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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.

 

As seen on PRUnderground
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.
As seen on PRUnderground
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.”

 

As seen on PRUnderground
29th Jun, 2020
Announcements, Blog

We are here to help you with your plan needs and strive to provide excellent service. 

The health and safety of you and our employees is a priority for us. The following outlines the steps we are currently taking during these times.

Our office location is open by appointment only. Most design consultations can be made over the phone and email. Appointments are reserved for the occasion where an office meeting is necessary and the following protocols will be adhered to:

  • Prior to your arrival for a scheduled meeting, surfaces will be sanitized. 
  • Staff will be wearing masks
  • In effect July 1st, the State of Oregon Governor is mandating the use of face masks inside businesses. As certain areas of our office are difficult to maintain social distancing we will be following the state's mandate and requiring the use of masks while in our office. Masks will be available at our front desk if needed.
  • Efforts will be made to respect social distancing during an in office meeting.
  • Surfaces will be re-sanitized after conclusion of an in office meeting.

During this time, we are striving to fulfill orders as quickly as possible. For print packages, we are unable to guarantee shipping timeframes so if time is of the essence we encourage the purchase of our digital plan packages (Print PDF set, PDF Master, CAD Master, or Master Builder Set) which can be emailed. Digital planpackes reduce contact and can often be emailed the same day the order is received.

2nd Jun, 2020
Articles, Blog

A sloping lot can seem like a hurdle to building the ultimate dream home. But the right home plan can unleash the best of what nature throws one’s way. Owners embracing sloped lots have reaped the unique rewards of these distinguished sites: stunning views, light-filled living spaces and adaptable lower levels that maximize a home’s square footage. With a little creativity, builders can turn even a formidable slope into a bright hillside oasis to call home.

To be able to have a finished, light downstairs with all the advantages of a usable space, it helps keep a smaller footprint upstairs and keep a better cost per square foot,” said Allison McGraw, client services manager for Ahmann Design, Inc. in Hiawatha, Iowa.

Ahmann’s sloped lot contemporary ranch house design #23861, is featured on The House Plan Company, a residential plan marketing company based in Oregon. The design highlights all the luxuries of a home built for its surroundings. A hip roofline creates high, two-story ceilings, a vertical feeling enhanced by the eye-catching circular staircase winding down from the entry to a flexible lower level, with bedrooms, common gathering places and a walkout to the backyard. Rear-facing windows on both levels fill each room with natural light.

Rick McAlexander, owner of Associated Designs in Eugene, Oregon, says each sloping lot poses its own unique challenges. Finding a design to fit a specific sloping lot can be a bigger decision than even choosing a lot. But the rewards are worth it.

“Every lot is different when you’ve got a sloping lot, whether it’s a 15-degree angle, a 25-degree angle or even more dramatic,” McAlexander said. “The effect is different if the slope is away from street or towards the street. And then each sloping lot usually has some opportunities to take advantage of as well.”

Such is the case in McAlexander’s Ridgeview #80878 house plan. The three-story craftsman home situated on a hillside boasts more than 2,500 square feet of living space. An exterior of siding, shingle and stone, with a second-story deck and third-story private balcony off the owners’ suite, evokes a palatial feeling. Living spaces are spread throughout the interior, while an open kitchen and gathering room allows sunlight to stream in through windows on all sides.

“The Ridgeview met the specific challenges of that specific lot,” McAlexander said. ”It had a narrow building envelope, and a thoroughly aggressive grade from the street, so we were trying to create the opportunity to be able to take advantage of the amount of living space they wanted to create in a narrow building envelope. That pushed us vertical, and it worked out well because we had some nice views we were able to capitalize on.”

Once a sloped lot home is complete, owners can find as much comfort in the lowest level as in more traditional gathering spaces above, said Ken Pieper, owner of Ken Pieper Signature Plans in Evergreen, Colorado.

Pieper’s Spring Branch #33877 is a three-story, 4,500-square-foot craftsman with prairie school architecture boasts a warm, inviting front facade. But the rear-sloping lot places some of the design’s most alluring features on the other side of the home: three levels of nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, with a second-level rear patio providing stunning views.

“A rear-sloping lot like that affords you the opportunity to create a lower level – I don’t refer to them as basements, because they have 10-foot ceilings, lots of glass windows. Consequently, they’re just an extension of the main level up above as far as their feeling,” Pieper said.

And with an unfinished lower level design, owners are able to customize their home plan to their needs.

