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3rd Jun, 2015
Articles, Blog

We all grew up with wonder and intrigue, about what we’d find in the future. Would we find ourselves in 25 or 30 years with a household similar to what we watched growing up watching the Jetsons? Now that we’re here, things look a little different than we had anticipated, however, there are some amazing technology advances for the home that can make us feel a little closer to that futuristic daydream. The best part of it is that integrating a little smart technology in your home is probably more affordable than you might have thought, and may even save you a few dollars.

Home Technology

Smart Thermostat

These days, every major brand in the heating/cooling industry has a “smart thermostat” option in their product lineup. A WiFi-enabled smart thermostat allows for remote control of your home’s heating and cooling system via a central thermostat that replaces your current thermostat. After configuring the thermostat to your home wireless network (don’t worry at all…the thermostat will do all of the network configuration work on its own upon initial startup), a smart thermostat allows you to control it with just about any device such as a phone, tablet, or laptop from the comfort of your nearby couch or even from a far corner of the world. In addition to adding convenience and technology to your home, a smart thermostat will save you money over the long term because it enables a more precise and thorough regulation of your home’s temperature; you’re almost assured to lower your heating and cooling bill via increased control.

Power Adapters

According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), our electronic gadgets account for 13% of a homes energy use from charging and powering up. That adds up over a period of time. Cut down on engery use with an AC/DC power adapter which will give your devices the exact amount of power necessary and will then shut off when the need has been met.

Smart Appliances

From keeping track of your diet to ensuring your washer is as eco-friendly as possible, it's amazing what appliances are able to do these days. For instance, a smart washing machine can even self diagnose and troubleshoot an operating issue which can cut down on sometimes hard to schedule service calls to an appliance technician. Appliances can now be programmed to reserve certain energy draining cycles to off-peak usage times when power is less expensive. 

WiFi-Enabled LED Light bulbs

Aside from the novelty factor of controlling your home lighting from any device anywhere in the world, integrating these fun little gadgets into your home is going to provide cost savings relative to conventional, but now obsolete, light bulbs. LED lights are more energy efficient, last far longer, and provide energy savings year round. Of course, if you compare the price of standard LED light bulbs with WiFi-enabled LED bulbs, you’ll see that you’re not actually paying a significant amount for the WiFi feature.

Similar to the smart thermostats, WiFi-enabled LED light bulbs are very simple to automatically integrate with your home network, requiring essentially no technological savvy. In addition to controlling any of your home’s lights from a singular device, you can also track which lights are on or off in your home at any given time. This means your electricity bill is likely to go down in response to your newly increased control. Similarly, when you are out and about and realize that you left a light on (or maybe failed to leave a light on that you promised the house sitter would be on), you can easily take control of your home’s lighting system from your phone or other device. For a little extra money, too, you can even integrate WiFi-enabled LED bulbs that produce any color in the spectrum and even allow full customization of colors (do you want the room’s lighting to complement the colors in your art or other décor?).

These are few relatively inexpensive options to increase the technology in your home that don't necessarily break the bank and in the long term could save you money. We may not be driving a flying car or be served meals by a robot, but our current times has us holding computers in the palm of our hands controling many facets of our homes in which we live.

1st Jun, 2015
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Craftsman House Plan, Bungalow Home Plan, Holshire 30-635, Featured Plan of the Week

Gridded window uppers, tapered columns, and ornamental gable supports give a Craftsman look to this two-story bungalow house design. The Holshire is 41 feet wide, and fits well on a narrow building lot.

The covered porch is open, inviting, and can accommodate a porch swing should you desire. Inside, light spills into the foyer through sidelights and a row of small panes above the door.

Enter the foyer and a stairway is on the left side, and double doors on the right open into a den. If you work from home, this room a great location for a home office, allowing clients to enter the business area without exposure to the rest of the home.

Walk straight down the entry hallway, you pass a coat closet and powder room, then enter into the vaulted living room. This room has a wide window at the rear, and entirely open on the left to the dining room, which, in turn, is open to the kitchen.

