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Choosing a Building Plan from a Collection

Browsing through the web in search of a house plan?  What features are you looking for? Here are a few tips on how to choose the right plan for your new home.


Your land topography will affect your building plans in a big way.  It will save you time and money if you choose a house plan that fits your land rather than trying to make the land fit the plan.  Costly exercises like excavation is often used to amend land to fit plans especially in mountainous countries like Dominica however this may not always be necessary.


The size and shape of your lot can have a great impact on the style of the home you can build, and thus the house plan you will need to choose e.g. a small rectangular shaped lot will restrict the layout and style of the home.


The blueprints commonly referred to as the plan can be changed.  Most times when a plan is selected, the buyer may want to change certain aspects to suit their needs or personal preference or sometimes even the land topography.  Find a house plan that is close enough to what you are looking for and request any necessary changes from your architect.  Say, you spend a lot of time in your kitchen and would prefer have a larger kitchen than a master bedroom; you can request a change to achieve that.


You’ve found the right layout but this house is just too big.  Examine the plans with your architect and discuss cutting down the size of the different areas until you get the house down to the size you are comfortable with.  The reverse is also possible.  It’s a good idea to limit your search, but not too narrow that you don’t allow yourself to see other appealing layouts.


3-D plans are used to assist in visualizing the home when it is complete.  A mistake that some people make is disregarding a home design because of its outer appearance.  The exterior of the house can easily be changed especially if the issue is the finishing like the color, doors and windows displayed.  What is most important is size and layout, so go ahead, examine the house layout and size even though you are not completely sold on the external looks.


Knowing what to look for can speed up the process of choosing the house plan that’s right for you.  It is also wise to have an open mind when searching for a plan.  There are many great house designs out there.  Looking at different homes may broaden your knowledge and may just lead you to a better design that you probably never would have thought of.

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Environmental Impact Assessment

Do you know what an Environmental Impact Assessment is?  This is a formal process used to predict the consequences of a plan, program, policy or project (which we will refer to as projects in this article) prior to making final decisions and execution.


What is the purpose of performing an Environmental Impact Assessment?  The objective of Environmental Impact Assessment includes predicting the impacts a project will have on the environment, finding ways and means to reduce predicted adverse impacts, shaping projects to suit the subject location and presenting the predictions and options to the decision-makers.


Some projects because of their nature, size or location are expected to have an effect on the environment and therefore will be required to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment, whether proposed by public or private individuals.


Projects affect many factors in the environment in ways that may not necessarily be visible to the ordinary man or woman.  Flora, fauna, soil, water, air, landscape and even human beings are some important factors likely to be affected by these projects.


An example we can all relate to is the construction of a new road.  Construction of a new road can positively affect an area by reducing traffic congestion.  On the other hand, land may need to be cut to build the new road which may negatively affect an area by changing its geography and may even disrupt the drainage pattern, thus forcing the redirection of existing watercourses and considering more suitable methods of treating run-offs.


Construction of a new road in an area also means an increase in the number of traffic and thus an increase in air pollution.  It’s possible that emission from vehicles can affect already existing atmospheric pollutants which may then affect human health, animal health and natural resources.  In some areas buildings may have to be moved to accommodate the new road, also affecting the life of the owners and residents of that property.


Environmental Impact Assessment may seem tedious or scary but it is important to have a rational approach to sustainable development, especially given the fact that development is an ongoing process and will impact the environment one way or another.

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Live Different – Imagine the Comfort and Charisma of such Eating Spaces

Kitchens, family rooms, and dedicated dining rooms all offer opportunities for comfortable, attractive eating spaces. Consider these options for creating practical eating areas in your home.

Dining area: For a more formal dining experience, opt for a dedicated dining space separate from the kitchen. A dining area might also be part of a family room, giving the eating area the potential to act either as a formal or casual dining setting, and giving it multi-use possibilities.

Eat-in kitchen: A table and chairs arranged conveniently in an eat-in kitchen saves steps. In addition to a casual eating space, it provides a place to talk, do homework, or socialize with the cook.

Breakfast nook: Placed just off the kitchen, an eating nook is a great option for informal meals away from the messy work core.

Island/peninsula seating: Extend an island or peninsula countertop to create an overhang that invites a row of stools.

Table-height counter: Integrate a table on one end of an island or peninsula for casual seating at table height rather than bar level.