“When you do this, you create an opportunity for the rear of the house to be as attractive as the rest, or in many cases more than any other part of the house,” Pieper added.

 

As seen on PRUnderground

 

27th May, 2020
Announcements, Blog

Introducing our latest collection and plan package option, the Concept Plan. Created for those homeowners or contractors building in areas with unique building practices or building departments with strict submittal requirements; the Concept Plan provides you with the essential design – Exterior Elevations, Floor Plan(s), and Roof Outline. With this information the construction documents can be completed to area specific requirements and conditions.


The Concept Plan Package by Associated Designs provides you with the works. A PDF plus CAD Files (.dwg) provide flexibility for the file format used to create the construction documents. The license provided with the Concept Plan Package will give the purchaser the rights to modify, reproduce, and build the design as many times as they would like.

An economical alternative to a Custom Home Design, a Concept Plan  provides a great starting point for your plans. The time spent crafting the design represents a significant portion of the traditional custom design services and the Concept Plans speed up that initial phase of your project.

Don’t have a local design professional lined up for your project but would like to have the construction documents completed? Associated Designs talented team of designers can help! As an extension of our Modification Services, you can work with our design staff to incorporate any floor plan or elevation changes you would like plus have the construction documents completed to your specifications (such as type of wall framing, foundation, and roof framing).

Take a look at our Collection of Concept Plans here.

 

1st May, 2020
Articles, Blog

Over the past two decades, tastes and preferences in home design have changed drastically in many respects and very little in others. The House Plan Company dug into the archives to find the top five most popular house plan designs since the late 90s and discovered it’s a diverse collection of styles to fit varying purposes. The only common denominators among all of them, they found, was the attention to detail and open living space in the design.

“Each of my designs delivers as much detail on the exterior of the home as they do in the interior,” explained Ken Pieper, owner of Ken Pieper Signature Designs in Evergreen, Colo., whose house plans are featured on The House Plan Company. “One thing I find clients always request in a design, no matter the size of the home, is to make it “live larger” than the square footage suggests. And nearly every house plan I’ve created for homeowners over the past two decades incorporates family-centered open living space,” he added.



The Cub Creek #54439 is a mountain rustic design which illustrates the focus on open living space that lives large. At 890 square feet the open living, dining, and kitchen arrangement and large covered porch allow the cabin plan to live beyond the square footage.

When it comes to exterior detail, the Prairie Wind # 15610 exudes Arts and Craftsman detail. Gable ends with low pitched roof lines plus a mix of natural materials combine to create an exterior that you can’t help but stop and admire. The attention to detail continues through the 5800 square foot open floor plan which emphasizes outdoor living and entertaining.

“Another design trend that has remained consistent is the desire for the separation of sleeping areas. Each of my designs allows the homeowner space around their en suite master retreats for maximum privacy,” elaborated Ken.

The luxury modern house plan, Aurora #57029, showcases both a contemporary open floor plan and private master suite. Completely separated from the main living area by an enclosed bridge walkway, the master suite is a true retreat with lavish en suite and indoor and outdoor sitting areas. The large gourmet kitchen with two large pocket doors allows the exterior covered deck to become an extension of the home for al fresco dining and entertaining.

Two other designs that have stood the test of time are the Sheridan #14350 and Cherokee #87514 home plans.

Each at 1492 square feet, these designs feature comfortable and open floor plans and represent two styles that have outlasted the fads. The Sheridan offers homeowners a rustic cabin feel with an abundance of large log details inside and out. While the Cherokee, reflects the simplified aspects of traditional home design.

“Our five most popular house plans over the past 25 years represent a very diverse collection of design styles and purposes yet share common characteristics such as open living space. From a 3,800 square-foot sprawling estate to a 2,100 square-foot vacation cabin, each home design was created to meet specific needs and lifestyles,” explained Rick McAlexander, Principal Designer at Associated Designs, Inc. in Eugene, Ore.

One such house plan that best illustrates the focus on open living space is the Barnhart #96262, a rambling ranch-style design that enters from a covered front porch into the great room and kitchen and dining area, separated only by a large island for entertaining. The entire indoor living space opens to a covered patio that runs the length of the back of the house for a seamless transition to outdoor living.

Two of the most popular home designs are more classic in style while still retaining open living space. The bungalow-style Tillamook #47690 and ranch-style Manor Heart #80138 feature open living in the great room, kitchen and dining areas, but also offer more formal space that can be used for a variety of other functions such as a den, office or guest suite.

