improve curb appeal

How can you make your home stand out?

improve curb appealWhy is curb appeal so hard to get right? Put simply, this elusive phenomenon is about far more than your house. True curb appeal comes from the way your home’s design interacts with and balances its natural surroundings–whether that’s a bright, busy street or a shady wooded lot.

The most luxurious, inviting homes are all designed on a few basic principles. Whether you’re building from scratch or making home improvements, you can use these simple tips to improve curb appeal–and maybe even make your neighbors jealous!

Follow These 4 Design Rules to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

If you’re planning new construction or a custom addition, make sure you keep these two important principles in mind:

1. Treat your whole property as “designed” space. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should tear out everything on your property and start over! Instead, make sure that the new house or addition you’re planning complements the site. The most important rule to keep in mind is balance. If you want lots of square footage on a small lot, you’ll have to get creative to keep your home’s footprint from overwhelming the space around it. Try to think of the natural features of your property, whether it’s sloped or flat, large or small, as assets, and choose a home design that can bring out the best in your lot.

2. Pay special attention to first impressions. The best way to improve curb appeal and make your home inviting is to make your front door or front porch the focal point of building. This doesn’t have to be ostentatious–after all, there’s nothing more cozy than the front door of a cheery cottage. No matter what the size of your building project, ask yourself, “What’s the first thing people will notice about my house when they drive by?” If your answer was “The roof,” or, even worse, “The garage,” you may want to simplify your design to focus on the front door. After all, that’s the first thing your guests will be looking for!

But what if you aren’t building from scratch? If you’re remodeling or making improvements to your property,  the next two rules are for you:

3. Work with what you have . . . Nothing looks lonelier–or less inviting–than a house on a bare lot. Before you start tearing up your front yard in an effort to improve its curb appeal, take stock of the unique features of your property. Remember that large shade trees take many years to grow–cutting them down to make space for a new design could be an irreplaceable loss for your property. Make a list of everything you love about your front yard or the front of your house, and plan your new garden or front walk around them.

4. . . . But don’t be afraid to update when necessary. After all, the biggest reason why a home lacks curb appeal is poor maintenance. The best way to ensure that your home will continue to look cozy and inviting for years to come is to make sure the siding, paint, roof, and windows are all up to date. You might even want to add a garage or another building to your property to keep up with your family’s needs. Another important way to improve curb appeal is to use the best, most high-quality and durable materials and to keep your home well maintained. After that, the rest is a only matter of taste!

For design inspiration for your home, check out our gallery of completed projects. And for a free consultation, contact us at 484-841-8391 or nick@howbuildingservices.com.

backyard bbq entertaining

Skip the sweat and the stress.

backyard bbq entertainingIt’s hot; you’re sweating; you know you’ll smell like beef franks for at least a week. The music isn’t loud enough, but your guests are milling hungrily around, snatching up whatever choice piece of meat happens to be done next, like so many hungry seagulls with a bucket of Johnson’s popcorn.

It’s a nightmare that anyone who loves backyard bbq entertaining knows and fears. But how can you avoid it? For a successful backyard bbq design, you have to start from the beginning, which means asking the right questions:

5 Questions to Determine Which Backyard BBQ Entertaining Setup You Need

How much space do I have? Not all backyards are created equally, so you need to determine how much space you have, and how you want to allocate that space.

What’s my priority? If you have children and you want to prioritize swingsets and inground pools, then be sure to choose a backyard barbeque plan that doesn’t cut into the space allotted for the kids. If you principally use your backyard to entertain friends and host parties, then it makes a lot of sense to consider splurging on a barbecue or even an outdoor kitchen!

Who am I? Okay, before we trigger a metaphysical, existential crisis, just breathe. We’re talking more stereotypes here: hipster, athlete, homebody, foodie, businessman, stay-at-home mom. Are you someone who prefers red wine over beer? Or would you take cheesesteaks over foie gras anyday? Basically, go with your gut: make sure that your choice feels comfortable and reflects your style.

Where’s the wind? On a practical level, you either want to choose a spot that is well-sheltered from the wind, or where the prevailing wind will blow smoke away from your guests. If you can’t have both, consider building a structure around your barbeque.

What’s my budget? If you’re working on a shoestring budget because you’ve already spent most of your backyard bbq entertaining budget on building a spectacular patio or new pool house with all the bells and whistles, there are a lot of affordable options. Backyard barbeque entertaining units can be divided up into the following price categories:

  • $–     On a tight budget, you can get a mini grill on wheels, or a small, portable camping grill. Those are great options if you want your entertaining to not be confined to just your backyard: you can bring them with you if you like to go camping, or even down to the beach for a weekend.
  • $$–     Stainless steel grills aren’t very expensive, but the quality varies widely from one brand and model to another. If you do your research, though, you should be able to find something that works like a charm, without draining your wallet.
  • $$$–     Grill units with built-in cabinets can be expensive, but you can just purchase the cabinets to fit a new or existing grill, and the customization is up to you. Add on what you want: fridge, bar, warming drawer, sink, etc.. The only limits are your imagination.
  • $$$$$– Five dollar signs represent the cash you’ll plunk down for an outdoor kitchen.All those dollar signs may seem to be overwhelming, but the quality and beauty of what you’re getting is undeniable. It’s definitely an investment worth saving for.

What are you waiting for? Now is the time to get your backyard bbq entertaining set-up in place for next year’s entertaining season. Contact us to talk about the details of coming up with a one-of-a-kind backyard design that perfectly incorporates all the elements you want.

home addition seniors

Aging at home presents new challenges. Learn more about how to make your home senior-friendly.

Aging at home can present new challenges for seniors. In the past, many homes were not designed with seniors in mind, which can make even daily chores taxing and difficult. But everyone should have the choice to stay at home.

After all, a home is more than just a place to live–it’s a center of community and family life, a place infused with memories and adorned with years of loving care. It’s more than a building–it’s what keeps you connected to neighbors and friends. It’s no wonder that the prospect of downsizing or moving to a senior living community can seem daunting to seniors and their families.

Continue reading “Bring Your Loved Ones Home with a Senior-Friendly Home Addition” »