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Plan Your Dream House

Plan Your Dream HouseOne may dream a lot about a perfect home but when it comes to achieving the same in reality, complications automatically seep in. The apparent gap between ones dream house and reality is due to the lack of proper house planning.

House planning is a time consuming process. Once the planning is over, one may sit back and cherish his dreams turning into reality. House planning, is simply, a visualization of the final look of ones home. These days, internet provides an easy access to the variety of home plans across the world, be it in terms of location, design, atmosphere or architecture.

House planning rests on a thorough insight of ones preferences and requirements. It involves a creative and efficient management of the home space. Usually, this planning begins with an approximation of the total budget followed by an estimation of the cost of expenses.

The home design is a cumulative of many diverse aspects, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and size and style of individual region. It is vital to count on appropriate placement of the kitchen, living room and bathrooms, availability of open space and suitable interior d├ęcor. These days, people abide by Vaastu or Feng-shui significance while designing their houses. This further extends the planning process. Keen observation, farsightedness and minute detailing are essential for designing an error-free house plan.

In addition to the conceptualization of major indoor designs, house planning also requires a focus on various services, such as regular water supply, effective electric system, resistance to earthquake and short-circuiting. It is imperative to consider the availability of such services at the time of selecting the house location itself.

Many aspects depend upon the location of the house. One must conduct an extensive research before finalizing the place. A good locality ensures a fine atmosphere and an uninterrupted flow of services. Familiarization of terrain simplifies the process of construction as well as management of space.

Planning a house incorporates both inner as well as outer spacing. Outer planning involves extensions in the form of garage and garden. Depending upon the family needs and interests, one may work upon a desirable mix of the two.

It is always advisable to do a comparative study of various houses. This enlarges ones vision to plan and extends the scope of new designs and ideas. One can come across multiple flooring styles, ceiling patterns, exit-entrances, and light arrangements, which may prove beneficial in designing an apt layout of the house.

Traditionally, home planning was even more tedious. In present times, different home planning software’s design have abridged the cumbersome process. One can practically chart out the best possible designs and see ones dream turning into reality.

Buying a house, or planning the same, is generally, a one-time investment. This makes it even more special and serious. An innovative idea and creative and efficient planning can surely fetch wonders in designing the ultimate dream home. One-time efforts can be fruitful for a lifetime.

It’s no secret that custom home design changes as much as architecture, if not more throughout the years. Trends don’t change as much as they do in the fashion world, but still enough to put anyone behind who isn’t following a valuable source.

Layout, design, materials and construction all change for both single family homes and apartments among other styles of custom homes. It’s important to stay in the know, here are the latest trends being incorporated in the building world that offer both beauty and functionality. Top designers are raving over them and they will definitely influence home buyers.


With climate changes obvious and natural disasters as abundant as ever, and then the decline of natural resources available for building custom homes, new designs are including sustainable choices. Professionals in the industry are searching for and finding materials as well as techniques used for building these structures to slay these issues.

Structures are built sturdier, and building codes are changing to accommodate for weather changes and conditions. Natural resources are being used more smartly and recycled as well. This means that lives and buildings will be saved in one fail swoop. Anyone looking to have a home or building custom made should take these options into consideration.

Quality and Luxury in One – Classics for All Budgets

Most current and of course any future home owners will want the finest finishes and additions to their home, and now they can afford it more easily. This is because there are now increasingly less expensive imposters when it comes to building materials. Thankfully, they offer all the same benefits as far as looks and sturdiness.

Examples are stone veneer, thin terra-cotta and other similar choices that give that rich feel but at a lower price tag. Real estate professionals are starting to relay this information to their buyers and getting them to purchase homes knowing they can have that look they desire with a few inexpensive upgrades.

Digital Manufacturing

Colors, sizes and textures when it comes to sustainable materials are changing. 3-D manufacturing is a bit of an industrial revolution and it can trump more expensive options when it comes to building custom homes. Glass can have etched surface or patterns put directly into it making it far more beautiful and awe-inspiring. They can also illuminate with custom LED lighting that’s built in.

This is just one of many new options that are creating new, sustainable products that are both attractive and energy-efficient. It’s easy to personalize any room from being a glamorous addition to the kitchen or even a child’s bedroom.

Reclaimed Wood

Custom homes look awesome with reclaimed wood walls and floors. It gives them a more authentic feel that homeowners love. They wear well, and show a visual character that one can’t accomplish with anything else. Of course, they are much more affordable!

