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Siding & Brick Trends: How To Pick The Right Exterior for Your Home

By Buying Process, Home, New Construction

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Building a new home in 2021? It’s important to be aware of this year’s trends so you can make an informed decision with all of your options in view. This is never more true than with the exterior covering of your home.

Most homes built today will utilize either brick or siding – or more likely a combination of the two. Custom home builders will be familiar with all of the latest trends as well as the timeless classics, so you should definitely go over home exterior options with your builder.

But we can look briefly here at the basics. Here are four key considerations when selecting brick and siding colors/styles that every Texas homeowner should be aware of.

1. Brick Is Booming Across Many Styles

Brick is now readily available to home builders in numerous colors and styles – more than ever before. The real trend with brick is simply diversity and uniqueness – making your home different in some way from all others. While more costly than siding, brick is more durable.

Classic brick red, a deeper burgundy red, antique white, browns, blacks, and khaki are among the more popular exterior colors for brick homes right now. But there are many other colors and shades that offer a panorama of curb appeal possibilities!

And you also have rough-hewn brick surfaces, smooth-faced brick, “faded glory style,” and more to consider. The surface contour of the bricks will do much to influence the overall ambiance of your new home – creating anything from “vintage” to “business-like” to “playful.”

2. Don’t Forget About Thin Brick & Brick Highlights

Many times, homeowners are choosing to have their porch areas or other small, stand-alone brick zones done in a brick veneer product often called “thin brick.” This trend saves money, makes installation easier, and gives you much of the look and feel of “thick brick.”

Also important when designing brick areas for your home is to outline brick zones with other materials. Brick up against natural stone, stucco, or siding can create an interesting and aesthetically pleasing “highlighting” effect.

3. Pair Siding Colors With Brick Colors Wisely

Some homes have the entire exterior done in brick alone, and that can look great. But it’s usually more economical and/or desirable to most homeowners to do a brick-siding combo on the exterior.

This brings up the issue of pairing the siding color with the brick color. Pairing a forest green with brick red is popular, both colors having a kind of “faded” look to them.

Deep burgundy brick can go well with the same color of siding. Blue-green siding contrasts well with most colors of brick popular today, while light gray is the top “neutral” (less bold) siding color of choice with just about any brick color.

4. Choose Your Siding Material Carefully

Vinyl is the most popular siding material these days, largely due to two factors: a huge variety of color options and the most affordable price point.

But don’t overlook the possibility of wood siding for its warm, natural look. Pine and cedar are the trendiest woods, with board and batten and shingles/shakes being typical forms. (Engineered wood mimics fiber cement board siding while reducing the weight and the cost somewhat.)

Doing the front with vertical wood siding and the gables with wood shakes is a popular trend. Selecting out certain areas for “special treatment” in general is “in.” So this gives homeowners plenty of space to exercise their creativity!

Custom Home Builders in Amarillo, Texas

To learn more about modern home exterior, especially brick and siding, trends in 2021 and beyond, contact Experience Homes – the custom home builders of Amarillo, Texas, today!

What Countertops Best Suit Your Needs?

By Home

High-quality countertops are a key aesthetic and practical feature you can add to your current home or to a new home you plan to have custom-built. In fact, given the centrality of the kitchen and the necessity of functional bathrooms, choosing the right countertop is a major home building decision.

There are a plethora of options for countertops and a few of the top contenders in today’s market for stone countertops are granite, quartz, quartzite, and marble.

Which stone should I choose?

All of them are quality and popular materials, each of which has its own set of pros and cons. Some situations will call for one, while others may call for the others. Every homeowner may have his or her preference in this regard as well.

The important thing, then, is to decide based on the facts which option is “right for you.” Here are the main points you need to know when choosing what stone countertops best suits your needs.

  1. All Stones Offer Much Variety In Color & Style

There is a huge variety in color and style when choosing stone countertops. In general, granite slabs tend to be darker and bolder, but this is just a rule of thumb and nothing more. Marble usually has softer vein patterns than other stones. This may make them more appealing to those seeking a lighter touch, a softer ambiance. Quartz is an engineered stone that allows you to have an even and consistent appearance and Quartzite has the look of marble, but it’s much easier to care for.

