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Bring a Little Personality to Your Front Porch with These Accents

Categories: Home Design Trends | Posted: May 26, 2020

When decorating your home, you mustn’t overlook the entrance. Not the landing just inside the door – the area just outside. Your front porch is the first space your guests encounter when they visit. It’s the place you’ll greet neighbors and family members. Your front porch offers an excellent opportunity to let your style shine. So, don’t miss out on maximizing this space! Here are a few great ways to add a little personality to your front porch.

Hang Out with Hanging Plants

Does your porch see a good amount of sunlight during the day? If so, hanging plants will love soaking up those rays on your front porch. Ideally, you’ll choose hearty plants that can stand up to the sunlight (or lack thereof) and exposure to elements. These include Lantana, Marigolds, Ferns (especially Boston Ferns), and Begonias.  

Kick Back and Relax

If there’s space, we recommend adding at least two comfortable chairs or a wide bench to your front porch area. Use cushion covers or pillows to bring a splash of your flair – not to mention some added comfort. You can offer guests a place to sit and chat, or just kick back and relax during the warm months. Consider swapping out fabrics and patterns for each season, or whenever the mood strikes.

Add a Little Green

Bright, colorful flowers are a great way to welcome guests to your home! Elevate these plants by installing railing flower boxes. You can mix and match types of plants to enhance your front yard landscaping. If you love picking fresh herbs for the kitchen, you can use these railing boxes to plant basil, rosemary, dill, and anything else you can think of! Just be sure these tasty plants are getting the right amount of sunlight to thrive.

Swing or Rock in Style

Is there any porch accessory more iconic than a rocking chair or porch swing? These front-porch accessories feel so neighborly and warm, and it’s hard to pass them up. Not to mention, they’re both extremely useful. Both seating options offer an excellent way for you and your family to relax and enjoy your front yard. Plus, they’re weather-resistant, so you won’t need to worry about leaving them out year-round.

Your front porch should show off your personal style just as much as your living room, kitchen, and back yard. Don’t miss out on spending time – and showing off – this space.

How to Pick the Perfect Home Site for YOU

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: May 16, 2020

Picking the right site to build your home is arguably one of the most important decisions you will make throughout the entire process. Different home sites can affect the layout of your future home, the price of construction, and your level of interaction with neighbors. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when picking a home site.

Sloping Ground for Walk-Out Basements

Choosing a site with sloping grounds can be great if you’re hoping to include a walk-out basement. These types of basements include either windows or doors, depending on what you need. Walk-out basements offer easy access to your yard and a ton of beautiful natural lighting. Adding these elements to your home can transform a traditional basement into a beautiful living space.

Wooded Areas for Shade and Privacy

Are you hoping to move into a more secluded area, possibly on the edge of your neighborhood? Wooded sites offer all the privacy you could want. These sites are perfect for anyone who wants a little separation from neighbors without moving to a rural area. Other benefits of wooded homesites include added shade and a scenic view. If you opt for this type of site, be sure to consider including a backyard sitting area. You’ll love the secluded, wooded view you’re greeted by every day.

Flat Ground for Games, BBQs, and More 

Is your family big on playing games outside? We’re talking volleyball, bocce ball, soccer, badminton – really anything you can play with just a little flat space. Or maybe you love hosting backyard bashes, barbeques, and bonfires. If so, picking a flat home site will be ideal for you. You can create the ideal backyard, including landscaping, by opting for this type of home site.

There are plenty of other considerations for choosing a home site. The first step you should take is figuring out what you want from your home. Are you looking for a house built for entertainment? Are you looking to maximize space by opening your basement up as another living space? Or perhaps you’re looking for a place of peace and privacy. There’s no wrong answer to what’s important to you. The next step is choosing the right site to fit that.

5 Must-Haves for the Backyard Grilling Season

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: April 23, 2020

The weather is getting warmer, the grass is getting greener, and cool breezes are blowing across backyards across the country. All of this can only mean one thing: It’s grilling season! For most people, that means spending tons of time enjoying your patio or porch accompanied by the sweet smells of barbequed meats and vegetables. To help you make the most of this year’s grilling season, here are our top five must-haves.