Consider reclaimed wood for flooring, paneling, exposed beams and other finished areas. This adds into the sustainability trend. The types of flooring in wood that are found in many a custom home and soon it’s expected that not just any wood will be sufficient. Reclaimed wood will likely be the prime option to replace things like quartz, marble and granite. They look awesome with both traditional and modern finishes, too.

Closing Thoughts

These are just some of the trends among custom home builders that are taking off like wildfire. Anyone who jumps on board will have a trendsetting and fashion forward home that will be adored by many, but enjoyed by them.

Having all the latest and greatest additions in a home – what could be better?

Commercial Construction Tips

Commercial construction is a vastly different process than residential construction is. The scale is completely different, and the bidding/permitting process is unique. There are more factors to consider and more environmental impacts to account for at each step along the way. There are some special components to contemplate when it comes to commercial construction – let’s take a look at some of them.

First, make sure a professional architect or estimating engineer does your blueprints. It might be OK to build a home off of sketches, but a commercial project can’t run that way. You will need to submit your prints for approval from the local authorities and you will have to present these to your contractors. Professional plans will ensure that everyone is all on the same page and that you will get the project you want in the end.

Make sure that all of the permits you need are taken out and that necessary inspections are taking place on the right schedule. It can be financially devastating to have your construction project shut down because an inspector is not satisfied with an aspect of your progress, or worse, that he or she sees something dangerous.

Take the time to make sure that your plans are complete and that your specs are all-encompassing. This bit of time spent at the beginning can pay big dividends, sometimes literally, down the road. Conversely, making changes late in the project’s progress can be more costly than if they had been incorporated at the beginning.

Line up your financing before a single shovel is picked up, or else things will be delayed mid-project. Those delays can end up costing more than the project would have originally, even though the actual number of work days is the same. Having full financing sources to keep you going all the way to the end of the project will also help you be successful. That financing needs to pay for all of the project’s costs, plus it should include a bit of a cushion to handle the unexpected.

Once your project is prepped and ready, send out for a number of bids and read each one over carefully. Look for a successful track record by any of the contractors and subcontractors, and check their bids to ensure that they have accounted for everything in your project. Just because a company is the low bidder doesn’t make them the right choice.

After you have selected your contractor, read over the contract carefully to ensure that everything is accurate and that all the points you want covered are indeed covered. Then, inspect what you expect – stop by and check in with your project manager regularly to make sure that everything is progressing on the right schedule.

Any changes that need to be made should be done in writing and agreed to by both the contractor(s) and you so everyone is in accord and that all of the details have been worked out.

Lastly, be sure everyone knows what the timeline is. Each phase of the project should have a deadline, and a cushion should be built into each phase so if there is one delay at an early stage, it won’t negatively impact the entire project and make it run past the completion date.

Residential Construction Company

If you’re having trouble thinking of ways to give an older home a completely new look or feel, then you may be in the market for a small remodeling or add-on job. A residential construction company can help work with you to decide on which area of your house could best use touching up, and can put new features such as balconies and windows, or even entirely new rooms on existing ones. In this article, we’ll go over a couple popular additions to houses that are easy to perform with the help of a construction company.

Common uses for a residential construction company include creating additional rooms or adding on to existing ones. Additional rooms usually take the form of a room not typically included in the construction of a home, such as game rooms, dens, libraries, and studies. Depending on your funds, the size of the room may be different, and the size and location typically dictates the purpose the room can be used for. For example, a small room attached to a master bedroom best functions as a private study, while a larger room connected to a central living space makes a great game or entertainment room. Choosing the size of a room is an important part of determining its function.

An addition must be planned somewhat differently, as they usually make the room unusable for the duration of the construction. If you are remodeling your kitchen, for example, with an addition in the form of extra space or windows, you may need to move the kitchen to an extra part of the house so that your family can continue to make food. Keeping things like this in mind will help lessen the stress your family has to go through while a certain part of the house is being changed. Residential construction company design experts are able to help you decide which part of your house can temporarily replace the one you are remodeling or changing, so that the impact on your lifestyle is lessened.

Once you’ve figured out the kind of room or addition you want to make, working with a residential construction company architect is a good way to make the addition just the way you want it. They can provide tips and changes that will make the room function better, and can offer valuable experience necessary in creating a room that will best suit your taste.

