What To Look For When Buying A Beach House

When it comes to buying a beach house there are clearly a number of key points that need to be looked into before you go ahead and sign any agreements although only the main three are covered here. There is no doubt that this could very well be your dream home, but make the wrong decisions and the entire thing could turn into an absolute nightmare.

Location, Location, Location

First, you need to understand the importance of the location. How close are you to the beach? What is the view like? How busy is it? How noisy does it get on those sunny days? There are so many things to think about just regarding when it comes to where your beach house is situated, so think about what you want and make a note of those things, then hunt for that perfect beach house from the outset.

beach house

How well maintained has it been?

After finding what you believe to be your dream beach house, you need to check to see how well maintained it has been before you buy. It is important to remember that the salt from the water and also the sand can have a detrimental effect on the actual structure of the beach house even though it may not be visible to the naked eye. Get it checked out structurally before buying to save yourself a lot of hassle in the future.

Are there any associations?

Finally, it is also important to check if there are any associations because you will often find that some group has been established by the owners of the properties to help maintain the area. Checking this out is important as it will tell you what to expect with regard to communal areas, access, and whether you need to pay a service charge in order to even just own the building. These associations are a fantastic idea, but find out everything you can about them before you splash your cash.

You Might Really Enjoy an Outdoor Kitchen

At first glance it might sound a bit foreign, an outdoor kitchen, who would want that? After all a kitchen is normally on the inside of a house plan. It is where meals are prepared, the kid’s homework is done, and where stories of the day are swapped.

Well, this important room is getting a makeover and designers are taking it outside. Outdoor kitchens are an exciting trend, particularly during grill season, because not only do they offer function but also convenience. Today, most outdoor kitchens are just as functional as a regular, indoor kitchen. They might include a grill but they may also be equipped with a stove, oven, a fridge, sinks, wet bars and even special ventilation.

This beautiful French Country house plan has a gorgeous outdoor living space complete with a dining area, sitting area, and a fully featured kitchen. This is the perfect place to entertain guests while taking in the fresh air and scenery.

You can get as elaborate with your outdoor kitchen as you’d like, and the best part is that if you take the right steps you should be able to enjoy your outdoor kitchen 365 days a year in most parts of the country. Steps like weatherproofing and making sure that your kitchen is covered means that you will also have the option of dining al fresco.

What benefits will you realize when you invest in an outdoor kitchen?  Hosting a barbeque with a regular kitchen means that you have to go in and out of the house constantly, distracting you from your friends and family but with an outdoor kitchen you can set up your gathering and let everyone be involved with the cooking. An outdoor kitchen means more time to enjoy the warm weather and more interaction with your guests. On any typical day, you can use it to grill and prepare a meal outside for you and your family.

This Spanish style house plan already has a built-in bar. The covered rear porch creates the perfect spot for a outdoor kitchen and its position poolside makes it a great place to entertain guests.

An outdoor kitchen is a perfect luxury for the winter months. With many styles to choose from and the availability of modern outdoor appliances, you will be able to make good use of your outdoor space and enjoy the fresh air and sun as you cook your favorite dishes.

Visit Direct from the Designers to read more about outdoor kitchens and to browse the collection of outdoor living house plans.

Efficient Small House Plans for Comfortable Living

There are plenty of reasons for building a small house, but if not planned out well enough small houses can be constricting, and coming up with a good small house plan to make each part of the home work could be quite a challenge. The following are some tips to allow you to come up with a viable plan for a small house plan.

Splitting the bedrooms

For small houses, it’s ideal to have the bedrooms set up on opposite sides of the house. In small spaces, conversations and door movements could disturb occupants of adjacent rooms. Having the bedrooms placed farther away from each other allows for better privacy and lessens noise for occupants.

Keeping private rooms protected

Keeping private rooms protected, or out of sight from the home’s public area can be tough for small homes. In small houses, it’s quite easy for guests to see into surrounding rooms from the living hall. Privacy could be jeopardized. That’s why as you set out to create your small house plan, to make private rooms such as bedrooms protected it might be best to come up with a winding design.

Consider high ceilings

Small spaces will look bigger with higher ceilings. Because ceilings are included in house plans, be sure that the ceilings in the most commonly used rooms such as the living room and dining hall are high. The ceilings in these areas should ideally be about eight feet.

