Category Archives: house plans

FIVE STRATEGIES FOR MINIMIZING WESTERN SUN EXPOSURE IN ARIZONA CUSTOM HOMES

Minimizing the Impact of Arizona’s Intense Sun When Designing and Building a Custom Home

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As Arizona custom home builders, at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC  the position of the house as it relates the sun has always been an important consideration.  In Arizona, north or south exposures have always been the most desirable direction for a house as it sits on a lot.  In some subdivisions, the lots with north or south exposures are offered at a premium to east or west facing lots.  In some well-planned subdivisions, nearly all of the vacant lots have north and south exposures.   There is usually a main vehicular artery in the neighborhood that prohibits this completely, but as many lots as possible are created with north or south exposures.  In other parts of the country this may not be as important as in Arizona.  Outlined below are five common strategies for minimizing western sun exposures in Arizona custom homes. 

1)  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we work with our customers and their architect or home designer with the placement of the house on the lot for the best sun exposure, minimizing the worst sun exposures.  Turning the layout of the house on the plan, perhaps just angling the house slightly can affect how the sun’s rays hit the house and any western exposures.  Continue reading

SPANISH COLONIAL… EVER POPULAR HOME DESIGN

Arizona Custom Homes…  Spanish Colonial

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There is something totally unique about Arizona custom homes.  The homes in Arizona are not like any other part of the country.  Some may say, “Santa Fe”.  Perhaps, though many of the homes in Santa Fe are true to the Mission or Territorial architectural styles.   As a custom home builder, California actually serves are a great inspiration source for our Arizona custom homes.  It isn’t the inspiration of new homes in northern San Diego, but sometimes it’s the old, but true classics found in San Marino and Pasadena. The old Spanish influenced homes with fully arched windows, white smooth stucco,  red terra cotta roofs and big heavily carved wood doors, this architecture still inspires Arizona custom homes.  Spanish Colonial makes one think of Billy Wilder’s film, Double Indemnity as Fred MacMurray approaches such a house to renew an insurance policy only to find a dangerous and sultry Barbara Stanwyck.  Watch the first minute or so of the clip to get the feel of the Spanish Colonial as Fred MacMurry approaches the front door.  .

The Spanish Colonial home design is what; at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, is our term for the custom home that resembles the home highlighted in the movie clip.  This is probably not termed correctly to the professional designer or architect, but the custom homes we build today rarely seem true to one particular style.    Continue reading

CUSTOM HOMES… EVER POPULAR SPLIT FLOOR PLANS

Still Strong, The Split Floor plan

Ever strong in Arizona custom homes is the split floor plan.  The split floor plan is not limited to high-end custom homes.  It is a very popular floor plan for homes of any size.  Simply, this floor plan places the master bedroom on one side of the house.  The secondary bedrooms are located on the opposite side of the house.  The family room, kitchen and public rooms of the house are placed between the bedrooms in the center of the house.  This sets the master bedroom apart from the rest of the house helping achieve the master retreat feel.  The floor plan may not work for everyone, but for families with teenagers it works out great.  Loud music or slumber party laughter doesn’t usually travel to the master retreat on the other side of a house.  It is sometimes referred to as the Mother-in-Law floor plan.  This floor plan works with any home style from Santa Barbara, Tuscan, Spanish Colonial to traditional ranch.

The attached floor plan is an example of a split floor plan.  The master retreat is on one side of the house and the secondary bedrooms are on the other side of the house.  The master retreat has a guest bedroom on the same side of the house.  In this plan, the guest bedroom includes two entrances, one from within the house and a private exterior door located under the covered loggia. This floor plan can be modified if the entrance within the house is not desired creating more privacy for the guest quarters as well as the master retreat.

As custom home builders in Arizona, at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we stay abreast of changes in floor plans, home styles and various amenities.  We built our first split floor plan in 1990, yet this plan had been popular in Arizona long before that.  This is a floor plan that has staying power and offers a custom home buyer good resale value. 

Split floor plan in a Tuscan Courtyard style custom home

Split floor plan in a Tuscan Courtyard style custom home

THINKING OF A CUSTOM HOME? WHAT’S YOUR FIRST STEP?

