Why Universal Design is Smart Design

People often talk about planning for a future. When you are designing a home you need to consider it even more so. Your home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. You want it to last and in many cases outlive you.  That’s where Universal Design comes in.

It may sound a little bit like something out of science fiction but Universal Design aids the idea of aging in place by designing cities, streets, homes, and buildings to appeal and accommodate the needs of a diverse population.

This one-story house plan has an optional second floor for future growth but the first floor can easily be made into the perfect home that stands the test of time by using some principles of Universal Design.

You might think that you don’t need to worry about Universal Design in your home, but the truth is that if you are aging (and all of us are) Universal Design can benefit you in many ways.  Even if you are a couple just about to start your family features like wider doorways and a one-story floor plan can help you accommodate strollers as your family grows and wheelchairs later in life. 

Low counters will allow you and your kids to prepare dinner but will also allow you to sit down. The safety features involved with Universal Design are designed to keep everyone in your home safe with fall prevention, step-free showers, and built-in ramps.

Another beautiful one-story Craftsman house plan that can be made into a great home that will meet your needs for years to come. The beauty of Universal Design is that with some of the safety features and modification in building, you can make sure your home appeals to wide variety of potential buyers and will remain comfortable for years to come.

The best part of Universal Design is that it is all designed to be functional without looking institutional. These modifications can be costly later so if you are looking to build a home now, why not take some of these design principles into your house plan now.

You can browse our accessible or multi-family house plans to get an idea for homes that might be a good fit or you can modify most one-story house plans to have these designs with the guidance of your builder.

5 Tips for Deciding When to Replace Your Front Door

October is Energy Awareness Month and if you are looking for a way to cut on your home’s energy consumption, Therma-Tru® suggests taking a look at your front door. Ideally your front door should be evaluated once a year to determine the door’s operation and energy-efficiency status.

“Every component of a home needs to be replaced at some point over time,” says Derek Fielding, director of product management for Therma-Tru®. “Most homeowners can get years of service out of their front door, but there will come a time when a door needs to be replaced. That is why it is important to annually evaluate and maintain your main entryway.”

4617 House Plan Entry
This front entry door fits in perfectly with this house plan’s exterior color.

Here are some tips to help you determine when to replace your front entry door.

TIP #1: Open your front entry door on dry, wet, and humid days. If your front entry door does not close securely or fit tightly on humid days, it’s most likely leaking air on dry days, which means your home is losing energy.

TIP #2: Weather stripping is very important when it comes to savings. You can save energy by making sure the weather stripping on all sides of your front entry door is not worn out. You can check for this by picking a bright day and checking for daylight flowing through the perimeter. If light is coming in then so can external air and moisture.

2259 entryway
The beautiful front entry door is highlighted by the beautiful cottage appeal of this house plan.

TIP #3: Locks don’t just protect your home, but they can also help you determine if your front door needs to be replaced. Check your locks for smooth operation. If you only have a one-point lock system you should consider upgrading to a front entry door with a multi-point locking system. A multi-point locking system on your next door gives you a tighter fit against your weather stripping and will help to provide greater energy savings.

TIP #4: Touch your door on both hot and cold days. If the exterior temperature is permeating to the inside surface your door may not have adequate insulation. If this is the issue, consider upgrading the door with an ENERGY STAR qualified product for your geographical area. Also remember to consider a multi-point locking system.

Therma Tru Classic-Craft Mahagany
Therma-Tru’s® Classic-Craft® Mahogany Collection™ is a line of front entry doors made from environmentally friendly materials.

TIP #5: You can tell if your door is doing its job based on appearance. If you have a wood door, warping or rotting may occur after years of service and steel doors can dinge and rust over time. Both of these are red flags that your door should be replaced.

Taking a few minutes for a couple of these tips can save you money on your energy bills and keeps your front entryway looking as nice as the rest of your home. Take a look through all the collections at Direct from the Designers to find your perfect house plan, and once you have your perfect house plan you can order a Therma-Tru® entry door that perfectly complements your home’s exterior style.

The Incredible Shrinking Home

There is a new trend in new house plans.  With a changing economic climate, plus environmental concern the size of new American homes has started to decline.  After being in an uphill trend for three decades the last five years have started a slow decline with the size of the average home shrinking by five percent.

This narrow house plan was the first place winner in the 2012 ENERGY STAR House Plan competition. With everything you want in a home, you won’t be disappointed in this house plan. The lovely foyer complete with decorative niche and low walls flows into a living dining room. This space ties together the family room, kitchen, and nook in a new way and allows for natural light. Among other amenities this home features Therma-Tru®, Wolf® and Sub-Zero® technology.