Considerations for outdoor living spaces

Having an extended or outdoor living space compensates for the small indoor spaces in small homes. That’s why for small house plan, the outdoor areas should be included. You may choose to have a front porch or a carport built in front of the house and have a private patio built in the back. These areas are great for entertaining guests when they can’t all be accommodated inside during parties or family gatherings. They are also ideal for activities that you enjoy doing most, such as watching the sun as it sets or spending a quiet afternoon with family and friends.

Considerations for the garage

If you have a small home, it could be quite a challenge to build a garage, especially if you have two cars. To maximize your square footage, build a long enough and narrow enough garage that will fit a maximum of two cars.


As for bathrooms, small homes should have only one full bath, ideally in the master bedroom. The second bath should just include a shower. This allows occupants to still enjoy a good bath simultaneously on both bathrooms while maximizing space.


Another great tip to make a small house look larger is to allow plenty of natural light in. Larger windows and skylights may be considered in the living room and dining hall.

Your Deck Is Glowing (With Fire Features)

As water features will accent your pool, fire features are the newest must-have craze for your outdoor living space. Water might cool you down and quench your thirst but fire is the hot ticket right now.  Fire features add ambiance and drama to the flames and give you another reason to go outside.

House plans like this one have an outdoor fireplace in their sitting area. The perfect place to sit back and relax on a cooler night.

Fire and water have long gone together. Fire is a natural complement to water. The growth in fire features seems to simply parallel the growth in water features for pools.

Fire features are also going upscale. No longer is it just a simple fire pit anymore for the outdoor living space, they’ve been taken it up a notch so that they now match any patio furniture and have features such as automated ignition and propane tanks hidden in pull out drawers.  Fire features like these create an instant impact with the push of a button for your outdoor living space.

Fire pits have even morphed into ‘fire furniture.’ There are fire tables, fire bars, and fire banquettes where the flame area is surrounded by porcelain tile, decorative metal, natural stone, or slate.

This large Cape Cod style house plan delights with a charming outdoor entertainment area. The covered porch brings an indoor feel outside where you’ll be enjoying the crisp fresh air.

When shopping for a fire feature you’ll need to choose what’s more important for your outdoor living area—easy ambiance or real warmth. Wood-burning features offer more heat but of course require more maintenance.  You have to have a pit large enough to build a fire as well as fire tools and a spark screen. You also need to make sure the fire pit you buy is sturdy. It is a real fire after all, and cheap units will break down and crack easily under the heat. Propane fire pits are of course much easier to deal with, but they also produce less heat.

Much like a barbeque grill, fire features can start very simple and go all the way to really elaborate.  You can get fire furniture; a fireplace, a fire pit, or a firepot, there is something for every pocketbook and whim.  If you are a little nervous about a fire pit, then an outdoor fireplace might be the better option for you, particularly one with a screen for protection.

This beautiful estate-like house plan features a covered porch with a magnificent outdoor fireplace.


A fire feature might be on your wish list for a new home, but making sure you have ample outdoor entertainment space should be your first priority. If you have or are planning on an outdoor kitchen, you can also consider an outdoor living room where the fire feature will be complimented. Check out Direct from the Designer’s collection of outdoor living house plans for some inspiration.

What To Consider When Building A Garage

garage plan

Here are some tips to keep in mind when building a garage.

Consider your needs now and in the future. Do you need space for lots of lawn equipment? Or do you plan on buying a boat that needs storage? It is important to know what you want to use the garage for so you make it the right size.

When selecting a Garage plan try and select one within your needs. Take into consideration any living space you may want to build into the garage plan. Also are you considering building a living space that includes a kitchen and a full bathroom? Make sure when picking a plan that it will fit all of your needs.

Also be sure your plan meets your county’s building codes before building your garage, get the permits you need, and make certain that the size and features fit in with the codes in the town you live in.

When picking out a Garage plan make sure it fits the style of your existing home. Selecting a garage plan that fits in with the existing property is important; return on investment can be affected if it doesn’t.

Some Reasons to Consider Building a Garage:

  • Increase storage space.
  • Garages can protect equipment and cars.
  • Provide additional living space for visitors if made with the right amenities.
  • If built well they can increase the value of your property as a whole.