Find a Reliable Grill

We’re not going to weigh in on the age-old debate of charcoal versus propane or wood pellet. Instead, here’s a quick rundown of the main benefits of each type of grill:

  • Gas Grill – Ready to go fast with easy cleanup.
  • Charcoal Grill – Great for a strong smoky flavor.
  • Wood Pellet Grill – Combines the flavor benefits of charcoal and the precision of electric heat.
  • Electric Grill – Perfect for portable grilling.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you have a reliable grill that can handle whatever you throw at it. That means picking the right size grill. If you often find yourself acting as the grill master for a group of neighbors, you’ll want a grill big enough to handle it. Whereas if you’re a weeknight griller for the family, you might not need such a large grill.

Get the Right Tools for the Job

Grilling outside can be a pain when you don’t have the right tools. You can’t use a plastic kitchen spatula to flip burgers on the grill, and you can’t use small tongs to pick up steaks or vegetables. You need to have the best tools for outdoor grilling use. Here are a few of our top picks:

  • Spring-loaded grill tongs
  • Stiff wire grill brush
  • An instant-read infrared meat thermometer
  • Stainless-steel kabob skewers
  • Long-handled metal spatula

Here’s a pro tip: Keep all your grilling accessories in a small Rubbermaid container. If you keep it outside, make sure it has a tight-fitting lid. In the same container, stash some aluminum foil, salt, and pepper. This handy grill box makes for an easy spur-of-the-moment cookout.

Weather-Proof, Comfortable Patio Furniture

We’ve been focusing on the grilling itself, but what about after? Make sure you have a comfortable place outside to eat that meal! We recommend a sturdy table with enough chairs for the whole family – plus one or two extra for dinner guests. Keep in mind that any fabric – like seat cushions – should be kept indoors whenever possible. The last thing you want is for your furniture to get moldy after a summer rainstorm.

Make a Shady Spot

Speaking of creating a comfortable space to enjoy your grilling, don’t forget about the sun and heat! Make sure to build in some shade around your patio furniture to avoid melting in the hot sun during the summer. There are plenty of options, both permanent and temporary. Here are a few ways you can bring shade to your backyard:

  • Patio umbrella
  • Free-standing or home-attached pergola
  • Gazebo (with or without netting)
  • Canopy (perfect for large gatherings)
  • Retractable awning

For the more permanent options, you can also dress them up with lighting or speaker systems to completely transform your outdoor space.

Outdoor Firepit or Fireplace

Grilling goes hand-in-hand with summer entertaining. Take your backyard parties up a notch with an outdoor firepit or fireplace. They’re beautiful, affordable, and can be used nearly year-round to create a cozy atmosphere. You can opt for a classic wood-burning fire pit or go for a smokeless propane firepit.

Building an outdoor fire pit is a great way to bring creativity and design to your backyard. You can construct a modern fire pit with clean-cut stones or vibrant mosaic patterns, or you can opt for brick and stone. There are endless options here, as well.

Gathering these must-haves before the season hits is sure to bring you months of backyard grilling enjoyment! Have fun entertaining friends and neighbors, or get cozy with your family around a firepit, and create happy memories outdoors.

The 5 Reasons People Love Open-Concept Homes

Categories: Home Design Trends | Posted: April 13, 2020

You’ve undoubtedly heard of this type of floor plan. Spacious, open rooms sprawling from one side of the house to the other unencumbered by walls or doors. It’s an open-concept home, and homeowners love the way it opens up even small-sized homes. People buying new homes are asking builders to create open-concept homes that bring light and air to the entire house. Here are the top five reasons to love this type of floorplan.

More Living Space

Fewer walls mean more space to move around – and less wasted space. Instead of confining hallways and separation between each room (which can take up precious area), open-concept homes flow from one place to the next without division. There are more options to add in and move around furniture or statement pieces. And you can easily connect your indoor living space to your outdoor space.

Better Lighting, Better Air Flow

Open-concept homes often seem lighter and airier than floor plans with separated rooms. That makes sense, of course: Light can travel from one side of the home to the next without obstruction! This also impacts airflow – and temperature. Breezes can move from one side of the house to the next, improving the flow of air across your entire home.

