Household Cleaning Checklist

Eradicate the winter dust bunnies before they even have time to move in.

Household Cleaning ChecklistHave you ever seen the t-shirt that says: “There are three kinds of people: those who can count, and those who can’t”? Well, since we can count, here are two different kinds of people.

#1. The people who saw this blog title and clapped their hands, ‘Oh yes! A fall household cleaning checklist!’ (after which they promptly run for the cleaning closet–because they have a closet dedicated solely to cleaning products–to see which supplies they are getting low on)

#2. The people who saw this blog title and grimaced, ‘Oh no, a fall household cleaning checklist. Let’s click and find out the 17 Things I Should Have Done Already But Forgot.’ (we call that morbid curiosity)

No matter which classification you fall into, this list might surprise you. It’s not an overly-itemized list of do’s and don’ts (DO dust your refrigerator coils, DON’T forget to drain the pool), but a useful household cleaning checklist to help you simplify your life and prevent dust, dirt, and mud from becoming Public Enemy Number 1 throughout the long winter months.

The Ultimate User-Friendly Preventive Household Cleaning Checklist

  1. Combat dust with dryer sheets. Any surface that tends to attract dust should be thoroughly wiped with a dryer sheet, which decreases static cling and makes for less dust settling on that surface in the future. This applies to electronics, screens, fans, wooden surfaces, paintings and prints, etc etc..

    [Pro Tip: Microfiber does just as good a job, but this list is for everyone, not just people with an entire closet dedicated to cleaning supplies.]

  2. Eliminate Pet Odors with citrus laundry detergent. Laundry (or dish) detergent with a high concentration of citrus is perfect for cleaning floors and carpets in homes with pets, making it harder for the animal hairs to stick to the floor.
  3. Make a Whole House Cleaning Checklist. Room by room, write down every single step required to straighten up and clean that specific room. Then, put a star or a line or an extra-thick box to indicate the tasks that need to be done every day. Assign each member of your household a certain number of these daily tasks (that’s your basic house cleaning list), thereby spreading the load and making occasional deeper cleanings a much less complicated affair.

    Also, having every task listed (Living Room: clear off couches and chairs, clear off end tables and coffee table, put everything away, sweep/vacuum, dust, mop) makes commands much clearer. ‘Clean the living room’ is a less monumental task for a young adolescent or partner when it’s broken down into an achievable list of 6 tasks.

  4. Keep out all the dirt with a mudroom. You can either repurpose an existing space or have a new mudroom added on. Either way, there’s no better method for keeping dust and dirt and leaves and snow out of your home. This blog has great tips on how to design the perfect mudroom.

Don’t forget to check our blog periodically for more useful tips and tricks, and for more ways to keep transforming your home into the home you deserve: the home of your dreams.


Related Tags: Household Cleaning Checklist | Fall Cleaning Checklist

west chester golf house

Whether it’s a patio or a pool house, quality, attractive pool area landscaping can improve property value and add multi-functional space

Summer is coming.

No, this isn’t the beginning of some type of Game Of Thrones spinoff–it’s actually true. As hard as that may be to believe after a long, drawn-out winter, spring cleaning can now gradually give way to summer projects.

And that means you can dust off those pool area landscaping plans you’ve been dreaming up during the winter months. It’s time to make them a reality.


Get Started Early

Once again, summer is drawing near–and having your pool area be occupied by early-stage construction probably isn’t an ideal situation for you. At the same time, you don’t want to have your pool area landscaping become a rush job; you’ll want to take your time to really work out the finer details. For that reason, we recommend beginning the active planning stage as soon as possible.

Consider Your Options

When it comes to poolside landscaping, there’s numerous options to consider. Are you building a new pool? Are you working around a pre-existing pool? Either way, there are numerous project options that you might want to consider for your pool area. Landscaping and hardscaping can dress up the pool area nicely, adding attractive flair and creating a more comfortable atmosphere for poolside relaxation. A patio, similarly, can give the pool area a sharper distinction from the rest of the yard. A detached pool house is yet another popular option, one that can give your pool area flexibility, comfort, and multi-purpose function.

