The Top Seven Apps for Home Builders

by Greg Dodge 26. September 2013 12:36



There seems to be an app for pretty much anything these days, and the home building industry is certainly no exception. New apps for home builders are constantly being released, and home builders across the nation are finding their jobs can be so much easier and more productive with the right apps for their business. Here is a look at seven of the most popular and useful apps for home builders right now.



This is a construction project management powerhouse, and even better is the fact that it is free. You can access the projects you have created and have the ability to manage and share data with others. One of the more helpful aspects of the app is that you can enter some daily log notes to help you track your progress. You can also view, share, and save photos of your projects right in the app so that you have everything together, right where you need it. A directory in Procore can store all of your contact data too. Create punch list items for all the projects you have going as well as keep all of your time card entries stored here.  This handy app can really help you get and stay organized.


Get or read more about this app


iQuick Contract Maker<empty>iQuick Contract Maker

While this app may not be free, it is worth the $2.99 it costs because of how much easier it can make your life. Contracts of all kinds can be made with this app, and when you’re ready, you can easily email them out to everyone involved in the transaction.


Get or read more about this app


OnSite PlanRoom<empty>OnSite PlanRoom

Tired of toting around paper home plans under your arm? Carry them around in your phone or tablet instead with this plan library. You can easily view PDF plans and construction documents here as well

as preview specs, correspondence, and other related items. Share documents, exchange comments, and more with others with the image and document sharing capabilities of this great app.


Get or read more about this app


Carpenter's Helper<empty>Carpenter's Helper

Even though math is important for someone that builds homes, you don’t necessarily have to a math genius with the help of this app. Use a standard calculator to run equations and convert units. Easily input triangular measurements so that you can calculate roof pitch, rafter lengths, stair lengths, and more.  The app only needs two basic measurements inputted in to automatically calculate the remaining numbers for you.


Get or read more about this app





Graphisoft SE created this free app specifically for 3D purposes. Any device you put this on instantly transforms into a 3D communication and presentation tool. After users upload one of these drawings, it is easy to explore architectural design in a building modeling environment.


Get or read more about this app


Home Builder Pro Calcs<empty>Home Builder Pro Calcs

If you need quick, easy calculations done, this is the app for you. This is especially true if you specifically need to do cost estimates, hours, and take-off quantities. More than 270 home-improvement calculations and unit conversions are in the app all there ready to use.


Get or read more about this app


Home Inspection<empty>Home Inspection

One thing that can really be a pain for a contractor is dealing with the home inspection. This app helps to make it easier as it provides users with an organized, step-by-step and room-by-room visual inspection of single-family homes. The app helps to identify visible flaws and defects so that they are taken care of before closing.


Get or read more about this app


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Software Apps | home builders

The fallacy of comparing “cost per square foot” when evaluating potential builders for your new home.

by Greg Dodge 5. August 2013 15:05



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.  Homesite 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 floorplan, and square footage, but the cost to build is very different.


Design Basics home plan #43055 Design Basics home plan #43056
1719 sq. ft., 3-bedroom 1719 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!

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Four Things You Can Do to Make Your Porch More Alluring

by Greg Dodge 24. July 2013 12:39



There are numerous benefits to having a front or back porch, and if you’re lucky enough to have both, that’s even all the better. A front porch gives you the advantage of curb appeal by highlighting your entryway. It can add an element of graceful style to your home, and it is one of the first things that a visitor or passerby will see. Back porches offer the bonus of a private space to relax or entertain, and will add to the beauty of your backyard. A nice front or back porch will increase the value of your home and any porch can be made more alluring with certain touch-ups or additions.



Add a Porch Covering:

Although a porch can be a nice feature on its own, if you don’t have a covering, it will be exposed to the sun and rain, and will be damaged over time. This also leaves you, your guests, and your entryway with no protection either. A covering is an investment that will save you from having to rebuild your porch prematurely, and will also make it a more enjoyable space for everyone.  


Install a Railing:

Having a railing on your porch can significantly impact its appearance and give it a finishing touch that complements the other design elements of your home. A railing provides privacy without obstructing your view and will give your porch a more secure feel. This is especially important if you are going to have children playing on or around the porch.


Change your Décor:

The furniture you use to decorate your porch has a large impact on its look and attractiveness. Since these accessories are kept outdoors, it is likely that they will need to be replaced more often than your other furniture. Adding a rug can make the space appear larger and give it a cozier experience. The seating that you choose will also greatly affect the feel of your porch and should be considered carefully. 


Add Finishing Touches:

Adding ceiling fans can keep you comfortable during warmer weather, and light fixtures or lamps, will provide both decorative and useful elements to your porch. Hanging plants, or sheer curtains, can add a nice touch to the space, and offer you more privacy without completely blocking t

he outside view and light. Finally, you will want to keep your yard maintained, especially around the porch as this reflects on the area as a whole.  


Looking for homes plans designed with great porches? Craftsman style homes are famous for their large beautiful front porches.