The classic Ottawa #98509 with its soaring ceilings and oversized windows creates the right amount of drama and makes the scenic landscape, whether it be beach, mountains or forest, the main focal point. The design also offers an open floor plan with ample living space for families to spend quality time together.

The uniquely designed Eddinger #24963 completes this collection of time tested plans. A hexagonal-shaped great room anchors the floor plan to allow for expansive views of the building lot and ideal year-round indoor/outdoor living. The great room is flanked by a master suite on one side and guest suite on the other, affording privacy for families and guests. All of the modern amenities fit neatly into a fairly compact 2,100 square-foot floor plan, creating a retreat that is spacious yet cozy.

 

As seen on PRUndergruond

 

7th Apr, 2020
Blog

You’ve recently decided to build your own custom home and can’t wait to get started with the home designer whom you’ve selected. Before you begin, however, there are four essential questions to ask your designer in order to better undertand what you’re getting into and how you’ll work together to design the home of your dreams.

1. Ask About Past Projects

You may already have a specific architectural style in mind, but it’s important to find out if the designer has worked on similar projects in the past. Ask to see their portfolio of home designs to determine if they truly understand your goals for the project and have ability to create a house plan that suits your lifestyle. Find out more about their signature design style and what they love about it. Some designers may have a specific design sensibility but still may be able to adapt to different styles, while others may not. You need to make sure it’s the right fit for you.

“Hiring a designer who can help bring your dream home to life can be an exciting adventure, but it’s important that you do all of your due diligence before beginning the design process. Schedule interviews with prospective designers, narrow down your selection to two or three, interview them again and be sure to check their references,” explained Rick McAlexander, Prinicipal Designer at Associated Designs, Inc., a home design company based in Eugene, Ore.

2. Seek Out Their Approach

Similar to learning more about their design aesthetic is getting a sense of how they approach a project. Do they have a thorough understanding of your vision that they can articulate back to you? Can you discern their attention to detail in past projects? Have they been able to stay on time and budget with similar projects? Will they be able to recommend several contractors they’ve worked with who can then bring your home design to life? These types of questions are paramount to ensuring you get exactly what you want in a new custom home.

3. Inquire About the Design Process

Perhaps the most important question is asking your designer to explain the design process. You want to make sure they have an organized, step-by-step plan and timeline laid out clearly and concisely. Make sure they are clear about who will be working directly with you each step of the process. Determine how you will communicate with one another, especially as potential issues may arise along the way. Ask them to establish milestones so that you can track the progress and feel empowered and informed to step in as needed.

“Ask open-ended questions about both their approach and the design process so you feel confident they’re on the exact same page about what you want in your home and can deliver it,” said McAlexander. “Make sure they can see the big picture as well as all of the tiny details.”

4. Understand Their Fee Structure

To avoid any potential misunderstandings or surprises about “hidden costs” that could derail your entire project, make sure your designer expressly outlines the fee structure along with what services are included in the total cost and how you will be billed. Ask up front about additional costs associated with project scope changes throughout the process. Get everything clearly laid out in writing so that you can carefully manage the budget to design and build you custom home.

By asking questions in these four important areas and having everything well documented, you’re taking the right steps to guarantee a much smoother, exciting journey towards building your dream home.

 

As Seen on PRUnderground
6th Apr, 2020
Announcements, Blog

As the situation around COVID-19 rapidly evolves, we wanted to take a moment to connect with you and let you know we are taking steps to keep our employees and clients healthy and safe.

First and foremost, we are still open and here to serve you!

We will continue to strive to provide excellent service, however we ask for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times. Keeping our employees healthy is a priority for us and we put measures in place there may be delays in responses for Information on a plan or order fulfillment. Rest assured we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

At this time, we cannot guarantee shipping timeframes on print orders. If your project is running a tight timeframe we would encourage you to purchase a digital plan package such a as a Print PDF Set or PDF Master.

With recent orders from our State's Governor we are no longer allowing walk-in traffic. If you need to stop by our office, please call us to arrange an appointment. At this time we are highly recommending phone conferences and email to review existing or new projects.

 

3rd Mar, 2020
Articles, Blog

These days, homeowners looking to build their forever home are thinking about more than what they need to live comfortably in the moment. They’re prioritizing home design requirements well into the future after the kids are grown and they enter retirement, or they’re planning for the possibility of taking care of elderly parents. Associated Designs shares insights about new trends in aging in place house plans and what homeowners need to consider when building a home for the future.