Banquette: One of the best ways to squeeze additional seating into a tight space is to build a banquette along a wall. A banquette can be designed for the kitchen, the dining room, or an adjoining nook.

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Tips on Designing a Multi-functional Family Room

Does your family disagree on how to design the family room? Some members might enjoy a quiet, peaceful space while others like to play music and movies in here. Turn your family room into a place where both kids and adults are welcome. After all, it’s called the “family” room for a reason. Try these tips for designing a multi-functional family room for your home.

Divide the space into sections
Do you have several things going on in this room at once? Rather than making the family room into one big space, divide it into smaller sections. For example, create a seating area around the television or fireplace and keep the play area in its own section. This doesn’t mean you have to put up walls in the family room; create invisible walls by creating lines with furniture, area rugs, paint and so on.

Choose a cohesive theme or style
Even though you might have several zones in this one space, it is all part of one room. While you may separate the sections with different wall colors, everything should work together cohesively. Choose one theme or style for the room and then visually split up the space with separate sections.

Search for multi-functional furniture
When you are designing a multi-functional family room, you might find yourself a little short on space. Choosing furniture that can provide multiple purposes is the perfect solution to this problem. For example, a futon or sofa that folds out into a bed provides extra sleeping space for guests. Benches with inside storage help keep toys organize while giving children a place to sit down.

Consider the flow of traffic
You also need to make sure your traffic flow is not interrupted in a multi-functional space, as in any other room of the house. One section of the room should not inhibit family members from comfortably moving into the other section; this means there should be a clear walking path that doesn’t zigzag around the room.

Layer with different types of lighting
In a room that is used for multiple purposes, you might find use for different types of lighting. Some activities require plenty of bright light, while others require hardly any. Consider the way you use the room and plan your lighting accordingly. Make sure you have several different brightness options.

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What’s the Right House Plan for You?

We learned at school that one of our basic needs is shelter.  When we reach adulthood, it becomes important to have a home we can call our own or necessary to provide shelter to our own family.  At some point in our lives, each of us gets to choose the type of home we live in.  We may have to choose a rental, buy a home or build. Those who choose to build a house may opt to design and build to just satisfy their basic needs while others design based on their personal desires.  Whichever reason you decide to build, the floor plan of the home that you choose will have a great effect on whether you will live comfortably and have made the most economical decisions.


Factors such as your budget and family lifestyle can be used to guide your decision when choosing the right plan for you and your family.  Your monthly commitments, terms of your financial institution and your savings will have a great effect on the home you will choose to build.  This will determine whether you are building to satisfy basic needs or whether you are going for the dream home.


Do you entertain a lot of persons or are you the kind who spends a lot of time in the outdoors?  Think of your site and how the house will fit on it.  What sort of landscaping you would like to have? Are you the one to call friends or neighbours and strike the grill?  The extra space your land provides can be used for fun activities or simply relaxing.  You may want to plan your house layout to complement your outdoor space or vice versa.


Once you have made the decision to build a home, the need to spend money wisely becomes increasingly important.  Asking yourself these questions and more, giving some thought to your housing needs or wants, will take you a long way in deciding which house plan is best for you.

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Advantages of Hiring an Architect

Architects are specifically trained and licensed to work on planning and designing buildings. If you are drawing near to the building phase and are thinking of hiring an architect, we highly recommend that you at least meet with an Architect to discuss how they can help you. Hiring an Architect could prove quite beneficial to you, here are a few reasons why:


  • They provide expert information and guidance. Whether you are building a new home or remodeling an existing building a lot of work needs to be done to get the task completed efficiently. An Architect, especially one who has years of experience working in this field is quite knowledgeable about zoning and building codes that can help quicken the process of getting the necessary approval for building.


  • By interacting with clients and asking questions, an Architect can create a unique home that has been specifically designed to include the desires of their clients giving them their dream home. Also, Architects have been trained to select the ideal location to utilize the site’s natural lighting, shading and views providing insight the client may not have even considered.


  • The quantity and quality of materials needed can greatly affect the final cost of construction. An Architect can advise on the best options to help maximize the client’s budget. Also, with energy conservation being a huge concern today an Architect can implement techniques, construction methods and materials that can help meet conservation goals and make a building more energy efficient.


  • An Architect can take on a more fundamental role of Construction Manager. Hiring an Architect as the Construction Manager can be beneficial to clients. The Construction Manager works closely with the general contractor and helps keep construction in conformance with the design and to assist in having the construction completed on schedule and within budget.