Glass doors in the dining room slide open and provide access to a partially covered patio. A flush eating bar rims one side of the peninsular counter that provides a bit of separation between the kitchen and dining room. Cupboards and counters line around four sides of the kitchen, including a pantry tucked in an alcove next to the refrigerator.

The utility room is nearby and is a pass-through room that connects to the two-car garage.

The owners' suite is the only bedroom on the main floor, and well-isolated from secondary bedrooms on the upper level. Features include a roomy walk-in closet, large shower, and dual lavatory.

29th May, 2015
Blog, New Home Plans

Traditional House Plan, Ranch Home Plan, Allenstown 30-983

Painted wooden shutters give a traditional look to the new Allentown house plan. Columns and the gables add to the nostalgic front exterior.

The recessed porch opens into foyer that leads to a bright and spacious great room. As you step into this room, you can see out a wide expanse of windows to the covered patio and yard. A gas fireplace nestles into a corner by the rear windows.

The great room is completely open to the kitchen and dining room on the left. An island with a sink and dishwasher help provide partial separation. The eating bar on one side is great for chatting with people working in the kitchen. A step-in pantry is in the hall that leads to the utility room and two-car garage.

The den, off the dining room, could be used as a home office, craft/sewing room, or whatever suits. Bedrooms are down a short hallway on the right side of the foyer.

27th May, 2015
Articles, Blog

Over the period of the last decade or so, we have become increasingly aware of personal health and wellness. That awareness hasn't stopped with just ourselves and our family, but has expanded to our beloved pets and of course our homes. 

Home Wellness

Improving the health of our home can contribute to our own wellness. If home is where the heart is, it’s also where the health and wellness are. Identifying a few of the factors that can add to your home's wellness is a great step in ensuring our own level of wellness within the home.

Clearing the Air

Your home’s air quality affects your wellness directly; that’s the air you breathe every day! There are a number variables that can affect your home's air quality.

First off, change the filters on your heating system often, this will prevent the build up of irritants that recycle through the home. Consider removing shoes upon entering the home not only will it help keep your floors and carpets cleaner, but will prevent the spread of germs, chemicals, etc., that may be on the soles of shoes. Also the addition of floor mats on both the interior and outside your door will also cut down on what gets tracked in.

Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter will reduce pollen indoors, and will also cut down on dust mites that are often a common allergen. Using a microfiber dust cloth will partner well with the vacuum to collect those unwanted irritants. 

A way to reduce mold and mildew in the home is by using the bathroom ceiling fan for at least 20 minutes after every shower to reduce the moisture in the air. Keeping the homes humidity level below 50% will help prevent mold, mildew and musty odors.

Mental Wellness

Coming home from a long day of errands with your hands full of groceries, the mail, and whatever it's easy to just leave things to deal with later while placing your cell phone on the counter to charge, and throwing your jacket over the back of the chair. Sitting down, you look around and realize that it's truly hard to relax with everything staring back at you that needs attended too. Eliminating clutter that most of us are guilty of collecting would go a long way help mental wellbeing. Consider installing a hidden electronic charging station, or a hall tree or nice decorative wall hook system to hang jackets are just a couple of simple steps to take to reduce the visual clutter that will enable you to see those items you appreciate and make you feel better such as the art on the walls.

Food & Water

Add a filter to your tap and if you have a water dispensing refrigerator, changing the filter often will aid in removing chlorine and sediments from the water you use to drink and to cook. Also, eliminating the plastic containers that contain BPA (Bisphenol A) which can leach into your food and drink and has been linked to increase cancer risk.

The suggestions above is just the tip of the ice berg. Many resources are available to help increase the wellness of our homes. There are a number of products and companies that focus on measuring and aiding the environmental factors within our walls. A simple Google search around ‘home automation wellness systems’ will return no shortage of systems and solutions available to consumers.



27th May, 2015
Articles, Blog

The current decade has seen the growing trend of homeowners creating elaborate master bathroom oases in their custom homes. They are incorporating high end materials such granite counter tops, rain showers, towel warmers and double sinks. Residential design services company Associated Designs, who provides house plan designs to people across the country, has seen an increase to the amount of amenities people are willing to place into their master bathrooms. One such amenity that is on the rise as a must-have item for this room is the freestanding tub.

