Open Floor Plan Trends

For the last thirty years, residential architecture has been dominated by open floor plan concepts. The trendy design is accepted due to its ability to join rooms and create more of a social experience within the home. 

 

History 

 

Open floor plans are a relatively new concept in residential home design. Pre-World War II homes were constructed in a basic, one-dimensional layout, often connecting enclosed rooms with a long hallway, positioning the kitchen at the back of the house to be used for service. These configurations were not meant to accommodate modern gatherings. Throughout the 1950s, gatherings were still formal, which means the kitchen was off-limits to guests. 

 

It wasn’t until the post-war years that American families began to change their ways and reform to a more casual form of living. This slowly sculpted the open floor plan in modern construction, allowing families to grow in a spacious environment. By the 1990s, open floor plans became almost the norm for new construction, especially in suburban settings, and that trend holds true today. 

 

Innovation In Construction 

 

An open floor plan in residential architecture refers to a dwelling in which two or more common spaces have been joined to form a larger space by eliminating partition walls. Instead of interior load-bearing walls, heavy-duty beams carry the weight to create a spacious and sound living area. 

 

Simultaneous to American residential reform was the innovation of residential construction. Stronger materials and modern methods allowed open floor plans to be more practical and easier to build. Steel structural beams, central heating systems, drywall, and cinder-block construction made it easier to build larger rooms efficiently. 

 

Floor Plan Configurations 

 

  • Kitchen and dining room: Often, a kitchen and dining area share one common space. Sometimes a kitchen island or peninsula acts as a visual dividing line between the two areas.
  • Dining room and living room: A dining area and living room occupy one shared area. A visual dividing line may be in the form of thoughtfully placed furniture, two different paint colors, stairs leading to a sunken area, or a handrail.
  • Kitchen, dining, and living room: All three areas may be open in a large great room, often with a vaulted ceiling.

 

Advantages of Open Floor Plans

 

  • Better traffic flow. Without doors to open and close and no walls to hinder traffic, people can move through space unhindered.
  • Improved sociability and communication. Without walls, it’s possible to talk to one another across rooms.
  • Shared light. Interior spaces that were once without windows now get natural light from windows in exterior walls.
  • Improved real estate value. In almost every instance, an open floor plan is highly desirable and increases your home’s value to prospective buyers.
  • Easier to watch kids. Parents cooking in the kitchen or setting the dining room table can easily supervise children in the living room.

 

Disadvantages of Open Floor Plans

 

  • Costly to heat and cool. Great rooms with high ceilings are often energy drains, especially when the outer walls are equipped with large windows, as they often are. While traditional floor plans allow you to heat or cool only certain rooms, the entire space must be heated or cooled with an open floor plan.
  • Higher construction cost. Without partition walls, open concepts depend on steel or laminated beams for support. These are costly to install.
  • Poor sound control. Without partition walls to block noise, open concept homes can be very noisy.
  • Lack of privacy. Open floor plans are great for social activity, but they make it hard to find quiet spaces for private reading or study.

How Homebuilding Can Aid Economic Recovery

2020 is a year like no other, where communities must join forces (socially distanced, of course) and make a collective effort to support local businesses in an attempt to keep small-town economies alive. 

A major proponent to flourishing local economies is steady home building. People attract business, and housing attracts people. This year more than ever, the market is experiencing low housing inventory in many suburban communities across the United States. Housing developments create new jobs for citizens and provide desired housing options that attract residents. 

The National Association of Home Builders has tested these economic effects and have divided the economic influx into three phases. 

Phase I

Phase I includes the effects that result directly from construction activity and local industries that contribute to it. This consists of all contracted services, such as electricians, plumbers, architects, and engineers. Phase I also includes related jobs, such as truck drivers, developers, and bankers.

Phase II

Phase II includes the effects that occur as a result from the wages and profits from Phase I being spent in local economies. 

Phase III

Phase III is an ongoing effect that includes property tax payments and local spending by the occupants of the new housing units. 

As shown in the NAHB three-phase economic process, multiple forms of local income can be generated through residential construction. From more basic flows of income, such as workers spending their hourly wages on local goods and services, to more steady streams of income like annual property taxes paid. Local governments prosper from new residencies and more activity within the community. 

Hot Water Heaters

When the time comes to replace your old water heater, you’ll want to choose an energy-efficient water heater unit that will provide enough water for your household. Ultimately, water heaters provide a fast, effective method for getting hot water instantly to faucets and fixtures. If you are looking to buy a new water heater for your home and wondering what your options are, this guide walks you through the most popular types. 

