Articles tagged with: Construction

Design Considerations – Function First – Part 2

on Tuesday, 27 November 2012. Posted in Planning your custom home/remodeling project

In the last blog I talked about individual room considerations. Now let’s consider the bigger and more general functional needs of your home:

Entertaining – Consider the size and type of entertaining you do and how often. Think about the areas of your home that you want to use for these purposes. They will be different for different scenarios. For example, a child’s birthday party is different than a teenager’s graduation party and that is different than an adult dinner party. You want to make sure the spaces you plan to use will be adequate to handle the amount of guests you typically entertain.

Another consideration when thinking about entertaining is where do other family members go when they are not part of the party or event – where do the other children and adults go when the teenagers are having a party and likewise where do the children go when the adults are over – no one wants to feel like they are being banished to their rooms during these events.

Also consider staging areas for food and drink places where you can layout your delicious spread. A well placed electrical receptacle can eliminate extension cords across the floor which could be a safety hazard, not to mention unsightly.
You may also want to consider a sound system that can feed music to multiple areas of the home including outside decks or patios.

What bathrooms will be used when entertaining? Many homes have a powder room right off the foyer – you may want to consider a different location so that your guests can have a little more privacy. Is there an opportunity to have a second bathroom accessible to your guests without them having to walk through one of the bedrooms. Simply adding a door with hallway access can help eliminate this problem.

Flow – You should avoid bottlenecks – spaces that are used during larger parties or events with only one way in and out. Also avoid long lineal flow which can also cause bottlenecks. Having multiple ways to move throughout the inside and outside during parties and events is a great asset for any home.

Light - Light is very important – do you want morning light in certain rooms like the master bedroom or kitchen area? – some people do and some people don’t. Do you like to put makeup on with natural light? How will the light affect artwork, fabrics, or flooring? Will there be glare on TV’s or video screens. The site orientation and location of the rooms in the plan will have a significant impact on what light comes in and when – so plan for it.

Furniture – It may seem obvious to but measure the furniture you have now and lay it out to scale on any proposed plans you are considering to make sure what you have or plan to have fits in the space you are planning.

Special personal needs - Think about display areas for the important pictures and mementos that are unique to your family. Do you have enough wall space for pictures? Do you need display area for mementos, decorations, or art pieces? Other special considerations could include pre-planned design cellars, areas for crafts or other hobbies, a sewing area, a gift wrapping station, and even basement areas with batting or golf swing cages. We’ve even put a bowling alley in the basement of a house we built. Anything is possible – you just need to bring your ideas to the table when meeting with your design professional.

Finally,  think about adaptable or universal design that allows you and your family members to use all of the home through special design features like wheel-under vanities, wheel-in showers, lever handles on doors, lower switches and higher receptacles, even floor transitions between rooms, ramps that don’t feel like ramps, elevators or chair lifts. These are just a few of the examples of features that can be designed into your home to make it more accessible and easy to use.

The moral if the story is this: your home is where you spend most of your time, it’s where you live. Your home design should be one that helps you live the lifestyle you want, and should be planned in way that all family members can enjoy themselves and have the security and sanctuary from all the outside world throws at us. Our home should make living easier, not harder for us – with good design and planning it can be and much, much more.

Next up – Architectural styling.

Design Considerations – Part I - Function First

on Monday, 12 November 2012. Posted in Planning your custom home/remodeling project

When developing a design, many people focus primarily on the eye-catching bells and whistles, the dramatic design details you see in magazines. These types of features are aesthetically pleasing and important to the overall feel of your home, but they are not more important than the function of your home. Your home design must accommodate all the special living needs of your family and needs to be designed in a way that will maximize the efficiency of the space where your family will live, entertain and function.

Get started by thinking about how you and your family live, both now and into the future. For example, how you use your home changes over time: The needs of a childless couple are different than the needs when there are infants or toddlers in the house and these are different then when children become teenagers and different still after the couple are empty nesters. Begin by going through your daily life from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep.