Freestanding Tubs, Master Suite, Brookhill 30-963

Freestanding tubs were a popular furnishing in the 19th century, as these tubs were considered a luxury that was durable yet high maintenance. During that time, cast iron tubs covered with porcelain and supported by claw feet were the norm as these heavy soaking tubs could be used as a standalone feature or also be equipped with shower fixtures. As the decades passed, people looked for bathtubs that were easier to maintain and cheaper for their budgets. Built-in, or drop-in, tubs became popular as they were space savers that could fit into smaller homes and apartment buildings. Built-in tubs had surrounds on the outside surface and sides that could be covered with tiles, granite, stone or laminates. These tubs could come in many different designs that complemented the decor element of the room, were not as heavy as freestanding tubs, required less maintenance, could be paired with shower fixtures and came in a wide range of prices that could fit into different budgets.

Yet for newer homes where people are looking for a place just to sit and soak in elegance and quiet, nothing beats the old soaking tubs. Freestanding tubs are making a comeback due to newer technologies and designs that make it more appealing than the regular built-in tubs. They now come in more modern designs with wide bases and shapes. What continues to make these tubs ideal is that they can sit anywhere in the bathroom and not be confined against the wall like a built-in version. For homes that have unique architectural aspects, freestanding tubs offer more options on where they can be placed, as they allow the homeowner to optimize their wall space with storage solutions as well as a separate shower unit, if desired.

Associated Designs has been working with homeowners seeking to have the finer luxuries in every part of their home, including the master bathroom. With their expert design staff, they can modify plans so that the master bathroom can become the spa that so many people desire after a hard day's work or hectic lifestyle. One of the many changes is to modify the room to offer the best amount of space that can incorporate freestanding tubs while still allowing a good flow to the room.

Freestanding tubs come in many different materials and finishes now, although people still love the nostalgic look of the old cast-iron tubs with the claw feet. There is now wood, enamel and copper for people who want something with a more contemporary feel to it. Each type of material and finish will have its own price tag, benefits and disadvantages as homeowners are encouraged to price shop for the best deals. While cast iron has been the go-to type of freestanding tub for heat retention, it can be heavy for the floor that it will be placed on while fiberglass is a cheaper alternative and comes in many styles but can easily scratch and crack.

With today’s technology, homeowners don't have to be stuck with the same style of tub if their decor preferences change. In the past many people strayed away from freestanding tubs and instead purchased built-ins because it was easier to change the surround of the built-in when switching to a different design style. A common misconception was to change the look of a freestanding tub you would have to buy a completely new tub. Yet current technologies have advanced so all a homeowner needs to do is hire a professional to refinish their tub with a coating of acrylic urethane resin.

Getting a freestanding tub isn't reserved for the rich and famous anymore. When it comes to designing a new home or renovating an existing one, freestanding tubs have become the right choice for a master bathroom where a homeowner desires to have a spa-like oasis where they can relax and unwind. These soaking tubs bring a host of benefits that can't be ignored. With the expert staff from Associated Designs, people can picture how the room will look from the blueprint stage, through modifying the plans to the construction of their home so that it fully uses the space that is available. The freestanding tub fits perfectly in the room design to make the homeowner excited to have a bit of peace and tranquility when relaxing in the warm waters.

As seen on Newswire

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

Featured House Plan of the Week, Cottage Home Plan, Lyndon 30-769

Go through any older section of town in any city and you’ll most likely see cozy cottages that look a lot like the Lyndon. Houses built in the early 1900s had fewer windows, and the interiors lacked the sense of openness contemporary families of today have come to appreciate.

The Lyndon combines a nostalgic exterior with a bright and open interior. The compact size is nice for small families, empty nesters, and those seeking to minimize their carbon footprint. The railed porch that spans across front facade is ideal for relaxing, reading, and enjoying the view. The recessed deck on the upper level offers more privacy.

The main entrance opens off of a deck that runs along the left side. The deck offers direct access to both the front porch and an utility room near the rear. 

An L-shaped kitchen is in one corner of the great room. A raised eating bar bounds this space. Perched on stools, family and friends can chat with the cook or get help with finishing homework before dinner.

