IBS 2015 is coming!

With the year winding down, we've got our eyes set straight ahead to the 2015 International Builder Show. We can't wait to show off our latest plans, connect with new builders, and offer exciting new services for home builders!

This year, we'll be located in the NextBuild area of the Central Hall. Be sure to look for us (you won't be able to miss us!) at booth C2650 January 20-22 in Las Vegas!

Accessible Homes - wheelchair-friendly, retirement-minded, beautiful and functional designs! Coming Soon!

We are pleased, excited, and oh-so proud to roll out our very first (of many) Accessible Homes. After putting our ear to the ground and listening to feedback from builders and home buyers across the country, we are working hard to produce the best designs that you are looking for!


Continuing on our quest to roll-out a brand new plan every week, we've just released the Ridgeway - a beautiful and functional craftsman ranch house plan designed specifically to be wheelchair friendly!

Keep your eyes (and your inbox) open for even more Accessible Homes.

Vacation Homes are Hot Property Once Again

Thanks to renewed confidence in the nation’s property sector and the surging stock market, United States vacation home sales are enjoying a major return to form. Demand for the perfect retreat has soared by 30 percent in the last twelve months as more and more Americans choose to invest their cash in somewhere they can also kick back and relax.
Vacation properties last year accounted for an impressive 13 percent of all house sales, the highest share since 2006. According to the National Association of Realtors, high net worth households whose equity market investments are finally coming good are leading the charge for recreational properties. With bargains to be had however, there is still time for the average family to seize the opportunity and access the vacation home market.
Whether you are purchasing a vacation home as a short term investment or intend to holiday there for the foreseeable future, there are three key issues to consider before you sign on the dotted line.

Set a budget and stick to it

The first step on your vacation home buying journey should be to set a budget for the project. This will inform decision making throughout the process and ensure you don’t over commit financially. The vacation home is something to be enjoyed, and should not end up like a monetary millstone around your neck.
If a mortgage is required, look into the options available for vacation homes. Products designed for these purchases can be difficult to access and often have higher interest rates attached. Deposits requirements can also be significant so budget for between 20-30% for non-owner occupied properties. On the upside, tax deductions may be available dependent on whether you plan to rent out the home or not.
Remember that it’s not only the purchase price which needs to be taken into account in the budget. Vacation homes need to be equipped and furnished. Opt for good quality items which will stand the test of time – you don’t want to spend future vacations searching for replacements. Also, do as Sofas and Sectionals suggest, and choose versatile furniture which maximizes the space available to give flexibility for when extra guests come to stay without the need for purchasing additional beds. In addition, make a budget for the running costs of the vacation property. Dolly Lenz, the ‘Queen of Real Estate, advises buyers to set aside around 2 percent annually of the property’s value to cover maintenance expenses.

Location, location, location

There are a number of elements which will determine the right location for your perfect vacation home. Firstly decide how often you intend to use the property. If you plan to visit frequently then proximity to your main residence will be important. Research carried out by the National Association of Realtors indicates that over 80 percent of vacation home-buyers choose properties within driving distance of where they live. If the property is only for occasional use you can spread the search area somewhat wider. It’s still important to ensure that there are good travel links from your home to the vacation property and that these are cost effective.
When you have identified a specific area or areas to focus on it’s time to consider the physical location of the property within that zone. Do you prefer somewhere close to the beach or lake? Do you want to be near other residences and local amenities? Take time to research the neighborhoods which meet your requirements and which represent a sound long term investment.
Above all choose somewhere that you can like and can relax in. Dan Hechtkopf and Reid Heidenry of South Beach Investment Realty’s top tip for vacation property purchases is to view the home as a form of recreation, not an investment. In other words, choose somewhere that you enjoy.
Consider remodeling
It can be hard to find the perfect home, and the same is true of a vacation property. Getting everything you want at the right price can be a challenge, but one way around this is to undertake a remodeling project. If you manage to find a property which is in the right location and is the right price but perhaps lacks some of the charm or facilities that you require, assess its potential for some reworking.
Figure out what scale of work you are prepared to undertake. Fitting a new kitchen and/or bathroom is a quick way to update a vacation home, and is a sound investment in terms of adding value to the property. New flooring is another relatively inexpensive way of breathing new life into a vacation home. Adding extra storage facilities is also particularly useful in a vacation home as this saves on the amount of things you need to bring back and forth with you.
Bigger projects are also possible such as reconfiguring room layouts or even adding additional square footage. Identify contractors who have expertise in this area and seek their advice on what is viable with your particular property. A professional construction expert can be a real asset in terms of drawing up fully costed time bound plans which will give you a clear idea of what you may be taking on. They will discuss in detail what you need from the vacation home and respond to that brief. As Advanced House Plans, a company with particular expertise in home remodeling recognizes,
“The design of your next home should perfectly fit who you are and how you live.”
Making an investment in a vacation home does have some risk attached – just like any other investment. The big difference is that this is an investment you and your family can enjoy. So join the millions of Americans who are fueling this vacation home boom and buy into your future getaways.