  1. Granite Costs Less & Lasts Longer

Although it always varies from specific stone to stone, granite has a lower price range than does marble. You can find some marbles, however, that cost less than some granites.

In general, granite is more durable. It survives longer and requires less maintenance over the years. Both stones have to be sealed from time to time, but marble may require more frequent sealings. (Note that each particular granite stone slab is given a durability rating ranging from A to D, with A being the most durable.)

Marble is “magnificent,” but it is also more “touchy.” You have to be a little more on your guard against staining and etching with marble. But again, it varies from stone to stone so that some marble slabs are less at risk of staining than some granite stones are.

  1. Marble Gives You Greater Consistency

There is always some variation in pattern and color from stone to stone, which is considered desirable by most involved in the home building process. But many prefer countertops made up of slabs that are as close as possible to each other in style.

Granite slabs usually vary more from piece to piece, which may be an attraction to some home builders. However, the greater consistency of marble slabs may be more important to others. Usually, marble’s closer matches are considered more appealing, and this is part of the reason why marble generally requires a little bit more of an investment.

  1. Quartz Is New But Here To Stay

Quartz countertops are relatively new, but they’ve found a loyal following because of their many good qualities such as their attractive appearance, durability, and the fact they don’t have some of the weaknesses of natural stone.

Quartz has the same durability as concrete and granite but is quite a bit more forgiving, so it won’t chip or crack as easily. It doesn’t have the same hardness in the feel that some people find unpleasant. A downfall is that they can be a bit pricey, but if you want an upscale look with very low maintenance required, quartz countertops are definitely worth considering.

  1. Quartzite

Quartzite countertops are often confused with quartz countertops, but quartzite countertops is a naturally occurring stone. Quartzite is an extremely dense material and does not etch when exposed to acidic foods, making it a popular choice for countertops, especially for those looking for an alternative to typical granite.

Due to its density, quartzite takes a nice polish and is also available in honed and brushed finishes. If maintenance is an issue that keeps you from marble, quartzite is a great alternative. It is also very durable, like granite, quartzite leans toward the hard side of natural stone, so that means it won’t wear down or develop problems in the short term.

  1. All Stones Are Highly Heat-resistant

One part of a home building scheme is to envision your home design in actual use. Your daily habits and everyday use can partially determine which highly-rated stone you’re more likely to choose. Each of these different stone types can take the “heat” of the kitchen in everyday use and will continue to add value and a pleasing aesthetic to your cozy space for years to come.

To learn more or to discuss a custom home building plan, contact Experience Homes in Amarillo, TX today!

kitchen sink

Top 5 home design trends in 2021

By Home

As the new year gets started, many will be thinking about more than just cleaning their home – it may be time to redecorate or even to buy or build a new home

If so, you will definitely want to start thinking over some interior design ideas. It’s good to make a list of your must-haves and should-haves and to brainstorm up some unique features you’d like to make a part of your new home design.

To help you get started, here are five trendy home design tips and ideas to use during 2021.

1. Multi-style Ambiance Combinations

2021 looks to be, if anything, very eclectic in regard to its trending decorating styles. It’s becoming more and more common to see mixtures of modern styles with classic, not only in the same house but even in the very same room.

Thus, modern living and on-trend decor need not be divorced from the past. Earthy wood grains and an emphasis on metals like copper and brass are now wedded. Rustic fireplaces and antique furnishings are now being paired with on-trend designs like bold colors and modern artwork.

2. Multi-zoned Kitchens

Another key trend going into 2021 is the specification of multiple, small “zones” in your kitchen space – called a multi-zoned kitchen. This allows even busy families to all “do their own thing” in the kitchen at the same time without getting in each other’s way.

For example, you might have a special small nook for morning coffee preparation, another for lounging and eating while watching TV, and yet another for simple food prep like microwaving or toaster use (versus major food prep at the stove.) 

3. Contrasting Colors & Shades

It is certainly “in” these days to create sharp color contrasts. One common strategy is to have light-colored furniture or shelves set up against a dark-colored wall. In fact, black is the most trending color right now. I guess “black is the new black!”

Geometric patterns are often painted onto walls as well, and those patterns not only involve creative shape and size variations but also include sharp color, shade, and tone contrasts. Contrast is one key method to help something stand out, look bold and daring. And that’s trending for 2021.

