& BACK AGAIN: The relationship of interior & exterior space
is of utmost importance! Use porches, decks, patios & gardens in that order
as transitions from interior to exterior. The qualities of these elements
contribute enormously to the quality of the interior space.
PORCHES: There is a wonderful sense of nostalgia & sanctuary
about them. It is the key transitional space. Enjoy a summer evening and unwind
after a busy day - there is no other place like it. A good number of Home
Concepts' house designs include these havens. If your budget can't include a
screened porch now, most of the designs would allow for it as a future
QUALITY: Your home is your refuge - build in quality &
enjoy it! Size & volume on their own DO NOT add
quality. You can afford quality by eliminating unessential space. Consider your
space requirements carefully. 150 square feet of saved space purchases a
significant amount of quality.
SUNROOMS: In older & darker homes, sunrooms make great
additions, but in a new well planned house designs there should already be a
sunny nook or two to enjoy. Look for a design that works on your building site.
With the proper design & orientation, the cost of a sunroom can be
BASEMENT: A dirty word, associated with dampness &
darkness. Substitute the word LOWER LEVEL and you
have quality space. If you live in a part of the world where basements - lower
levels - are a necessary part of building, this is the SINGLE
BEST PLACE TO CONTROL COST. I can not emphasize this enough. Many of
Home Concepts' house designs feature lower levels with lots of natural light.
Properly built, a lower level is as comfortable as upper levels. Need a three
bedroom house design? Put two in the lower level & eliminate some size. Pay
for quality! With thoughtful design, this works well even for a family with
young children. Remember, they don't stay young for long.
To see what I mean, visit
GARAGES: Consider a lower level garage. This is the
another effective cost control. Even on a level building site this can work
well. Use some thoughtful grading & a pair of retaining walls to flank the
garage entry. This actually enhances landscaping possibilities on a level site
and contributes to that elusive quality of space.
To see how well this works,
HOUSES: If you have a large enough building site & budget, a
carriage house can add quality of space. Properly sited, it can be used in
combination with the home to provide a sunny, sheltered courtyard. A carriage
house (garage-apartment) ia a great place for the home office, guests or the
returning prodigal son. With a limited budget, you might consider building the
carriage house first followed by the home proper in a few years.
illustrates this approach.
OFFICE: With today's uncertain market conditions, planning
for a home office space is a good hedge against job loss. The office space
should be readily accessible to clients without imposing on the rest of the
home. Wire now for small office equipment, computers & communications. If
the office space is not required at present, it can be used as a den, crafts
room or guest bedroom. Many of our designs take the home office into
consideration. A room on the lower level can be particularly well suited.
as an example.
COSTS: Heating & cooling costs will continue to rise - that's a
given. Use windows with features like double or triple glazing, low 'E' glass,
argon gas fill & warm edge spacers. Consider insulation details that exceed
local minimum requirements. The additional initial cost can be recovered from
energy savings in 4-5 years. After that, the savings are in your pocket.
For more on windows &
see our page.
AUTOMATION: What is it? Well, it's pretty much anything you want it
to be. And that's where it can get confusing. Consider communications, alarm,
video & sound systems well in advance of building - don't make it an after
thought. Unless you are an avid do-it-yourselfer, get some professional
guidance - there is a lot to know. At the very least, you should run structured
cabling or wiring during construction so that it is available for future use.
Use the web to do some research here.
LIGHTING: Proper interior & exterior lighting should
be planned well in advance of building. The control of lighting can't be
overlooked either. Pot lights with dimmers are great for general interior
lighting & with the proper selection of the type of light bulb can be
effective for task lighting. Used in the soffits on the exterior of the home,
they will give a very effective "wall wash". A pot light fixture is relatively
inexpensive compared to a good quality wall or ceiling fixture, but you will
need more of them to do the job. Again, some professional guidance may be a
LANDSCAPING: A home's surroundings are a vital part of
that quality of space. On a wooded lot you may not have to invest much money.
On a clear lot it's a good idea to budget a minimum of 10% of land & house
costs for professional landscaping. That can be a considerable amount of money
& after building a home can strain even a healthy budget. Of course
landscaping can be done over time and you can also undertake most of it
yourself. If you choose this route, it may be a good idea to at least get a
professional design. It will save you money in the long run. You have a plan to
work from & it will probably prevent you from having to move plants 3 or 4
years down the road because they were in the wrong spot. I speak from