 

Tank Water Heater 

A traditional tank water heater uses insulated storage tanks to hold large amounts of water, keeping it hot until needed, then releasing it through the pipes. They’re powered by natural gas, electricity, or propane, and the water always stays heated. Tank water heaters are the most popular because they are easier to maintain and repair and less expensive than tankless water heaters. 

 

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless gas water heaters or electric tankless water heaters are also called instantaneous or on-demand units. In replacement of a storage tank, the water circulates through a coil system that heats the water as needed. It saves energy by only working while you’re using hot water. Since they don’t have storage tanks, they’re usually smaller than storage water heaters. 

 

Condensing Water Heater

Condensing water heaters have a tank like a conventional storage-tank water heater, but they capture the extra gas fumes that would generally be expelled from home out of the flue. Condensing water heaters are a highly efficient water heater for homes with natural gas and are an energy-efficient option. This type of heater is also suitable for a household that requires around 55 gallons of hot water or more. 

 

Solar Water Heaters

A water heater that is solar powered draws its energy from the sun and is practical in any climate. This type of water heater features two parts: a solar collector and an insulated storage tank. The unit can be installed on the roof or even in the yard. 

 

Heat Pump Water Heater

Also known as hybrid water heaters, this design captures heat from the air and transfers it to the water. Although they are pricier than standard electric heaters, they use about 60% less energy. However, keep in mind the heat pump is placed on top of the water heater. Factor in around 8-feet of open space from the floor to your ceiling.

 

 

 

Masonry Construction

Building with masonry is a timeless art form that goes back many centuries. Nowadays, masonry construction is a choice for many homeowners due to the aesthetic appeal it adds to a home. 

 

Masonry consists of assembling structures from single units that are laid and bound together with mortar. This construction technique is popular for various projects due to its many advantages. Here are a few of the great benefits of masonry construction: 

 

  • Masonry is non-combustible and offers high resistance against rotting, termites, mold, and fungus.
  • Masonry structures have long lifespans and require less maintenance than many other building materials.
  • Being both durable and resistant, masonry withstands large amounts of weight and heavy storms, heat, and cold.
  • Finally, this construction technique can add insulation, ultimately lowering your utility bills.

 

Brick, stone, and concrete blocks are the most common materials used in masonry construction. We’ll dive into the advantages and disadvantages of each material.

 

Brick Masonry

brick masonry

Bricks are easier to handle and transport, not to mention cheaper than stones and concrete. Depending on the structural requirements, they adhere to different types of mortar. On the downside, bricks are less durable than stone and concrete. There are also fewer options in regard to size and color. 

 

Stone Masonry

stone masonry

This construction technique is used for building foundations, floors, retaining walls, arches, walls, and columns. Stones used for masonry construction are natural rocks and are the most durable building materials. Compared to bricks, one of the main benefits of stones is the variety of colors, sizes, and textures. However, stone masonry does require skilled workers due to ensure the structure is safe. 

 

Concrete Block Masonry 

concrete masonry

Also known as concrete masonry unit (CMU), concrete block masonry consists of solid or hollow blocks found in many sizes and colors. Concrete blocks can be manufactured to meet any size requirements for specific projects. The material is the most resistant to weather, mold, and pests. On the other hand, concrete masonry requires more manpower. Concrete blocks also increase the amount of steel to reinforce cement concrete structures. 

 

7 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

We often think of air pollution as something that could affect us outside. However, as Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors, keeping indoor air as clean as possible is essential. 

You can make simple changes to reduce the number and exposure of air pollutants in your home. Here are seven things you can do right away to improve the air quality in your home:

Get Rid of Mold

In bathrooms and kitchens, mold and mildew can easily grow where moisture levels are higher than the rest of your house. Plus, the hot summer months can bring about incredibly humid conditions. Exposure to mold can lead to respiratory issues like allergies and asthma. Invest in a dehumidifier in an HVAC system to reduce humidity levels and create comfortable living conditions in your home. 

Purchase an Air Purifier

Using air purifiers is another effective way to limit air pollutants. There’s a variety of indoor air quality products on the market to combat common indoor pollutants. Place purifiers in the house’s most commonly used areas, including the kitchen, bedroom, and living room. 

Invest in Indoor Plants

Houseplants can detoxify indoor air naturally. Spider plants, Chinese evergreens, snake plants, and aloe vera are all plants that NASA recommends for the best air purification.

Increase Ventilation

Proper airflow and ventilation are crucial for good indoor air quality. Over time, dust and mold can accumulate in your ducts. Opening your windows and cleaning your ducts allows harmful air pollutants and allergens to circulate outside, thereby limiting your exposure to it. 

Clean and Vacuum 

Rugs and carpets can easily trap dust particles in their many fibers. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, strong suction, and rotating brushes to suck up all the dust and dirt. Try to vacuum once or twice a week, and don’t forget about furniture, shades, and sheets. 