Finding a High Quality Home

Home Buying Season is in full swing and eager buyers are out touring new homes in Austin. But when it comes time to compare similar looking homes in similar locations, the most important features may not be so apparent.

Once you’ve settled on a specific neighborhood or area, it’s important to begin comparing the construction standards and features available from each of the homebuilders in that area. We have offered up a list of the most important features you should ask about to ensure the home you’re looking at is a keeper.

The Foundation

First, find out what kind of foundation the homes have. The soil in Central Texas is notorious for causing shifting and cracking in home foundations, which leads to sloping floors, cracked walls and sticky windows and doors.

The Roof

The second most important part of a home after the foundation is the roof. Poorly framed roofs can lead to leaking and buckling on the outside, as well as cracking and nails that push through ceilings on the inside. While many volume builders use pre-fabricated roof trusses, a little extra effort can ensure a much more stable and secure roof.

The Framing

The way a new home is framed also plays an important role in the overall stability and character of its construction. Buffington’s homes feature fully engineered, wind-braced frames. The extra bracing prevents the home from racking or twisting in higher winds, where even the slightest movement can lead to cracking walls and stuck doors or windows. The interior and exterior of these walls are wrapped in heavy-duty, half-inch OSB board, further preventing movement and also adding an extra layer of noise insulation. Additionally, all structural beams are sized by an engineer for proper load ratings, protecting against beams that are too small (and unstable) or too big (and unnecessarily expensive).

The Flooring

Many buyers are concerned with the floor coverings in a new home, but what’s underneath them can be even more important. To cut costs, many builders use pre-fabricated I-joists to build their floors, which can lead to floors that bounce and squeak. But Buffington’s floors are built with 16-inch-deep trusses, the deepest flooring support. The trusses are spaced 24 inches apart throughout the home, with just 16 inches of space master bedrooms and game rooms where the loads are typically heavier. On top of that, the homes feature three-quarter-inch tongue-and-groove sub-floors that are secured with screws and industrial adhesive, ensuring against squeaking, bouncing and those annoying nails that can stick up beneath floor coverings. Deeper floors and heavier sub-flooring also add extra noise insulation between floors.

Interior Walls

When it comes to framing the interior walls, builders can cut costs by cutting back on materials and labor. Many builders frame interior walls with studs spaced 24-inches apart where the code permits, but some builders use 16-inch centers throughout. The closer spacing adds stability and further protects against cracking and shifting as the home ages. They also secure all sheetrock with screws instead of nails, preventing against nails that can push through walls and ceilings over time.


Throughout this entire building process, your builder should require four separate, independent inspections on the structure of the home. With two separate inspections on the foundation, one at the framing stage and one final inspection when the home is complete.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that volume builders can cut corners and save money at the homeowner’s expense. A little hard work during construction can virtually eliminate the daily maintenance that many homebuyers find themselves stuck with in a new home.

Plan and Build Your Own Log Home

Log Cabin Homes: They have come a long way. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you plan and build your own. Plus be sure to consider the floor plans and not overlook anything.

Typically, log cabin homes are small structures that have little or no wasted space and are built from all natural materials. However, new trends have surfaced, making log cabin homes appear as luxurious, rustic, and cozy houses. At the same time, many of these luxury log cabin homes still use all natural materials, but there are new building techniques and systems used for drying the logs effectively at proper rates.

Log cabin homes are useful for you as a main house or as a vacation home. In fact, any design and style can be created with log cabin homes. No matter what design you decide upon, log cabin homes will surround you in nature always have a comfortable yet rough feel.

Maintenance problems from log homes are often unavoidable. However, new knowledge and technology can help prevent many of the problems from happening. Many of the new techniques can also stop some maintenance problems from happening, and if they do occur, they will not be as extreme.

Well built log cabin homes will have regular maintenance needs to ensure that it will last a long time. However, no major problems should arise for several years. If you DO have a log cabin home built unprofessionally, it suggests that proper building techniques may not be used and problems with logs cracking or seeping sap may occur. These things can be fixed, but it is far better to do your research early on and have a log cabin home built by a credible manufacturer.

If you are considering building a log cabin, make sure to follow instructions carefully..

Several online resources have guidelines on how to build a log cabin, mostly for small cabin layouts. If you are interested in learning how to build a log cabin, search these sites to get a general knowledge of basic cabin building. You need to first research and learn about the essential materials and preparations. If you are a beginner, start small and learn through trial and error.