If you are considering building a home or out-building, take a look out some of our garage plans or visit us at www.dfdhouseplans.com

Top 3 French Country House Plans

French style is simple and elegant, and it’s easy to see that a French Country house plan will exude the charm of the French countryside.  As well as being elegant there are two key characteristics that define the French Country house plan collection—variety, and details.

At only 2,000 square feet you would be surprised how many features are packed into this welcoming French Country house plan. Beyond the front porch, a gas log fireplace warms a spacious great room. Just off of the great room is a unique hobby room. Meanwhile the island kitchen facilitates entertaining and the outdoor kitchen continues the hospitality. The master suite features such luxuries as a corner garden bath, perfect for quiet afternoons.

Variety is the key word here.  There are lots of different silhouettes but in the French Country house plan collection you will find a mesh of different textures set against elegant facades adorned with stucco, brick, stone, or a combination.  Roof styles vary, too. You can find a house plan with a traditional hip, mansard, or a simple gable roof.

This grand castle-like French Country house plan will capture the attention of passersby with its tasteful use of stone and brick on the exterior. The interior of this house plan features rooms arrayed with a nod toward practical design which allow for ease of living, impressive entertaining, and magnificent views. This house plan seems like it should come from a storybook. With features such as a circular foyer, spiral staircase, a keeping room and a cozy library, this house plan will have you feeling like you are royalty. This house plan would be ideal for a lot with picturesque views such as a lake, river, mountains, golf course, or formal gardens.

Details are another key when it comes to French Country house plans. You may find things such as shuttered windows and coppertop bays that add charm and beyond those you’ll find attractive arches, striking keystones and corner quoins.

Dormer windows and shutters bring out of the French Country detailing of this house plan. With stone-and-cedar shingle façade and details like a large arched window and its second story sister, this house is a marvelous combination of texture and style. The entry door features a transom and sidelights that let in natural light to the vaulted foyer. A formal dining room and a den flank the foyer through French doors. A half bath and coat closet are at the far end of the first floor. With four bedrooms this house plan is perfect for a large or growing family.

French Country house plans come in a variety of styles from a modest farm house to an estate-like chateau. Above all, the French Country style pours forth rustic warmth and comfortable design.  You can see plans like these and many more in the French Country house plan collection from Direct from the Designers.

House Plan of the Week: HHF-8292

house plans
This French Country house plan packs a lot into a single level without losing its elegance. This home is sure to please.

This single story home exudes a friendly and inviting atmosphere with its French Country façade. When you enter through the foyer, to your immediate right is a front-facing den that would make a great home office. The foyer also leads to a dramatic vaulted great room sure to impress visitors.

On one side of the great room is the kitchen and dining area, which flows into a luxurious outdoor entertaining/living space. Here you can enjoy the fireplace and an outdoor kitchen, complete with a barbecue grill. This outdoor kitchen area is the perfect place for enjoying the summer weather and entertaining friends at your parties and gatherings.

house plans
This house plan’s outdoor living space consists of a covered dining area and outdoor kitchen. This is the perfect place to host and entertain your guests, be it a casual party, family reunion or an annual summer barbecue.


The bedrooms are located in the left and right sides of the house. Walking through the dining room leads to a hallway where bedrooms two and three are located just off of the main living area.  But the master suite is set away on the other side of the house. This romantic master suite houses a spacious bedroom, plenty of closet space, and a large bathroom. In the bathroom, a sunken tub is the prime feature in this space, giving you a place to indulge yourself after a long day.

house plans
Also boasting a luxurious master suite, this house plan will allow you to get away from it all with room for a sitting/reading area and a spa-like bathroom. It’s the perfect place to relax and have a little private time.

A stairway leads to an upper floor with a bonus room and a guest or hobby room. These spacious rooms are the perfect space for additional entertainment or as a guest suite. With 4,352 square feet, this home is fully equipped for luxury and its beautiful design has made it one of our best selling house plans.

Read more about this elegant French Country house plan at Direct from the Designers.

