All square feet are not created equal!

by Greg Dodge 18. February 2013 08:24

All square feet are not created equal!

It may come as a surprise to you that there is no universal method for calculating a home's square footage. Discrepancies occur when including (or omitting) porches and screened-in decks, lower levels, attic spaces and garages. Should the square footage occupied by a staircase be counted once or twice, since it occupies space on both levels?


Then there's the question of where the measurement is taken from. Some homes may only include the space inside the walls. More often, the calculation is based on taking measurements from outside of the exterior wall framing (which adds the square footage represented in the wall thickness.) Further increasing square footage calculations, some homes are measured from outside of exterior finish materials. If the home has brick siding, for example, measuring to the outside of the brick may add 50 or even 100 square feet to the home's overall size. 


This is one reason homes should not be compared solely on the basis of cost-per-square-foot.


Different builders calculate square footage differently. Home site costs differ. The quality of materials used differs by builder, as does the costs charged by the builders' sub-contractors such as electricians, plumbers and painters.


Design also has a huge bearing on cost. These 2 homes have exactly the same  floor plan, and square footage, but the cost to build is very different.



1755 sq. ft., 3-bedroom

1755 sq. ft., 3-bedroom

1755 sq. ft., 3-bedroom

1755 sq. ft., 3-bedroom


Finally, what's included in one builder's bid will vary from what's included in another builder's bid. It's virtually impossible to get an "apples for apples" comparison between two builders, and even if you could control most variables by having the home design finalized and all products selected, there's still differences in quality and customer service to be considered.


Beware of comparing two homes solely on the basis of cost per square foot! 


Example Plans

  Part I - 1752 the Lancaster

  Part II - 43016 the Bay Hill and 43017 the Saugatuck

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Building cost | General | Plannng

Do you have a new home buyers personality? Sure you do!

by Greg Dodge 6. February 2013 07:41



Which word would you most likely use to describe your ideal home: “haven,” “showcase,” “unique,” or “carefree”?

You see, the words we use reveal a lot about how we see ourselves and are a reflection of our personalities. In the same way, our personalities are reflected in our homes. After all, there are few places on Earth where you have as much freedom to be yourself than in your home!

The neighborhood you choose…the home design you fall in love with…products and finishes you select for your home…even personal items you love to display...all of these reflect your personality. Many aspects of our lives are “learned”, but personality is a gift we were born with. And personality influences only grow stronger with age.



Even though our magazine "Her Home Magazine" is published from “her” perspective, all women don’t want to be thought of (or treated) the same. That truth inspired our woman-centric team at Design Basics to go deeper with their research into women’s preferences in the home, its design and products used, to look for personality-based influences. The research suggested four primary personas, and they were given names: Margo, Elise, Claire and Maggie.


A fun, interactive quiz (“Finally About Me!”) was developed to help women identify which of the four personas were closest to her personality. While no one is “purely” or “exclusively” one of the personas (to varying degrees, everyone is a blend of the different personas), quiz results identify the primary personality.

It’s simply uncanny how knowing your personality helps you understand your preferences in home design and product choices. The quiz, which takes about 3 minutes, will likely save you hours by helping focus on your priorities and avoid wasting your time on things you’re probably not interested in.

For more regarding the quiz and all four personalities, start HERE!


For more regarding the HER Home Magazine, start HERE!


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Finally About Me

“What have you done lately?”

by Greg Dodge 16. January 2013 22:25

 “What have you done lately?”


Your work has been recognized with awards. You’ve listened to customers, “heard” their problems in a whole new way and responded with innovative solutions. The media has given you your 15 minutes of fame. You’ve taken chances on being first, introducing new, unproven ideas. Your work has had significant impact in many peo­ple’s lives.

“OK, what have you done lately?”

Marketing effects take place over time. But in our micro­wave-fast, 4G-enabled society, we’ve come to focus almost exclusively on what’s immediately ahead of us. The new normal has minimal appreciation for what came before; it’s been replaced with short-term results. Next quarter’s numbers usurp what’s been accomplished.

Without minimizing the importance of focusing on the daily and weekly efforts that effect quarterly and annual numbers, maximum results are often found by tying in with past successes, establishing a company history that’s relevant and meaningful to today’s and tomorrow’s customers. This month’s incentives are important, but so is the prospective buyer’s peace of mind that comes from your company’s solid foundation (you’ll be there for them in the future). Prospects find it safer choosing to do busi­ness with a leader (minimizes risk). Many buyers embrace companies with a reputation for innovative solutions. Favorable press lends credibility and name recognition, numerous press features imply expertise.