The tips on how to build a log cabin suggest that you find a location first, then begin creating a design and decide on the size. Once this is accomplished, find out the length and width at the site and clear the area. The rules for laying a foundation differ depending on the type, and you may not want or need a foundation for a small cabin.

Start stacking logs by laying two logs lengthwise and parallel to each other, with the desired width between them. Cut notches in two other logs, one foot away from the ends. The notches should fit around and lay perpendicular to the two base logs. Continue stacking the logs this way, alternating the notches. Once the door height is reached, cut out the doors and windows.

Choosing from various Log Cabin Floor Plans

While log cabin floor plans are traditionally small, cosy, homely, and economical homes, new trends have been developed in the last twenty years. It is now often found that the small log cabin floor plans built are mostly used for vacation houses or hunting and fishing lodges. Log cabin floor plans always broadcast a comfortable, relaxing, and rustic aura.

Modern trends have combined these characteristics with elegance in the large, luxurious log cabin floor plans built.

When you choose to build with materials used on traditional houses, such as ranch style or cape cod homes, you are sometimes limited to the designs you can create. With log cabin floor plans you have an endless selection of styles and designs to build. Manufacturers that sell log cabin building materials suggest to find a builder who is knowledgeable about log homes. This way you are sure to get a log cabin floor plan built properly and sturdy. Be sure to only use logs that have been dried correctly in order to avoid later maintenance problems.


Laying Tongue and Groove Plywood

You have just finished framing the first floor deck for a brand new
home and your ready to start putting down the 3/4″ tongue and
groove plywood. If you framed it well and got your 16″ centers
laid out right, the process should go smooth as silk. The key to
success is in the framing of the joists.

The first step in laying plywood over the floor joists is to snap
a chalk line. This gives you a straight line to follow. I always
snap this line at 48 1/4″ in off the edge of the rim joist. This
ensures that in the course of installation the plywood (which is
48″ wide) will not hang over the edge of the rim joist. It
doesn’t matter whether you start in the front or back of the
For best results, start where you have the longest run without a
jog in or out in the foundation.

After you have snapped your line, determine which joist the first
sheet of plywood will break. If the joists where laid out 16″
o.c. (on center) from the end of the building, the edge of the
plywood would split the joist at 8 feet. Sometimes the roof
layout determines the floor joist layout. This is usually the
case when the roof is a hip roof. In this instance start with the
joist that will allow the plywood to cover all the joists, even
if it hangs over the edge of the first joist. This will be cut
off later.

After you have determined where to start, apply construction
adhesive to the top edge of the joists. Apply no more than 48″
the width of the plywood. Lay the first sheet in the glue with
the groove edge on the chalk line. Holding the sheet to the line,
nail the leading edge of the plywood to the rim joist so it
splits the joist. You’ll be covering 3/4 of an inch of the joist
with 3/4″ exposed. Still holding the plywood to the chalk line,
put a nail in the rim joist at the first joist.
Now put nails in the rim joist where the floor joists are nailed
into it. When nailing off the field these nails can be used as a
guide to find the joists.

Now the groove edge can be nailed. On the leading edge, move the
joist so the edge of the plywood splits the joist. Once you have
the joist where you want it, nail the plywood to it. Now taking
your tape measure, hook the leading edge of the joist you just
nailed, and pull it along the edge of the plywood. Mark 16″
centers on the plywood and pull the leading edge of the joists to
this mark and nail them. This will help keep the joists in line
and will help make sure future course of plywood break on 16″
centers no matter which joist you start with.

Glue up the joists for the next sheet. Butt the next sheet to the
one previously installed, making sure to hold it to the chalk
line and nail the groove edge corner. Nail it to the rim joist
just like the first sheet. Once again move the joist so the
plywood splits it. Hook that joist with your tape, mark centers
and move the joists to the lines. Keep laying the plywood in this
fashion to the other end of the building.

Your now ready for the next course of plywood. If I’ve started
with a full 96″ sheet on my first course, I like to start my
second row with a 48″ piece. This works great if the building
length is in increments of 4 feet (24′,28′,32′,36′ etc.). This
isn’t always the case. If the building is an odd length you can
usually use your ending cutoff to start the next course. Stagger
the joints a minimum of 32″ apart.

