Home Design

Buying vs. Building

Buying vs. Building

Posted By on Jun 27, 2013

How do you decide between purchasing your home or building your home?  It is up to each family to weigh the factors of each option and decide which will be the best for their situation.  This blog has been written to give you a clear understanding of some of the pros and cons of each options, as well as some tips to make either process move smoother.

Buying a Home


  1. Purchasing a home is quicker.  Typically once an offer is accepted by the seller a closing can be scheduled within 2 months.
  2. You can see and touch the home.  Walking through a home is much different than looking at plans.
  3. Landscaping is mature. The lawn is ready for the swing set. The shrubs along the front of the home or edge of the road are full.
  4. The bargain.  Buyers can usually find a great deal, especially in the current market.


  1. Sellers don’t always disclose the full reason they are moving, such as the 2 am train knocks the glasses of the shelves or the neighbors throw wild parties with fireworks every weekend.
  2. Older homes are not as efficient as newer homes.  They are not as well insulated and tend to be harder to heat.
  3. When you buy a 10 year old home, you are also buying 10 year old systems and fixtures.  Appliances, boilers, fixtures and some building materials have an expected lifetime.  Replacement costs can add up quickly and start much sooner than the homebuyer may anticipate.
  4. Many of the homes currently on the market are foreclosed properties.  These properties are not always properly maintained during and after the foreclosure process.  Homes do not withstand neglect well, especially in upper New England.  One winters worth of no maintenance, possibly no heat or electricity, is a lot of wear and tear.

Tips for a smoother buying process:

  1. Higher a reputable home inspector.  This person is worth their weight in gold, if they can inform you of issues before the closing.
  2. Ask your realtor lots of questions about the home you consider.  Age of appliances, systems & fixtures.  How long has the home been empty if it is a foreclosed property.
  3. Require that all systems be operating during the home inspection.

Building a Home


  1. It’s your home.  Your plan, your design choices.
  2. All systems, fixtures, materials & appliances are new.  They meet all current safety and energy standards, and should carry the full warranty.
  3. Lower energy and maintenance cost.  Even if you aren’t building a home specifically designed for high energy efficiency, new homes continue to become more and more efficient as new products and materials become available.
  4. The majority of new homes are being built in developments, this means you may be building with a community of new homes.  Many developments have strict guidelines about the types of homes allowed and what maintenance is expected.  This ensures the homes around you will be of similar value and well maintained helping to keep home values steady.


  1. Not being able to see and touch the home during the sales process can be difficult for some prospective homebuyers.
  2. Cost overruns.  Building material prices fluctuate, this can cause the cost of your home to rise during the building process.  There is also the risk that not all materials are accurately reflected during the sales process.  For instance, homebuyers may think they are getting a beautiful dining room light, but the builder put the cost of the dome fixture into the cost.
  3. Delays.  The building process spans over several months with multiple contractors involved.  Without a clear plan, delays are inevitable.

Tips for a smoother building process:

  1. Higher a reputable general contractor to oversee the entire building process.  Having one company responsible for all aspects of the construction from excavation to interior paint, will make the process smoother and eliminate stress on the homeowner.
  2. Ask questions during the sales process!  Visit construction sites, talk with previous customers.
  3. Always get written quotes, never agree to build anything based on an estimate.  Discuss with potential builders what their policy is on cost overruns and construction delays.  Without a clear policy, the cost and completion date of the project will never be met
  4. Read the building contract.  The contract should clearly define who is responsible for all aspects of the building process.

Hopefully this information will help you make the right decision for your family.  For more information check out these links:

Buying vs. Building by AskMen

The Financial Considerations of Building vs. Buying by Investopedia

Building a Home vs. Buying a Pre-Existing Home by GoBankingRates.com

As a final thought, I will leave you with this:  Everyone has heard the old adage “Live and Learn” meaning as you live your life, you learn from your experiences… Now let’s briefly consider homeownership options.  Approximately twice as many first homebuyers buy their home as those that build.  However, with each change in homeownership this ratio decreases with more homeowners choosing to build their second or third homes… Retirees are now one of the largest demographic building their homes.  Food for thought.

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Homes for the Millennial Generation

Homes for the Millennial Generation

Posted By on May 20, 2013

Researching for this blog has been a bit more difficult than researching for the previous generations.  The millennial generation were born 1980 to 2000.  This puts the oldest in the generation in their early 30’s and the youngest are just entering their teens.  Many of the older millennials are still either renting of living in their parents home due to the housing bust, high unemployment rates and high college debt.  This is quickly changing as the housing market levels off and employment opportunities increase.  As they do entering the housing market, more information about their expectations, wants and needs are emerging.