Contributed by reader, Emma Bowden

Build Your First Home: Have it Your Way

Buying your first home is a truly exciting feeling but, as many first time homeowners will tell you, building your first home is even more exciting and wonderful. You can choose the layout and design of every room and create your property your way - just how you want it to look. Excitingly, building your first home doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and now is the perfect time to think about starting your project. That is because mortgage fees are set to be lowered; something that is great news for first time buyers and builders. According to Reuters, the Obama administration will reduce the fees it charges first-time home buyers for government backing of their mortgages as long as they undergo counseling when they purchase a home. The Federal Housing Administration guarantees about a third of all new U.S. mortgages, and it is hoped that this change could help many home buyers get into the market, which has slowed sharply in the past 12 months.

Why Build?

There are several things to consider if you are deciding whether you should build or buy your first home. Firstly, is the home you want already available in the location you want? If not, building your own home can ensure you have both the property location and the property style you want without having to compromise. As Quote zone remind us, your home is probably the most expensive purchase you will make: why shouldn’t you have the house you want without making sacrifices? CS Monitor also report that looking for a previously built home isn't always the most cost-effective move, and that building your own home can sometimes help to save you money. This is particularly true if you have any transferable skills and are able to undertake any of the building or associated work yourselves.  The cost of self-building will go up considerably the more contractors are involved in the build, so rolling up your sleeves to get your hands dirty (even if you’re trying things you’ve never tried before) could well save you a fortune.

The Telegraph deliver the final benefit of building your own home: if you’re designing and creating your own property then you can incorporate high-performing eco credentials. Not only will these save you money on your utilities in the long run, they will also be very appealing to new buyers when the time comes to sell your home.

Build an Investment Home

If you’re financially savvy then you should keep the resale-ability of your home in mind during the construction process of your new home. Smart Asset advise that you should ensure your first home is an investment property, and think of it as a finished product rather than simply as a ‘starter home’. Fundamentally, the thought process is that it’s more important to lead with your head than your heart. When you want to move on to a new home, you need to make sure the home you have designed is either easy to sell on to another young family or rent so that you have a constant income coming from your investment. Rent increases are growing much faster than purchase increases in most parts of the country due to increased demand and tighter restrictions on loan applications for home buyers. Building a home that will be desirable to the rental market in your area, therefore, is a smart and seriously business savvy move. That means that whilst you might really want a room shaped decorated like the Death Star, or your kids might really want a tree house built into their bedroom, you should consider these design features carefully and think about the future impact of those decisions before you commit to them.          

Building your own home will be one of the most stressful, expensive, fun and life enhancing things you ever do. Although it will take a lot of hard work and certainly will be considerably more difficult and time consuming than purchasing a preexisting property, the rewards you will receive once the process  is complete will make the whole process worth it. Why not explore the idea further today

Contributed by reader, Emma Bowden

3 Things I Took from IBS 2014

What a week! After months of show prep, we left cold and snow-covered Omaha for mild and sunny Las Vegas for our second of what we hope to be many appearances at the International Builder Show. The show was a great success for us, and we met hundreds of home builders from all across the country. We heard great things about the home market - like Omaha, it sounds like most markets are coming back with a vengeance! We were certainly encouraged by everyone who dropped by!


With a few days off to rest (I literally stayed off my feet the first day back), I've been thinking about the trip, my first visit to Vegas, and our experience at IBS. The following are 10 highlights, reflections, thoughts and surprises from #IBSVegas.

1. Next year, bring more comfortable shoes!

I arrived in Vegas and at the Convention Center just in time for the opening of the second day of the show. Little did I know just how HUGE IBS is! I got my first taste walking to the Central Hall to grab lunch. For a person intent on seeing everything - you really would need the full three days just to walk around! I broke away from our booth on a couple occasions to find some new ideas and to take in the event, and by the end of my first day I was just plain worn out. That didn't stop any of us from hitting the town. According to a pedometer app we started upon our arrival, we averaged over 13 miles of walking each day!

2. The home building market is rebounding across the country

In Omaha, we feel pretty insulated from the rest of the world, and as a result, we seemed to experience a smaller dip (though there was definitely a dip) in homes being built in our area. Like many builders, we tightened our belts and pushed through. We saw an explosive rebound this past summer, and heard some promising reports in most parts of the country. People are ready to build and many builders said they couldn't keep up with the demand!

3. The importance of being social in social networking

I am not a social guy. In fact, I am very content to mind my own business. As the appointed social media guru of our little operation (because I'm the youngin' around here), that's kind of a liability! I love Twitter, and I can read blogs and share links on Facebook and G+ all day, but making social media useful in generating brand awareness, web traffic, and leads involves actually being social!

I've been challenging myself not only to tweet and post on a regular basis, but to make conversation and have some fun. While at the show, I tweeted out things that stood out to me, random musings, and thoughts from the conversations I was having with builders and the guys I was with. Instead of a chore, it started to feel fun and natural! By keeping an eye out for conversations on #IBSVegas, and tweeting at some of the companies represented there, we got several mentions and even found a few great booths to visit that I wouldn't have otherwise. It's all little things, but it makes for some great momentum to keep it up!

Who knows, maybe I'll be an expert at this social media thing after all!

Which reminds me.. are you following us on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+?

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Since our founding in 2002, we at AdvancedHousePlans.com have committed ourselves to excellent design, quality draftsmanship, and superior customer service. We are professionals with years of experience in the home-making industry, an eye for elegance, and a keen understanding of building - both on paper and from hands-on experience. We don't just draw pretty pictures, we produce plans we know will be aesthetically pleasing, structurally sound, and make sense to build! We use industry-leading design software and are constantly pushing ourselves to produce the best house plans available.

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