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Many potential customers at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC often ask us how to get started when thinking of a custom home.  First, there is not really a right or wrong way to get started.  Some of our customers find us after they have purchased the land or lot for the home, others want our help in this area.  Some are referred to us by previous customers.  Some are referred to us through our network of architects and home designers as they work on their house plans.  Outlined below is an overview of the custom home building process.  Detailed construction steps are not included here.

Planning and Preparation:  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we believe that each project is an investment for our customers therefore each home we build is a signature of our work.  A fantastic benefit of building custom homes is helping our customers realize your desires for your dream home.  Each one of our customers has unique lifestyle preferences and we take great pride working closely with you to create a home where you and your family can enjoy your personal lifestyle. 

Home Site Selection:  If you don’t already have a lot for your custom home, we can help you find the ideal location for your dream home.  We are familiar with many of the prominent custom home communities in Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Chandler, Rio Verde, Cave Creek, Tempe, and Carefree.  We’ll need to find out if you want the natural beauty of our Arizona desert landscaping, the greens of a golf course or mountain views.  What size of a custom home would interest you?  What architectural style interests you?  Once we understand exactly where your interests lie, we can focus our attention on an ideal neighborhood for you and family.

Floor Plans and Illustrations:  When the lot is selected, we partner with you and your architect or home designer to help design a home that will fit your family’s unique needs.  We begin working on a set of house plans designed for your lot.  With your lot selected, we can design the house for maximum views, best layout for minimizing western exposures and maximizing north and south exposures.  The home designer will want to know what home style you prefer, Tuscan, Santa Barbara, Andalusian, Spanish Colonial, Hacienda, or contemporary.  This is the first time your vision is transferred to paper.  We encourage you to bring in a collection of photos, magazine clippings, preliminary designs, a rough floor plan and any other visual tool helping transfer your ideas to a floor plan, elevations, and illustrations. 

Materials:  While the floor plan is formalized, we can begin working on the home’s materials and details.  Exterior stone, exterior color, stain colors, gates, wrought iron accents, formal entry door, driveway materials, exterior fireplace and grill locations must be made.  Then we’ll ask you to make similar selections for the interior of the house including cabinet style, counter surfaces, flooring materials, door style, door hardware, plumbing fixtures and lighting fixtures among other selections. You will work with our suppliers and visit showrooms to make these selections.  For example, if you choose granite materials, you will actually walk the warehouse and select your own slabs of granite.   Once the floor plan, elevation and materials are selected, each can be submitted to your design review committee for approval.

Bidding Process:  When you have made the many selections for your home, we can begin the bidding process.  We bid competitively each and every project to get you the best possible price for your home.  Our tradesmen are proven and talented contractors that understand we bid each and every job.  We will discuss and contemplate the cost and efficiencies of different designs, structural features, and material selections.  We believe its better for you to take your time making material selections and receive an accurate bid based on these selections, than get a rough estimate up front.  When working with our suppliers and showroom professionals they can assist you with selections that keep your budget in mind.

Permitting:  During the design review committee approval process, all required documents are professionally gathered and submitted to the city for permitting.  The length of this permitting process varies per city but can take anywhere from two to eight weeks.   During this time we will walk through the plan together on paper and specifically review the materials you have selected and mark the specific location of these materials on the plan. 

Construction:  After proper planning, design review approval and city approval we can break ground.  There are various phases of construction beginning with site preparation, the foundation, the vertical stage, the roof dry-in phase, the rough mechanical and rough electrical phase, insulation, lathe, stucco, drywall and trim stage, interior finish stage, cabinets and interior trim detail, finish electrical, plumbing, and mechanical stage, flooring stage, and finally a finish and final clean phase. 

Progress:  During the construction process, you’re welcome to visit the jobsite and see the progress on your home.  During several phases of construction you’ll be asked to re-evaluate or confirm your selections for the location of telephone outlets, light switches, soap dishes, and other details that had only been done on paper before.  As much as possible we keep our jobsites as clean and free of debris as possible, yet during major construction activities this can be difficult, since your safety is our concern, we encourage you to walk the jobsite with the project manager.  If your having your home built while you live elsewhere, you can have private access within our website where photos and updates of your home’s construction will be posted.

Inspections:  Throughout the construction process, your home will go through various inspections by the city to assure that your home is built consistent with the required building codes.  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we are proud to offer our customers additional inspections throughout the home building process by an independent inspector.  We are proud of our work and welcome an independent inspector on the job to keep our subcontractors as judicious in quality as we are.  Our customers appreciate the openness with which we encourage an independent inspector.