Design Trends | Destressing | Patio | Porch

Driveways That Dazzle

by Greg Dodge 5. July 2013 08:09

Driveways That Dazzle

There are many aspects to a house that are important to really plan when you are making your house plans. However, most people don’t really consider the driveway and the overall feel it will give to a house. When trying to make a great first impression, the overall appearance of the home is what makes it, and that includes the driveway. Here are some things that will help liven up your driveway or help you to think of what you would like to do when building your home.


There are several ways that plants of many varieties can be utilized in improving the overall appeal of the driveway. For instance, many people like to line the entire pathway with plants including rosebushes, tall or topiary bushes, and even trees. These can add the perfect accents to make a great pathway leading up to the home.

Another way to add plants is right down the middle of the driveway

so that the tire tracks are made out of cement but there is still variety and color down the middle. These types of plants are usually a lot smaller because there shouldn’t be any scraping against the bottom of the car when driving over this area.

Back To Basics

The best way to dazzle up a driveway is to build it out of a material other than concrete. There are cobblestone pavers and even concrete pavers that can add a different look with the textures and colors that can be added. This will also give a classier feel to the entire driveway.

The Difference In The Details

Great driveway design is mostly based on the experience at arriving. Whether your drive way is long or short, you can wind around and make it look longer and more artistic. Even if it is a shorter driveway, you can always have a small bend that will make it look longer.

A short landscaping wall is another way to really add an interesting look to the landscaping. This is because the wall provides a look of differing depths, making it more interesting to look at. Adding plants on top of the fence makes the entire presentation even more impressive.

The thing that makes the best impression on an entrance to a driveway or property in general is fences and gates. A fancy gate really makes an impression when someone pulls up to your property.

A fence also makes a great impression to those just driving past your home.


During the winter, many homeowners are familiar with the act of shoveling off snow and clearing it in order to pull in and out. Technology has advanced enough that people are finding effective ways to lay heating systems under and inside the driveway in order to make this chore easier. Instead of breaking your back you can go ahead and just flip a switch. This will result in more time in the mornings as well as a perfectly cleared driveway. This way you can show off that driveway you’ve put so much thought into.

For more information on how you can design your custom home with the perfect driveway, contact us today.



Do You Prefer Open Format Floor Plans?

by Greg Dodge 6. June 2013 10:40

It's our current poll.  It's a simple question. Do you prefer open floor plans?



Here's an example of a popular open format floor plan.  It has lots of the natural light, ease of mingling with others and feeling like we’re all connected.


Sound travels in open layouts and I don’t want everyone to see my home isn’t always neat and orderly.


Each format appeals to different people.  Each has great amenities.  Each has drawbacks.  Which do you prefer?  Take the poll now!





Decade of Change | Design Trends | Flexible Living Options | Home Styles

You do it 92% of the time

by Greg Dodge 6. May 2013 07:48


Rear entry foyer with open hooks and cubbies

Rear foyer with openhooks and cubbies

According to a 2011 study by Recon Analytics, people who have an attached garage go in and out of their home using the door between the home and the garage 92% of the time, rather than using the main entry door.  Yet, many new homes  focus lots of attention of the front entry foyer and treat the entry from the garage almost as an afterthought!


The rear foyer entry from the garage deserves no less design attention than a front foyer.  It serves as a vital transition space, a place to remove and store coats, backpacks and computer bags, shed shoes, and keep clutter out of the kitchen.  Unless there is simply no other option, you probably don't want the washer and dryer in your rear foyer either (who wants to trek past the dirty laundry-and be reminded of all that work-every time you arrive home?)


Ask your builder or remodeling contractor about incorporating a rear foyer in your new home or remodeling project! 

Rear-Foyer Resources:




Decade of Change | Flexible Living Options | Organization | Rear entry foyer | Storage

Splitting up can be good for your relationship

by Greg Dodge 23. April 2013 08:09

Whether we realize it or not, our bathrooms are very personal—which means if there are two of you using that bathroom, there’s a potential for misunderstanding and conflict.


Take the vanity and sinks.  Years ago designers recognized the preference for his and her sinks in the master bath.  That alleviated some of the schedule conflicts over who used the sink and when, but also led to more countertop clutter.  His mouthwash…her make-up…sometimes it’s so crowded you can hardly tell what the countertops look like!

Splitting a single vanity with two sinks into two separate vanities, each with their own sink, is desirable.


Last time we discussed how having two separate vanities provides highly prized personal space in the owner’s bathroom, particularly eliminating conflict over countertop clutter.  But what’s the most desirable layout for the two vanities?  We show four options below. 

50020 50001
42158 50031

Plan 50020illustrates the two vanities in-line, separated by a built-in dresser or linen cabinet.


Plan 50001  has the sinks positioned opposite each other.  Some people really like the fact that when the two mirrors face each other, you can easily see how the back of your hair looks in the opposite mirror!