“Aging in place as a design element in house plans is now part of nearly every new home design consultation with our clients,” explained Rick McAlexander, President of Associated Designs, Inc., a based in Eugene, Ore. “The level of interest for aging in place design features has gone way beyond wider doors and hallways. Homeowners are requesting everything from grab bars in bathrooms, flush entry showers, elevators and low-profile front porches,” he explained.

The Alderwood #31-049 single-level, modern prairie house plan exemplifies an aging in place design. The three-bedroom home easily accommodates a family over time with a separate owner’s suite, a great room opening to the dining area and a large airy kitchen, a flex room for use as an office, and a mud room accessed from the garage. A short, wide hallway leads to the owner’s suite, which features a master bath with a large, walk-in shower and dual vanities, a walk-in closet, and sliding doors to a covered patio.

McAlexander explains the factors that need to be considered when designing a house plan that suits homeowners needs today as well as into the future, whether it’s for their own retirement or to accommodate aging parents.

“Aging in place design considerations pretty much follow the guidelines laid out by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 for accessibility. A good starting point from a design perspective is to focus on mobility. Will I be able to climb stairs? Is the space large enough to easily accommodate a wheelchair or walker? Or, can my elderly parents visit and comfortably navigate the space? The answers to these questions will help guide both the exterior and interior design of a new home,” he said.

Following are additional considerations that McAlexander counsels his clients to take into account with aging in place home designs:

  • Entrances to the home that do not require steps, whether that means a low-profile front porch, garage entry or access to a back patio.
  • Wider doors and short hallways throughout the home and easy flow from one living space to the next.
  • Flush entry showers with grab bars, a permanent seat and an adjustable showerhead with a hand wand, as well as sinks and toilets at accessible heights.
  • Kitchen counters and islands at wheelchair accessible heights and meal prep areas suitable for sitting rather than standing for long periods.
  • Appliances such as wall ovens and side-by-side washers and dryers with doors that open to the side rather than folding down.
  • Motion-activated lights, rocker panel light switches and lighted switch cover plates and outlets, all installed at a lower level.
  • Door lever-type handles versus traditional knobs.
  • Smart technology for front door locks, thermostats and lighting that can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet.
  • Smooth, level flooring such as hardwood, cork or linoleum.

Many of these features can be found in designs like Associated Designs modern farmhouse, Whiskey Creek #31-143 house plan. This one-story home features a low-profile front porch that enters into a spacious foyer. Two bedrooms connected by a bathroom are located off the right of the foyer, offering separation from the owner’s suite which is situated at the back of the house. A spacious kitchen with a large island for meal prep and entertaining opens to the great room and soaring, 11-foot ceilings. The owner’s suite offers a convenient pass-through in the walk-in closet to linen shelves and the utility room. Both the owner’s suite and great room open onto a roomy covered patio.

“While all of these features may be attractive, homeowners should weigh the importance of aging in place before starting the design process,” McAlexander said. “Other factors such as building lot selection and design style preferences play an important role in the practicality of incorporating aging in place features into a new home.”

As seen on PRUnderground
5th Feb, 2020
Articles, Blog

One of the most intimidating yet exciting endeavors to undertake as a homeowner is building a new home from the ground up. Yet it doesn’t have to be such an overwhelming process when guided through the various steps and stages by a designer and general contractor, and the benefits far outweigh the concerns.

“The most common reason why someone opts to build a home rather than buy one is that they can’t find an existing home that meets their needs. Custom construction allows a homeowner to create a home that meets their specific needs and taste, while also planning for the future whether that means enough space for a family to grow or empty nesters to age in place,” explained Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company, a house plan marketing company based in Eugene, Ore.

Location, Location, Location

One of the biggest benefits of building a new home over buying an existing one is location. As a homeowner, you get to choose where it’s located.

“It’s really the first big advantage of building over buying,” explained Ken Pieper, owner of Ken Pieper & Associates in Evergreen, Colo. “Choosing the place to build is as much a custom feature as selecting paint colors and fixtures. Whereas when buying an existing home, you’re confined to the house that is already built on the property whether you like all of it and the surrounding neighborhood, or not.”

Today’s trends in home designs are all about simplicity and house plans are created to fit any type and size of building lot from narrow to sloped and to take advantage of a specific view.

