Dallas Custom Home Tips: Are you looking for custom home tips to build your custom home in Dallas? Read these Dallas custom home tips articles!

Let’s face it – summers in Dallas (and the rest of Texas) are HOT. And we all know that the best way to beat the heat is to cool off in a beautiful pool. Pool designs range in size and complexity, and must be tailored to each home’s particular landscape and layout. In fact, you should put as much effort into your pool’s design as you do for the interior of your custom home, because you are designing your backyard to be a retreat- a place that encourages relaxation and serves as an escape from the outside world.

If you’re in the process of designing your in-ground pool, read on for our favorite unique pool design ideas. With these additions, you’ll enjoy your backyard oasis through all the seasons of the year here in Dallas.

Beach Entry or Tanning Ledge

Any pool can have a ladder or step entrance. But a truly custom pool earns major appreciation with a built-in beach entry. Also known as a tanning ledge, this space is either an elongated first step for lounging or a slowly-sloping entrance that mimics a beach. The result is a sunbathing spot that automatically keeps you cool, no matter how hot or humid it may be. To upgrade your beach entry even further, you can add built-in lounge chairs and an umbrella. All you need to top it all off is a nice cold cocktail and your new summer read.

Dual Pool & Hot Tub

Even in the dead of summer, a hot tub is relaxing and rejuvenating. But why keep it in a separate space, away from the activity of the pool? Why not join the two together? A dual pool and hot tub setup is ideal not only for aesthetic purposes, but also for functionality. Tired of the cool water? One quick step over the ledge will get you right into your hot tub station. Or, perhaps you desire a pool that’s not too cool. A hot tub that is slightly raised can offer an infusion of warmth for the pool via a waterfall effect. No matter the set up, if you’re building a custom pool, you’ll definitely want a hot tub to finalize your retreat.

Swim-Up Bar

Summer entertainment isn’t complete without a bar, so why not center your bar around all of the pool action? For in-ground pools, the bar design potential is limitless. A swim-up bar, for instance, offers a cool space to relax with a drink. While the seating is built into the pool, the bar is outside the pool. Thus, it remains dry and can be fully stocked for easy access. With a gazebo top, you can even mount a TV inside to watch the game outdoors. Or, why not try a dual swim-up bar and fire pit? Instead of a stocked bar, you can swim right up to a cozy fire with dry-land seating on the other side. It might not be ideal in the middle of summer, but it will let you enjoy the cool pool through the fall. And, if you integrate a built-in hot tub, you’ll be able to enjoy it even through the winter here in Texas.

Kid-Friendly Solutions

If you have kids, a slide may be at the top of your pool list. But while you can always install a standalone slide, you also have the option to make it more adult-friendly and visually appealing. With a custom pool, you have the ability to create any vision you like. A raised waterfall, for instance, can be custom built to include a slide. The result is a tranquil oasis that still allows for plenty of fun.

Beyond this, a great kid-friendly pool solution is to invest in a mesh safety cover. Not only does it provide peace of mind for children playing in the backyard, but it also keeps your pool debris-free. It’s also strong enough to walk on for both adults and children, so it effectively doubles as a play space when the pool is not in use.

Lazy River

Who says your pool has to be square or stationary? One of the most impressive pool designs is undoubtedly a lazy river. But this design isn’t only for resorts or waterparks. You can actually design a lazy river right in your own backyard. Some designs include a stationary pool in the center with a winding lazy river around it. Others use the center section as an extra lounge area, complete with seating and lush tropical plants. Whatever the design you opt for, a lazy river is a solution that is enjoyable for the entire family.

Pools and hot tubs aren’t merely entertaining, in Texas we would assert they are essential for your custom home. To truly enjoy the summer, a custom home needs a luxurious pool to keep things cool, and a custom hot tub can be enjoyed all year round. No matter what your style – be it a relaxing beach entry or a fun-filled slide design – an in-ground pool and hot tub combination will guarantee endless hours of fun for everyone.

Unlike renovating an existing home, when you are building a custom home there’s no need to worry about maintaining the previous light fixture placement, or springing for expensive electrical rewiring to get the placement you actually want. A custom home allows you to design your lighting your way, from the start. 