4. Blending Outdoor & Indoor Living

When building or renovating a home, you should also consider how you will play host to family and friends during the holidays. In the warmer months of the year, you may need quick access to the kitchen from outdoors during a backyard barbecue.

It’s quite in-trend now to put in an outdoor kitchen and barbecue right next to doors leading directly into your indoor kitchen. Using sunrooms, pergolas, and indoor terrariums to blend outdoor living with indoor living is also quite popular.

5. Home Automation Systems

Home automation systems are becoming commonplace, almost standard in some circles, as we move into 2021.

Things like motion-sensing lights, no-touch faucets, automatic blinds, and programmable HVAC systems are certainly very common nowadays. The ability to lock/unlock doors, open/close garage doors, turn on/off the oven or laundry machine, etc., from a distance with your smartphone is fast becoming a new trend as well.

To learn more about these and other home design trends that look to be very popular as we move into the year 2021, or to discuss buying, building, or trading-in a home, contact the experts at Experience Homes in Amarillo, TX, today!

What You Need to Know Before Building a New House in 2021

By Buying Process

As we move into a brand new year – 2021, you may be thinking about building your dream home. Both home buying and home building carry with them a flurry of requirements, steps, and processes that should be given careful thought before you get started.

First of all, you should think about contacting a local, reliable builder who specializes in new homes and can help you build your own. A helpful, experienced builder will be able to guide you through the process step by step from beginning to end.

But even in the initial planning stage, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind – including these:

1. Formulate A Home Building Budget

Everyone who undertakes to build his/her own home has to work from a budget. This gives you a framework within which to work and plan and helps you to figure out where you can save money and where you want to invest your biggest expenditures.

Begin by finding out how large of a building loan you can qualify for. The lender will take into account your total annual income, your current financial obligations and debts, and your credit history.

Most banks right now are pretty generous about home building loans, so you can most likely qualify. But you also have to ask yourself how much you are comfortable owing and for how long. And you need to plan on the project costing at least 10% more than planned due to unexpected costs that inevitably come up.

2. Decide On Your New Home’s Location

You want to look carefully at the 2021 forecast for the housing market in each local area, such as the North Texas Panhandle. The best place to build won’t be determined solely by cost, but you want to plan (usually) on 20% to 25% of the total cost going toward the purchase of the lot.

Proximity to your workplace, schools, relatives’ houses, and amenities and the safety and desirability of the neighborhood must be considered, of course. But don’t forget to look into things like zoning rules, building codes, drainage, and soil conditions as well.

And pay some attention to landscaping issues or to what you would like to do with the landscaping and how much that will add to the total cost of home building.

3. Dig Deep Into Home Design & Outfitting

There are many pre-made, standard home designs you can find online, and even a custom home builder would use a number of “starting point” floor plan options that you can adjust. Or, you can make your own floor plan 100% from scratch if you wish.

Custom homes will take more work to figure out as to exact plan, material and labor cost estimates, and what it will cost to furnish and “outfit” each room. But it’s worth it! You get exactly what you want.

You will need to make a list of must-haves and should-haves, calculate costs for each element of the new house, and even calculate it out room by room. You will need a system for organizing and tracking expenses. And you may have to trim down your original design if it gets too far out of budget. Home building is a process, and that’s normal.

Finally, you will need to plan on how to sell your current home, and you may want to consider a home trade-in program to simplify and speed up the process, while avoiding the possibility of a period where you carry two mortgages or have stressful deadlines to meet.To learn more on how to get started on building a new house in the year 2021, contact the professionals at Experience Homes in Amarillo, TX.

keep your house warm

Winter Preparation:

Keeping your house warm and cozy for cold winter months

By Holiday, Home
keep your house warm
Texas is known for its hot summers, but in some areas, like the Panhandle, winters can be a bit chilly. It pays to prepare ahead of time for the cold season so you and your family can stay as warm and cozy as
possibleduring the late Fall and Winter.

In previous blog posts, we covered how to protect your home from viruses and from Texas storm season. Protection from the cold is no less important! Here are 5 tips to help you keep your home warm and cozy this winter.

1. Invest In New Windows & Doors

If your home has outdated, inefficient windows and doors, that is costing you money every day as you pay to heat or cool your premises. Winter is the season when this kind of poor energy efficiency costs you the most.