Start the next course by gluing the joists. Do not apply the glue
more than 4′ beyond the first course of plywood. Stand the sheet
on its tongue edge next to the groove edge of the sheet you are
standing on. Make sure its butt edge is lined up on the joist it
is breaking on and let it fall into the glue. As it hits the
glued up joists, step on it and try to pull it in with your foot.
Only under the right conditions will the tongue go completely
into the groove. Sometimes the sheet can be jumped into the
groove. This involves standing on the sheet and jump with force
towards the the sheets in the previous row. In most cases it
takes a sledgehammer and a 4′ to 6′ 2×4 beater block to persuade
the sheets together. The block keeps the groove edge from getting
damaged by the sledge. This is a two person operation. One stands
on the tongue edge of the plywood to guide the sheet into the
groove while the swings the sledgehammer. This will be the
process for the rest of the installation.

Once the piece is in place, nail off the tongue edge, making sure
the leading edge is breaking on a joist. Move the joist so the
groove edge breaks on the joist. Pull 16″ centers from that
joist, mark the plywood, move the joists if necessary, and nail
them off.

To keep the joists at the ends of the building straight, do not
glue or nail them. Ideally we’d like the plywood to be hanging
over the ends. After all the plywood is in place, snap a line
from one corner to the other and cut this over hanging plywood
off. Move this joist to the cut edge to make it straight and nail
it off.


-Field can be nailed as you go (recommended to set sheet in
or after all plywood is in place.

-do not glue more than 4′ out from sheet. Keeps glue off your
when you pull centers.

-When nailing groove edge, nail at least 2″ from edge to keep
collapsing groove.

-Before installing plywood, check for damaged grooves and

Homebuilding and Land Site Investment

Historically, homebuilders bought land, achieved zoning changes, constructed houses, then sold them. But land site developers change the equation – and reduce risk.

After five full years of an economic downturn for homebuilders, sellers and buyers, the news is instead looking up in the United Kingdom. The Wall Street Journal reported in April 2013 that homebuilder stocks were up 80% over the previous 12 months, buoyed in part by the government’s Help-To-Buy schemes announced earlier in the year.

This came about six months after Reuters reported that UK home builders were sitting on land banks, much of which was purchased in 2009 and later, when the price of land had plummeted. They are now about to leverage the value of that land, pending development consent from local planning authorities, to build new homes.

But many of those homebuilders suffered quite a bit through the earlier years of the recession, with portfolios of property that included land purchased just prior to the financial crisis of 2008. That expensive land was a drag on profits – those firms that had deep pockets might have been able to afford to carry the costs, but many homebuilders (particularly smaller ones) fell out of the business entirely because of crushing debt.

Some of this recent land investing and building history helps illustrate how the business of development on raw land has been bifurcated in recent years. Instead of builders taking on the full risk of investing, building and selling, land investment specialists now undertake the first stages. In addition, real estate analysts at Savills report that the forthcoming Basel III banking regulations could constrict debt funding, which further limits how much risk homebuilders will be willing to assume. They will instead look for smaller parcels of serviced (infrastructure-built) properties.

The new approach is for land specialists, themselves or with the help of investors, to make strategic land purchases. They engage in intensive market research to identify where growth is most critical, then investigate raw land where that might be possible, taking into account seller predispositions, existing and needed infrastructure, as well as how amenable to planning changes are local planning authorities. The land specialists might (and often do) build the infrastructure – roads, water and sewer, and electrical capacity – but then sell parcels or plots to homebuilders, who have greater experience at both construction and the marketing of the built properties.

To a land site investor, the holding of property for several years before construction begins – as happened to homebuilders since 2008 – does not fit the business model. The investor’s objective is to turn the investment as quickly as possible, and to buy land in the first place that will sell at an optimal price in the near term. This is part of why land-to-build investors are coming to real estate from other alternative investment categories: If their options are hedge funds, precious metals, real estate investment trusts (REITs) or market-traded securities, the return on investment formula places heavy weight on timing. The land investor may plan to achieve a return in as little as 18 months after acquiring raw land (note: it sometimes can take five years to bring a property to market and realise the return on investment).

A key component is of course zoning changes, taking land that might be designated for agriculture or other uses and have it designated by local authorities for residential or commercial development. Homebuilders may have this capability in-house as well, or may contract it out to others. With land investment specialists, it is an essential part of the business model and a key component of achieving profitability. Relationships with local planning authorities in strategic locations certainly aid in this process.