Easier to Entertain Large Groups

Is there anything worse than being stuck in the kitchen away from the action during a lively party? Or having a group of people crowd around one room to keep the conversation going? Open-concept homes create interconnected spaces without barriers, so people can flow from one room to the next without feeling disconnected. Plus, hosts can quickly move from one area to the next, making entertaining enjoyable rather than a hassle.

Makes Smaller Spaces Feel Bigger

Open-concept floor plans make your home seem bigger. With the amount of time you and your family will spend in your living room, kitchen, and dining room, it’s important to feel relaxed. Being able to move freely from one of these spaces to the next will make that even easier. Your home (and family members) feel connected and whole rather than separated and distant.

Improved Energy Efficiency

This benefit goes beyond aesthetics. Wide-open spaces are easier to heat and cool, which cuts down on energy bills and utilities during hot or cold months. The abundance of natural lighting also cuts down on energy bills, because you won’t need to turn on your lights quite as much.

You can see now why the open-concept floorplan has become so popular. It’s excellent for brand-new builds, especially for people who enjoy entertaining. You can make your home brighter, livelier, and more spacious by doing away with walls and barriers.

To Build or Buy Used? Buying New is the Better Housing Option

Categories: New Homes | Posted: March 28, 2020

It’s a question you’ve probably asked yourself in your home-buying journey: Is it better to buy an older home and renovate it, or build a new home? Maybe you’ve looked at a few used houses already and saw the costs of updates stacking up. Or maybe you’re concerned about the amount of time it would take to wait for a new build. We looked into it so you wouldn’t have to.

Renovate or Buy New: Cost

The initial price tag on a new home is higher than an older home. But that doesn’t mean the cost savings of that older home will stick with you for long.  By the time you add in all the things you need to change to make that home suite your style and lifestyle needs you may not be saving any money.

Older homes tend to be less energy efficient, so they’ll cost more to heat and cool. And, depending on the state of the older residence, you may be reaching into your pocket to pay for updates sooner than you expect. When we dug into the numbers, we found that buying new makes more financial sense than buying a home that needs serious remodeling. That’s not even taking into account unplanned upgrades or issues. Which leads us to…

Buy New or Used: Repairs, Replacements and Upgrades

Here’s a big pro of buying a newly constructed home: No need for repairs or upgrades for the foreseeable future. That’s because you picked the layout, the flooring, the colors, everything ahead of time. Your bathrooms and kitchen are in pristine condition.

The same can’t be said about older homes. You might need to think about replacing the hot water heater, HVAC system, or roof within the first few years of living there. Or you might need to do some serious renovations early on to fit your family’s needs. If you’re not a lover of home projects – and don’t want to deal with living in a construction site for a chunk of time – then you may want to seriously consider buying a new home.

Buy New or Used: Does Your Home Match Your Lifestyle?

Some renovations are doable, such as replacing your kitchen countertops or even adding a half bathroom. But others aren’t so easy, like adding on bedrooms or expanding a living room. When looking at homes, you need to make sure you pick one that fits your lifestyle. That means a house that can easily support you and your family (no matter the size).

A new home is the clear winner when it comes to finding a match for your lifestyle. You can design the perfect home to fit your family’s needs, whether it’s an expansive kitchen for entertaining, enough bedrooms for everyone in the house, and a backyard big enough for all the activities you love. No compromising needed.

Building a new home is the less expensive long-term option. There should be no hidden costs or unexpected repairs for years after moving in. That means no move-in renovations, no “dealing with it” for a while, and no frustration trying to fit your lifestyle into your older home. We did our research on buying an older home and remodeling it, but honestly, building a new home is the better option to fit your needs, your budget, and your expectations.

Build a New Home & Skip The Heartache of Used Homes Bidding Wars

Categories: New Home Selections | Posted: March 8, 2020

You’ve probably heard people say that the housing market is hot right now, and there is not a lot of existing homes available. Lots of people are looking to buy a home right now and that means it’s a seller’s market. But what does that mean for homebuyers? Unfortunately, it often means competing with other buyers who might be putting down offers far more tempting than yours. We’re talking offers way over the asking price or offering to pay right now, in cash. It’s super hard to compete in a market like this, which just adds to the stress of buying a home.