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Things to consider When Expanding your Home

Renovations and additions can improve the comfort and functionality of your home as well as increase its value.  Renovation may be very simple in the sense that the only activity it involves is replacing existing materials like windows, doors, cupboards etc.  Larger renovation projects may need a great deal of consideration and planning especially if it’s an addition to an existing building.


If you are planning to expand your home please ponder on these:


Purpose – The reason for the renovation is a good place to start planning.  Your decision to add to your home may stem from reasons like family growth, increase in disposable income, the need for a more comfortable living space etc.  These reasons will affect things like material choice, style and size.


Location – Just as location is important for new buildings, it is important when adding to an existing building especially as utilities are already well placed.  Choose the location that’s most convenient for the purpose.  Enhance the environmental quality of the building by taking advantage of and considering a beautiful view, use of yard space, the flow between the current sections of the house to the addition as well as making use of natural ventilation and lighting.  These aspects are a few that could contribute to your decision.  The extent of the renovation may warrant involvement by the local planning authority.


Size – The larger the square footage of the addition the higher the cost of construction.  The reason for the addition and the amount of money available helps determine size.  The purpose also helps determine type of materials to be used.  E.g. a large increase in disposable income could encourage a luxurious finish.


Appeal – No one wants their addition to look like a misplaced ornament.  Although additions don’t allow expression of creativity and personal taste as designing a new home would, it could be seen as a pattern to follow.  So if your house has frosted white windows and oversized doors for example you would want to match that.  If it is difficult to obtain those items for any reason then you could simply match the colour and the interior layout. If budget permits, change all windows and doors to create a more cohesive look.  Try as much as possible to maintain one general look on the exterior.


Plan and budget – Develop a general idea of the amount of money you want to and can spend on this project.  Once you know how much money is available compare it to your plan.  Comparing renovation plans to budgeted funds allows you to weed out any part of the renovation that is not compulsory or necessary at this time or increase the scope of the project.


A lot of components come into play when adding to your home and you may want to avoid costly or dangerous mistakes.  If you intend to renovate or remodel in the New Year now would be a good time to start planning.  If the remodel or renovation is planned for the Christmas, consult a professional before jumping in!

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8 Tips for Choosing the House Plan That Best Suits You

  1. Details – Consider the bigger details such as the size of the house, the number of floors, the kind and number of rooms and bathrooms before deciding the smaller details.


  1. Establish your budget – You’re going to have to do some math if you want this process to be successful. There are a number of financial and personal requirements when seeking financing from institutions.   Getting prequalified for a loan will be very helpful and avoids getting your hopes up on a home that isn’t in your budget.


This is likely going to be one of the biggest purchases of your life, so don’t be lazy about it, work with a mortgage broker/ loans officer to educate yourself.  You may have to disclose personal financial information but at the end you will know what you realistically can afford.


  1. What makes the house a home – Determine what your needs and wants are and what will make the home most comfortable and welcoming. What amount of time is expected to be spent in the house and in what areas will more time be spent? What is the present and expected size of your family or home occupants?  Will there be any disabled residents or regular visitors?


  1. Location, location, location — Value of land differs based on its location however homes nearby will have a substantial effect on the worth of your home. If you build the most modest house in a high-priced community, you can do very well for yourself in terms of your investment. The more expensive houses will raise yours to a higher value than it would command in less expensive neighborhoods.  You have an equally sound investment if your home is in the same price range as the ones around it, however if you build the same modest home in a neighborhood that is considered bad, you might as well forget your potential investment.


  1. If you already have the land, it would be wise to understand the land on which the home will be built before deciding on the plan. The plan you choose must fit the dimensions or specifications of your lot.  These may dictate the maximum depth or width of the plan, or dictate if the plan requires a two-story solution. You also need to know the topography of the lot. If it’s on sloped property, you may have to limit your plan search to a split-level design.


  1. Your lifestyle and the lifestyle patterns of your family are very important when choosing a house plan. Some people enjoy cooking so they might require a lot of space for the kitchen. However, other people who are working at home might require more office space.



  1. Your plans and the local building codes and requirements – Custom plans are sometimes designed with no specific building codes or requirements. If they are, they may most likely be designed to suit the country in which they were drawn. When selecting a house plan, it must be considered whether it complies with the building codes for the area in which the building will be constructed.


