Your home can be designed to facilitate whatever type of lifestyle you prefer. Within this website, we will discuss the various different scenarios that your house design can be focused on, and some interesting and creative ways to customize your home accordingly.
This webpage is devoted to designing your home with Simplicity as the primary focus.
We have developed a webpage on designing your home with maintenance, as the foremost concern, and goal. Simplicity and maintenance go hand in hand. The identification of a maintenance free home is basically the simplest home that can be designed and constructed. It is easy to identify with the homes and initial designs of the Europeans that settled this country. They were basically one room structures that afforded shelter and a roof over their heads. The log cabins, our original settlers constructed, were built using the materials available in our natural surroundings as construction elements for their homes. Pine, and oak logs, stone, wood shakes, etc. were all gathered together to enable family shelters to be built, churches and meeting halls to be erected, and maintained . The initial concept was simplicity with the goal of a warm and a dry shelter for family and community members.
The simplest construction, will offer a home with the least maintenance and the least upkeep.
However, as our society advanced and grew, construction elements improved due to research and development, the simplicity of the product became overrun by the most advanced engineered and developed products and techniques. As society grew, offering varied career choices, higher incomes became available, thereby affording the more advanced technology and techniques to be used to construct homes. In addition, there developed an identification of status, based upon the larger and more sophisticated home. Success became associated with your home, the more involved, and complicated the structure, the more successful the homeowner. Simple homes were overrun by complex, prominent structures requiring maintenance and substantial upkeep. Neighborhoods developed of one home rivaling the other, and the location of where you lived became an important aspect of your status in the community. If you have recently been researching existing homes, you will quickly find out that location, location, is the call of the real estate broker.
If you, as a homeowner, have the financial status to afford the maintenance and upkeep of a home that has been constructed with the highest and most advanced technology, as well as the need for the grander spaces, then, simplicity is of no interest. However, if you do not have this status, or the interest in this type of home, simplicity will afford you less maintenance, less financial impact, as well as less basic concern for the home that you have either constructed or presently live in.
This webpage is designed for those individuals that prefer simplicity in the home that they reside in.
The following suggestions, thoughts and ideas are presented to stimulate your interests in a simpler home.
- Foundation / Throughout this website we have devoted several articles on foundations, foundation waterproofing, etc. These discussions are based on a simpler and maintenance free method of foundation construction. A simple foundation is a structurally sound foundation that is waterproof and provides adequate structural support for the home located on the top of this foundation. The requirement, to ensure that the foundation of your home is waterproof, is a primary element in a simpler type of construction. Proper foundation construction is the simplest foundation for your home. If you are constantly experiencing water issues in the basement of the home, you will encounter, mold, moisture deterioration, etc. that will develop and cause problems and maintenance issues. If the ultimate goal is simplicity in your home, the foundation integrity and its moisture resistance is paramount.
I am a proponent of a concrete foundation, not stone, not masonry of other types. It is my opinion that a properly constructed concrete foundation will offer the simplest foundation design, which will also be maintenance free, and offer a simple solution to supporting the remainder of the home. The use of a precast foundation is also recommended. However, I am not advising the use of precast over a poured in place foundation, unless the supplier of the precast foundation is a well-known material supplier, and the contractor installing the product is both experience and professional. I have had success with precast foundations in the northeast, however, I cannot recommend other suppliers around the country, these individual suppliers and contractors should be thoroughly vetted by you, prior to awarding them the contract to install your foundation. It is important that the start of your design and construction for your foundation be with the locally proven method of foundation construction which is normally, concrete. Other methods of foundation construction may cause issues in the future. The important element in simpler construction of the foundation is the proper construction of the foundation.
- Layout / The simplest and most efficient layout for your home is a rectangle. It has been proven that the most usable space, with the most efficient use of construction products, is the rectangle. The width of the home should be approximately ½ the length of the home. Of course the simpler the dimensions, the better. For example, dimensions laid out in two foot increments, is the best to maximize the use of sheathing panels, roofing panels, etc. A common dimension of a simple raised ranch is 24 feet by 48 feet. The interior of the home, if strategically planned for everyday living, is normally the simplest The typical dining room would be off the kitchen, with the living room or family room also opening up to the kitchen areas. The less interior partitions the better, and the open use of space as opposed to small rooms, interrupted with doors, is certainly simpler and easiest to maintain. Although to some individuals a standard layout of interior partitions is somewhat boring, you will quickly discover that successful layouts that have been tested by the element of time, are usually the same floorplans used over and over again. Bedrooms and associated bathrooms located separately from the living areas such as the dining room, kitchen, and family room or living rooms will provide the simplest function for your home. Creativity in room layout is interesting and individually enjoyed, however if simple is the goal, use the standard floorplan layout for functionality and simplicity.