Bedrooms - Think about sleep patterns – in many families one spouse wakes up earlier than the other or one stays up later than the other. If this is the case, a master bedroom suite can be designed so that the spouse who wakes up earlier can leave the sleeping area to use the bathroom and get dressed and go on their way without disturbing their partner. Likewise in the evening, is there a sitting area or a way for one partner to watch TV while the other sleeps? For children – do you need space for homework, are they allowed to have friends in their rooms, what furniture will they have in their rooms?

Bathrooms - How does sharing the bathroom work – in some cases one spouse is messier than the other – so do you share one sink, have two sinks or even have the vanities separated? The same goes for siblings that share a bathroom. Baths can be designed like a buddy bath: the tub and toilet area can be separated from the vanity area so two people can use the bathroom to speed up getting ready for school or work. Will the tub be separate from the shower? Consider if you need a makeup area in the bath and don’t forget space for your linens and towels.

Kitchen – How do you cook, what are your needs? Start with making a list of appliances you would like in your kitchen. Next, measure the lineal footage of counter space, wall cabinets, and base cabinets you currently have and then you can compare those dimensions to your new plan to better communicate your needs. Many kitchens become the primary entertaining space – everyone hangs out in the kitchen as food is being prepped so make sure there is there enough space to accommodate your friends – islands and breakfast bars can be both very functional as well as add a great design feature to your home. One of the more common mistakes is making a kitchen/eating area too small. Just a simple addition of an extra foot or two to the eating area can eliminate children bickering with each other as one wants to get up to get another drink and the other won’t move their chair in to let them get around.

Think about the household command center, every house has one – this is the area where all the family activities are: the family calendar, the birthday party invitations, the school notices. Normally it is in the general kitchen area, but can be unsightly. Plan for this so you can easily access this information without it all laying out on the kitchen island or posted on the refrigerator.

Laundry/Mudroom - Many homes have the laundry room and mudroom combined as the same space. It is usually the primary access from the garage or exterior. You could end up with kids coming in covered with mud or snow walking over baskets of freshly washed clothes or throwing their dirty clothes into the clean piles. Being a father of five children, this has always been important to me. I find a much better set-up is to have a mudroom entry where everyone can shed their outerwear, store their book bags, etc., and have a laundry off of that area so you don’t have to walk through it to get to the rest of the house.

Storage - We all know we will never have too much closet and storage space. Prior to starting your design go through your belongings and get rid of those you really do not want to keep. Do an honest evaluation of all your stuff; most of us are borderline hoarders. Next measure your current closet space in lineal footage of single hung vs. double hung needs. Once you can do that you can then have an accurate benchmark when designing your new closet space. Also think about the use of shelving, cubbies, or drawers for sweaters, hats, pocketbooks, shoes, etc. There are many very efficient closet systems that can help you organize your belongings.

Next we will review more design considerations – light, entertaining areas, flow, and features to consider that are unique to your family.

Welcome to Griffith Brilhart Builders

on Wednesday, 19 September 2012. Posted in Planning your custom home/remodeling project

After 35 years Griffith-Brilhart Builders is finally coming of age in the twenty-first century with our own website. It seems that we have put so much effort into helping our customers design and build the very best homes and complete the very best renovations that we have not allowed ourselves the time to keep current and prospective customers up-to-date on the goings-on of the business. We try to share our experience with our clients on proper home maintenance when we complete our work, but it can be easy for this information to get lost in the excitement of a home improvement project.

In addition to the latest news on what is happening at Griffith-Brilhart Builders, it is our intention to make this website a source of continuing valuable information that you, our customers, can use to gain a better understanding of the construction process and techniques, as well as DIY projects and how to care for your home in the best possible way.

You will find future articles detailing every phase of the construction process from site selection, zoning, design, bidding, contracts and specifications, change orders, product selection, building techniques, green building, and more. In addition to these articles on what we can do for you, there will also be information to help preserve the investments you have made into your home and details on projects that you may choose to do yourself.

It has always been our belief that a more educated consumer can make the best decisions. This principle is what led us to create this newsletter, and it is what leads us to continue to treat our clients the same way we would like our own families to be treated—because it’s the right thing to do.

We hope you find this information helpful—sign up for our e-newsletter to receive updates automatically.  Thank you for visiting; we hope to see you again soon!

Griffith-Brilhart Builders.