Choosing the right fixtures, though, can be challenging. Even the most beautiful fixture can look out of place in a room if it is not correct in its size, scale, finish, or style. To help ease the selection process, and to avoid the hassle of a return or fixture swap in the future, we have a step-by-step guide that will simplify your experience and let you focus on enjoying the end result.

Step 1: Narrow Your Search by Knowing Your Style

Before you begin to source your light fixtures, it will save you a substantial amount of time to first solidify your style.  This is an absolute necessity because there are an endless number of light fixtures available on the market. The goal when selecting your fixtures is to make the process as straightforward as possible, and that starts with narrowing down your search.

Are you drawn to traditional silhouettes? Do you prefer streamlined and clean, modern lines? What style is your custom home built around? Whatever direction you’ve gone with the rest of your home’s aesthetic is the direction you’ll want to follow when choosing your lighting. It’s easy to get distracted by a gorgeous wedding cake chandelier that would look luxurious in your foyer. But if you have an ultra-contemporary approach to your home design in every other space, it will undoubtedly feel jarring style-wise. Stick to your existing aesthetic and keep your design style top of mind, and we guarantee the selection process will be far easier for you.

Step 2: Take Note of Placement & Type

The beauty of choosing light fixtures in a custom home is that you know exactly where your fixtures need to be placed. Based on your home’s design, you should have a clear list of exactly how many lights you need, and which types of fixtures you need. Your builder can work with you to lay out a checklist of vanity light type, kitchen island pendants, flush mounts, semi-flush mounts, can lighting, or chandeliers, depending on each space’s needs. Armed with a detailed amount of information will help you to know precisely what you should be looking for during your search.

Step 3: Measure Your Space for Scale

To narrow down your selections further, you need to know the size and scale of each space. This is where measurements come into play – once you have the right sizes narrowed down, you can customize your search from there. A basic rule of thumb is to choose a light fixture that fits the size of each room (and when in doubt, go larger than you think is necessary). For example, a miniscule flush-mount light in a wide-open living room with cathedral ceilings will look far too tiny, and functionally, it won’t provide enough light for the entire space. In this case, you’d want to opt for either an oversized chandelier that adequately fits the scale of the room, or multiple smaller lights throughout the ceiling space to provide scale and enough light. Conversely, a smaller mudroom or laundry room needs a smaller-scale fixture to match its size. Options appropriate for such a smaller space could include simple flush mount or semi-flush mount fixtures, or even wall sconces, for a simple and fit-to-size look.

Step 4: Stick to Your Finishes

Just as you want to stay consistent with your light fixture style throughout your custom home, you also want to pay attention to your fixture finishes. And while a mix-and-match approach can look quite beautiful, and there certainly isn’t a hard and fast rule about mixing fixture finishes, you want to ensure that you’re being intentional about your finish selections. Overall, you want to stick to similar finishes in each room, and opt for no more than two different metals in any given space. Brushed brass and matte black, for instance, go quite well together and make for a stunning contemporary aesthetic. Likewise, a brushed nickel or an antique bronze finish will add a warm and traditional vibe to a room. Chrome tends to brighten things up, and matte black will make the best pairing with fixtures in this finish.

Light fixtures don’t have to be complicated, and with our quick checklist the process should be quite approachable. So, if you’ve been scrolling through endless pages of fixtures, feeling like the selection process will never end, don’t stress. With key search criteria firmly in place, narrowing down your choices will be much more manageable, and you’ll have a beautiful light-filled home in no time.

One of the best aspects of building your own custom home is the fact that you get to quite literally start from scratch. There’s no need to sacrifice on space or square footage, ceiling height or plumbing locations. You can skip the costly retrofitting of an older home, and you never have to face the disappointment that often comes with the realization that that dreamy master suite you envisioned simply cannot happen.

A custom home gives you all the freedom to choose exactly what you want. And one of the most popular areas for customization is hands down the master bath. While each custom bath can look vastly different, depending on each owners’ personal tastes and preferences, there are a few must-haves to consider when designing your own space that you definitely won’t want to skip.

