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Home Design | Home Plans

24Oct/14Off

The History of Spanish Colonial Home Plans

Historically speaking, the area now comprising the U.S. had two types of colonial home plans styles: the English colonial typical of the north Atlantic coast, and the Spanish colonial typical of the Gulf coast and the southwest. There has been a great deal written about the English colonial architectural style, but relatively little about the Spanish. The territory in which Spanish colonial architecture dominated extends from the Mexican border northward, including the part of California south of Sonoma County, the whole of New Mexico and Arizona, most of Texas and Florida, and parts of the Gulf states.

The Spanish conquest of America began in 1519 with the defeat of the Aztecs. Soon thereafter missionaries arrived to convert the heathen. By the mid-seventeenth century there were three dozen missions in northern Mexico; and by 1800 missions had been established as far north as Baja California and Arizona. By this time also the viceroys who ruled Mexico were expanding their political hegemony into what is now American California, and settlers were moving in - some of whom became wealthy and built dwellings similar in style to the old country. By the mid-eighteenth century the chain of mission churches, which was the backbone of Spanish civilization in North America and the chief agency of colonization, had been established (reaching San Francisco by 1776, and reaching its northern limit in Sonoma by 1823).

Because of the influence of the structural forms developed by the pueblo Indians before the Spanish arrived, the Spanish style house plans of New Mexico are very different from those which arose in other states. This style may be considered equally Spanish and Indian in character - Spanish in idea, form and plan but Indian in detail and methods of construction. As a result, this architecture has a quaint, primitive interest.

In Texas, the Franciscan style of architecture prevailed. Franciscan missions consisted of the following buildings, laid out for convenience and easy defense: the church, priests' house (usually there were two priests - one in charge of temporal affairs and the other spiritual matters), shops for trades and crafts taught to the Indians, storehouses, kitchen and dining areas, guard rooms for military, hospital, young men's and young women's quarters, school rooms, barns and other agricultural structures, and a village for Indian families. The trades and crafts taught included carpentry, basketry, shoemaking, pottery, fruit growing, stock raising and butchering. Usually Spanish house plans were arranged around an open courtyard flanked by cloister-like arcades, which afforded communication between rooms and buildings. The church was at one side, and often was constructed with an open chapel (three-sided, in order to hasten construction and permit more people to enter). Most of the buildings, including the church, were designed with military purposes in mind and thus tended to be plain and massive. Although as time went on an intricate and elaborate style of ornamentation was often used, still the simple, solid construction as exemplified by the California missions held sway.

19Oct/14Off

Small House Plans – Ten Quick Tips on Home Design For That Smaller House Plan

 

Picking and designing home plans is a blast. One of the nice things about my work in building and remodeling is the chance to learn from various industry professionals. And working with architects to design homes is one of the most fun.
 
I'd like to share some things I've learned when designing or selecting a smaller home. Smaller house plans require a little more scrutiny and creativity so they feel larger when lived in.
 
WHAT IS IT YOU REALLY NEED?
 
If you're thinking of building a smaller home, pay attention to these factors and your home will feel and be more livable.

  • One or more rooms should extend wall to exterior wall where possible.
  • Keep the interior open and flowing, not cut up.
  • Eat in a bigger kitchen and eliminate the formal Dining Room.
  • Have French doors open to a screened in or sun room.
  • Have plenty of windows in main living areas.
  • Try a shared, larger bathroom with a separate toilet room.
  • Reduce or eliminate hallways.
  • Try a detached garage with plenty of storage in the attic.
  • Use vaulted ceilings where possible with a loft.
  • Instead of 8 foot ceilings, increase to 10 foot.

Home Plan Design Requires Scrutiny
 
Use these tips to select pre-made plans or when using an architect. Either way, you should make decisions on what is most important to you in a home. For most, small homes need to feel large and inviting.
 
The goal is to make the best use of the available space in every place possible. Finding spaces for storage is vital. Combined rooms is a big help. Good design will all but eliminate hallways. This gives more space to popular areas.
 
CONCLUSION
 
Small doesn't have to be cramped. If you list your priorities and put your emphasis on what's most important, you'll get what you really want despite the size. Happy homebuilding!

16Oct/14Off

Home Designing Holistic Approch

When starting a new home design (or any building or development project) it is important to know what it is that you want. It sounds simple but it is not necessarily so.

Let's look at a few of the things to consider for a new home design: Of course the basics of how many bedrooms, bathrooms, garage or carport. Also for consideration: Who will be living there? What are the lifestyles? Are there children? What are their ages? Are they in school, college? How many people of driving age? Are there boats? RV's? Quads? Is time spent outdoors playing, swimming, BBQ? Is the family "on the go" or is dinner time spent together? How many years is anticipated for ownership of this home. Are there any handicapped residents? Is there the possibility in the foreseeable future that part of the home will have to be handicap accessible? This list goes on and on. Each answer to the questions above opens the door to other questions. Each project is unique.

Next investigate is the site, know what there is to work with and what are possible constraints. How can alignment of the home added to energy savings (Passive Solar)? Where are the best views? Is there a view that should be blocked? Is there a possibility that someone can build within the viewshed? Will time be spent in the great room, kitchen? Where can natural light be used to its fullest? Should west windows be limited or eliminated? How does the driveway interact with the main entrance, garage, and most used entrance? Will there be a pool? Can slope be utilized for split level floor plan? Does fill dirt need to be brought in? Is it septic or sewer? Where can the leach field be located? What about an alternative leach field? What are the building setbacks? Are there natural areas to be preserved? Are there CC&R's? Is there a Homeowner's Association? Are there special zoning conditions to adhere to? Is it located in a flood zone? Are there any easements, etc.? Again, just a sampling of questions, each project is unique with its own assets and liabilities.

Know what building code is current in the jurisdiction. Are there any special codes or ordinances to be considered? Lighting Code? Accessibility Code? Hillside Development Ordinances? Green Building Requirements? Fire District Codes? What can be done to maximize the efficiency of the home's energy use and conservation? What are the positive and negative points for solar power? Should and can it be tied to "the grid"? Is it possible to offset the cost of heating of the swimming pool with very little cash outlay? Are low flush toilets really economical or is there a better solution? Is an on-demand water heater really practical and cost effective? What low water use plants will add to the exterior appeal and provide shade for the home? Can a "zoned air conditioning system" save money? What about heat pumps? How about mini-splits?

All of these questions have a place and a function in creating the design that will be translated into a set of Construction Documents to permit and build a new residence.

It can be overwhelming for a novice, but there are many qualified designers, draftsmen, architects, and engineers that can help you move through the process.

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