That New House Smell

In all seriousness, there’s nothing quite like that “new house smell” says McAlexander. “It comes with with the knowledge that you’ve selected all of the finishes and fixtures to meet your exact taste, from floor coverings to paint colors to plumbing fixtures and appliances.”

While remodeling an existing home is not necessarily a bad thing, it can often mean a lot of disruption to daily family life or even moving out of the house altogether and living in temporary quarters.

McAlexander says that it’s ultimately about building your dream home. Selecting a house plan that meets your needs, tastes and size of the lot is much easier than spending hours upon hours touring homes for sale in what can often be a competitive real estate market.

Pieper agrees and added, “Designing a new home from scratch offers a much more personal, individualized experience for living in the space as opposed to occupying a house that reflects someone else’s design thoughts.”

All the Bells and Whistles

Homeowners today also like to take advantage of the hottest trends in home design, such as open floor plans, spacious kitchens with oversized islands, indoor/outdoor living areas, multi-purpose mud rooms and much more.

“New construction allows homeowners to decide which trends are most important to them based on how they want to live in the home day to day. In this way, you’re not trying to force a design concept into an existing structure,” McAlexander said.

One trend that has become increasingly important to homeowners in recent years is “smart, energy efficient homes”. According to Safesmartliving.com, the number of smart homes in the U.S. is expected to reach 70.6 million by 2023.

Energy-saving features in lighting, heat and water are priorities for those building a new home, along with with being able to control lights, security, electronics and temperature with one swipe on a Smartphone.

“Being able to incorporate the latest technology in energy efficiency and fire, safety and security measures means a safer, more environmentally sensitive home,” McAlexander added.

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3rd Jan, 2020
Articles, Blog

EUGENE, ORE.— As the start of a new decade brings the promise of innovation in every aspect of our lives, home design trends are following suit with emerging trends that revolve around our need to be connected to technology, live sustainably and enjoy quality time with family friends in casual, open spaces. Three design companies from across the country, The House Plan Company, Design Basics and Tyree House Plans, share their insights on new and continuing  house plan design trends for 2020.

Prepping Pantries

While pantries have been around a long time, they’re emerging as a new space for food preparation away from the heart of the kitchen which, over time, has evolved into the main gathering place for casually entertaining around oversized islands. Beyond storage, the “prep pantries” feature appliances such as stovetops and dishwashers and workspace.

“Having this unique space allows homeowners to store and prep food and clean dishes and glassware separately from where the entertaining is taking place, thus leaving the kitchen clean and presentable. The beauty of this design is that they can simply close a door on the mess behind it,” said Paul Foresman, vice president of business development for Design Basics in Omaha, Neb.

Modern + Rural

Modern, open home designs are not just for urban areas. Apparently more homeowners are building modern-style homes in more remote locations, combining their modern tastes with a relaxed, “agrarian” lifestyle.

“One of the most notable changes that we are seeing in housing trends is the notion of modern style construction becoming more popular for rural living,” said Dan Tyree, creative director of Tyree House Plans in Knoxville, Tenn. “It’s rugged meets high-tech, and it’s a trend we see continuing strong in the coming years, not just in 2020.”

Smart, Connected Homes

Younger generations, in particular, are demanding that smart technology be incorporated into their home for both the convenience and energy-saving benefits. Being able to control all of the electronics, temperature, lights and security from one swipe on a mobile phone will eventually become the norm. Growing concerns about the environment will help drive more innovation in energy and water conservation designs throughout the home.

“New technology will have an impact on how we interact with our homes as well as improve energy efficiency and live more sustainably,” said Rick McAlexander, CEO of The House Plan Company, a house plan marketing company based in Eugene, Oregon.

Flex Space Reimagined

Finally, another emerging trend is how the concept of flex space is being reimagined. In particular, designers are finding new, innovative ways to create space for a specific purpose in an area of the floor plan where you might traditionally find the mudroom. They’re breathing new life into this  sometimes-overlooked space to the backyard or garage.

“It seems that everyone is wanting a flexible space that they can tailor to their own purpose, whether it be a pocket office, wine room, pet spa, specialized storage or even craft areas,” said Foresman.

While these emerging trends provide new opportunities for designers, they all agree that several current trends will continue to increase in popularity into 2020, including dual owner suites, indoor-outdoor living, and ever-growing kitchen islands.