Final Approval:  Once the city has approved the completed project and issued a certificate of occupancy, you’re closer to moving in.  Before taking possession we will walk through the home and identify any items that need correction before moving day.  You will receive a warranty booklet and directions on maintenance of the new products in your home.  When all the punch list of items has been addressed, moving day has arrived.

Your Custom Home:  You deserve a custom-designed and built home that will bring your family years of enjoyment.  Your home is unique for your character and lifestyle preferences, it is a place to be proud of especially because or your own influences from the design and layout, to material selections, to the finishing touches.  It is your dream home!

BUILDING AN ARIZONA CUSTOM HOME… SHOULD IT INCLUDE RV STORAGE?

RV Storage at a Premium, Some Custom Home Buyers Build in Storage Space

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For owners of recreational vehicles, (RV) storage is an important issue.  For RV owners, storage is as important as its use.  Many Homeowners’ Associations (HOA) in place today prohibit RV storage on a homeowner’s property for more than a couple of days, unless enclosed in a garage.  A standard car garage isn’t remotely close to the size required by most recreational vehicles.  Storing an RV off-site becomes a necessity without a property large enough for enclosed storage in an HOA regulated area.  If  one is fortunate enough to live in an area that is not regulated by an HOA, you may be able to store the RV in the driveway or side yard area, but this doesn’t mean your neighbors like it.  Storing an RV off-site is typically an inconvenience when preparing for a trip, and unpacking from a trip.  Most RV owners would agree that the ease of loading and unloading for a vacation, camping trip, or other adventure is much more convenient when it can be done at home over a few days without rushing to get the RV off the property before the HOA jumps down your throat.  Storing an RV off-site at a local storage company may cost anywhere from $30 to $90 a month depending on where you live.

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, as custom home builders some of our customers have experienced these RV storage issues.   If at all possible, RV storage was constructed with their custom home if the lot was large enough and allowed by their HOA.  Aside from the difficulty with adequate RV storage space on the lot, incorporating such a large garage into the architecture of a house that meets with HOA approval is sometimes challenging.  In many custom homes subdivisions, all garages must have side-entries.  Difficult for a large RV, a lot must be extremely large to allow for any kind of side-entry.  RV garages must be higher than a standard car garage and this too can create an architectural challenge.  Most HOAs will not approve a custom home design and floor plan if the RV garage is an unsightly large box better fitting in an industrial park than a residential custom home neighborhood.  

For custom home buyers interested in incorporating RV storage with the construction of their custom home, a well-planned home design and floor plan can save time later with HOA and city code approvals.  Waiting to construct an RV storage garage until after the home is completed is not recommended unless it has been initially incorporated into the house plans.  In most municipalities, homes constructed on residential lots are permitted to cover a certain percentage of the lot.  Failing to let the architect know that an RV storage garage is planned for later, the architect may design the house and standard garages without leaving enough room for RV storage as required by designated zoning.  Exceeding lot coverage may require a variance by the municipality and approval by neighbors prior to construction.

At first glance it doesn’t seem as though the custom home in the photo below includes an RV storage area.  In fact, this large lot included RV storage in the back of the home.  As shown in the second photo, although large enough for a 36 foot RV, this garage is located in the back of the house and not overbearing and overpowering to the architecture of the house. 

 

ARIZONA CUSTOM HOMES AND THE ‘KID ZONE’

Floorplans Designed with Kids in Mind!

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Designing a custom for home for exactly how a family plans to use the home is one of the most rewarding benefits of building custom homes.  Many families that have the opportunity to design and build their dream home; do just that.  The floor plans selected or created can be very specific to a family’s needs.  One of the great features recently included in custom homes is the ‘kid zone’.  The ‘kids zone’ is not necessarily a playroom, although it can be for very young children, but an area of the house where kids can have a television, use computers in a supervised area, play video related game, and just hang out with their friends.  At Woodridge Custom BuildersLLC we have built these kid friendly areas adjacent to the children’s bedrooms using the popular split floor plan.  It is very popular in Arizona to build a house with a split floor plan, this means that the master suite is located on one side of the home, while secondary bedrooms such as children’s rooms or guest rooms are built on the other side of the home. 