Think Long-Term Value, Think Multi-Functional

One of the great benefits of a detached pool house is that it can supplement your property with not only poolside amenities but multi-functional qualities. A well-constructed pool house adds instant value to your home property and adds numerous functions that you might not immediately think of. These include guest housing, storage space, and entertainment system space, and many more–in addition to the common poolside uses (changing rooms, showers, spa).

Pool area landscaping can transform a drab pool area into an attractive, convenient gathering place for summertime activities, from parties to laid-back relaxation. Contact How Building Services today, and we’ll begin making your wintertime dreams a summertime reality.

How Building Services can work with you to implement energy efficient home design for your current home or your new property.

Energy Efficient Home Design: Great for Homeowners, Great for the Planet

Earth Day is on the horizon. On April 22nd, people all over the country will take a little extra time to pick up litter, plant a tree, or cut back on their energy usage. It’s a great way for us as a nation to remember the importance of caring for the Earth and reflect on ways we can reduce our impact on the environment.

But, of course, it’s only one day.

If we want to truly make a sustainable difference, it’s important to look for ways in which we can reduce our environmental impact each and every day, all year long. And one of the best ways we can do that is by investing in energy efficient home design. While it might not occur to us as readily as recycling or planting trees, building a home with an energy efficient design or updating and remodeling your current home to improve energy efficiency is one of the most effective, long-lasting actions you can personally take for the planet’s future.

And the best part? Energy efficient home plans don’t just help conserve the environment – it’s also a financially beneficial investment for homeowners.

Advances and Innovations in Energy Efficient Home Design

Did you know that per-household energy consumption has been on a steady decline over the course of the past three decades? Average household consumption has decreased from 114 million Btu to 89.6 million Btu per household unit.

Does this mean that consumers are becoming more conscious of their environmental impact? Hopefully! But, even more so, it demonstrates how successful the recent advances and innovations in energy efficient home design have been in reducing home energy usage.

Some of the most important improvements aren’t just better architecture, but the efficiency of home fixtures. Outdated appliances and home electronics can guzzle energy–and, consequently, money. New fixtures can go a long way in reducing home energy usage.

If you’re planning a new home, consider investing in the numerous innovative energy-reducing designs that architects are implementing. Installing high-efficiency HVAC (heat, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems can greatly decrease energy consumption and save on long-term expenses.

Consider the many options for improved insulation and air sealing, energy-efficient fenestration (ultra-sealed windows, doors, and skylights), daylighting (the use of skylights and windows to take maximum advantage of natural light), water heating systems with improved efficiency, and an overall design that consciously minimizes the energy usage need for effective space heating and cooling.

If you already are a homeowner and are considering updating or remodeling your house to a more energy efficient home design, your first step should be having a home energy assessment conducted; this will allow your home’s current energy usage to be assessed and analyzed. From there, the best means of reducing usage and the types of remodeled design and fixtures that would best improve efficiency can be determined.

Designing Energy Efficient Homes with How Building Services

If the financial and environmental benefits of energy-efficient home design plans are a priority for you, then you’ll want to look into the innovative energy-efficient home design features offered by How Building Services. This company is renowned for its exceptional design offerings in new construction, custom home additions, and remodeling. Whether you’re starting from scratch, or looking for a new energy efficient interior design for your current home, How Building Services will work carefully with you to create a green home design that takes advantage of the best innovations in the industry.


You’ve probably heard it said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. In flow the groceries and the hungry mouths and out flows the food and in flows the dirty dishes. There’s traffic and energy and, just like the heart, it can function poorly. It’s a necessary room that has to be a functional space multiple times each day. Designing your dream kitchen starts with selecting a perfect kitchen layout that will function smoothly and beautifully, effortlessly serving its purpose.

