Custom Home Building Articles
When you remodel or build a new house, a utility room may not be at the top of your priority list, but according to Diana Schrage, an interior designer at Kohler Co, “the utility room is one of the new emerging spaces in the American home.” These rooms can be beautiful as well as functional and can be customized to fit your particular needs. For example, consider installing an in-floor sink to make rinsing off a muddy dog easy! For more tips on how to make a utility room fit your needs, check out this article.
When you design and build your new home, you’ll need to consider how comfortable and accessible it will be for long term use. Incorporating Universal Design features will help make a home that anyone can live in or visit. Some of these features include building a first floor bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, having a no-step entryway and making hallways and doorways wide enough for wheelchair access. Check out this page from the AARP to learn more about Universal Design features and aging in place.
While it’s important to discuss needs and requirements for your new home, custom home builders agree that a great home starts with a conversation about what you love – in your existing home, in homes of friends, in homes you’ve seen pictured in magazines.
That’s because building a great custom home is really about emotion. The more your custom home builder knows about how you want to feel in your home, the more he or she can do to find the materials, layout, design, products and finishes to create that custom feeling in your new home.
Builders love it when homeowners begin to talk about the life they envision in a new custom home. Builders hear, for example, that a homeowner wants a home that makes it easier to enjoy time together with family and friends. Right then and there it’s clear that the new home will probably include open, relaxed living spaces and kitchens that invite everyone to join in cooking and socializing. When clients talk about their favorite pastimes or passions, builders can think about ways to create custom spaces for doing these things — like including room for a beautifully organized craft center or a backyard patio perfect for treating the Cub Scouts to an evening of S’mores.
Remember, a lot of new home builders can give you good energy savings, smart technology, and good design and finishes. But what makes custom homes different is that they’re not just built to satisfy needs, they’re built to satisfy the heart as well.
While the term “green building” is familiar, many homeowners wonder exactly how custom green building differs from traditional home building – and how green custom homes themselves are different. Let’s take a look at some very basic distinctions.
- Energy and water conservation: This is often a homeowner’s primary motivation for choosing a green custom home builder. So, in planning the home, a green builder looks for every possible avenue for saving energy and water — from designing in Energy Star appliances and highly efficient low-flow fixtures, to insulation, efficient lighting and use of renewal energy such as solar power or geothermal heating and cooling.
- Location: A prospective site for a green custom home is always evaluated in terms of sustainability. For example, will the house be near existing infrastructure (roads, sewer, etc.)? The closer it is to existing infrastructure, the lower its impact on the environment – and that’s an important aspect of green building.
- Green building materials: The emphasis is on materials that are recycled, renewable, and local. In terms of recycled materials, there are a variety of options, including recycled glass or architectural elements salvaged from other projects. For flooring, a green custom home may incorporate renewable resources such as bamboo or cork – but not if the cost and carbon footprint of transporting these materials is greater than using more locally produced options. Note that the increasing popularity and availability of green products is expanding design options while giving homeowners price points comparable to non-green products.
- Indoor health and comfort: Experienced custom green builders are always conscious of avoiding building materials and products that are unhealthy for homeowners. Paint, carpet, and even some wallboard and cabinets can give off toxic gases. In addition, they pay careful attention to ventilation and a right-sized – properly sealed — heating and cooling system. This ensures good indoor air quality and the right balance of moisture, and it eliminates hot and cold spots that can make homes uncomfortable. Finally, green custom homes include plenty of natural light – a feature that not only saves energy, but creates a brighter “mood” in the home.
Again, this is just a very simplified way to talk about the differences between a green custom home and a traditional custom home. The point, however, is that there is a difference – one that is important for the homeowner’s enjoyment of the home, energy bill, and role in living more gently on the planet.