The Williamsburg Collection is a Perfect Match for Colonial House Plans

There is no denying the appeal of classic and historical houses. With the help of Benjamin Moore® you can construct a new home with authentic historical colors from their Williamsburg Collection. A set of 144 paints based on the original pigments that were developed over 250 years ago. This rich palette of American colors is available in a variety of finishes, from rich, velvety flats to the highest gloss. These are versatile enough to be incorporated into any house style but would be perfect in any colonial home to create a historical look that is also rich and contemporary.

This foyer looks modern and classic. It achieves this by using four colors from Benjamin Moore’s® Williamsburg Collection to create a dynamic mix. This technique may be used in any home but is especially complimentary to the colonial collection from Direct from the Designers. This particular design uses Ewing Blue, Chesapeake Blue, Hardwood Putty, and Market Square Shell.

When talking about American Colonial architecture, we often refer to the original thirteen colonies. The building styles of these original colonies were influenced by styles from England and traditions brought by the settlers from other parts of Europe. The buildings typically feature steep roofs, small leaded glass casement windows, rich ornamentation and a central chimney. The traditional orientation of these buildings was southeast in order to maximize light in the northern parts of the States. Similarly, houses in southern colonies generally faced northeast to minimize heating by the sun.

An elegant country porch style home is just a click away. This colonial house plan is both classic and contemporary with an inviting screened-in porch and deck. Inside, homebuilders will find dramatic spaces with true flexibility. With a generous amount of living area and lots of multi-purpose rooms with exciting features in an affordable 1,992 square feet, this house plan has everything to offer including the possibility for future expansion.

One of the areas where historical colonial houses and modern colonial house plans differ is in the interior floor plan. A large portion of the house plans offered are direct reproductions from the American Colonial period, but the interior has been modified with desired amenities. When looking at these homes you will see similar style in the symmetry, columns, gables and dormers. Passersby might be fooled by a new home so closely inspired by the colonial period. Exteriors of colonial house plans could be fashioned of brick, lap siding, or stone but visitors will see that your home does not replicate the boxy interior designs of the 17th and 18th centuries. Instead, a modern colonial house plan is likely to have an open and up-to-date floor plan.

Regardless of whether you live in a colonial house that needs a new paint job or you really want a classic American look, Direct from the Designers colonial house plans and Benjamin Moore’s® Williamsburg Collection are a match made in heaven that will give the history buff in you something to smile about and keep your newly built house looking fresh and modern.

Best-Selling Southern House Plans Direct from the Designers

With summer around the corner, I find myself watching a lot of old movies that feature Southern plantation houses that look majestic in the sunlight and feature extravagant outdoor living spaces.

Now, you might be imagining a home like the one from Gone With the Wind or even one of the homes from The Help, but Southern styling reaches across a wide variety of house plan styles to combine charm, elegance, and historical flair.

southern house plans, farm house plans, traditional house plans
A key feature in this house plan is all based on the needs of a large family. The rear-loading stairwell, accessed from the rear entry, allows younger members of the family to go outside or to the breakfast table with minimal disturbance. The stately columns add to the majesty of this beautiful home and the large front porch emanates Southern hospitality.

When you think of Southern plantation houses you probably think of the Old South and the antebellum style. These houses were largely based on the Greek Revival and neoclassical periods. The columns, the stately silhouette, and other features we think of as being Southern were introduced by Anglo-Americans who moved to the South after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Modern Southern architecture has transformed to incorporate a wide variety of tastes.

In the early 1800s, Americans identified more with the Grecian style of architecture than the British styles. If you imagine the Parthenon, you can tone down some of the decorative details and get an idea of what these stately homes looked like.  Commonly these home were made of white clapboard exteriors, decorative pilasters, and dentil moldings and heavy cornices. Though there are still some of these historical buildings around, many of the more modern takes blend the Greek Revival style with the Southern Colonial style.

southern house plans, traditional house plans
Unlike traditional Southern architecture, this house plan does not have the symmetrical façade. This blends the elements of Southern style into a modern, one-story design with lots of curb appeal and room for expansion.

Colonial style originated in the Southern American colonies. Unlike the Northern colonial styles the Southern style had a chimney at the end instead of the center. Other features were a centered front door, multi-pane, tall, double-hung windows, steep gabled roofs, and a narrow plan, often only one row deep. There are also tall foundation walls to protect against moisture damage, and a large welcoming porch.