Land investment, particularly with raw (unbuilt) properties, involves risks just as much as with other types of investment. But by controlling for factors such as land planning, and splitting the risks – and rewards – of building and selling completed homes, residential land investors mitigate those risks. Individuals who are interested in land investments should speak with a personal financial planner to determine if any particular investment fits their overall financial portfolio.

Best Time to Invest in Homebuilders

I’m sure many of you are wondering if I’ve lost my mind. Our financial system is teetering on the brink. Our economy is in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. The markets are down more than 40% from their all time highs. And, I’m suggesting you invest your hard earned dollars in one of the hardest hit industries?

I must be crazy… crazy like a fox that is.

Remember, the stock market is always looking to the future. Investors are constantly discounting expectations about future events into today’s stock prices.

We see examples of this phenomenon every day.

A stock moves higher on expectations the company will post better earnings than analysts expect. A stock dives because an economic report suggests the company’s business will suffer.

You get the point.

Understanding this key market principle can make a huge difference in your investment returns. By training yourself to think like the markets, you can spot long-term trends as they’re developing. (And, that’s when you make the big money.)

Long term trends are serious money-making opportunities you can’t afford to miss. A few well-timed investments can be the difference between early retirement and no retirement.

I think a new long-term uptrend is just beginning in the homebuilders.

Savvy investors who climb aboard this trend early stand to make a fortune. But, more on that in a moment.

First, let’s take a look at the state of the homebuilding market.

At first blush, the March report on new home construction is anything but positive. Housing starts fell almost 11% during the month after jumping more than 20% in February. The March figure is the second lowest level on record. It’s just ugly…

But, the report does have a silver lining.

New construction of single family homes – the biggest part of the housing market – held steady again in March. It was a huge decline in multi-family homes (apartments and condos) that caused the March drop. With single family home construction finally stabilizing, it appears the decline in homebuilding is starting to bottom out.

Homebuilders are optimistic the tide is turning.

A key measure of homebuilder confidence levels jumped 50% in April, the biggest monthly gain since May 2003. Driving the surge in confidence was their outlook for sales over the next six months. They believe low home prices, lower mortgage rates, and generous tax credits will lure more buyers off the sidelines.

All of this suggests the homebuilders’ worst days could be behind them.

In fact, David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders was quoted as saying, “[t]his is a very encouraging sign that we are at or near the bottom of the current housing depression.”

And, the market is starting to factor this into stock prices.

The SPDR Homebuilders ETF (XHB) has jumped more than 50% from its March low to around $12. And, they still have a long way to run. XHB would have to more than double just to reach its 52-week high near $25.

Clearly, investors are starting to look through the negative data and seeing sunnier days ahead. The time is now to establish a position in XHB. Start small and don’t be afraid to add to your position on any dips.

You may have to show some patience as you wait for the recovery to develop. But, at least, you’ll collect some dividends along the way. XHB is currently yielding 3.45%. (Nothing wrong with getting paid while you wait.)

Remember, it’s better to be early than late to this party. The homebuilders are a cyclical industry that tends to surge when the economy starts to recover. If you wait until the all clear signal is sounded, you’ll miss a big part of it.

The Paradox of the Homebuilders

Back when the housing market started to crash in 2007, the focus began to shift to analyze which homebuilders could get lean fast enough – walk away from land contracts, get partially built homes finished and sold, then radically downsize by laying off most of their staff, selling raw land, lowering prices to sell existing inventory, downsizing existing home models, etc.

This is all still true in 2010, and will probably still be true in 2011. The few home builders who could differentiate themselves by unique business models have been rewarded in the bond market. The so-called Cadillac of homebuilders, Toll Brothers, had for a long time charged customers a rather large “earnest money” fee which would be forfeited if the order were cancelled. This proved to be golden in the crash, since not only did Toll Brothers actually collect some hefty cancellation fees, but the fees discouraged enough would-be-cancellers that they went through with plans more than a typical cohort of wavering buyers for other homebuilding company homes.