Thus, there is no better time to upgrade with newer, more efficient, and better-looking windows and doors than just before winter. They will ultimately pay for themselves in what they save you on your energy bills.

2. Up Your Insulation Game

Another approach is to add insulation – or more/better insulation as the case may be, around your existing windows and doors. Use heavy curtains to help reduce drafts as well. And use caulk and/or weather stripping around all openings.

If you lack proper insulation in your attic, realize that most of the heat escaping from your home goes out through the attic. Reducing attic heat loss greatly boosts your home’s overall energy efficiency. It will make it faster to warm up your home as well.

One final thought. Laying down large, heavy area rugs will help insulate your flooring, preventing excessive updrafts and preventing cold feet in the morning as well!

3. Get Your HVAC Inspected

Many times, homeowners fail to get their HVAC system up to speed before winter. But having it inspected and repairing and ductwork leaks or problems with the heater may save you hundreds of dollars and keep you warmer and toastier too.

If you rely on an oil heater during the winter months, at least in some rooms of your home, be sure it is filled (but not overfilled) with oil before use. Also, consider getting the oil heater a professional tune-up.

4. Call A Chimney Sweeper!

Chimneys aren’t as common these days, but wood stoves are. Anything that has a flue requires some maintenance for maximum performance and full safety.keep your house warm

Use a chimney-cleaning fire log, have the flue inspected and repaired if necessary, and (for chimneys) call in a pro sweeper to ensure top performance this winter.

5. Run Your Ceiling Fans Backwards

One final trick that can keep you significantly warmer with minimal additional cost – run your ceiling fans in reverse during the cold season.

This has the effect of pushing heated air back down and lifting the colder air up. It will let you experience the benefit of your heating faster, plus, it will circulate air so that your home’s air ultimately reaches a more even temperature distribution.

For additional tips and advice on maximizing the warmth and comfort of your home this Texas winter, or for help in selling, buying, building, or trading-in a homecontact Experience Homes in the Texas Panhandle today!

storm season

Preparing Your Home For Storm Season in Texas

By Home

Severe storms can come at any time in Texas, but risks run higher for your home during certain times of the year. Hurricanes hit the coast from June through November, sending strong winds and heavy rains throughout much of the rest of the state. And tornado season picks up in March and runs strong through August.

In the North Texas Panhandle around Amarillo, it’s the tornado season in the spring that brings the worst storms. Springtime means more than just flowers blooming and birds chirping – it also means hail, lightning, thunder, and the threat of tornadoes.

That makes spring a good time for some home maintenance to get your home prepared for the inclement weather. Here are 7 key home maintenance tips to keep in mind for Texas storm season.

1. Get A Professional Roof Inspection

Your roof protects every other part of your home since everything else is under it, and a leak could mean expensive interior water damage. Getting a roof inspection done in early spring may reveal problems and weak points.

A timely roof repair, or in some cases, a re-roofing job, will help you avert serious damage. Remember that your roof is easily the most vulnerable part of your home during storm season.

2. Do Landscaping Maintenance

Any debris left lying around your yard could become a projectile during a tornado. And dead trees or branches are likely to topple in strong winds. Also, tree branches hanging over your house may damage the roof either by breaking off and crashing into it or by swaying back and forth and scratching it.

Thus, spring is a great time to make your landscaping safer as well as more beautiful. 

3. Clean Out Your Gutters

Another important way to protect your home during storm season is to clean out and inspect your guttering system. If gutters are stuffed with leaves, sticks, and dust, they could back up during a storm and cause a leak. The water could also cause fascia boards and the edges of your roof decking to rot or mold.

If gutters are leaning over, loose, or need more gutter caulk at points, be sure to make all necessary repairs promptly.

4. Inspect Your Basement Or Storm Shelter

Due to the tendency of Texas’ clay soil to cause basement cement damage, many Texas homes have a slab only and an external storm shelter.

Whatever your home has, you need to inspect it in the spring for cracks and fissures. Damage to the cement in your basement wall, slab, or storm shelter wall should be repaired to prevent leaks, further damage, or an unsafe situation during a storm.