With a range of styles from the simple cottage to stately homes these houses share a few common features. Unlike Victorian or craftsman homes, these houses are often symmetrical with porches, columns and shuttered windows. Some are also raised off the ground in order to give a good view of the surrounding. Gables and dormers are also a key feature where the roof design is concerned.

southern house plans
This grand Southern-style two-story home has stately columns and eye-pleasing symmetry. An impressive curved staircase greets guests as they move beyond the foyer into the vaulted family room, where a fireplace adds ambience. View additional photographs of this Southern Belle.

Regardless of whether you choose a French Creole, Antebellum, Greek Revival or Georgian inspired Southern house plans, you will find that these plans are warm and inviting, embodying the spirit of Southern hospitality.

Outdoor Home Features Projected to Increase in Popularity

Consumers see outdoor features as an investment; trends identified for 2013 include outdoor kitchens, entertainment spaces, fire pits, pools and dining areas. Direct from the Designers offers outdoor living spaces to meet this growing demand.


Demand for unique outdoor home features, such as kitchens, living rooms, pools, patios and pavilions is on the rise, according to data collected by several different professional organizations in the landscaping industry.

In a survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects, industry professionals were asked to rank the projected popularity of several different outdoor features.

Top trends identified for 2013 include:

  •  Outdoor kitchens / entertainment spaces: Topping the list in projected popularity for 2013, outdoor kitchens and gathering areas are becoming a must-have home feature for their versatility and convenience. Specific kitchen features such as gas grills, sinks, refrigerators and fire pits were noted as up-and-coming trends. 
  •  Dining areas: Achieving a 96% popularity rating among industry professionals, demand for outdoor dining spaces is gaining steam, with a focus on features such as installed seating and all-weather furniture.
  •  Water features: Popular with families—and a must-have for hot climates—built-in pools and unique water features (e.g. decorative waterfalls) also ranked high on the list in projected popularity.

A separate survey of more than 2,200 homeowners conducted by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) predicted increased spending on outdoor kitchens, patios and unique water features in the coming year.

According to PLANET CEO Sabeena Hickman (CAE, CMP), consumers are investing in features “that ultimately improve the resale value of the home.”

Tammy Crosby, Chief Operating Officer of online stock house plan provider Direct From the Designers, agrees.

“We see that outdoor living features are currently very popular with both builders and buyers,” commented Crosby. “They see these features as an enjoyable, cost-effective way to extend total living space and improve the home’s resale value.”

Crosby continued, “Because adding under-air square footage to a home can be an expensive endeavor, outdoor spaces such as living rooms, patios and kitchens can be a great alternative for homes of all sizes.”

Specializing in award-winning house plans from the country’s top architects and designers, Direct From the Designers is responding to the increased demand by offering prospective home buyers a virtually endless array of choices when it comes to unique outdoor spaces. With plans available for homes of all sizes, buyers are discovering that the designs, ranging from simple to high-end, are a great way to add to a home’s value, comfort and space.

The Outdoor Living Plan Collection from Direct From the Designers features hundreds of house plans for every budget, including:

HHF-2297: This top-selling house plan offers several different outdoor features for the whole family. The Barbecue Porch will impress aspiring chefs, while family members will love gathering on the covered lanai. Both rooms are connected by a pass-through fireplace, making this outdoor space a perfect place to spend time, no matter what the season.

HHF-4176: Although this home has slightly less than 2,000 square feet under air, its outdoor features extend the living space well into the backyard. A covered porch just off the family room offers an expanded space for hosting parties or serving large gatherings, while the sun deck serves as an open-air retreat. The unique greenhouse feature provides a transition between inside and out.

HHF-4282: There’s no shortage of outdoor space in this house plan, which features front and rear covered porches, a backyard pergola and an outdoor dining area. You can also take in the view, soak up the sun or relax on the second-story open balconies.

Home buyers and builders can easily browse and sort Direct From the Designers’ expansive collection of house plans on their website, including more than 1,000 options that feature outdoor living spaces, athttp://www.dfdhouseplans.com.

“We expect this trend to continue,” said Crosby. “Which is why we’re constantly adding interesting, affordable house plans with beautiful and unique outdoor spaces.”