- Finishes / The use of stains and sealers are a simpler, as well as a maintenance free method of treating interior doors and trim. Although extremely popular, the use of all painted trim will require maintenance due to chipping and wear. Flooring is simpler and more functional, if the standard strip oak with a natural finish is selected. Strip oak will last forever, and the ability to simply wipe up with a damp cloth is extremely simple and maintenance free. It is recommended that the simpler the finishes used in the home, the better. Off white walls, with natural wood trim and oak flooring, is probably the simplest and easiest finish selection that you can choose. Although more interesting and visually more exciting, the use of different finishes and varying materials will move away from the simple aspect of the home, and also will require substantially more maintenance and upkeep. The more detail, the more different finishes used throughout the home, the more maintenance and the less simple the design. Try to keep everything off white with a stained detailing for the trim, doors, and any other detailed pieces in the home. Although aesthetically pleasing, the use of several different paint colors and finishes will not offer maintenance free and promote simple upkeep of the home. Make the interior of the home simple, and the need to continually update the interior finishes will not be required.
- Doors and windows / To make it simple, the use of a nationally recognized door, as well as window manufacturer is recommended. Each region has their own specific specialty suppliers, offering more advanced windows and doors, which are supposedly constructed to ensure reliability within your specific region. However remember for simplicity, the replacement parts must be available. In addition, the nationally manufacturers are in that position for a reason, their individual research and development programs are better funded, their competition is more intense, and their reputation is more important than the custom houses for doors and windows. I am sure that there are several individuals that represent local suppliers of doors and windows that may disagree. However, in general, unless there is a special reason that a local supplier is chosen, try to choose the nationally recognized manufacturers of doors and windows. In addition to the assurance that these manufacturers will be available in the future, many of the spare parts and accessories for these windows and doors are available in the big box stores.
- Electrical / Try to remain as basic as possible. The National Electric Code will require a minimum standard be used in the home, no matter where in the United States it is being built. The code will determine the location of required outlets and light fixtures. If the goal is simplicity, do not choose a number of different ceiling or recessed fixtures. The use of dedicated outlets with switches, will allow you to use interior lamps, without the need to change lamps in the ceilings, or clean the recessed fixtures and hanging ceiling fixtures. Simple toggle switches are recommended to eliminate the maintenance required, if dimmers and more sophisticated switches are used. Copper wiring is also suggested in lieu of any attempts at using aluminum wiring. LED lamps in all the fixtures will be the simplest application of current technology which will offer you less maintenance and a simpler lighting plan. The use of blue-tooth wiring systems in the home is also recommended. There will be the audio fanatics that will insist that the hard wired systems will offer better sound. Unless the quality of the sound is tremendously important to you, I would simply recommend any of the advanced wireless systems that are on the market.
- Plumbing/ The use of PEX tubing is suggested for simplicity and maintenance. This tubing is synthetic flexible tubing that is not susceptible to corrosion or freezing. The tubing is easily installed and represents another advance in technology, that has provided a simpler distribution of hot and cold water through the home. Select a basic standard brand of plumbing fixtures as well as faucets and accessories. I will not specify which brands, however, check your local big box, construction material supplier, and identify the popular brands. Remember there will always be a need for spare or replacement parts. Ensuring that you select a common product will simplify the need to replace parts or accessories in the future.
- Mechanical / The use of ductless heating and cooling systems will offer a basic and simple means of heating and cooling your home. The industry has evolved from the basic hot water baseboard, with window air conditioners, or the common ductwork system, that distributed heated or cooled air throughout the home, to a new and modern technology resulting in ductless heating and cooling. Although somewhat more expensive than the older methods, this technology utilizes small refrigerant tubing installed within the walls and ceilings of your home. This tubing provides refrigerant to individual mechanical units mounted in the ceilings and walls or each individual space. This system allows the individual heating and cooling of each space to be customized, as required by the inhabitants. The elimination of ductwork, along with the cleaning of this ductwork and subsequent vents, has reduced the maintenance and upkeep of the mechanical system in the home. It is my opinion, that although this is a contemporary and modern mechanical system, it is the simplest, and therefore will be the easiest to maintain.
To design and construct a simple home is difficult in today’s society. Most individuals will become enthralled with the sophistication of new home design, and will be seduced by the temptations of advertisers, home designers and the media. Our society has made home construction more than it ever was. The happiness of a young family having a simple home that they could raise their children in and eventually retire in, has been replaced by the “ mega mansions “ of the wealthy, and the influence that your status in life is based upon the size and complexity of your home. This makes the task of designing and building a simple home extremely daunting.
There is a magazine that has become popular, especially with my wife, and it is basically a summary of all the things within a home that can be made, obtained or created, simply. The ability of individuals to remain focused on simplicity is extremely difficult, and requires a strong will, and a clear understanding of how you want your home to service you as well as your family.
By no means is this webpage attempting to persuade you into a home that is designed and constructed in a simple manner, if this is not what you desire. There will be another page on designing a home with advanced technology, cutting edge products, and expansion of spaces to satisfy the family needs. I think in some cases, aside from the financial aspect of the project, this is an easier goal.
To make a home simple and clean takes a dedication towards that goal.
Good luck, and if you can stick to it, the benefits will be less maintenance, less operating costs, less money and probably an easier time selling the home in the future.