There is, however, another option. And no, we don’t mean just waiting until the market cools down. We’re talking about buying a newly constructed home. There are so many pros to working with a builder, and that’s why we put this list together! Here are a few of the reasons you should consider building a new home over buying a home.

1. Less Heartbreak, More Celebrating

Imagine this: You find a dream home on the market. It’s got that open front porch you’ve always wanted, more than enough bedrooms, and a fully finished basement. You put an offer in and hold your breath. Before 24 hours are up, the sellers have twenty offers higher than your bid. You’ve lost another home.

Yeah, that sounds pretty devastating. In today’s market, you may go through that heartbreak half a dozen times (or more, if we’re being honest). On the other hand, opting to build a home means there’s no competition. Nobody’s going to swoop in at the last minute with an insane bid and snatch your perfect home away. Instead, you can take your time to plan out a home that fits your family’s needs without the rush.

2. The Design Can Fit YOU (Instead of the Other Way Around)

Buying a home is all about making compromises. The houses with spacious yards might have cramped kitchens or not enough bedrooms. Or they might have too-low ceilings. You get the point. When you buy a used home, you must weigh your wants and find a home that fits as many as possible.

But when you build a new home? The world is basically your oyster. You can choose the layout to include that walk-in closet you’ve always dreamed of, the spacious master bathroom, and the ideal kitchen. You need to be mindful of your budget, but that’s about it. Design your home to fit your family.

3. Avoid Move-In Reno Projects

If you’ve bought a home in the past, you know about the inevitable move-in projects. Right after an exhausting week of packing and moving, you need to start painting or planning to swap out the outdated bathroom tile. With all the unpacking chaos, trips to the hardware store, and late nights, moving can feel like a never-ending blur. It takes a while to finally take a breath and enjoy the new space.

Say goodbye to all of that when you build a home. You will be able to choose all of that from the start: cabinet style, flooring, windows, wall colors, you name it. It’s a lot of work, sure, but it’s exciting to build your home from the ground up. And you’ll have a lot more fun imagining your gorgeous new countertops than if you were embarking on a home improvement project.

4. It’s a Balancing Act

It’s necessary for us to talk about the other side of building a home. Some of the common arguments against buying brand new are cost and time. First of all, it’s usually less expensive to build a house than to buy it in the long run, so let’s dispense that myth right now.

Second of all, yes. It takes longer to build a home than buying one. But the benefits of building a house from scratch designed to fit your family – and budget – is often enough to offset that time.

When the housing market is hot, like it is right now, don’t spend time and energy bidding against dozens of people. Instead, consider building your home. No competition, no surprises, no compromises. Just a brand-new dream home for you and your family.

4 Easy Tips to Evaluate What You Really Want in a Home

Categories: Home Design Trends | Posted: February 28, 2020

Love at first sight is every homeowner-to-be’s dream. You find a house for sale and love everything about it, from the age of the home to the color of the roof right down to the white picket fence. While you’ll definitely find a home you and your family fall in love with, expecting every single thing to be perfect is a bit, well, unrealistic. Especially if you’re not entirely sure what it is you’re looking for.

To help you figure out what you want in a home (and bring you closer to that falling-in-love feeling), we put together these four tips.

  1. What Does Your Heart Desire?

It might sound corny, but the best place to start is with the question: What is in your dream home? Maybe it’s perfect-sized bedrooms, a southern-facing picture window, a spacious lush backyard… Or perhaps it’s a high-rise apartment in the city within walking distance to restaurants and museums.

But there’s a difference between what you want in a home and what you absolutely need. Be honest with yourself about what you genuinely cannot live without. You might also want to give yourself a reality check now and consider your budget. How much home can you afford? And where can you afford it?

Now that you’ve got that in mind…

  1.     Start Assigning Items as Wants or Needs

Look at the list you created for your dream home and work backward from there. Start categorizing each item on that list as a want or a need. There’s no need to bump off wants now, but it’s helpful to keep those in mind as you start looking at homes.

With this exercise, it’s helpful to consider what you’re willing to pay more for (such as a shorter commute or better school district) and what you could live without (like a three-car garage or a vaulted ceiling). Remember that there’s a lot you can change about a home (like landscaping, carpet colors, or even a deck). Make sure you and your partner or family are on the same page with this list to cut down on house-hunting bickering.