Keep it Outside

People can track all sorts of chemicals from the dirt on their shoes. Put a large floor mat at every entrance. By simply wiping your shoes off, you can reduce the amount of dirt and pollutants fin your home. 

With summer nearing an end, many of us will be spending more time indoors. Determine what you need in place to keep your indoor air quality high all winter long. 

 

Penthouse Sale Breaks Two Records

Earlier this month, a contract was signed marking the sale of the Leete penthouse at the Residences at 66 High Street. 

 

It was a sale that broke two records in New Haven County. 

 

The penthouse is the only condominium unit to sell above $3 Million in New Haven County – and the second-highest also belongs to 66 High Street. They are the only two condominium units to sell above $2 Million to date. 

 

In addition, the penthouse also broke 66 High Street’s previous record for the highest price per square foot in New Haven County, at over $912 per square foot. 

 

All units within our award-winning development are unique. With attention to detail, finishing touches by residents, and differing layouts, the residences offer unparalleled luxury and craftsmanship. The 4,000 square foot penthouse encompasses the top floor of the Leete building and boasts panoramic views of Long Island Sound. 

 

“These are luxury residences in the best location with the best amenities. There’s nothing in the state of Connecticut like 66 High Street.”

– Kenny Horton, Founder and Partner of the Horton Group.

 

For us, this doesn’t just mark another sale. As we get ready to welcome another member to the development, it represents Horton Group’s vision and commitment to quality construction, exceptional luxury, and community.

 

Interested in the Residences at 66 High Street? There are currently four units left in the Leete Building, all available for immediate closing. Contact us for more information. 

Builder Confidence Increased in July 2020

News about low inventory and historic low mortgage rates has been garnering a lot of attention in the housing market. While real estate agents have been noticing a recovery in the market for the past couple of months, the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) is also showing an increase in builder confidence. 

 

July 2020 Builder Confidence

 

In July, builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes jumped to 72 points, up from 58 points in June. This is a significant increase from April, when builder confidence plummeted to a low of 30 points, the lowest level since 2012.

 

The HMI is a monthly survey that has been conducted for 30 years. It gathers information about builder perceptions and buyer traffic for single-family homes. Anything above 50 points indicates a positive outlook for the market, and below 50 indicates a negative outlook. 

 

The Appeal of New Construction

 

Buyers are actively searching for homes. With low inventory and the desire for a floorplan to meet needs created by the pandemic (like home offices and outdoor living spaces), builders are seeing more interest from prospective buyers. 

 

“Builders are seeing strong traffic and lots of interest in new construction as existing home inventory remains lean,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke.  “Moreover, builders in the Northeast and the Midwest are benefiting from demand that was sidelined during lockdowns in the spring. Low interest rates are also fueling demand, and we expect housing to lead an overall economic recovery.”

 

Low mortgage rates aren’t just for existing homes, they extend to new construction. If you are a prospective buyer who isn’t haven’t luck with current inventory, consider building new or looking at new developments.

Lighting for Your Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor living spaces have become more popular and have moved beyond the basic deck with table and chairs. Homeowners are creating beautiful outdoor spaces with a warming and peaceful atmosphere to enjoy their backyard’s comfort. Just like inside your home, your outdoor space requires proper lighting. 

Whether your style is traditional or modern, outdoor lighting options come in many shapes and sizes. Ultimately, you will want to choose a combination of outdoor and landscape lighting to create the ambiance you are looking for. Keep reading to discover the best illumination options for a more striking backyard. 

 

String Lights

A budget-friendly option, string lights are the easiest way to create a relaxing environment in your yard. All you need is a power outlet and structures to attach the lights. If you don’t have any accessible outlet, opt for solar-powered string lights. 

 

 

 

Ceiling Lights 

outdoor fan

Ceiling lights can provide more direct and general lighting. Consider installing a ceiling fan, which will help keep your outdoor areas cool during the hot summer months. Just keep in mind many ceiling fans are required to be installed by a professional, but you don’t need an expert to help you pick one out!

 

Pendants and Chandelier

outdoor pendantIf you are looking for more decorative options, hanging a pendant or chandelier will transform your outdoor living space into a stylish and elegant backyard escape. This is a great lighting option for counters and bar areas, creating an intentional space for entertaining that you and your family can enjoy year-round. 

 

Landscape Lighting

landscape lightingHave you been working hard on your landscaping all summer long? Landscape lighting can be used to create focal points in your yard to highlight your landscape elements such as trees, plants, and flowers. Not only will this lighting option create a soft glow, but it will also provide a focal point in your yard. 

 

Path Lights

path lighting

Path lighting is designed to help navigate walkways to help you and your guests move safely and comfortably after dark. Use outdoor lanterns near driveways and deck railings and wall-mounted lanterns next to doors to create a welcoming space. 