  1. While many millennials are do-it-youselfers, they want homes that are move in ready.
  2. While Generation X found smart home technology convenient, millennials find it a necessity.  Being able to connect with and control all aspects of their home from virtually anywhere, may seem over the top to most people, but to the latest homebuying generation it is common sense.
  3. Energy efficiency may not appear on their list of needs/wants, this isn’t because efficiency isn’t important, but rather, efficiency is the norm.  To this generation listing energy efficiency as important would be like listing indoor plumbing as important…
  4. Size does matter!  The millennial generation will NOT pay for a home with extra space they won’t use.  This generation isn’t going to buy a home their family will “grow” into.  Their home will fit their family and lifestyle now, if their family and lifestyle change, their home will change at that time.
  5. Building new is the best option for many people in the millennial generation.  More and more first time homebuyers are immediately entering the homebuilding market to meet their homeownership needs.  This ensures they are getting the most current advancements in energy efficiency, design, and technology.

It will be interesting to see the changes the millennial generation will make to the housing & real estate markets.  One thing is for sure, their expectations are driven by technology, which is ever changing and evolving.

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Tying it all Together for Generation X

Tying it all Together for Generation X

Posted By on Jan 14, 2013

This is our final blog in the Generation X Series and will probably be the shortest.  I want to briefly discuss three topics:

  1. Traffic patterns…  As you design the layout of the home, look at each area of your home and envision how family members will get from point A to point B.  Envision each area with a few extra guests.  Is there enough room for everyone to move around without tripping over furniture or each other?  Ask for help with this if you have a hard time looking at a plan and “seeing” the room.
  2. Where’s the grill…  Sounds silly but outdoor living space has become an integral part of our home.  Having easy access to the deck, patio or porch will encourage even more use of the area.
  3. Wash and wear… The latest countertop material may look great, but if you have to use a special cleaning product and use a 30 step process weekly to keep it shiny, is it worth it?  Look for finish materials that are durable and easy to clean.  Same can be said for furniture & decor.

This concludes the Generation X Design Tips blog series.  Check out the previous blogs in the series:

Home Design Tips for Generation X

Home Design Tips for Gen X ~ Organized Storage

Kitchen Design Tips (Kind of) for Generation X

Real Kitchen Design Tips for Generation X

Design Tips for Home Layouts for Gen X


Also check out our design series for Baby Boomers:

Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Exterior of the Home

Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Functionality

Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Livability

Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Longevity


Our next few blogs will be focused on the Millennial Generation.

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Home designs that best suit Generation X families have design concepts that promote family interaction but still allows each family member to have their own space.  Logically this would signify that homes are getting larger; however, this is not the case.  In fact, the average square footage of family homes is slowly getting smaller.  The homes that Generation X grew up in typically had a formal living room or parlor and a family room along with an eat in kitchen and a formal dining room.  Generation X is moving away from this division of space and opting for a more functional layout of rooms.  Take a look at these tips to assist you in designing a home that meets your families needs.


sittingroomTwo Story homes seem to be the most common for families.  However, traditionally the second floor was reserved for all the bedrooms and the first floor was living space.  This layout has changed.  Many homeowners are keeping the master suite on the first floor and giving the entire second floor space to the children.  Some designs convert the second floor master bedroom area into a family room or play area.  By incorporating a large common area into the floorplan of the second floor, homeowners can design smaller bedroom spaces that have larger closet spaces and more room for multiple children to sleep or lounge.

utilityrmUtility Rooms are extremely popular for Generation X families.  This room is typically close to the kitchen and garage areas with an exterior door.  The laundry space was once a space that was hidden behind closed doors or even better in the basement.  Now, the space has become an integral part of the design.  By adding cabinets, counters, shelves, closets and hooks, the utility room’s use has expanded far beyond laundry.  This room is a catch all for snow covered outdoor gear and muddy paw prints.  It is a great room to store all your craft supplies as well as your bulk purchases.

familyroom-slideup-mBeyond the Kitchen and Utility Rooms, first floor designs for Generation X should be centered around “activity areas.”  Open concept is very popular with this Generation.  Being able to be involved with your children’s activities while being in a separate area is important to today’s parents.  When you review your floorplan consider what activities will happen in each area.  Being able to change the focus of each area easily is key to minimizing unused space.  Having a dedicated formal dining room is impractical, but being able to convert a space for large group dining is convenient.  Designing rooms with adequate storage either in the form of built in cabinetry and/or furniture is essential for these types of transitions.

The bottomline for Gen X families is being efficient.  In this case, using every square foot of your home maximizes efficiency.  Considering the use of each space in your home during the design process, is essential to this goal.

Other previous blogs for Generation X:

Real Kitchen Design Tips for Generation X

Kitchen Design Tips (Kind of) for Generation X


Home Design Tips for Gen X ~ Organized Storage

Home Design Tips for Generation X

Check back soon for our final Blog in the Generation X Series: “Tying it All Together.”

