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Archive for August, 2010

At Habitations we have spent a great deal of time working with builders and developers to create the perfect set of small home designs. The goal: keep the design simple (which keeps construction costs low) and give it that bang-for-the-buck feel. These features help accommodate potential clients who want a great looking home with nice room sizes, all while keeping within the budget constraints of the average family income.

In these economic times, many builders have seen the benefits of building smaller homes that are within the purchasing power of the average income.  As a result, the competition has increased in these budget home markets. Below are a couple of secrets we have learned which, if used properly, can really make your product stand out. Using these tips, you can give clients the look and feel of a more expensive home while still remaining price competitive.

1.               Function and flow:  Many small designs try to fit too many rooms into too little space. A small home that tries to incorporate everything ends up creating tiny, ineffective living areas. Instead, design with simplicity in mind–the rooms with the greatest draw should be the largest. Eliminate the formal living room and expand the gathering space (Kitchen, Nook, and Great Room). Consider removing the powder room and creating a nicer laundry. Remember: it’s not a large home—two restrooms should be enough to keep emergencies at bay!

It’s been taboo until now however, removing the tub in the Master Bathroom shouldn’t be out of the question.  Over half of our clients, even on high end homes have seriously discussed removing the tub from the Master Bathroom.  The minimal usage the master tub gets in most cases is not worth the space or the cost.  Larger showers are where the trend is going.

2.              Think outside the box:  Give the outside of “the box” a unique character and feel.  Even though it is a small home, don’t forget that it is still a home someone will purchase, live in and look at day after day. That buyer wants to take pride in the home because it reflects who they are and, no matter how small it is, they want it to have personality and character.

Even a home with the simplest structural design can be unique. Instead of making a box-shaped home look like a box, think about aspects like window size and positioning, exterior materials & placement, a framed pop out to create a window seat, and even low cost decorative items such as corbels, a small cupola, etc. These inexpensive details could easily make your home #1 on the list of the potential buyer.

3.              Add natural light:  If you are searching for ways to make the smaller home feel larger, don’t forget the importance of natural light.  Natural light has the ability to mentally expand spaces helping them feel less cramped and more inviting.  Don’t go overboard and completely eliminate wall space or add unnecessary skylights. If well thought out, the design will provide that special balance of wall space and windows to give the potential client a breath of fresh air as they walk through.

4.              Don’t forget the out of doors:  No matter how large or small the project is, most of our clients ask us for ways to help them take advantage of the rest of their  property and give them some outdoor living options.   Yes, covered decks and patios can get expensive and in many cases cost as much as finished sq. footage, and therefore are not typically feasible with budgets on smaller homes.  However, some worthwhile upfront planning can insure that mere access from the home is provided to areas on the property which can become future outdoor living areas i.e., sun decks patios, lawn areas.  The home is only half of the equation; the rest of the property is the other half.  Making sure both home and landscape (future or not) work together will always equal more than the sum of its parts in the eyes of potential clients.

Joe Sadler

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