Dual Owner Suites

One of the current trends that designers foresee continuing in 2020 is the concept of “dual owner suites” that appeals to different types of homeowners. Formerly known as “granny flats” this second master bedroom and bath ensemble is designed to accommodate aging parents, caregivers or adult children with private, independent living.

Indoor-Outdoor Open Living

A seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces will remain important to homeowners as they place a high value on being able to entertain family and friends in open living space, year-round. “Disappearing walls” that give way to the outdoor spaces, outdoor great rooms with fully equipped kitchens and multi-level decks and patios turn indoor living spaces out.

“Informal entertaining and casual living have become the norm in house plans and as younger generations move into home ownership, they’re looking to continue that lifestyle,” explained McAlexander.

Foresman agrees, and added, “’Bringing the outside in’ is a big homeowner priority. Covered spaces mean you can grill outside year-round and screened-in living space eliminates concerns of pesky mosquitos and affords more privacy.”

Oversized Kitchen Islands

Kitchens remain the main focus of the home and serve a multitude of purposes including dining and entertaining, working, crafting and more. The space has evolved over the years into one that is spacious, open and flows naturally into living and dining areas. At the center of the kitchen, the “island” as grown in size and importance as no longer just space for food preparation, it’s the catalyst for casually entertaining family and friends every day.

“Clients are asking for larger kitchen islands, as much as five feet deep, with an eating bar on at least one side of the working space for people to gather around their hosts,” explained Foresman.

While the new and continuing trends bring a lot of excitement to the home design industry, there are several design trends that designers see disappearing in 2020 as homeowner needs and tastes change.

  • Barn doors in interior spaces seemed to be a fad as they rarely get requests for them from clients, according to Foresman.
  • Tiny homes as a primary residence is a concept that appears to be fading, says McAlexander. While the demand for smaller-sized homes in new construction remains strong, he notes that the average footprint is still well over 2,000 square feet. Meeting all of the living requirements in less than 600 square feet is not sustainable long-term.
  • White exteriors will give way to more color. “While I don’t really see paint color as a design trend, I do see color coming back to exteriors based on client requests. Who knows, maybe Joanna and Chip Gaines will paint their house and start a new trend,” quipped McAlexander.

 

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4th Dec, 2019
Articles, Blog

EUGENE, ORE.—Dec. 3, 2019—Today’s home designs incorporate a little creativity and a lot of innovation, making the most of available space in a floor plan to meet the needs of active, busy homeowners. Three nationally renowned designers share several of the innovations they’ve brought to house plans for their clients, which also serve as strong indicators of home design trends in the future.

Dual Master Suites

Not one, but two master suites. The concept of a second master suite has emerged from a variety of homeowner needs and desires, including living quarters for elderly parents or a caretaker, a home business separate from the main living space and an ensuite rental property.

“Dual owners’ suites are a wonderful solution for so many different buyer scenarios today, whether they’re baby boomers looking to age in place or millennials seeking space for a home-based business,” said Paul Foresman, head of business development for Design Basics in Nebraska.

New Master Ensuite

“The master ensuite has evolved into a very important design challenge because of the demands put on this space to function as bedroom, bath and storage for two people, as well as a sanctuary for rest and relaxation,” said Ken Pieper of Ken Pieper Associates in Colorado.

Pieper finds that more and more of his clients today want separate functionality within the same space regardless of the size of space. While Jack-and-Jill vanities are not a new concept, creating separately designed spaces within the same master closet and bedroom area for his and hers items pose a challenge for designers especially in smaller homes. In order to accomplish all of this in the master suite, Pieper focuses on prioritizing amenities and what can be sacrificed. Just because a five-piece master bath has been the standard for decades, he said, doesn’t mean that they still need to be applied today. As fewer homeowners are using the traditional bathtub, it frees up space for other needs like a walk-in shower or larger closet.

“The issue of separation and function specifically as it applies to the master ensuite will require more effort on the design team’s part in the overall house design. It’s important that we understand our clients’ lifestyle and individual desires so that we can design living space that meets their needs and budget,” he said.

Work-In Pantries

Work-in pantries takes the concept of walk-in pantries to a whole new level. Beyond simply offering storage space, the work-in pantry features space for preparing meals and can even include appliances such as stovetops and dishwashers.

“This amenity has been really popular in our designs, especially for clients who love to entertain at home. Having a separate area to prepare a meal helps keep the main kitchen area clean and presentable and allows it be the focus for gathering and entertaining,” said Foresman.