My belief is that the hunkering down phase is not enough to keep spreads tight for homebuilders any more. It has always been about the shadow inventory and how with the slightest provocation, more and more inventory shows up, often in the form of foreclosed homes for sale. The homebuilders overbuilt in precisely the areas of the most shadow inventory – exurbs in the Sunbelt, in which people had not sufficiently established the neighborhoods long enough and with enough “roots” to make the far-flung tract viable. Florida’s Fort Myers Beach is the poster child for such a community.. Although nominally old enough, in reality the huge majority of the homes were built since 2000, and with little supporting infrastructure (schools, parks, retail) so that when it crashed, there was a tangible drop in the morale of the town, and existing homeowners face the “prisoner’s dilemma” – why keep up your house when so many on your street are boarded up, or gangs are moving in, or the weeds are growing high, etc.? As a consequence the prospect for recovery is dim – the progression of home prices there goes something like this: 2000: $200,000; 2003: $400,000; 2006; $800,000; 2009: $180,000!

Given the moribund state of markets which previously had been so critical to homebuilders (Fort Myers Beach and a few other similarly-afflicted major Florida developments almost sank Hovnanian), one would expect their spreads to still be wide, and they are. But not wide enough, in my opinion. Survival is one thing: moving back to a modicum of prosperity is quite another. To me, these weak credits are only surviving until the next real estate setback, which may be beginning as we speak.

The quoted level of housing starts, slightly over a half a million annual rate, is misleading because multifamily has come up strong (not surprisingly). However, most homebuilders don’t make nearly as much money, is they indeed make any significant amount of money, off multifamily (apartment) building. For one thing “change orders” which in good times represent a big chuck of homebuilder profit, would logically be virtually nonexistent when dealing with rental property. For another thing, the land homebuilders have bought is probably not ideal for the more urban or at least closer-in suburban renter, who of course doesn’t care about cheap real estate taxes at the perimeter, which has generally been the driving force for the march of the exurbs to ever-farther rings around the metro area.

So why should the market continue to reward homebuilders for building a paltry few homes and just spending all their time trying to move old inventory? It may make sense from a short-term perspective, but longer-term many homebuilders will have to exit the business or find a buyer as Standard-Pacific did. There still appears to be far too many single-family-homebuilders out there for the minuscule amount of homebuilding actually required by the market.

Consider this: in the sharp recession of 1980-1982 (technically two recessions), homebuilders and forest-products companies were moaning that the end of the world had come with housing starts falling to slightly under a million! We’re now half that, maybe worse (adjusting for the higher percentage of multifamily lately), and what’s more, the sharp recovery of 1983-1986 seems less likely to happen with unemployment being so stubbornly high. High unemployment, as all analysts agree, is the single biggest long-term driving force for weakness in the housing market.

Find a Homebuilder Online

There are many ways to find a homebuilder online. You can seek out specific websites, search using search engines like Google and Yahoo!, or go to directories of homebuilders. This article offers suggestions for using the internet to find a homebuilder.

The first step to finding a homebuilder online is to decide what kind of home you want. How many bedrooms do you need? How far can the home be from various urban centers? Do you need a garage? What kinds of amenities are you looking for? And last, but absolutely not least, what is your price range? Make a list of the various parameters around which you will undertake your search for a new home to buy.

After establishing the type of home you seek, you will next begin to make a list of companies that could potentially be a good match for your new home search parameters. So with a pen and paper in hand, the first thing to do is use Google and Yahoo! to search for a new home builder. It is recommended to enter your search for a new home builder followed by at least one unique parameter. For example, into the Google search field, enter “new home builder North Carolina” and note the results. You will then be given a number of websites to choose from. For example, you may find the website for new home builder Orleans Homes. If Orleans Homes appears, this is because the search engine has determined that Orleans Homes is relevant to the search query “new home builder North Carolina.” You may also notice that to the right and above the “organic” search results, there are a series of “sponsored” listings. These may be of even more benefit to your search. To determine if they are of use to you, note how they describe themselves. If their ad copy speaks to your new home needs, note the names of the companies.

After browsing online for homebuilders using search engines, check out various homebuilder directories. Chances are you will have noticed several prominent homebuilder directories while searching. Some of these websites will offer details about various homebuilders and new home communities within the confines of the directory website. Others will simply offer a name, contact information and link to the home builder. It is this author’s preference to go directly to the homebuilder website from the homebuilder directly but others will argue that there is no difference. Whatever your individual preference, you want to gather all the names of the homebuilders appropriate for your homebuilder search.

After gathering a list of homebuilders – lets say a healthy start is ten company names – you will then want to go directly to the various homebuilder website. Once there, you will need to evaluate the homebuilder based on the website. If the website allows users to search by parameters relevant to their new home search, this demonstrates not only flexibility but also experience working with individuals like you. Then, if you like what you see, simply contact the homebuilder. Chances are the website will let you register for or request information. Do so. This will not only get you the most appropriate information but also will likely register you for special events and discounts.