In 1973 the size of the average American home was 1,160 square feet. In 2007, the average size of the American house plan grew 40 percent to 2,521 square feet. In 2010, the average square footage of a new home was 2,392 square feet.  The average size of the American home is expected to shrink another 10 percent by 2015.

Not only is new home construction leading towards smaller homes but demand for these homes in increasing. A third of American homebuyers said that they preferred a home under 2,200 square feet and 28 percent of Americans ages 55 to 59 would prefer a smaller home.

At 1,868 square feet this classic cottage house plan,is the perfect way to downsize and yet live upscale. This house plan was specifically designed to be efficient and economical but have the luxurious amenities that one would expect to find in a larger home.

Why are homes getting smaller? Well trends point to smaller lots being sold.  In 2011, 22 percent of design firms reported a decrease in lot size.  Then there is also the environmentally conscious side.  Weighing things like how many trees have to be cleared and how much the average energy cost is for a smaller home all make small homes favorable.

So if you are searching for a house plan and are a little worried about square footage, take a moment and look at the benefits of living smaller and your fears will be put at ease. You can even browse the small house plan collection at Direct from the Designers. All the house plans in this collection are less than 2,000 square feet and come in a variety of styles. You are sure to find a house plan that fits your needs.

Top Three Log Cabin House Plans

When I think of Colonial America, I think of a log cabin. I am not sure if it comes from reading Little House on the Prairie as a kid or when I used to play with my brother’s Lincoln Logs, but the image always stuck.  Unfortunately I don’t seem to see a lot of log cabins driving through New England but this historically significant architectural style really shouldn’t be ignored.

Giant windows let natural light pour into the great room of this beautiful log cabin house plan. With an open floor plan this cabin’s space flows freely between the kitchen, dining room, and great room, all of which have a view of its warm fireplace. The master suite has a walk-in-closet that also opens to attic space. This house plan also features a loft that is open to the great room below.

The first examples of log cabin house plan came to the Americas from the Swedish settlers who built them in Delaware in 1638.  After the Revolutionary War other colonists followed suit as they began to move westward. The log cabin became the typical home of the backwoodsman when the colonists began to encounter thick forests in areas like Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Northwest Territories. Log cabins continued to gain fame in the 1840s when small cabins were used in parades to demonstrate President Harrison’s support of the frontier people. The most famous log cabin house plan in the United States is probably the one where Abraham Lincoln was born, but many other Americans who rose to greatness spent their early years in log cabins.

One look at this log cabin house plan and you can see its beautiful curbside appeal and spacious elegance is perfect for a mountain retreat or a weekend cottage. This two-story house plan is ideal with welcoming covered porches and a rear deck that provides ample opportunity for outdoor entertaining. The large master suite is located on the upper level and provides plenty of privacy with the rest of the upper level open to the living and dining areas below.

Historically, log cabin house plans were essentially one room huts with one door and perhaps one or two small windows. The spaces between the logs were packed with mud and grass to keep out the wind and cold, and because there were no nails the logs were fastened with notched ends or wooden pegs. A log cabin’s roof was made from overlapping rows of short boards and the floor was constructed from hard packed clay. With glass unavailable, the window openings were covered with oiled paper to let in a little light and the room was heated by an open fireplace that served as the stove.

Among the many ways that today’s log cabin house plans differ from those of yore is that they are much more eco-friendly and energy efficient. With today’s technology log cabin house plans come in every form from seasonal cabins to luxurious castle-like estates. Today’s technology also allows for some other options as well. Logs can form the actual framing and structure of the home or simply be added to the exterior for a natural look. Additionally, logs can be either handcrafted with peeled lumber for an authentic appearance or milled for a more consistent look with natural imperfections removed.

This log cabin house plan  is a little more like a warm and cozy castle. Step in from the covered porch with vaulted ceiling and you will find yourself in the foyer with a gracious loft above your head. The foyer leads to a welcoming family room, which in turn opens to a striking great room with a fireplace. In the master suite you will find an embellished private access to the rear deck and a master bath with a whirlpool bath, shower, double vanities and walk-in closet. Not only does this log house plan have all of the amenities but it also provides opportunity for expansion over the breezeway and garage.

 

Details like a stone chimney, metal roof, multiple gables, charming dormers, and a welcoming porch obviously lend more style to the exterior of modern log cabin house plans than the one-room pioneer huts. Additionally the interior may offer open floor plans, a stone fireplace, dramatic vaulted ceilings, and tall windows.  Whatever you are looking for, if a log cabin house plan is your dream, you can find it in the Direct from the Designers log house plan collection.