Harmonious Floor Plans Make for a Happy Family

Charter Group is famous for their Great Room / Kitchen floorplans.

It Just Feels Right

Have you ever walked through someone’s home and gotten the sense that everything just feels right, yet you’re uncertain why it feels that way? It’s true, some homeowners just know how to buy furniture, place window dressings and position each and every accessory in the perfect spot. But the fact remains that if the living, working, bath and sleeping areas within a home do not interact properly, no amount of expensive decor will give a home the friendly, functional feel that will create the harmonious environment so important for you and your family.

Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese system of aesthetics, seems a bit mystical to me, but there is one aspect that makes sense. According to this age-old philosophy, the placement of everything from the front door to the toilet plays a part in our overall well being. In other words, the layout and flow of the house affects the positive energy within it, and as we try to raise happy and healthy families, a well thought-out floor plan is a great way to begin.

The Kitchen, The Hub of the Home

For many of today’s families, the kitchen is the hub of the home—a work area, social area and primary space of family interaction. Open planning enables a kitchen to fulfill all those roles, but it requires careful design to include sufficient storage, work areas and clearances for functional purposes.

I personally like homes in which my family can hang out within view of the kitchen, especially when someone is making a meal. We have found that our kids like to be around us more when we are cooking, partially because it’s fun for them to watch us work on their behalf, but mostly because they are always hungry and the food in the oven smells so good.

More importantly, we’ve found that when we’re busy doing something, like cooking or baking, our kids become more communicative. It’s as if the pressure is off to “tell us about their day” and they can just be themselves. Anyone who has tweenies or teenagers knows how important this is. A home layout that facilitates communication is your best friend when it comes to raising healthy and happy children and is key to a good marriage, as well.

Quiet Time is a Must

A family-friendly, functional and adaptable floor plan will give you and your family room to breathe, room to work, room to play and the potential to expand. Adaptable spaces reduce waste and can save time and trouble. A floor plan with enclosed, single-purpose rooms is far less adaptable to changing household needs, sizes and functions than is an open-space plan.

But let’s not forget about privacy and the need to have a place to go to think, read a good book or get away from the daily hubbub. What are the best places to do homework, pay bills, use a computer, watch TV, etc.? A flexible space where family members can spend quiet time or perform tasks that require some concentration must also be available, and this space should not be located too close to the core family living area. Consider sound privacy in space arrangements. Try to arrange closets as sound buffers, or add sound-reduction insulation between quiet and noisy rooms.

At Some Point, You’ll Need More Storage Than You Need Right Now

And storage! There can never be enough storage space! Planning for adequate storage in each room reduces clutter and makes rooms seem larger. Evaluate both your current and future needs and provide for both. Include counter and cabinet space at the family entrance for recharging electronics, mail, shoes, coats, sports gear, backpacks, purses, etc. Include outdoor storage and security plans for outdoor items during a storm and for security.

The Grid is Everything

Traffic flow, or the patterns of movement throughout the house, is critical as well. Will traffic paths interfere with activities or furniture? Is it more convenient for you to tend laundry near the bedrooms or the kitchen? In a two-story home, consider having at least one bedroom and the master bedroom on the same level. This makes the home more adaptable to changing needs and creates less of a burden when care-giving is needed (for a young child, aging parent, injured family member, etc.)

Also, when shopping for a new home, make sure the bathrooms are not afterthoughts, and are placed within discreet distance of any gathering areas in the house. Don’t make do. Make sure your new home has a place for each individual, and a place for everyone! Even the dog!

My next blog will be about built-ins, including cabinetry, shelving, pet areas, bath vanities, and home entertainment centers. Learn how to make sure your family will LOVE being home.

Tell us what you think makes for a harmonious floor plan, leave a comment below.

All the Best,
Steve Rodgers
Charter Group


Build a New Home: Appeal to Your Senses

New Kitchen at Meridian Ridge, Newtown CT

A brand new kitchen at Meridian Ridge, Newtown CT, appeals to all the senses.

Do you remember buying your first new car with its virgin ashtrays, unset radio buttons and clean cup holders? The euphoria of the vehicle being all yours from the start? Well, for me, buying a home is exactly the same. I want that spring-like awakening of my senses; that sense of a new beginning when I first enter a house I am thinking about purchasing.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy other people. Quite to the contrary, I really am a very social being. But honestly, I don’t have any desire to live in a home filled with the evidence of past inhabitants. For me, a new house is just so much nicer. It simply appeals to my senses:

Smell: Smell is your strongest sense. When you step through the front door and smell old cooking from the previous owners, or the telltale odors of their dog, Sparky (who had repeatedly and efficiently marked his territory), you feel like an intruder. When looking to buy a house, you want to get that immediate feeling of “Home Sweet Home.” You want to smell nothing but fresh, clean air that you can claim as your own; that distinct air of newness you only get when the walls are freshly painted and every, single part of the home lends its aroma to your senses.