Having the children’s bedrooms on one side of the house and designing a separate playroom or children’s family room near their bedrooms, offers a terrific way for kids to play video games, watch television, play loud music, play on a computer or just hang out with friends without isolating themselves in their bedroom.  Depending on the age of the children, these rooms can evolve as a child grows.  These rooms can begin with the Little Tyke type toys, walkers, kitchen sets, tents and other large toys familiar to parents of very young children.  As the children grow, the room transitions to an area where kids can hang out after school with friends, and play video games for example.  When things settle down for the day it can be a great study or reading area.  Eventually when the kids move out, it may be possible to convert this area to a home theatre, craft room, work-out room, or other area just for the parents.

At Woodridge Custom BuildersLLC we have seen these kid zones become much more popular, not only popular, but much more useful and lived-in areas of a custom home.  Initially, we used to see these kid areas located adjacent to the kitchen as study areas for kids.  Honestly, some of those areas just became cluttered cubicles for the kids to throw their stuff when they got home from school.  This newer trend to have a designated children’s area adjacent to the secondary bedrooms seems to be much more kid-friendly and useful living space.

CREATING LUXURIOUS OUTDOOR LIVING AREAS…

Outdoor Living… Changing Styles

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Outdoor furniture has gone through a revolution in the past few years.  Outdated is the PVC furniture and vinyl strap seating.  Frosted glass patio tabletops now have a certain “retro” look. Not only has outdoor furniture changed in the past several years, outdoor spaces have evolved beyond dining patios and poolside lounging areas.  Welcome are seating arrangements that are not just designed for outside dining, but outside living.  Many popular outdoor furnishings include sofas, oversized chairs, end tables and cocktail tables designed for comfort and relaxation.  Add large potted plants, accent pillows, area rugs, and outdoor lighting and a patio suddenly becomes a true outdoor living area.

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, helping a customer design and build a custom home doesn’t end with the house and the interior elements.  The outside of the home, its courtyards, patios, yard and landscape are all design elements that pull the custom home project together in the end.  It is important to know how an outdoor space will be used.  Will the family primarily use the space for private family gatherings?  Will the patio be used to host barbecues and neighborhood gatherings?  How much dining area will be necessary for its intended purpose?  Is there an area where a luxurious seating arrangement can be established, covered and protected from the harsh Arizona sun and elements?  There are many other questions to ask regarding patio lighting, ceiling fans, music systems, and camera systems over the pool area, for example.  Whatever a custom home buyer selects for their patio, courtyard, backyard or outdoor living space, planning for the space is best done during the house plan and home design stage.  How wide should a patio extend from the house?  Should it be completely covered, or should some of the patio extend past the roofline of the house?  These are all questions a custom home buyer might ask in the planning phase of their custom home.  

Decisions made in the floor plan stage of a custom home truly pay off in the end.  Enjoying the family pool, lounging on an outdoor sofa, sitting back appreciating a mountain view, or sitting quietly reading the newspaper with a morning cup of joe; planning pays off. 

In the first set of photos, this custom home owner designed the back yard with kids in mind.  The pool area is great for pool parties.  The trampoline in the back of the yard has been built into the ground to minimize fall injuries.  Most fall injuries occur from falling from one level to another, in this case the trampoline is flush with the ground.  The yard is large enough for activities so when the kids are not in the pool, or on the trampoline, setting up the lacrosse cage for a little one-on-one, or a game of volleyball are always other options.

In the second set of photos, this custom homeowner designed the patio area as a relaxing outdoor living area.  Outdoor sofa, love seat, and a side chair just beckon one to settle in and relax.  The end tables and cocktail table accented with candles, plants and accessories further enhances the feel of outdoor living.  Cllick on each photo below to enlarge.

CUSTOM HOME AND THE HOME OFFICE

The Home Office… More Than A Den

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Most homes today have some type of space for the home office.  It may be a bedroom converted to an office or a dedicated space such as a den.  A specific place to pay the bills, work at the computer, do that extra work brought home from the office, or for those that work at home, space for everything a home office requires.  The needs of a person who works from home may be totally different from those that need an office area for paying the bills, making a grocery list or taking notes while talking on the phone.  Obviously, different people have different needs.  To some, a home office is a place to quietly work at a desk or computer.  To others, it is an absolute retreat, a place to work, quietly read, or watch television.  In a recent presentation on 2009 home trends conducted by Nancy Hugo, CKD, a certified kitchen designer in the Scottsdale area, http://www.nancyhugo.com/ a new home office trend has become to replace rented office space for working space at home.  According to Nancy, in these economic times, many people are asking themselves if it makes sense to rent office space in a business complex when they can work at home?  It is Nancy’s belief that as the economy turns around many people will remain working from home offices more than ever, even more reason to design and accent the home office to a customer’s specific needs. 