Trendsetting Tile

Incorporating a tile pattern into your master bath that you love through and through is essential. Sure, a run-of-the-mill white or grey tile will look classic and beautiful, but why not take this opportunity to choose something that you know you’ll adore for years to come? Tile is one of the most impactful design choices you can make because it instantly sets the tone and aesthetic for a room. Just be sure that when you’re selecting your tile, you consider all angles. Consult with your contractor on which types of tile may or may not be more difficult to install, and likewise, understand that there is a wide range of price points to consider. Similarly, when choosing your style, consider the longevity of the design. Is it something you could design around endlessly – like a stunning creamy catalina tile? Or are you drawn to a vibrant encaustic tile that you just can’t take your eyes off of (and are more than ready to commit to a bold vibe overall)? Whatever your decision, just know that replacing tile down the road is not an easy (or cheap) task, so you want to find the best fit for the long run.

Double Sink

There are definitely gorgeous single-sink designs out there, but if you have a custom home, why not go for the double sink setup? Trust us when we say that it can be a gamechanger for your relationship. Each person gets their own space, and there’s no debating where you put your toothbrush, hair products, or makeup. If having a double sink has always felt like a faraway luxury, well, now’s the time to embrace it. You have a custom home after all! Go for the design you want.

Ample Storage

Speaking of personal space, one thing that is absolutely non-negotiable is ensuring you have ample storage in your master bath. Whether you’re opting for vanity drawers, a custom-built linen closet, or even a few strategically-placed open shelves, having space to store all those unsightly odds and ends we all use each day in the bathroom is highly recommended. In fact, if you’ve ever had trouble achieving that hotel-quality bathroom style because of constantly-cluttered countertops, then this will be a lifesaver for you. Now, your storage areas don’t have to be perfect, but even something as simple as an open drawer where you can quickly toss your daily toiletries out of sight will give your master bath a luxurious spa-like aesthetic each and every day.

Relaxation

A custom master bath isn’t complete without relaxation at the forefront of the design. Not everyone will want the same elements, of course, but whether you love a rejuvenating shower each morning, or prefer a long bath before bed, you should incorporate your lifestyle into your design. Skip the typical tub/shower combo and single shower head. With a custom master bath, you have the chance to go all out (and we highly recommend doing so). If you have the square footage, it’s worth it to install both a soaking tub and a separate walk-in shower so you can take advantage of both options. Or, at the very least, if a tub is something you just aren’t into at all, be sure to make your walk-in shower as luxurious as possible with custom shower heads that will make you feel as though you’ve entered a tropical paradise each morning. 

Quality Faucets & Hardware

To top everything off, your custom master bath needs to have a collection of quality faucets and hardware. And while it can be tempting to simply opt for the builder-grade materials, in our opinion, it’s worth it big time to source more unique hardware to fit your personal style. Aesthetically, it can be the difference between an exact replica of your neighbor’s home or a magazine-worthy design that wows guests for years (and makes you feel right at home). If you’re wondering where to start, we recommend first narrowing down your desired aesthetic. Whether you love modern, traditional, boho, vintage, or coastal, knowing your style is going to help you narrow down your options. Then, you’ll need to decide on a metal finish. The simplest solution is to keep all of your finishes consistent throughout the entire room, but you can certainly mix and match metals, too. Just remember to keep some consistency throughout by choosing no more than three metals and keeping like metals on the same plane (e.g. all vanity hardware in one metal, your light fixtures in another, and your faucets in another). 

There are endless directions you can take your master bathroom design. But no matter the specifics you choose, if you make sure to prioritize these must-haves, there’s no reason you can’t have a custom space that fits your every need. Because achieving a space that encourages total relaxation isn’t just for high-end hotels. You can get that same feeling inside the walls of your own home. With a custom master bath built to your exact specifications, you’ll never want to leave.

What makes or breaks curb appeal? With a custom home, it may seem obvious. With everything in brand new condition, what could be more appealing than that? The truth, however, is that curb appeal is about more than maintaining a high quality condition of your home’s exterior. Curb appeal is character, charm, and beauty. It’s made up of all of the small details that together combine to make a house feel inviting through and through. And whether you’re a green thumb, or prefer things simplified for ease of maintenance, there are more curb appeal essentials beyond landscaping to consider. From your home’s color to the placement of your shutters (and more), we’re breaking down all of the essentials you need to make your home visually appealing for both you and your neighbors.