House Plans Work

The Ins and Outs Of Choosing Online Custom Home Plans!

So you’ve decided to build your own home, congratulations! Now where do you go from here?

If you are a first timer, it is sometimes confusing figuring out how house plans work. House plans, sometimes referred to as home floor plans, are easily deciphered once you understand the basics. Let’s discuss some of them so you know what to look for when looking at custom home plans for your dream house.

House Plans Options

There are many options available when it comes to house plans. Home plans usually come in “sets” which can be broken down as follows:

CAD Set – This is a complete set of house plans that is available in electronic file format. Usually this type of house plan is requested from professionals. A CAD set is useful if you are planning on making a lot of changes to the initial house plan purchased. This isn’t usually something a novice would be interested in, unless they are working very closely with a designer.

Study Set – This type of home plan includes complete exterior views of your home to be plus floor plans of the upper and lower floors (for two story homes). A study set is useful in helping you determine if you can afford the home you are considering building. Usually excluded from a study set are items such as the roof, foundation and details of the home.

Construction Set – Construction house plans are complete and include everything you need to build your home. Exterior views, complete floor plans, roof and foundation plans and details that explain how to build your home are included in a construction set. You want to consider a construction set if you are interested in buying a basic home plan package from which you’ll secure financing and settle all the other details necessary to have your home built.

Reproducible Set – You can buy a reproducible set if you think you may need minor changes made to your home plans. You can make copies from this type of home plan, but you are not allowed to build more than one home from these type of plans without a separate license.

Selecting a Style Home

Once you have figured out what type of plans you’ll need, you next need to decide on the type of house plans you want to look at. Here are some examples of common house plans that can be purchased:

Cottage Plans
Beach House Plans
Log Home Plans
Modular Home Plans
Storage Shed Plans

Let’s examine each of these more closely:

Cottage Plans

Cottage plans are usually crafted with warmth and cozy spacing in mind. Most cottage plans are not designed with the idea that the home will be very large. Cottage plans include characteristics such as cozy living spaces, wood siding and stone based porches among other things. Many also are designed to accommodate one and one half to two story homes with low pitched roofs. The exterior materials often used in cottage plans include brick or stucco.

Beach House Plans

Beach house plans usually result in homes that have a very distinct look. The architectural style that is the foundation for most beach house plans varies from Spanish to Mediterranean to Traditional styles. Beach house plans therefore, can reflect a wide range of interests. Some reflect the area where the house may be built. For example, many coastal home plans created for homes on the southern East coast (think Florida) are crafted with the idea that the home will be on stilts as a measure to help guard against hurricanes and other tropical storms. Stucco exterior styles or Mediterranean styles are not uncommon of coastal home plans fashioned for customers living on the West Coast. Many beach house plans also include special features such as large bay windows and outdoor living spaces.

Log Home Plans

Log home plans are often crafted with the romantic in mind. Most log home plans have a rustic feel, built on traditions. Log home plans will incorporate natural elements into the style including use of wood, stone and glass to create a home that reflects the spirit of the forest. Log home plans are popular because homes built with logs are great insulators against cold weather. Most log home plans are custom designed for homes in areas of the country that experience cold snaps during the winter months.

Modular Home Plans

Modular home plans are largely popular because they are inexpensive and result in homes that are easy to build and place just about anywhere. You can find modular home plans to meet just about any need. Most are one story homes or ranch style homes. Modular home plans are also popular because they can be built quickly and do not require extensive detailing. These plans are great for those wanting to build a starter home, but not wanting to break the bank while doing so. You can find many of the same features in a modular home as you can in a traditional one.

Storage Shed Plans

Storage shed plans are crafted with one thing in mind… space! Why look at storage shed plans unless you are looking to build a structure that will accommodate your need for more space? Most storage shed plans vary in size and structure, depending on what you are looking for. You can literally find a storage shed plan to match any specific requirement. Whether you are looking to store animals, hay, tools, supplies or excess household items, you can usually find a plan to accommodate your needs. Most storage shed plans are in essence “mini versions” of their full house plan cousins. They are small and usually one story, though some (particularly those built for farming considerations) may be two story.

Building your home is an exceptional adventure and can be quite rewarding if you go into it with an open mind and some fore thought.