Office1

Photo 1

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, helping our custom home buyers create a great house plan and home design incorporating the features of their perfect home office pays dividends in the end.  The old saying, “failure to plan means planning to fail” is often true for the home office.  The home office shown in the photo 1 is a home office for custom home buyers that are retired.  The office has beautiful upper and lower cabinets with a built-out desk area.  Bottom drawers in the lower cabinets are designed to hold files.  The upper cabinets include exposed bookcases as well as closed cabinets.  The office is functional in design, not overly large, included a double door entry and located off the formal areas of the house.

The next two photos highlight a beautiful home office in a Tuscan style home.  The office includes two walls of floor to ceiling bookshelves with lower cabinets.  The lower cabinets include drawers for storing files as well closed storage areas.  This custom home buyer enjoyed reading classic literature and enjoyed displaying the book collection.  The desk designed to sit freely in this home office, required the electrical, CATV, and telephone outlets be placed in the floor before the concrete slab was completed.  This takes great planning since incorrect placement can put these outlets in a walking path rather than near the desk where they were intended.  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we help our custom home buyers make these decisions before the house is completed and impacts furniture placement.  This office also included a wall-mounted television; again, placement of the television was pre-planned so the CATV outlets could be placed correctly.  The office included a sofa so the family could use this as a quiet reading area.  Since this office was designed as a home office, the architect included a full-size closet for storing business files, records, etc.  The dark stained alder wood cabinets, richness of the bookcases, classic furniture style mixed with contemporary pieces gives the look and feel of a very worldly office.  Adding to the worldly look are the multiple clocks displaying various times from around the world. 

Photo 2

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 3

The contractors at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, enjoy working with customers to design and deliver the home office its custom home buyers are looking for.  Planning ahead adds to that success!

TWO ENERGY-EFFICIENCY TECHNIQUES FOR A 5000 Sq. Ft. CUSTOM HOME

TechShield® And Time-of-Use Plans

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In a 5,000 square foot home with three, zoned, 13-SEER heat pumps the highest electric bill of the year barely exceeded $313 for an August in the Phoenix metropolitan area.  How is that possible?  One of the strategies used at Woodridge Custom Builders, LLC to increase energy efficiency in the homes we build includes using TechShield® Radiant Heat Barrier.  

TechShield® Radiant Barrier Sheathing is manufactured by the Louisiana-Pacific Corporation and represents the best in energy-efficient building technology. TechShield is a thin aluminum foil barrier installed on roof sheathing materials.  With TechShield® on the roof deck, attics stay cooler, cooling loads are reduced, and energy consumption goes down.  TechShield® radiant barrier sheathing is an energy saving upgrade that consumers at Woodridge Custom Builders, LLC are willing to pay for. With its thin, laminated, aluminum layer, TechShield® prevents up to 97% of the radiant heat in the panel from radiating into the attic – passing on to the homeowners energy savings of up to 20%, and usually around 17% according to the manufacturer’s website, www.Lpcorp.com

In summer when radiant heat is the most intense, the sun’s rays penetrate the roof and walls of a house, but the TechShield® radiant barrier blocks this heat from penetrating the home into attic spaces.  Conversely, when temperatures cool off in the winter months, the radiant barrier prevents indoor heated air from escaping through the attic spaces and reflects it back into the house.  The house stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

In addition to the TechShield®, these homeowners used Phoenix-based Salt River Project’s (SRP) Time-of- Use-Plan.  This plan rewards consumers for using less electricity during peak times.  Consumers use programmable thermostats to set lower temperatures in the house when electricity is cheap.  During peak usage times, thermostats are programmed to a much higher temperature.  If the house is cooled sufficiently when electricity is cheaper, the air-conditioning units need to run very little during the daily peak periods.  The peak times change for winter and summer.  By cooling the home when energy is off-peak it costs approximately 25% per kilowatt than during on-peak times.  One-quarter as much per kilowatt than during on-peak times may be enough to try the plan in the Phoenix metropolitan area, other utility companies through-out the nation have similar plans.