Sight: You look around and what don’t you see? Layers of wall paper that you know you will have to tear down, treads with sags in the middle, windows that don’t quite close or quite open, scratches on the refrigerator, stains in the sink, bathtubs with cracked tile and plumbing that does not shut off, ceilings that are too low to put up ceiling fans, one electric outlet per room. This list of deficiencies could go on and on. Upon buying a new home you have visual proof that no one else has ever used your appliances and that no one else’s dirty shoes or hands have ever marred your flawless floors and walls. As a homeowner, you want to be proud of where you live so you can show it off to all of your family and friends.

Sound: You do not want to let anyone hear the unavoidable squeaks made from the old staircase as you descend for a midnight snack. You want to avoid the clamor of the kids running around upstairs that is easily mistaken for a herd of elephants. Peace is what every family longs for in their home. Enough space where sound doesn’t travel as far and toys are allowed to claim a corner without disturbing the tranquility.

Touch: You long for a home where cold isn’t seeping through cracks in old windows as you watch television. You hope you won’t get another splinter from your old bookcase as you search for your favorite novel. You don’t want to pour all your hard earned money into heating bills. Insulated walls and floors will make you warm. Newly polished floors, banisters and bookcases will leave your feet and hands splinter free.

Taste: You may love your new house so much you want to give it a kiss, but we cannot guarantee that you will like the taste of the polished floors. Taste is an extension of you.

The next time you go into a new home, open your senses to the fresh, clean environment. You may find it irresistible!

Next blog: A new home is an empty canvas upon which owners can put anything and everything exactly where and how they want it. This will be the topic of my next article: floor plans.


Ten Reasons For Purchasing a Brand New Home Versus a Used House

Meridian Ridge Home

  1. It’s NEW!
    • No one else has ever lived in it before, so everything is clean and brand new. Be the first to soak in your luxurious tub or cook in your new stainless steel oven.
    • No need to worry about expensive repairs or replacements of out-of-date, damaged or worn materials.
  2. Contemporary Floor Plans
    • Designs evolve. Old, obsolete homes may not address the way people live today. New homes have floor plans designed to facilitate interaction with family and friends.
    • Take advantage of state-of-the-art kitchens, bathrooms with double vanities, ample storage space, and large family rooms open to the kitchen, features which often are lacking in used housing.
  3. Customize Your Home
    • Build your home to order. You help design your own living environment, just the way you want it.
    • Personalize your home by selecting your own colors, finishes, cabinetry, flooring and features
  4. Quality Built By Someone You Can Trust
    • You can check out a builder’s reputation before choosing to work with him/her.
    • Develop a personal relationship with the professional responsible for building your home. Become part of the team that will create your future residence.
  5. Safer And Healthier
    • Wiring systems are up-to-date. Hazardous materials, such as asbestos, formaldehyde and lead, have been eliminated from new home building products.
    • New homes must conform with the newest and safest building codes and regulations.
  6. Energy Efficient & Technologically Current
    • Energy efficient windows.
    • Better insulation technologies.
    • Better control of air infiltration, resulting in healthier indoor air quality.
    • Modern heating & cooling system.
    • Latest appliances and features.
    • Take full advantage of the latest communication, security, home office and entertainment technologies. New homes accommodate electrical needs that didn’t exist just a few, short years ago.
  7. Less Expensive To Maintain
    • Home comes with warranties you don’t receive when buying a used home, including direct manufacturers’ warranties on new appliances, products and systems.
    • No old parts or appliances to fix.
    • Monthly operating costs are less due to improved technologies. This can mean big savings on utility bills.
    • New building products are more durable and require less maintenance.
    • Frequently, the money saved on a used home is quickly offset by lower maintenance and efficiency costs.
  8. Neighborhood Bonds
    • Make friends quickly. Everyone in your new neighborhood just moved in, so it’s easy to establish new and lasting friendships.
  9. Pride
    • Pride in the ownership of your new home, one you helped design and which expresses your lifestyle and taste.
  10. Financial Advantages
    • Build home equity.
    • Roll the cost of upgrades into your mortgage and pay over time. When renovating a used home, you need to pay cash, or take out a home improvement loan at a higher interest rate.
    • Newer homes usually have a higher resale value.

Back from the 2010 International Builders’ Show

2010 Builders Show was packed with visitors from all over.

The Charter Group management team returned from the 2010 International Builders’ Show a little over a month ago, having weathered four days in a cold and rain-drenched Las Vegas. And we thought we were going to the desert!

We were joined by approximately 55,000 industry professionals and were treated to an awesome trade show which featured the latest products, designs, and technologies displayed by hundreds of companies from around the country and the world. Trends included high-tech kitchens (with touchscreen systems that offer cooking tips, measurement conversions, and more), a widening array of colors in many products and, of course, a large number of ever-more-efficient products and systems.

Builders and remodelers also attended educational presentations on design trends, energy retrofitting, marketing, low-income housing tax credits and more than 175 other topics. And the general mood appeared to be one of cautious optimism. Numerous suppliers were reporting recent increases in orders, and according to the most recent National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, nationwide housing affordability, bolstered by low interest rates and low house prices, was near its highest level since the series was first compiled 18 years ago. Additionally, the number of unsold homes on the market continues to shrink. New home inventory is at its lowest level in more than 14 years. While sales activity remains a concern, lower levels of inventory will help the new home market stabilize sooner.