Six Ideas For The Perfect Kitchen Layout

Perfect-Kitchen-LayoutEveryone has different ideas about what the perfect kitchen layout is; the layout you ultimately choose will be unique, based on the needs of you and your family and what your idea of a dream kitchen is. The six basic kitchen design layouts are as follows:

  1. One Wall or Pullman Kitchen: Probably the best small kitchen layout, the one-wall kitchen layout is utilized in tight spaces such as studios and lofts. In this design, all cabinets and appliances are built in a single line against one wall.
  2. Galley Kitchen: A galley kitchen layout features cabinetry and appliances lining two walls parallel to each other, and is an ideal layout for kitchens with one cook.
  3. L-Shaped Kitchen: An L-shaped kitchen can bring function to a space where the kitchen is located in an area with a corner, utilizing that space for cabinets, countertops and appliances. The L-shaped layout can also accommodate other functional pieces, such as an island or dining space, thereby bringing a social element into the space.
  4. Horseshoe Kitchen: A horseshoe kitchen layout can be thought of also as a U-shaped kitchen, usually with cabinets and appliances on three walls. This layout can also be configured with an L-shaped kitchen plus an island functioning as the third wall. The horseshoe style kitchen is popular for large spaces to maximize workflow and is the perfect kitchen for a large family or to accommodate multiple cooks.
  5. Island Kitchen: A kitchen layout that includes an island can be combined with any of the above kitchen layouts – one wall, galley (if the walk-through is wide enough), L-shaped, or horseshoe. An island can provide not only additional counter space and working space–even housing appliances or a sink!–but can also incorporate seating.
  6. Peninsula Kitchen: Another way to think of a peninsula kitchen is an island that is attached either to a wall or set of cabinets and countertop. With many of the same functions as an island, peninsula kitchens are a great choice for a kitchen that may not have enough space for an island in the center of the kitchen.

As you consider these sample kitchen layouts, think about which layout you currently have in your home or which layouts you’ve had in previous living spaces. What do you like or dislike about your current design layout? Is there one layout you feel more drawn to over others, and why do you think that’s the case? What are the benefits of the layouts you are considering over others in terms of both everyday family use and also as an entertaining space?

Whatever layout you choose, How Building Services is here to help you experience a hassle-free kitchen renovation through all stages of the process. Our goal is to exceed your expectations from the planning and design phases, through construction, to the end result. We want you to be living in and loving your new high-quality kitchen that adds value to your home.

HOW can make the perfect kitchen layout a reality for you and your family! Contact us today for a free estimate by calling (484) 483-1690. We would love to work with you to design and build the kitchen of your dreams!

Perfect Kitchen Layout | Perfect Kitchen Layouts


Cinco De Mayo means margaritas in style!

Let’s talk about designing the perfect entertainment home. If you love to entertain, you’re probably already starting to look forward to Cinco De Mayo. This year, Cinco De Mayo comes over a month after Easter–a break like that between festivals is almost unheard of. In fact, think of all the festivals we celebrate:

Home-Entertainment-DesignJanuary: New Year’s

February: Mardi Gras & Valentine’s Day

March: Saint Patrick’s Day & Easter

May: Cinco De Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day

June: Father’s Day

July: Independence Day

September: Labor Day

October: Halloween

November: Thanksgiving

December: Christmas

Almost every month has a big festival, but in that long stretch from March to May, kids are getting antsy in school, college students are so done with their classes, and the rains of April will probably start wearing on your nerves. Cinco De Mayo is perfectly timed–whether you’re hosting a glittery, balloon-filled party for your kid’s school friends, or a tasteful, chips & margherita party for your adult friends.

If you’re looking to build or remodel, now is the time to consider how to have a successful home entertainment design that gives you the freedom to celebrate and entertain for all our wonderful holidays–and more! But watch out; home entertainment design can easily go wrong!

