Hi friends – today I’m sharing how I helped a young couple personalize their new construction tract home and add lots of curb appeal. We were constrained by builder’s allowances and the couple’s budget, but I think we did a pretty great job of pretty-ing up this darling home. There are basically three ways to buy a new construction home:
1) A custom build
Custom builds happen when you work directly with an architect and a builder to come up with very personalized custom plans. You choose the style, the layout, and all the finishes on the inside and outside of the home, and, of course, you end up with a very customized and unique home.
This is, of course, the most expensive way to build because you are starting from scratch and the builder is working one-on-one with you to build the home exactly to your specifications.
2)A builder’s spec home
The second type of new construction, a builder’s spec home, happens when a builder chooses a plan, a layout, and all the finishes, builds the home to his specifications, and you buy it either when it is completed, or somewhere along the process if you happen to come across it during the construction phase.
3) A builder’s tract home
The third option, a builder’s tract home, is when a builder is building either an entire neighborhood, or has purchased a bunch of lots in a development, and is building homes from a set number of specific floor plans. In this case, the builder has already chosen the plans, the layouts, and usually has four or five options boards (with stone options, tile options, flooring options, etc.) that you, as the buyer, can choose from to finish off the interior and exterior. Your selections are usually limited to choosing from those four or five options that the builder has pre-selected.
I can’t think of too many people who wouldn’t jump at the chance to build a custom dream home – all their hopes and wishes for a home tied up in one pretty package. Reality sets in for most folks though, when they realize that the home of their dreams is out of their budget. In those cases, a less expensive option has to do – either a spec home, which may or may not match your ideas of a dream home, or a builder’s tract home. The happy news, though, is that with careful planning, even a builder’s prepackaged set of options can be tweaked and adjusted to come closer to those dream home visions.
Enter this fun long-distance design job I had the privilege of working on last year –
I was contacted about six months ago by a cute couple in Arkansas who were building a new home. They had settled on builder’s tract home because it was within their budget, they liked the neighborhood, and they thought the size and floor plan of the house met their needs nicely. They reached out to me to help them make selections that would turn their tract home into something closer to their dream home. I was excited for the challenge. After all, anybody can build a beautiful home if money is no object, right?! I thought it would be really fun to see just how close we could get to meeting their design aesthetic within a tract home budget and finish constraints.
Below is the picture they sent me of the exterior of the home that they chose from the available plans. It looked pretty boring, and they were hoping for help to add charm, character and curb appeal to both the exterior and the interior. (I apologize for the poor resolution of the stock home – I had to copy it from the builder’s website.)
While they loved the floor plan and the layout of the interior, they were less than thrilled with the “builder’s basic” exterior. They asked me to help them dress up the exterior to give it more curb appeal. Together we worked with the builder to choose from his available options to come up with a style that was closer to their dream. And above is what I came up for a “dressed up” version of the house. Not bad, huh? I actually love the curb appeal of this cute home.
After discussing their style preferences with the homeowners, these were my suggestions, which were ultimately incorporated into the home. Perhaps you could use some of these ideas to up the curb appeal of your own home:
Ditch the all-brick look, and bring in some variations in siding: horizontal lap siding on the right of the doorway, board and batten siding in the recessed porch area and gable end of the garage, shingles above the door and on the dormer, and brick on the lower portion of the home
Add shutters to the garage windows and to the window to the right of the porch
Add arches about the two windows to the left of the door to echo the arch above the door
Paint the fascia, porch trim, and pillars a pretty white
Lower the window on the right to make it more aesthetically pleasing
Clad the porch arches and pillars in painted wood, and accent the pillars with brick
Add corbels to the roof peaks.
Keep in mind that this was a tract house, and there were only so many changes that the builder was willing to allow. We had to work within the framework of the builder’s budget and his allowed materials to get as close as we possibly could to the homeowner’s vision for their home.
The builder agreed to most of the changes. He did balk at some of them, though. For instance, the color scheme we chose for the home included white pillars and trim work against a pretty gray/green paint on the siding. We wanted to paint the recessed board and batten areas of the porch white as well to bring importance to the door, and to accent the entrance to the home. The builder drew the line there – only one paint color of siding was allowed without adding to the budget! So for now, all of the siding is the same color. The builder also declined to add the corbels due to budget constraints. These suggestions are still in the arsenal, though, and the homeowners may add them themselves down the road a bit.
We chose brick color and mortar out of the builder’s allowed selections, purposely steering towards a brick that had lots of white in it in order to keep the exterior of the home feeling fresh and bright. The homeowners and I would both have enjoyed a less reddish brick, but we had to choose from the bricks available from the builder. The stain for the shutters and door was chosen to both accent the brick, and complement the paint color on the siding.
I love how the home came out, and I can’t wait to show you the inside, where we made additional tweaks to the allowances, and very carefully chose finishes that create a bright, fresh, and clean interior that reflects the homeowner’s tastes. I’ll be bringing you interior shots, soon – you are going to be amazed at how much of a customized a look the homeowners ended up with in this pretty, non-custom home.
Thanks for stopping by today! If you have a new build on the horizon and want some help choosing finishes to up the curb appeal of your home, drop me a note – I’d love to talk to you about ways that you can spruce up your home!