Tall, slender atrium doors and windows brighten the eating nook that nestles into the front corner, right next to an identical set that also faces the street. More light flows into the great room through two similar windows along the right exterior wall. The stairway at the rear of the room leads to a deep unfinished bonus room with wide windows at both ends.

Two bedrooms and two bathrooms fill out the rear of the home.

22nd May, 2015
Blog, New Home Plans

Garage Plan, 2 Story Garage, 2 Car Garage, Garage with Carport, Garage with Shop

New country-style Garage 20-154 can hold two cars. Both garage doors are 9' wide and 8' tall. The back of the garage features a generous sized shop with wood stove and utility sink. The shop is open to a hall that leads past a full bathroom and to a set of stairs that lead to the unfinished storage space. The second floor can be left unfinished as a storage area with easy access or finished to accommodate your needs.

19th May, 2015
Articles, Blog

One of the best parts of the summer season is the long, warm days during which you can enjoy your beautiful outdoor living spaces. It seems only a decade or so ago we emerged only for barbecues and special occasions, we now find ourselves outside for common meals with or without company. We have fallen in love with a light summer meal 'al fresco' style. 

Al Fresco Dining


You’ve spent time and money to cultivate your outdoor living space to discover that you truly love relaxing and dining there. As the summer season begins to wind down each year as the days get a little shorter and the evenings a little cooler, sadly the end of the 'al fresco' season draws closer. Don’t cheat yourself of the opportunity to take full advantage of your time there by retreating inside before you need to. Instead, consider adding a warm, comfortable outdoor fire pit or fireplace and enjoy more of your time in the place you’d rather be.

An inexpensive and simple option to keep you comfortable, cozy and warm as is to purchase a portable metal fire pit, available at most home improvement stores for around $200. If your outdoor area is on the smaller side, this is a great option as you can remove it when needed to create more room for daytime entertaining.

Slightly more involved, the in-ground fire pit is another option. Whether you choose a basic DIY project or hire a contractor to design and build something more intricate, an in-ground fire pit can be as big or small as your budget and ambition allow.

Above-ground fireplaces, often integrated as part of larger outdoor living spaces, provide great evening warmth and comfort but also allow for a traditional chimney to vent the smoke away from everyone there to enjoy the outdoors. As with in-ground fire pits, above-ground fireplaces can become as detailed and expensive as you choose, ranging from simple, folksy designs to elaborate stone work of significant height. Some outdoor fireplaces integrate pizza, or bread ovens into the construction, adding a new dynamic to entertaining guests.

The sky is the limit. Whether keeping it as simple as a portable fire pit or going bigger by adding something more elaborate to your 'al fresco' spaces will integrate some warmth into the cool evenings that will be upon you before you’re ready.


18th May, 2015
Blog, House Plan of the Week

Featured House Plan of the Week, Ranch House Plan, House Plan with detached guest cottage

The ranch-style house design, the Kingsley is actually two houses in one. A covered walkway connects the house to a small guest cottage at the back.

The guest cottage is ideal for older children, ready for a little independence, or aging parents who enjoy their privacy but also appreciate having someone close by.

Inside the main house, the kitchen is skylit. Standing at the sink, you have a view of both living spaces. You can even enjoy watching the flames in the gas fireplace.

One stretch of the kitchen counter serves as an eating and conversation bar. The vaulted ceiling expands the volume of the living room, and in the dining room, French doors along the back open onto a partially covered patio.

Laundry appliances, deep sink, and a roomy pantry are close to the kitchen, housed in a combination utility/mud room that's also accessible from the patio.

There is plenty of storage in the bedroom wing. Three closets nestle into spaces in the hallway, and the owners' suite has two roomy walk-in closets. In the second bedroom a closet fills one whole wall.

The owners' bath is outfitted with a double vanity, shower and private water closet. Space that could also be used to create another bedroom if needed, has been devoted to a private den. Connected to the owners' suite by a hallway, this room could also serve as a small home office or nursery.

15th May, 2015
Blog, New Home Plans

New Barn Design, Barn Plan

Our new barn plan is a one story barn design with a shed roof and plenty of natural light. This barn features 2 horse stalls, hay/feed room, and tack room.

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