4 Major Home Entertainment Design Mistakes to Avoid

  • The Generic Treatment
    You see it on HGTV: people call in a designer and tell them, “I love to entertain.” So the designer nods understandingly, their perfectly-dyed, over-gelled blond hair barely nodding with them. The designer then takes only 22 minutes to size up the room, sell everything, rehaul it, and then put it back together in a way that makes the homeowner walk in with a ‘Wow.’But the designer didn’t consult the homeowner, they followed their own program. Sure it’s pretty, but does it fit the homeowner’s’ needs? Does it create a space in which they will feel at home entertaining? Don’t hand over all the decisions–take charge and give thought to what fits your entertaining lifestyle, whether it be elegant cocktail parties or cozy game nights.
  • Only Size Matters
    Putting aside the age-old debate over whether or not size matters, Genevieve Lill writes the following on “Designers advise that it’s the scale that matters more than the size. Think about cartoon dining rooms where two people are sitting, usually uncomfortably, on opposite ends of an epically long table. This is not the environment most of us want to create when hosting guests at home.”
  • Be traditional
    Kitchen. Dining Room. Living Room. The layouts of traditional homes are not very conducive to frequent entertaining. Most designers and architects opt for open floor plans, even if that means not having a set-apart dining room. Best of all, if you’re not drawing up designs for home entertainment, an open floor plan can easily be achieved with a skilled remodel.
  • 6 Chairs Max
    One disadvantage of closed-off dining rooms with a set table and 6-8 chairs perfectly arranged around it is the limited seating you then have. Lill suggests that in order to eliminate a dependency on folding chairs, it’s a good idea to build extra seating into your home entertainment design. From strategically stashing extra chairs, to sliding ottomans and benches under coffee tables, your guests will have plenty of seating options.

From floor plans to seating, you deserve the elegant home entertainment interior that you’re searching for. If you avoid these four pitfalls, you’re already on the road to a successful entertaining season. With all the use you’ll get out of them, good designs for home entertainment won’t disappoint.

Home Entertainment Design | Home Entertainment Designs

pet friendly home designs

What’s loud and furry, and likes to make a huge mess?

More and more people are getting pets these days. According to the national APPA pet owners survey, 65% of homes have at least one pet, up from 56% in 2011! Perhaps the expanding middle class is the reason that pet ownership has expanded so rapidly, perhaps the ASPCA is doing a great job getting more people to adopt. Whatever the reasons, pet owners make up the majority of Americans. It would be remiss of us not to talk about pet friendly home designs. After all, you have to keep all the members of your family in mind when designing a home!

6 Keys to Successful Pet Friendly Home Designs

Age determines flooring:

The age of your pet should–in large part–inform your decisions when it comes to choosing flooring. Carpet is a poor choice if you have a puppy or a kitten to train. Up until the age of about 8 months, both dogs and cats are liable to have frequent accidents. Durable flooring such as tile flooring, laminate flooring, or painted concrete are all good choices.

pet friendly home designsHowever, if your pet is older in age, they’re probably more prone to slipping on hard floors like those listed above. One solution is area rugs that can easily be replaced. Area rugs that are colorful or earth-toned are good choices, since pet hairs will show up less easily.

Think hard wood, if you want hardwood flooring. One key to pet friendly house plans is recognizing that your pets are playful, and have claws. Some hardwood flooring is too soft for the kind of wear-and-tear it would need to withstand. Oak or mahogany are both excellent choices: just be sure to have some area rugs on hand if you need to muffle noise or aid an aging pet.

Disguise with durable fabrics. Pet friendly interior design starts with choosing durable fabrics, unlike silk, that will not tear easily. As far as color goes, choose colors and patterns that will hide your pet’s hair. If you have several choices, compare them against the color of your animal’s fur, and go with the fabric that shows the least fur.

Avoid wallpaper and matte paint. Nobody has the time to clean the walls everyday. Thankfully, that can be avoided by choosing a semi-gloss-finish in rooms that see a lot of moisture and mess (kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms), and a satin or eggshell-finish in other spaces. Both are easy to clean, and aren’t tempting scratching posts for cats.