5. Be Ready For Major Storms

It’s a good idea to keep a sump pump and a portable gas generator at home. This will allow you to combat storm-related flooding and to have power during an outage.

Installing storm shutters before a major storm is supposed to hit may also be a good idea. Extra-thick (5/8 inch) plywood over windows and sliding glass doors is ideal.

Also, stock up on items like flashlights (and batteries), candles and matches, canned goods, bottled water, a first aid kit, and other survival supplies.

6. Be Prepared Financially

Be sure to have an emergency fund and homeowners insurance in place before storm season. Flood insurance is also important in some areas. Take a home inventory and pictures of possessions to show your insurer. This is an important aspect of preparing your home for potential storm damage.

7. Protect Your Electronics

Be sure electronics are protected by surge protectors. Storms are very likely to send power surges through the system that could damage or destroy computers and other electronics – or even start a fire.

Also, consider getting a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) system so that sudden power outages won’t damage your electronics either.

When looking to build a Texas tough home in the panhandle, contact the experts at Experience Homes in Amarillo, Texas!

Cleaning Routines to Keep Your Home Virus-Free

By Home

As COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is making headlines and going around, you may already be taking extra precautions through social distancing, avoiding unnecessary trips to the store, and practicing super-high bodily hygiene.

But don’t overlook how cleaning your home and keeping it spic and span during the crisis can help defeat the coronavirus in your new home.

Home maintenance and cleaning can help keep your home virus-free. And since the virus can live on surfaces for anywhere from a few hours to a few days, ramping up your cleaning routine is going to be important.

Here are 5 ways home cleaning and common sense can lower the riks of contracting coronavirus.

1. Sanitize And Disinfect Surfaces

Sanitizing means just cleaning, with soap and water or by dusting off. Disinfecting means killing the pathogens. Always start by sanitizing and follow up by disinfecting.

Focus on surfaces that get touched a lot like doorknobs, blinds rollers, cabinet-door handles, table surfaces, desktops, toilet flush levers, faucet on/off knobs, remote controls, microwave buttons, and video game controls.

Also, put a premium of attention on areas where it may get damp and dark so that germs are more likely to thrive. This includes mainly the bathroom and the kitchen.

2. Establish A Home Hand-cleaning Station

Not only do you need to designate one or more sinks as hand-washing stations to fight the virus, but you need to make sure those sinks are always free of dirty dishes and totally washed and cleaned – both sink bowl and faucet.

Have all the products you need to clean and disinfect hands right there by the hand-washing station. This includes bar soaps, anti-bacterial liquid soaps, hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes, fresh, clean hand towels, and a hamper with a lid to collect used towels.

3. Stock Up On The Right Home Cleaning Products

Also, be sure to stock up on the safest and most powerful cleaning products to sanitize and disinfect surfaces in your home. Keep them in a cabinet you can easily access but that can be locked to keep kids and pets out.

You may have thought your work was finished after winter-proofing your home this winter, but spring brings its challenges too. Colds, The Flu, and Coronavirus are very real dangers, so be prepared. You will need bleach, rubbing alcohol, and products containing the same.

Use separate cleaners for the bathroom, the kitchen, and the rest of the home. Check expiration dates and be aware of EPA recommendations. Always closely follow directions for use to keep things safe, kill the most germs, and avoid damaging your furniture.

4. Get Your Laundry Area Ready For Heavy Use

Coronavirus can live on fabrics for hours or even a day. That’s why it’s important to wash and dry your clothes promptly during the crisis.

Start by removing all clutter from the laundry area. Clean the washer and dryer, inside and out. Sweep and clean the floor in the area. Have all the laundry baskets, detergents, and other products/tools you need to carry out your predetermined system for processing loads.

5. Vacuum, Sweep, Mop, and Wash Walls/Ceilings

Home maintenance must also extend to your building itself, not just the surfaces of furniture inside of it. Vacuum, sweep, and mop more frequently than usual. Take time to dust and wash walls and ceilings at some point too.

Clean off the dust clinging to the top surface of ceiling fans or to other fans (before using them!)

Have a home maintenance routine that you follow right after getting home from work and a checklist so you won’t forget any important aspects of fighting the virus at home.

For additional homebuilding advice, feel free to contact the experts at Experience Homes in Amarillo, Texas, today!