In the coming weeks, our blog will focus on some of these new products and trends. What changes do you see in the marketplace? What new products interest you? There are many, many exciting new ideas, technologies and materials available out there. Which of these excites you?


Another Happy Homeowner at Meridian Ridge!!

Last month, another happy homeowner became part of the Meridian Ridge neighborhood, moving into our Exeter Colony Quick Delivery Home!!  We have many more beautiful building sites available and waiting for you.  Give us a call so we can help you plan for your own, new custom home, complete with all the great energy-saving and design features that can’t be found in used housing, but can only be found in a new home!


Low Mortgage Rates Help Spur Home Sales

Mortgage interest rates continued to drift downward last week for the fifth consecutive week, reaching new record lows.  This is good news for prospective home buyers.  So far this year, interest rates on 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages have averaged one percentage point below their respective averages in 2008.

“Low mortgage rates and the cumulative decline in house prices have contributed to an extremely affordable housing market and helped spur home sales this year,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.  “For instance,” he said, “total new and existing home sales in October were 36% higher than their January low on a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  The NAR also reported that pending existing home sales rose for the ninth straight month in October, representing the longest consecutive gain since the series began in 2001.”

Sales of new single-family homes in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 430,000, which was 6.2% above the revised September rate of 405,000.  Existing-home sales, including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, surged 10.1% in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.1 million, up from a downwardly revised pace of 5.54 million in September.


Tax Credit Brings Hope to Housing

The housing market received what should prove to be a real boost when, earlier this month, Congress and the President extended the first-time home buyer tax credit that was set to expire on Nov. 30 into the spring and expanded it to include eligible move-up or repeat home buyers.

First-time home buyers will now be eligible for the tax credit if they sign a contract by April 30, 2010, and settle on their home no later than June 30. Likewise, move-up/repeat home buyers (existing home owners) who have lived in their primary residence for five of the last eight years will now be eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500.

The tax credits are expected to boost new and existing home sales by 180,000, including sales of about 40,000 new homes and 26,000 in sales of vacant homes. These sales are also expected to generate more than 200,000 new jobs, primarily in residential construction and related fields but also through the jobs created by the ripple effect of the new construction jobs and the additional spending power of the tax credit recipients. While the boost will be temporary, this is just the medicine that housing needs at present.


Housing Equals Jobs

America is still struggling through a recession.  An economic recovery, however, will not be possible if Congress does not focus on reviving housing.  The housing industry makes up nearly 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and when it is healthy, it provides much needed jobs and revenue for America

When homes are built and communities are created, people spend dollars in the local market far into the future, including buying groceries and furniture, hiring housekeepers and landscapers, and spending money on local entertainment and in area restaurants.

Nationally, according to estimates from economists at the National Association of Home Builders, three full-time jobs are created for every new single-family home built.  In a typical metro area, a healthy housing industry not only provides jobs, but brings revenue to the state and local economies.

In the first year, the impact of 100 newly-built single-family homes equates to:

  • $21.1 million in local income
  • $2.2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments
  • 324 local jobs

After the first year, the recurring benefits are:

  • $3.1 million in local income
  • $743,000 in taxes and other revenue for local governments
  • 53 local jobs

You can make you voice heard by letting your members of Congress know that housing equals jobs, and to restore America, we must revive housing!  Visit www.revivehousingnow.com to get started.


Call on Congress to Extend the Tax Credit!

The clock is ticking on the first-time home buyer tax credit, which expires on December 1, 2009.  However, more time is needed to continue to stimulate housing, which will play a big role in fixing the national economy.

If Congress acts to extend the tax credit program, it would spur 383,000 additional home sales, including 80,000 housing starts down the road as additional sales help deplete the inventory of unsold homes.  This stimulus will create nearly 350,000 jobs over the coming year. That’s good for the economy and good for America.

How You Can Help

Call your members of Congress today toll-free at 866-924-6242 and tell them to:

  • Extend the deadline for the $8,000 tax credit through November 30, 2010; and
  • Make it available to all home buyers.

Thank you for your help in letting Congress know that to restore America, we must revive housing.


Charter Residential Development Receives 2009 Brookfield Award

WASHINGTON D.C., June 8, 2009 — Charter Residential Development, LLC of Brookfield, CT has been selected for the 2009 Brookfield Award in the Home Builders category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

Charter Residential Development, LLC is an affiliate of Charter Group, Inc., a custom home building company that has been creating distinctive residences in Western Connecticut since 1978.  During this time, it has become one of the most successful and dynamic companies in the region, with hundreds of beautiful homes to its credit.

“To have been selected for this honor is a great achievement.  We look forward to providing quality homes at a fair price in Western Connecticut for many years to come,” says Steve Rodgers, President, Charter Residential Develpment, LLC.

The USCA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country.  Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category.  These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.  The 2009 USCA Award Program focused on quality, not quantity.

U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a Washington D.C. based organization established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community.  The organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups.  Their mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.