Design them their own mudroom. This is one of our biggest pet friendly home design tips. Making house plans with pet rooms might seem a little strange at first, but it’s a great way to save on time and frustration in the long room. A separate mudroom can act as a great transition-place to clean off pets coming in from outside, and it can be equipped with cabinets and hooks to store pet supplies and medicines. It’s not only practical to keep animal/human supplies separated, but it can also help keep any little tikes safe who might be curious about the special treats in the cereal cupboard.

Consider a window seat. Rather than making a cat or dog room in your house (which is possible, of course!), you can make a space that your furry friend can enjoy while still being near you! A window seat with a view is the best gift you can give them. Both cats and dogs alike enjoy watching out of windows, not to mention the delicious warmth and sunlight they can soak up! And while you’re at it, you might find that you enjoy the window seat every bit as much as they do.

If you have more questions about pet friendly home designs, contact HOW Building Services. We’re happy to help the whole family!

home addition builders

From foundation frustrations to hidden hazards, a home addition is no picnic!

If you’re looking into home addition builders, you’ve probably already looked at a home addition cost estimator. There’s a familiar progression: the cost seems absurdly high until you look at the break-down and realize that it makes sense, with all the different elements that go into it. That’s just step one, however. Step two is hiring a home addition contractor, and step 3 is realizing the automated budget is not the same as the estimate in front of you. Why not? Because there is almost always an underlying structural issue that needs addressed…issues like the following:

5 Common Obstacles Home Addition Builders Face

  1. Foundation frustrations

home addition buildersIf you want home addition builders to do a bump-out, upper story, or replacement of a garage or porch, you might run into a very specific set of problems. The foundation is all of a sudden taking on a great deal more weight, and that can cause cracking or heaving. Reinforcements are often necessary in these situations.

  1. Upper-level uh-ohs

In the same way that the foundation might be overloaded, just building up is not going to make the problem go away. If you don’t want sagging joists, Better Homes and Gardens suggests sistering joists into the existing system in your home addition floor plans, which will ensure structural soundness.

  1. Circuit Overload

Unless you’ve recently updated your electrical equipment, you’re going to need to do so now. Bringing everything up to code, however, can be more time-consuming and invasive than originally planned for in your home addition cost estimator. If you need to upgrade the lighting and appliances, you could even consider doing that before hiring a home addition builder.

  1. Hidden Hazards

Great home addition builders will be able to tell you that there could be hidden hazards in your home, and will do the legwork necessary to determine whether or not there are such hazards. If your home was built 25 years ago or more, a home addition builder is going to have to be very careful about any demolition, as there is frequently lead paint or asbestos–both of which, if inhaled, can cause permanent brain/lung damage.

  1. Temperamental Temperatures

In a room addition cost calculator, you probably won’t see extra costs for heating and cooling, since your current heating and cooling systems are sufficient for one or two extra rooms. However, any addition larger than that is probably going to mean a total upgrade to your current system, or a new, separate one.

You should be aware that some builders give estimates that exclude the five preceding scenarios. So you might hire them, only to find out later that they are taken aback by these sudden developments: sudden developments that are, in fact, easily predictable.

Yes, a home addition is much more complicated than a ground-up build, which is all the more reason to partner with experienced home addition builders: builders who know the complications and can help you to not be blindsided by them.

bathroom addition contractor

Make your dreams a reality.

In a previous blog, we talked about the American dream home, and what that has looked like over the years. And what it boils down to is that whatever you dream is the American dream. All that’s left to determine is what that dream looks like for you. From practical to pampered, this blog outlines the major steps to a successful bathroom addition.

Continue reading “How to Get Your Dream Design With A Bathroom Addition Contractor” »


Are you living the dream?

Tall non-fat soy milk caramel salted mocha macchiato. Order up for someone who made the mistake of pointing out that their name was Stephen with a “ph” and received their drink with “Phteven” scrawled across the cup. Jokes aside, some people make it seem so easy to decide. However, lots of us walk into a warm, hipster-filled coffee shop and our brains short out immediately. I once even made the mistake of ordering an Americano, because it sounded like a patriotic sort of thing to drink! Tip: it’s an espresso with hot water added. Nothing patriotic about it.

