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Custom Home Trends for 2016: common mistakes to avoid!

If building your dream home is part of your plans for this year, you may want to get started by considering this year's design/build trends. Most importantly, you want to stay away from making mistakes when deciding on these desirable features. As custom home builders in Northern VA, we'd like to offer you our expert advice on what to avoid when following these 12 current trends for building your custom home.

Open Floor Plan
Flexible Spaces
Main Floor Master Suite
Large Kitchen Islands
Abundant Storage
Experience Showers
Universal Design
Energy Efficient Envelope
LED Lighting
Smart Technology
Pet Friendly Spaces and Mess Free Mudroom
Indoor-Outdoor Integration
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1.Open Floor Plan There is a tendency to stay away from having multiple small "museum" rooms, with lots of formality but little functionality. Homeowners today want to live in a house that feels spacious and conducive to entertaining with less walls and small rooms. However, avoid a home that has a "gym-like" interior without defined areas. This does not mean you need walls to define them, there are other ways architects in Northern VA can achieve the same effect. The key is to use lighting, finishes and furniture arrangement to preserve the definition in an open floor plan.

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2. Flexible Spaces People are willing to live in their homes longer, as long as there is a possibility of redefining spaces to meet their changing lifestyle and needs. Having a home that is versatile will save time and money in the long run. Once you have no use for an office and you want to turn it into a main level bedroom, you can. A good architect would design with a vision to change the functionality of rooms in the future. Avoid the cost when you get to that point and make sure you build now with the future in mind.

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3. Main Floor Master Suite There are many advantages to having your master suite on the main level. More young couples are looking for homes that have this feature, specially if they want to build a home for life. When you are young, it can be for your in-laws and later in life it can be for you. As you get older you want to have independence and you want your room to be easily accessible. When you design your master bedroom, consider universal design. The key is to keep all of the main floor on one elevation and to avoid sunken areas and useless steps.

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4. Large Kitchen Island Most luxury custom homes are designed with big center islands these days. Perfect for entertaining. You'll regret, really quickly, having just a flat surface to look at. Remember, you can't run a marathon every time you are preparing dinner or having guest over. As architects in northern VA, one of the the biggest requests we get for doubling appliances is to have two dishwashers. Adding a second standard size sink, pull-out trashcan for recycling will make your great island really functional.

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5. Abundant Storage

As much storage as possible please! What you really need is a better use of space. People are adding a separate pantry that holds all food in one place and it also allows you to hide away all your smaller appliances. Spice racks that are hidden but accessible. Drawers and rolling trays that enable finding things easier. Using smart design to ensure that your are adapting the space to your needs is very important. The organization and distribution of your storage should be no exception.

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6. Experience Showers If you have the time to enjoy soaking in the tub these days, good for you! Most people don't want to take the time. That is why spacious showers with all the bells and whistles are becoming so much more desirable. A double head and massage spray showers in combination with natural materials can lead you to that spa-like experience. Just be careful to spoil the fun due to poor water pressure and low temperatures. Adding a tank-less water heater -maybe under your cabinets- and a re-circulating pump will solve this issue. The first one, keeps you from running out of hot water and the second one saves you on wait-time for hot water. -

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7. Universal Design The concept of "Aging in Place" is transforming the way we build homes today. This doesn't mean that you need to have unsightly ramps and grab bars in your house when you're in you are raising your family. You can avoid moving or having major renovations in the future if you plan ahead. You can have a "home for life" just by incorporating universal design from the beginning. Simple considerations like 36" wide openings -doors and hallways, step-free main level and master baths with curb less showers and grab bars that look like towel bars can help you build a house to accommodate your future needs. -

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8. Energy Efficient Envelope People want energy efficient homes. However, walls, windows, doors and roof - the skin of a house- is as important to making homes efficient than anything else you do after the fact. If you're investing in energy saving inside the house (power, heat, gas, etc.) you don't want your savings to go "out the window" - literally! You should give some thought before building to the real savings. 2x6 exterior walls with more insulation, high grade architectural shingles on the roof and great quality windows and doors will increase your ROI much more than anything else.

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9. LED Lighting
LED light bulbs also have a life span that is by far the longest of any light bulb available today. In fact most LED light bulbs are rated at 50,000 to 100,000 hours! - See more at: http://www.ledlights.org/FAQ/Do-LED-Lights-Save-Money.html#sthash.PlkPtK1p.dpuf LED light has been growing in popularity. No black spots to clean due to overheating bulbs, longer duration bulbs, a pleasant color in lights and consistency in the intensity of light are some of the benefits without even mentioning energy savings. There's still lot to learn about how we can use LED light in its full capacity, though. An average incandescent bulb lifetime is 1,000 hours whereas a LED light bulb has a lifetime of 50,000 hours, saving you between 80-90% in energy use depending on installation and choices in the system. The real trend now comes when choosing a system that will offer convectional LED or Low Voltage LED like LumaStream system. The key here is to have experts to advice you and guide you through the decision. Oh, and avoid system combinations. In other words, make sure your LED light conforms with the dimmer controls you choose or you will end up with flickering lights every time you adjust the dimmer.

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10. Smart Technology In today's world, smart technology goes beyond TV and surround sound speakers. It's about safety and energy efficiency. Technology offers the possibility of a better use of resources just with the touch of a hand held device. It also opens a new world of opportunities to have some control on safety for you and your family. If you're at home, out and about or on vacation, people can now manage power use or supervise who's at the door. You can change the mood of every room with controls for your window shades, fireplace and music. Don't forget, though, to be "smart" and choose brands that have been around for a while- technology can change fast. You don't want to end with a product that becomes obsolete right after you have installed it in your home.