So in looking forward, remember to also look back. What is there in your company’s history worth celebrating by keeping it at the forefront of your current marketing activities? By way of example, take a moment to review Design Basics’ short 30th Anniversary video.




Why Buy New?

by Greg Dodge 26. December 2012 16:33

Why buy new, now?

Historically low interest rates expand your purchasing power significantly. For example, a $200,000 30-year mortgage at a 5% interest rate (APR) is $125 less per month than a 6% APR
mortgage payment. Or, you could opt for a larger home or $20,000 in upgrades and still keep the payments lower than the 6% APR mortgage.

Lower total monthly housing costs.
Land costs have eased as have prices for some building
materials. Stiffer building and energy codes combined with product advancements mean cheaper utility bills and lower homeowner insurance rates.

The financial implications are often the first aspect looked at, but there are lots of other reasons to look at new construction rather than an existing home, including:

Quality of construction.
More stringent building codes are just one of the reasons today’s
homes typically offer superior quality compared to older homes, making your new home more pleasurable to live in.

Design flexibility.
Some things that just aren’t feasible to change with resale homes, like
garage size, basement ceiling heights, wider doors or open, entertaining floorplans.

Product choices, advancements.
When building new, there’s a gamut of products to select
from in making your home uniquely yours, based on what’s important to you—such as quieter and safer products, high technology…healthy construction is a hands-down winner!

Avoid maintenance hassles and cost.

New homes are typically lower maintenance due to
the products used. Composite decking, tilt-in clad windows and laminate flooring, all give you back a little more time. Then there’s the expensive repairs associated with older homes such as replacing worn-out appliances, roof shingles, carpet and furnaces.

Energy efficiency and environmental responsibility.
Homes built today are as much as
60% more energy efficient than homes built 20 years ago, contributing to a more comfortable home. Your energy efficient new home can help prevent the release of tons (yes, TONS!) of greenhouse gasses per year, while helping conserve our energy resources. Advanced building products such as engineered wood and recycled product choices such as carpet made from discarded plastic water bottles further help protect our environment.

Don’t settle for less.
Finally, one of the most important reasons for buying new is getting
exactly what you want in your new home.



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Decade of Change | Design Trends | General

Build a Christmas tradition!

by Greg Dodge 24. December 2012 08:40

For a few years now my family has been building a Christmas Eve tradition. While not nearly as elaborate as the picture to the right, my family builds a ginger-bread house. It is a sticky, gooey process. My wife bakes the walls and roof pieces. I build the house. My daughters take glee in all the trimmings laid out before them. We all love decorating the house with all the sugary trimmings.

The house never really turns out the way I think it should. It's not really that square. It leans a bit. The kids argue over where the trimmings should go and then giggle with delight when they sneak some trimmings to eat.

In the end, we've all had a great time. We've made some memories we'll share for years. We've spent some time together in one place at the same time.

It's like a miracle. Here are some really "Over-the-Top Gingerbread Houses"

From the staff at Design Basics and HER Home Magazine, have a safe and Merry Christmas!

Greg Dodge
Vice President.

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Do you remember these homes from your favorite TV families?

by Greg Dodge 26. November 2012 13:53

From the Brady's to the Simpsons. You've seen these TV homes. Take a look at some of America's most popular TV family homes and learn about the American building process from TV's favorite 70's architect Mike Brady.




Click to enlarge


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Take a look your favorite TV family's home and learn about the American building process from TV's favorite 70's architect Mike Brady.


Take a look your favorite TV family's home and learn about the American building process from TV's favorite 70's architect Mike Brady.

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What do you like to display in your kitchen?

by Greg Dodge 16. November 2012 16:25


Pull-out base cabinet kitchen wastebasket drawer.  Click picture to enlarge image.

The kitchen trash can. It's an eyesore. It's a target for kids and pets. AND IT ALWAYS FULL! How is that?

The humble kitchen wastebasket. With four young children at home, we tried teaching them that not everything went down the garbage disposal-like chicken bones. But with that garbage disposal and the sink plumbing taking up so much room in the sink base cabinet, about all we could fit there was a small (powder-bath size) wastebasket that seemingly overflowed constantly.