  1. What Could Help You Out in the Future?

We get it. You’re looking to move into your new dream home, and you can’t imagine ever doing this again. But the truth is, you’re probably going to move again at some point. So, it’s a good idea to also consider what “value items” are on your list. These items are features that add value to the property for future buyers. Work with your real estate agent to figure out which of the items on your list are high-value items that may come in handy when you’re looking to sell in the future, like hardwood floors or beautiful landscaping.

  1. Narrow Down Your Home Search (For Your Own Sanity!)

Many prospective buyers start out full of energy and excitement – you could look at three dozen homes in one weekend! You’re ready! But you’re not likely to find your dream home right away. It’s easy to get worn down after you’ve spent weekend after weekend looking at houses.

To cut down on this fatigue from the start, take that list of wants and needs, and apply it to your search. Don’t tour every available home in a 5-mile radius of your dream neighborhood; spend some time narrowing down your list. You’ll be happier with the results and will keep your stamina up throughout the entire process. You also might start to narrow down that list, or even alter it all together, after you’ve seen a few homes and realize that an open floor plan is more important than a three-season porch.

Finding your dream home isn’t always easy, but it’s within reach. These four tips will help you narrow down the search and evaluate what you’re really looking for in a home.

5 Ways to Make Your Home Safe for Kids

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: February 11, 2020

Accidents happen. Any parent with a young kid knows this – whether it’s bumps and bruises or scrapes and burns. It’s hard to think about anything worse happening beyond a bloody nose or skinned knee, but it’s essential to take the time to make sure your home is safe for children to avoid a more significant injury.

Here are five ways you can ensure your children’s safety in the home:

  1. Watch out for drowning hazards.

You would be surprised at how little water it takes to cause a big problem for small children. Never leave buckets of water around, especially outside. Even dry buckets can fill with rainwater, and sturdier ones won’t tip over if a child climbs inside. Make sure pools, or hot tubs are also fenced off with a locked gate.

  1. Fire safety is a top priority.

When was the last time you checked your smoke detectors? Do you have fire extinguishers in your home? Do you have a quick escape route upstairs in case of fire? Make sure every room in your home is prepared for a fire, whether it’s safety ladders to climb out of second-story windows or a kitchen fire extinguisher. Also, keep flammable materials away from small prying hands, including lighters, matches, stovetop burners, and hot appliances.

  1. Avoid falls with gates and guards.

Falls are one of the biggest causes of ER visits for young children. Make sure you have sturdy safety gates installed at the top and bottom of every set of stairs in your home. Even a few stairs could injure a young child. Check the latches regularly to make sure they are steady. Additionally, make sure you have window guards protecting children against falls – remember, screens aren’t meant to hold weight and won’t protect against a fall. Any window above the first floor should have window guards.

  1. Keep chemicals, cleaners, and medicines behind locked doors.

Any parent will tell you – kids will eat just about anything they can find. Keep all cleaning supplies, cleaners, chemicals, and medicines behind locked cabinets or drawers. Don’t rely on tall shelves to help you out here; children can climb or knock things off high places easier than you’d think. To safeguard against a medicine getting into their hands, make sure to buy ones with child-resistant caps.

  1. Avoid electric shock or choking hazards by managing your cables.

Keep electric cords and power sockets away from your kids, especially toddlers who are curious about different colors or objects. To avoid electrocution, install safety switches (with the help of a professional) that cut off power and use socket covers for unused outlets. You’ll also want to consider how you manage cables. Are they tangled up and running amok? Bundle them up with cable organizers to keep them neat, tidy, and out of the way of small children.

There are many ways to protect your children from hazards in the home. Besides following these five safety tips, keep your young child within sight whenever possible. You may not realize you have a bottle of aspirin sitting out, or a bucket of water that filled up during a storm in your yard. But, with a few precautions and a bit of prep work, you can rest assured in the safety of your home and your children.