 

 

 

Table and Floor Lamps

outdoor lighting - lamps

If you don’t have the structure to hang string lights or install a ceiling fan, a table or floor lamp is made for the outdoors too! Create a cozy reading nook or a relaxing conversation area with a wet-rated lamp or lantern. 

 

 

It is also important to factor in lighting control for your outdoor living spaces. Consider using dimmers to adjust your light level or timers to turn on and off lights automatically. Whether you are creating a relaxing escape or an entertaining space, well-planned lighting will help you achieve the ultimate outdoor experience. 

Bathroom Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you’re planning to sell or trying to make your home more comfortable, a bathroom renovation is one of your best investments. While remodeling is an exciting project, it requires careful planning to ensure the space is both functional and serene. Save yourself some stress and money by learning about these bathroom remodeling mistakes and how to avoid them.

 

Mistake 1: Not Setting a Budget

Before you start remodeling, make sure you know how much money you are willing to spend. Bathroom remodeling can become expensive, so it is important to prioritize. What are the top three items on your wishlist? Factor in the cost for those items first, and then determine what you can do with the leftover budget. 

 

Mistake 2: Neglecting Layout

Before installing your new shower, take some time to consider how it will affect the layout of the bathroom. Nothing is worse than a bathroom that feels cluttered and uncomfortable. If the room is too small for a bathtub, opt for a luxurious walk-in shower. Simply changing out a swinging door for a sliding door can improve the use of the existing space. 

 

Mistake 3: Poor Lighting

By prioritizing lighting, you can transform your bathroom. Recessed lighting in the shower is mounted in the ceiling and won’t get in the way. Good lighting over the sink is essential, as that is where you spend time getting ready for your day. Wall sconces over a vanity mirror cast fewer shadows than other lighting options. 

 

Mistake 4: Not Enough Storage

Just like every room in the house, storage is essential in the bathroom. You need plenty of space for towels, cosmetics, hair care, and other bathroom essentials. Opt for a vanity drawer with plenty of space, and include some shelves in your shower for shampoo and soaps. A linen closet is ideal for extra towels and bulkier items. 

 

Mistake 5: No Ventilation 

Proper airflow will prevent your walls from peeling or growing mold. Especially if you don’t have a window in your bathroom, high-quality ventilation is critical. Don’t forget to ask your contractor how to ensure air circulation before beginning your renovation.  

 

With these tips, you’re on your way to a bathroom tailored to your comfort and budget. What does your dream bathroom look like? 

 

New Construction Loans

Buying a home may require a mortgage, but building your dream home requires a different type of mortgage – a construction loan. New construction loans can help pay for home building or renovations and work differently from traditional loans. We’ll delve into what you need to know about a construction loan and how it works. 

 

What is a new construction loan?

A construction loan is a short-term loan that covers the costs of work and materials for new-build homes. Some of the items you can finance with a construction loan include permits, contractor labor, roof framing costs, and many other expenses that come with building a house. 

 

Types of New Construction Loans

Construction lenders provide different types of loans for a variety of homebuilding scenarios. Here are some financing options when building a new house:

 

Construction-to-Permanent

Also known as “single-close” construction loans, this type of loan converts to a permanent mortgage after construction is completed. The benefit with construction-to-permanent is that there is only one set of closing costs to pay, reducing your overall fees.

 

Construction-only

Construction-only loans are also referred to as “two-close” construction loans that require closing on two different loans. The first loan is taken out for the construction. Once work is completed, the loan is paid off with a new loan, called an end loan. The end loan is based on terms locked-in as the home nears completion. 

 

Renovation Construction Loan 

If you want to upgrade your existing home instead of building one, you can look for a renovation loan. This type of loan comes in various forms depending on the amount of money you’re planning on spending. 

 

How Construction Loans Work

As mentioned previously, new home construction loans work much differently from the typical mortgage loans. The lender pays the loan to the contractor, not the borrower, in installments. Once the project has been completed, construction loans can be either converted to permanent mortgage or paid in full. 

 

How to get a Home Construction Loan

Before applying for a loan, the borrower should meet with the designated contractor to understand the total cost to build so a  loan amount can be established. The lender will then review a borrowers’ employment history, savings, income stability, and ability to pay back the loan. A property appraisal will also be obtained to support the value of the project. To qualify you will need an excellent credit score, stable income, low debt-to-income ratio, and a down payment of 20 percent. 

 

How to Find a Lender

It is important to find a lender who specializes in construction lending and isn’t new to the process. Research several lenders to obtain detailed information about their background and specific programs. We recommend that you compare construction loan rates, terms, and down payment requirements to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. 

 

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