or is a single-level ranch more to your liking? A single-level home certainly fits the household that doesn’t want to deal with stairs. You can also integrate a first-floor owner’s suite if you need more space but want to do most of your living on the first floor.

Consider the wide, open spaces. Many floor plans feature the open concept. It’s a popular layout because the lack of walls between the kitchen, living room, and dining area allow for more socializing. The cook is no longer cut off from the activity outside the kitchen. As you look at the open floor plan in the home designs, think about how the rooms connect. It might be one big space—long, square, or rectangular—or an L-shape with the kitchen as the pivotal point. Do you prefer one style over the other? How will your furniture fit in the layout? With an open floor plan, you can create separate spaces, like a reading area or study space. Envision how you will use the main living area so you choose a floor plan that fits your family’s lifestyle.

Don’t underemphasize the functional places. Features like a mudroom and the design and placement of the laundry room might not seem as important in the big picture, but small details often spark a big change. The mudroom, for example, is a threshold that protects your home from the great outdoors and keeps the clutter under control, if you plan it that way. Cubbies or cabinets are a smart choice here. Establish a system for organizing shoes, backpacks, school stuff, leashes, and everything else that often gets lost when it’s allowed to meander into the main living area.

Some homeowners prefer to have the laundry room closer to the master suite, while others want it near the kitchen. Which location do you prefer?

Do you need more function for your laundry room, like storage or a utility sink? Maybe you’d like a space to bathe and groom the family pet. Or possibly you would like a laundry room with a countertop to fold laundry and cabinets to store more supplies.

Explore the undiscovered needs. As you browse the floor plans, think of alternative uses for rooms that might seem like a “bonus” right now. A formal dining room or living room could seem extraneous but you consider repurposing it for a playroom, hobby studio, game room, library, or other function. A bonus or flex room can work as a guest room or home office, too.

Ask a lot of questions—of yourself and your builder—when reviewing home designs to be sure you’re choosing the right floor plan!

Understanding home insulation

Categories: Blog, Home Building 101, Homeowner Tips | Posted: December 7, 2017

Every homeowner knows that insulating a home is important for comfort and energy efficiency. But it’s equally important to understand how home insulation works so you ensure you’re taking the right steps to effectively prevent the swap of interior and exterior temperatures.

Insulation provides resistance to heat flow. Heat flow is the movement of warm or hot air to cooler air. The flow continues until there is a balance of temperatures. For example, hot air will continue to flow into your home on a hot day until the inside temperature is equal to the outside. On a pleasant spring or fall day, you might open up the windows to take advantage of the ideal temperature. When the weather is more extreme, however, you need to manage the heat flow.

When you buy a new home, insulation is installed to slow down the movement of heat. Now, heat flow moves in three ways:

  • Conduction: Heat moves through a material, like a metal pot absorbing heat.
  • Convection: Heat circulates through liquids and gases, and since hot air is lighter, it rises above cold air.
  • Radiation: Heat travels along a straight path and absorbs energy from anything along that route.

So, your home insulation is installed in any place with exposure to heat flow: exterior walls, around the foundation, and in the roof, to name a few. Without insulation, the heat will move through the walls, floors, and ceilings—up from the basement, down from the attic, and in through the walls, doors, and windows. The goal of insulation is to produce resistant to the natural flow of heat.

R-value: The resistance factor

Home insulation products are rated for their thermal resistance factor, commonly known as R-value. This measurement is determined by the insulation type, thickness, and density. To determine how much home insulation you need, refer to a map that shows the R-value zones, rated on a scale from 1 to 7, with colder climates on the high end. Southern Florida and Hawaii score a 1 rating, while Alaska and northern Minnesota earn a 7.

You probably hear about radiant barriers. This reflective material doesn’t absorb heat, like insulation does. Instead, it reflects the heat. Radiant barriers are commonly installed on roofs to deflect the heat away from the roof (where it can be absorbed and potentially pass into the main part of the home). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a radiant barrier on a home in a sunny climate (e.g., Zones 1-3) can reduce cooling costs by 5% to 10%.

Retrofitting an existing home with the correct amount of insulation could require a professional, depending on where and what type of insulation you need. New homes incorporate the standards for home insulation. They also improve the comfort and energy efficiency in a new home by installing moisture control and air sealing.

Spend a little time learning about your home’s insulation and you’ll spend much less later on the energy costs.

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