In addition to the work-in pantry, Laura Dowds of Dowds Design Collection in North Carolina, said that with more homeowners opting for more casual eating areas, the concept a formal dining room has given rise to a larger, open kitchen perfectly suited to casual entertaining. “Spacious, open kitchens with oversized islands becomes the focal point in the home where everyone congregates,” she explained.

Rear Foyer

Also known as the mud room, laundry center and drop zone, this space is finally getting as much attention as the front foyer. Designers like Foresman and Dowds have worked hard to elevate this important transition space from the garage into the home, which can often be cluttered.

“By offering ample cubby and storage space for everything from shoes and outerwear to athletic equipment and laundry room items, it helps to reduce clutter and keep things organized for busy families,” said Dowds. “And why not make it attractive with lots of natural light, cheerful wall colors and beautiful cabinetry? Better organization and less clutter lead to reduced stress!”

Pocket Office

Another innovation in design is the “pocket office” concept. The pocket office uses flex space to create an area for remote working with built-in storage and work surface, freeing up valuable square footage for more important living areas. These smaller “pocket” rooms serve their purpose with great efficiency and can be easily closed off from the rest of the living space.

 

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5th Nov, 2019
Articles, Blog

Three generations of home buyers with very different lifestyles, preferences and values are driving four distinctive trends in today’s new home design. Baby boomers, Generation Xers and millennials each have very specific objectives for how their living space should function based on what period they’re at in their lives.

Right-sized floor plans appeal to all three generations for simple, easy living.

Baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials do agree on one major design trend: smaller homes with less maintenance. They desire an open floor plan where one space flows naturally into another, from living to dining to entertaining, and even outdoor living space. Baby boomers seek to downsize with all of their living space on one level as an age-in-place option. Millenials also want a simple, open floor plan – and are very attracted to the notion of a “tiny home” – while not sacrificing any modern amenities.

According to a recent study conducted by HousingEconomics.com, millennials are increasingly placing an emphasis on having amenities that make a statement in their home, such as wine and coffee bars, large central kitchen islands with ranges, built-in kitchen seating, exercise rooms and smart technology.

All three generations agree on ensuring that their new homes are designed to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

Generational electronic media preference influences the entertainment space.

 “There are noticeable generational differences when it comes to entertaining spaces and electronics,” said Paul Foresman, head of business development for Design Basics of Omaha, Nebraska. “Baby boomers may be less likely to focus their entertaining around electronic media with separate space designated as media rooms. In many home designs of Gen X, you often see the floor plan revolves around a large-screen TV that can be viewed from any seat in the house. Finally, millennials tend to design their entertaining and living spaces around media and electronics along with incorporating smart technology in the home,” he explained.

For millennials, technology friendly spaces are critical with easily accessible outlets and charging stations. They also prefer a smart-automated home where they can control all of their electronics, heat, electricity and lights with one swipe on their mobile phone.

Dual owner’s suites surge in popularity, for different reasons. “While baby boomers are fueling the surge in home designs with dual owner’s suites for elderly parents or caretakers, millennials are seeking the same configuration to accommodate parents, roommates or a home-based business,” explained Foresman.

He also acknowledged that for millennials, considerable thought is being given to where the dual owner’s suite is located to provide privacy from the rest of the home when clients and colleagues visit. The second owner’s suite may be located, for example, on the opposite side of the main floor from the master suite and main living space or in a walk-out basement for easy access.

Well-planned storage space is non-negotiable across all three generations.

According to Foresman, they’ve never designed a home with too much storage space. “It’s a ‘must-have’ across all three generations of home buyers,” he said. “Larger walk-in pantries, for example, address storage needs more cost-effectively than expensive kitchen cabinetry. Garages too have increased in size in recent years to help solve long-term storage needs.”

The House Plan Company, a residential plan marketing company based in Oregon, features a wide selection of house plans designed with all of these generational trends in mind. The modern farmhouse plan Telluride Gable (#80041), for example, is a compact home with an open floor plan at just under 1,600 square feet. The main living area features a spacious kitchen, dining area and great room – all three spaces flowing seamlessly one into another. Designed for gathering and entertaining, the kitchen offers a central island with modern appliances and a walk-in pantry for plenty of storage. A “drop zone” in the combined mud room/laundry room offers additional storage. On the upper level, a second master suite with a private bathroom and walk-in closet can be used as office space or for elderly parents or a caretaker.

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