Plan 42158 staggers the two opposite-facing sinks, eliminating the likelihood of brushing up “cheek-to-cheek”.


And plan 50031 has the two sinks back-to-back, providing a true sense of “me” space. 

Which is best?  Only you can decide that!




Bathroom Design | Design Trends | Destressing | Plannng

Beyond Three Bedrooms

by Greg Dodge 1. April 2013 08:28


Design Basics' "Hester" is a popular 3-bedroom family plan. It's also possible to build this home with a second master suite, shown as the "Sadie" plan. (Yes, the dual owner's-suite version does utilize storage space from the original design's garage, but if doing this conversion as a remodel, the contractor will build that closet floor accordingly.) 

Home plan #29344 the Hester Home plan #293353 the Sadie
#29344 - Hester #29353 Sadie


Whether new construction or remodeling, dual owner's suites and independent in-law suites are increasingly in demand. It might amaze you to find out just how many committed, happy couples choose not to share the same bedroom. It could be conflicting schedules, medical conditions or simply snoring, but the need for getting a good night's sleep is paramount to a good life.

Plan now to stay in your dream home!


Decade of Change | Design Trends | Dual Master Suites | Flexible Living Options | Home Styles

Woman-Centric Matters!

by Greg Dodge 7. March 2013 08:47

What is the Woman-Centric Matters!® Approach?

Our woman-centric approach is based on customer feedback, mostly from our women customers. We’ve been inspired to design our homes with innovative solutions for enhanced livability and style. We have a new understanding and appreciation for women’s preferences of products selected for the home.

In addition, we help home builders and remodelers use this approach to:

Take the customer’s experience from stressful to delightful.

Accomplish more with their marketing dollars.




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Decade of Change | infographic | Woman-Centric Matters

The Rise in Popularity of Craftsman Style Homes

by Greg Dodge 2. March 2013 07:56

The Rise in Popularity of Craftsman Style Homes

Craftsman style homes seemingly have always had a part in American home building, but did you know this famous American housing style actually originated in Great Britain in the 1860s? For over a century, homes have been designed in the Craftsman style that is known and loved today, making this unique and customizable style of home one that has stood the test of time. Because this type of home design is so well loved and one our favorite designs to work with, we would like to share the history and rise in popularity of Craftsman homes with our readers to give an in-depth look at why these homes can so often be found across America and the world.

The Early History of the Craftsman

The British Arts and Crafts movement of the 1860’s gave birth to the wonderful Craftsman homes styles of today. This British movement was started by a man named William Morris, who was in a rebellion against the traditional and common (at the time) Victorian home style. Morris felt the Victorian homes were over-decorated and eclectic and so he presented the Arts and Crafts Movement as a way to create an anti-Victorian movement throughout Britain. This movement gave way to a style that accentuated furniture and décor items that were hand crafted over the traditional mass produced items and also presented an idea away from a traditional Victorian housing structure. 

American Craftsman Architecture

As the British Arts and Craft movement swept the United Kingdom, many homes in the United States were still built in a traditional colonial manner. However, during the latter years of the 19th century, popular architect and interior designer, Frank Lloyd Wright introduced the modern Craftsman home to America. The Craftsman style was almost immediately picked up by the West Coast, and the Californian firm of Greene and Greene are the most famous Southern California architects to produce these homes along the coast.

Soon the Craftsman design was implemented across America, and it became an integral part of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. A renowned architectural magazine named “The Craftsman” featured the first Craftsman home within its pages, thus officially naming this design style the American Craftsman. Also within the pages of “The Craftsman” were homes and furniture features showcasing the work of the Greene and Greene firm and members of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. The editor of this renowned magazine, Gustav Stickley, defined a Craftsman home as a house that was built on “the virtues of beauty, simplicity, utility and organic harmony.” To put it simply, a Craftsman home was built to be simple and fit the necessities of the life to be lived in the house. It was also built to fit with the natural environment surrounding the home as well as be built from local materials.

The American Craftsman was very popular until the late 1930’s and saw many offset styled homes such as the Queen Anne, the California Style, the Craftsman Style, the Prairie Style, and the Mission Style. After the 1930’s, this style of home slowed down in construction but stayed a part of the American landscape for years to follow.

The Resurrection of this Iconic Home Style

Now, as a green eco-friendly movement sweeps the United States, we are seeing the construction of Craftsman styled homes being resurrected. Craftsman homebuilders are supporting local economies by purchasing recycled and eco-friendly building equipment from local suppliers. The characteristics of Craftsman homes melt into the surrounding natural environment, making them perfect for families not looking for more than they need in a home.

These homes are also drawing a lot of attention from homeowners because of their unique style of peaked front porches, wood floors, and wood interior elements as well as natural colors and inlayed stone facades. Everything about the Craftsman home design offers an element that benefits the homeowner, thus contributing the continuing rise in popularity of this home style being built in communities across modern America.

Interested in learning more about Craftsman homes? Read more about Craftsman homes
here on our site.