  1. Add value to your home – The more valuable features of a home should be considered when designing and making preparations for finishes like creating great curb appeal outside the house, placing glass windows and doors on the side of the home that faces the most attractive views. These will add value to the home and make it very inviting to guests and possible future buyers.


Click here to view a wide collection of pre-design house plans designed by our sister company Millenia Architects.


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Defining a home with changing floor levels

The nature of a floor can influence the reflection of a home.  The design and material can dictate the feeling of the room.  A typical example of this is the Wide Pine Floor which offers a country look and feel.  Do you know that having different floor levels can make a significant change to the look of a room or a home?  Let’s look at areas with different floor levels in the home.


We use a local home which is actually for sale to demonstrate the use of different floor levels to separate the home.


Entry from one area to another, say from the kitchen to the living room, can be designed with two different levels which offers a different feel but with an almost seamless transition.  The step up or down from one area signals to the user that they are moving into a new space which offers a different purpose or function. It can be designed in such a way that one achieves the effect of a dining room overlooking the living room or kitchen, or vice versa.


A difference in the colour of the two floors define the rooms further e.g. light wood floor in the living room and dark wood floor in the dining room.  One can even go a step further in defining the room by appointing a different theme which will enhance the effects of the transition from one space to the next.


In a bedroom, there can be a change of floor levels which can divide the sleeping area from the work space.  Similarly, there can be a step leading into the bathroom.  This secludes the bathroom from the room and increases privacy to the place very often used to relax and luxuriate after a hard day of work.


A change in the floor level is a great way to separate spaces with the absence of walls, doors or other separators.  Note however, if the separation of the floor levels is not done with proper planning and materials, the right flow through the home can be hindered or even create problems or be harmful to us.


What techniques do you rely on to define areas in your home?

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Country Living

In Dominica and probably other places in the world there seems to be a large percentage of persons interested in living in the city despite it’s over crowdedness and noise pollution.  We boast about the natural beauty of our country Dominica but are we really enjoying it?  If you travel a bit around the country you will notice that this natural beauty is more apparent in the rural areas.  City life has its advantages such as easier access to educational and other facilities however the improvement in infrastructure and technology makes access to these facilities effortless.  If you are thinking of buying land or building or even if you already have a home in the town or close to it, it will be good to consider having a countryside home.  Here are some benefits to consider:


Privacy and Serenity – Live in the town area? Ever found it necessary to drive far from your home to get some peace?  It is also almost impossible to step outside without being seen by other people or even seeing people. – Living in the country side gives you the gift of privacy and absence of noise which allows you to concentrate, meditate and rest peacefully.  Imagine if you are preparing for exams or recovering from a medical procedure, this would be perfect.


Rejuvenation – The fresh air and a bit of warmth from the sun especially after a long day of work is very refreshing and revitalizing.  Our body takes in more oxygen and this transforms into a healthier body and greater energy; clean air obviously is one of the main advantages of country life.  You also get to really enjoy nature; waking up to the singing of birds and the breathtaking mountain and forest views.


Space – We know one thing that is lacking in the town is space.  Most of the spaces are used for commercial purposes and because of that we have very limited space for public functions, recreational and leisure activities.  – With the space afforded in the country side, children can play outdoor games or learn to ride a bicycle, rather than devoting so many hours to computer games.  They have a lot of personal space that allows them to play comfortably which may not be possible at public playgrounds which I see is very scarce in Dominica.


Cost – It is no secret that land in the urban area is far more expensive than in the rural area e.g. 10,000 square feet of land near the town may cost the same or even more than an acre (43,560 square feet) of land in the countryside.


Self sustenance – Complementary to saving on cost of land and the ability to own larger portions of land is the savings on the cost of food.   If you are not very interested in growing provisions and fruits you have the option to maintain a small vegetable garden in your back yard or even at the front.  Some persons may be fortunate to purchase land that is already cultivated with crops.  This food could be grown for your own consumption and you may have the option to earn extra income from the excess.


Security – In the rural area, people tend to be more caring and concerned for their neighbours, so you will find that neighbours keep an eye on each other’s property creating a strong, friendly, active community where crime is less likely to happen.


You should note that the design of your home can greatly influence your life.  A home with environmental conscientiousness in its design and décor and energy conservation practices will make this experience, ‘your life’ more fulfilling.  Ensure that your home is designed to take advantage of magnificent views of the surrounding natural environment and benefit from the natural air flow.