Dream-Home-Floor-PlansThe point is, decisions can be hard to make, even for small things like what kind of dressing you want with your salad. And, unlike dressings or sauces, some decisions cannot be easily modified. Some decisions stick with you for life.

When it comes to designing and modifying your dream home floor plans, you should put some considerable thought into it. You can’t take it back to the barista and get a new one. A poorly-placed half-step doesn’t just go away. A bedroom window facing the back of a Walmart can’t just be bricked over. If you agree, but you don’t know where to start, these 7 tips can help.

7 Things to Consider About Dream Home Floor Plans

  1. What about your stuff? When designing your dream home floor plans, you should also be sure to take into account furnishings you are planning on bringing with you. Is there a baby grand piano? Measure it, and make sure you have somewhere to put it that also accommodates the square footage of all of your other furniture. Be thorough! Take measurements of all your furniture. You can even create small cardboard rectangles to scale that you can physically place on the floor plan.
  2. What kind of windows? Light is incredible in any space. However, linked with the idea in the last point is this one: if you put a giant floor-to-ceiling window in your library, make sure you have enough wall space on the other three walls to accommodate all of your shelving. This applies to all rooms.
  3. How many people? Don’t just take into account you and your immediate family. Think of holidays, gatherings, etc.. If you entertain a lot and for large groups, you’re going to want an open floor plan that allows for communication and flow around a kitchen/dining room/living room space. Another example is kids: a media center that only seats 7 might not be ideal if they frequently have large groups of friends over.
  4. What about little people? Balconies. Staircases without railings. Kitchens that are too open and accessible. These are a few of the things that are beautiful but can spell disaster for a family with small children. It’s easy to fall for that gorgeous balcony with the wrought-iron hand-rail, but it’s also easy to fall off it.
  5. North? West? No, that’s not a reference to Kimye’s child; it’s a reminder to think about exactly where your dream home floor plan will be. What direction will it be facing? And where in your dream home floor plan is the main living space or master bedroom located? Does that mean your windows will be facing a busy road, or your neighbor’s windows? Nobody wants to live in a fish-bowl, but that happens all too often because of a lack of foresight in the design phase.
  6. Share the burden! Even if you follow of all this advice, chances are you’ll overlook something. Look over your dream home floor plan with a significant other, roommate, or friend. A fresh eye can help identify problems that can only be seen by someone close to your situation.
  7. Open up! Your architect wants to make your dreams a reality, as does your builder. For that to happen, a certain level of communication needs to take place–a back and forth between customer, builder, architect, and designer. Since only one of those four people knows what fits your desires and needs, you have to invest yourself in the process and open up. The finished product will be as much the gem you’ve dreamed of as the effort you’ve expended to polish it.

Above all, don’t panic. Your architect understands all these issues, and will do their level best to help you navigate them.

In the meantime, contact HOW Building Services with any other questions you need answering. HOW works closely with the architects who are the best at making your dreams a reality.

Dream Home Floor Plans | Dream Home Floor Plan


Like any purchase, you should do your research beforehand.

Market polls show that 81% of shoppers do research before actually making a purchase. 61% percent of shoppers consulted product reviews, the average consumer visiting at least 3 shops before finding what they were looking for. And yet, the Chicago Tribune recently wrote an article about the lack of thought people put into finding a new home builder. Karen Rivedal writes, quoting Tom Zimmer, a custom builder from Wisconsin: “while consumers certainly can’t be faulted for trying to get a good price on such a major purchase, it’s a mistake, Zimmer said, to rely on price alone in deciding.” Zimmer says that most customers come to him with one simple question: how much do you charge per square foot?

Continue reading “3 Warning Signs You Might Have One of the Worst New Home Builders in Pennsylvania” »