Not to be outdone by a wastebasket, I proudly marched to my local home improvement store and bought the big, family-size kitchen wastebasket with its little plastic lid. It did hold more (at least until the dog got into it) but also became the focal point of our kitchen.


A pull-out base cabinet kitchen wastebasket drawer is a true thing of beauty!  Is your kitchen trash can the focal point in your kitchen?



2002 - 2012 the Decade of Change! Part III

by Greg Dodge 9. October 2012 10:39


In the last decade, home design has undergone amazing change and innovation! Entertaining has taken on a new priority, but entertaining preferences are highly individualized.  Builders need to  understand your entertaining style.  And you need to make sure your builder gets your style.


We've refer to homeowners who enjoy formal entertaining as "Claires". Sophisticated finishes and open layouts are preferred, but Claires look for a sense of room definition. Outdoor spaces are often considered an extension of the indoor socializing, so the indoor/outdoor connection is key.


"Elise" is the name we've given to traditional buyers whose entertaining style tends to focus on family get-togethers or having a few close friends over. Conversation is key, as is getting everyone together. Flexible, free-flowing eating areas which can expand by adding another table are favored (think big, family Thanksgiving dinner gatherings.)


Fun-loving, "Maggie's" entertaining style revolves around "doing". It could be movie night at her home, or cards or pool. It could be a scrapbooking party or other type of "girls' night out". Maggies may have trouble seeing themselves in your home until they know where the big TV goes. Then there's her kids' entertaining space to consider. When she's got friends over, where will her kids go if their friends are over, too?

From lighting to soundproofing issues, entertaining influences design more than most people realize.

To learn more about the buyer profile described in this post, read about Finally About Me and take the quiz to learn your buyer profile.



Design Trends | Finally About Me | General | Decade of Change

2002 - 2012 the Decade of Change! Part II

by Greg Dodge 20. September 2012 14:18


2002 - 2012 the Decade of Change! Part II


In the last decade, home design has undergone amazing change and innovation. Vist Booth 1042 at the Sunbelt Builders Show,Just as you wouldn't get too excited over going to purchase a brand new car and being shown a new 2002 Pontiac Aztek, how excited should prospective buyers be touring a model home from a design that's 10 years old?

So what's different in home design today?


Example--Rear Foyers! As the most often used entrance into the home, coming in from the garage can no longer be viewed primarily as "utilitarian". The front entry foyer is designed to be something special, as much (or more!) attention should be paid to the rear foyer.

  • Storage. Beyond the expected coat closet, what about all the "stuff" you carry in with you? A "drop zone" is ideal for liberating your kitchen from such clutter! So what's a 'Drop Zone'?

  • Convenience. A seat or bench for removing shoes. Insignificant? Buyers don't think so!

  • Special amenities. Do you have pets - cats or dogs? Think about adding a pet zone to the rear foyer.


See examples of drop zones, pet centers, and rear entry foyers.  No longer should you bring people through the laundry room to get to your kitchen.  The rear entry foyer changes the experience when you bring family and friends in from the garage!



Design Trends | Destressing | Plannng | Rear entry foyer | Storage

2002 - 2012 the Decade of Change!

by Greg Dodge 6. September 2012 13:03

Over the next few weeks we will be looking at what has changed over the last 10 years in home design.  Topics will explore the lessons we've learned as well as newer design trends and popular product choices.

In the last decade, home design has undergone amazing change and innovation! Homebuyers want bigger garages, yet the average home being built has gotten smaller.

Narrower lots continue to dominate in many markets. Alley loaded garages are not applicable in most situations. So, how can you keep the garage from overpowering the front elevation?


Garage Placement: Bringing the garage flush with or even recessed from other elements of the front elevation de-emphasize the garage's impact on the home.


Garage Door: Why does everyone default to the same raised 32 panel garage door? An aesthetically pleasing garage door can be a focal point, rather than an eyesore!


Garage Access: Building lots may permit, or even dictate, entering the garage from the side. A newer trend is to combine front- and side-entry garages, minimizing their effect on the home's curb appeal.


Focal points: Adding horizontal fascia lines or a shed roof in a front facing gable over a garage minimizes the visual effect of that gable. Changing the siding pattern and/or the addition of louvers breaks up the massing of a front-facing gable over the garage. The addition of a dormer in a gable roof over the garage takes the eye to the dormer and away from the garage.

Next time, we'll talk about the idea of "flex" spaces.




Design Trends | Garage Design | Products for the Home