Weather Any Storm in Your New Home by Taking These Precautions

Categories: Home maintenance tips | Posted: January 30, 2020

For every perfect 70-degree day, there are dozens of ones filled with brutal wind chills, torrential downpours, severe thunderstorms, and high winds. And your new home is going to have to brave them all. But don’t worry – by taking just a few precautions (and channeling your inner handiness), you can protect your home against nearly any type of inclement weather.

Does Your Insurance Cover That?

Before diving into any DIY projects (we’ll get to that), check to see what your home insurance policy covers. If you’re a super-new homeowner, you probably purchased this policy recently, so there shouldn’t be any surprises. Make sure your new home is covered for losses resulting from natural disasters – you may need to purchase flooding, earthquake, or tornado policies separately.

Keep Your Gutters Clear!

It’s not just a chore you put off until the last minute. When you realize how much damage water can do, you’ll be out cleaning your gutters every weekend. Gutters keep water flowing away from your home and its foundation, so don’t let those downspouts get clogged with leaves or debris.

Bring Home Good Grades.

If you recently bought a newly built home, your lot’s grading may not be an issue. But it’s crucial to ensure water can flow away from your home. One way to do this is to keep your gutters clean. Another way to do this is to make sure the grade of your lot keeps water moving away from your home and into somewhere its meant to be, like a ditch or storm drain.

Don’t Be a Chump – Get a Sump Pump.

Do you have a sump pump? If not, now’s the time to get one in working order. Basement flooding can cause a ton of extensive damage in just a short amount of time, so it’s best to take any preventative measure possible to avoid it. We might even suggest having a backup sump pump just in case.

Groom Your Trees.

Wind can do a lot more than knock off a few shingles. During high winds, heavy tree limbs can snap and cause severe damage to your home, your car, and your neighbor’s property. Don’t wait until a storm hits to realize your trees have a problem – regularly trim your trees (hiring a professional is the way to go) can help protect your property.

Have a Plan and Communicate It Often

When bad weather hits, have a plan in place to protect yourself and your family. Make sure everybody in your house knows where to go during a severe thunderstorm, tornado, or (in some cases) an earthquake. Pick a safe place to hunker down and wait out the storm away from windows, glass, and anything that could hurt you.

There are many ways you can protect your home from inclement weather. Don’t consider any of this a one-and-done type of action, either. Make sure you regularly inspect your home for water damage, leaking windows or doors, or problem trees. And remember: Your home is replaceable, but the people who live in it are not. Keep your house safe, and your family even safer.

The U.S. Housing Market is Picking Up Steam as the New Year Unfolds

Categories: Real Estate News | Posted: January 15, 2020

It seems like 2020 could be a big year for home builders. The U.S. market closed out the last month of 2019 with the highest level of new housing projects since 2006. The surge of home starts was even higher than what economists had predicted – by a decent margin. Economists point to the stable job market and low mortgage rates among the factors contributing to this growth. As we head into the new year, buyers and builders alike are optimistic as the market gains momentum.

How Much Growth, and What Does That Mean?

So, the last month of 2019 saw the highest rate of home groundbreakings in 13 years. How much is it actually growing? According to Bloomberg economists:

  • Single-family homebuilding has risen 11.2%
  • Residential home groundbreakings rose 16.9% (the biggest in three years)
  • Homebuilding permits rose to 3.9% at the end of 2019

The rise of single-family housing is particularly important because this segment has the largest share of the housing market. An 11.2% increase is higher than the U.S. has seen since 2007! And what does all this mean? More homes (often entry-level or “starter” homes) are coming to the market, bringing in new homebuyers and possibly converting renters.

Good News: Rates Are Likely Staying Low

Of course, mortgage rates and housing prices play a critical factor in the market’s growth. When mortgage payments stay affordable, more people can afford to buy a home. There’s good news on that front for 2020: Keeping in line with 2019’s low rates, 2020 is expected to see 30-year fixed mortgage rates around the 3.8% mark. This could lead to more renters making the leap to buying a home.

What’s Ahead

Optimism is growing along with the housing market, which is rising alongside a stable job market and low mortgage rates. Groundbreakings have surged at the start of this new year, prospective homebuyers and renters are taking advantage of the low mortgage rates, and the market is looking good. If you’re looking to buy a new home in 2020, keep an eye on rates and new developments in the coming months.

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