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Schedules for Generation X families can be extremely busy and chaotic.  In many families, both parents are working and each child has after school/evening activities to attend.  All of this hustle and bustle make family dinners nearly impossible to organize but more important than ever.  Knowing you have about 40 minutes in your evening schedule to prepare, serve and eat dinner can be overwhelming.  However, having a kitchen designed appropriately will help streamline this process and maybe allow your family to sit down more often to enjoy dinner together.

1. Plan ahead for multiple cooks.  As you look at the layout of your kitchen cabinets and counters try to envision, who will be helping to prepare meals.  If Sally is in charge of putting together the salad, where will she chop vegetables and mix ingredients?  Should the counter height be lower in this area, or will your child use a step stool?  If Billy sets the table, are the plates, cups, and utensils at a level he can reach and in an area he can access without being in the way of cooking?  If you often use your slow-cooker to prepare meals, is there adequate space to leave it on the counter?

2. Much like with closet space, there are many accessories that can be used to streamline your kitchen.  Under cabinet cookbook holders, spice racks, wall mounted utensil racks, wall or ceiling mounted pot racks.  Google “kitchen organization” for more ideas about kitchen accessories to match any style.  These accessories can add functionality to your kitchen without taking counter space.  This is especially important in smaller kitchen or in kitchens with multiple cooks.

3. Being able to put a meal on the table quickly comes down to organization…  keep your most used items easily accessible.  Why put your most used pot in the back of the cabinet even if it fits best there?  Leave it on the front burner of the stove, this way it is ready and waiting for you.  Organize a small lazy susan or organizer next to your cooktop with cooking spray, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a small crock filled with your most used cooking utensils.  This same trick can be used in the pantry and kitchen cabinets.  Group like items together so they can be found easily.  Use baskets to help keep items accessible in your cabinets.

Planning ahead and organization are key to streamlining your kitchen to be an efficiently used space.  These three simple tips can help guide you in your kitchen design process, and when combined with the tips from our previous blog, “Kitchen Design Tips (kind of)”, you are sure to design a kitchen that meets all your families needs.  In our next blog, we will move out of the kitchen and discuss design tips for the overall living space and layout of a home for a Generation X family.

Other previous blogs for Generation X:

Home Design Tips for Gen X ~ Organized Storage

Home Design Tips for Generation X


Also, check out our Blog Series for the Baby Boomer Generation starting with: Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Exterior of the Home

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The internet and home design magazines are flooded with picture of gorgeous kitchens that we all look at, fall in love with and dream of having.  But let’s face it, most gen Xer’s (myself included) cannot afford such a kitchen.  Designers are finding that most Generation X families value function over fashion.  Also noted by Designers, easy to clean and maintain are top priorities.

Let’s talk first about non-kitchen design ideas for the kitchen.  In the past this room was closed off from the rest of the home so that “the mess and work” could easily be hidden.  This is not the case anymore.  Lives are busy, and in order to keep up with family and life, it is important to multitask.  This means: cooking dinner, helping with homework, chatting about the upcoming dance, and planning for the weekends schedule all at the same time, in the same room.  This room would be the kitchen.  Kitchens are not just about cooking anymore, they need to be very multi-functional.  Here are some tips to promote this new facet of kitchen use while maintaining the kitchen’s true function.

1. Kitchens for Generation X must have a drop zone/organization center.  This is an area that homework, mail, grocery lists, schedules can be tucked away in order to make room for cooking.  Without this area, counters become cluttered with daily life.  By designing an area to keep paperwork organized, you can save yourself time and stress.  This area could be a desk, or some pockets on the wall, even the inside of the pantry door can be used to organize your life, as shown in the picture.

2. Another key design feature that shouldn’t be overlooked is a charging station!  My children do not have phones yet, and I’m dreading the time when I will be fighting for outlet and counter space to charge my lifeline.  A dedicated area to charge phones and other electronic devices that have become such a huge part of life helps reduce clutter and eliminates the stress of “Where’s my PHONE?!”  Some charging stations also have an area to hang keys…

3. Many Gen Xer’s have included an office area into their kitchen design.  Homework is often completed in the kitchen, and while most homes now have wireless networks, having laptops clutter counter space is not convenient.  Having a space designed into the cabinet layout that matches the style of the kitchen is the perfect solution.  If designed well, this office area can take care of the above two tips as well.

4. We have looked at how our children may use the kitchen, but there is another group of beings using the kitchen space… pets.  Many times the kitchen is not only where we prepare food for our families, but it is where our dogs and cats are fed.  Keeping this in mind, while you are designing your kitchen space will ensure that you are not tripping over Rover during his meal time.

In our next blog, we will discuss design tips for the kitchen (in it’s true function).

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