House Color

Getting the right house color seems like a no brainer, right? But requesting a yellow house, for instance, can mean many different things. A soft, almost pastel, yellow offers a cheerful, yet subtle addition to a home’s exterior. On the other hand, opting for a nearly-fluorescent shade of yellow will quickly earn your home the nickname of “lemon meringue pie” (tasty as a dessert, but not so great as a house color). The bottom line is that when you’re choosing your home’s exterior color, you want to take a few things into account. 

The first consideration is the aesthetic of your neighborhood. Do you live in an area where classic colors like white, grey, and blue reign supreme? Then skip the bright pinks or caribbean blues. Similarly, if your neighborhood is known for its artistic individuality and it has an inherently eclectic vibe, you can certainly opt for something a bit more saturated and vibrant. The second thing to keep in mind is that colors always play much brighter in the daylight. So, when choosing a bolder color, you should always opt for more subtle shades in general. For example, while you might be able to get away with a luxurious plum in a powder room or bedroom, on an exterior, it could read more like “grape soda,” so it’s safer to go with a softer shade that can work almost as a neutral instead. For the exterior of your home, playing it safe is usually a good bet. 

Front Door

Just as your house color can be either a major mood booster or a total downer, your front door has the potential to either shine or feel drab and outdated. While it may be tempting to choose any old front door that your builder recommends, remember that it’s one of the first things people see when approaching your home. So, you want it to fit your personality and home’s aesthetic. Someone who loves traditional elements and is inspired by the ornate details in a colonial home or french cottage is going to be much more pleased with a strong and thick wood door, perhaps with stained glass windows or a unique brass door knocker. Contrarily, for someone drawn to modern farmhouse vibes, a simple and straightforward door – perhaps with shaker-style detailing – will be their best fit. 

Now, whether or not you choose to make your front door pop with a unique color is totally up to you. Just be sure that if you choose a color, it works well with your exterior paint color and isn’t too neon-like in hue to blind passerby. A bright color is fine, but going overboard can be disastrous (and generally speaking, if you have a more saturated hue on your home’s exterior, it’s a good idea to create some balance and go for a more toned-down front door).

Shutters

Shutters can be absolutely stunning, no doubt. There’s something so regal and classic about adding them to each floor’s windows. However, if shutters are wrong, they are very wrong. You may not have noticed incorrectly-installed shutters in the past, but after reading this, we guarantee you’ll be able to spot them everywhere you go.

The first mistake some people make is simply buying shutters that are the wrong size. Your shutters should always be the size of your windows (after all, before they were merely decorative, they were meant to functionally close and protect your windows). A too-small shutter wouldn’t ever actually cover the entirety of your window, and even in just a decorative sense, it makes your home look stunted and odd. A too-large shutter looks a little less strange, but it also wouldn’t fit the “function” test, and somehow manages to feel unbalanced next to a smaller window. 

Another shutter mistake people often make is the placement. Remember – a shutter is supposed to, when closed, actually cover the window. So you want to install them on each wall facing the opposite direction. If your window is arched, your arched shutters should swing out so that the lowest point is facing the window and the highest point is on the outside. It may look opposite, but you have to remember that you’re placing it where it would functionally go (even if you aren’t using them functionally).

Front Porch 

There’s nothing quite like a spacious front porch (and a wraparound one is even better). But one of the biggest custom home mistakes we see is a front porch without any railings. That’s not to say it isn’t on the punch list for the future, but we promise that skipping this step is a major curb appeal faux pas. You see, railings are about more than function. Sure, they keep you safe and prevent you from falling and breaking your ankle if you take a step in the wrong direction. But beyond that, railings function in a very strategic visual way. 

Even if they are minimal and can easily be seen through, they work similar to fences, giving a sense that there is a barrier of privacy between your home and the street. It makes your front porch feel enclosed and comfortable, allowing you to fully relax as you watch passerby over a cup of coffee or a happy hour cocktail. Without it, your porch will feel bare and unfinished, to say the least.

The beauty of curb appeal is that it doesn’t take an extraordinary amount of work to get it right. By following a few basic color rules, paying attention to placement of exterior elements, and prioritizing both functionality and style, knocking out a final list of exterior home improvements is actually quite simple. And as far as home improvements go, it’s important to remember that something as straightforward as a new coat of paint can make a huge difference in the way your home looks and feels. The exterior, after all, has a large footprint and is perhaps the most stand-out aspect visually (especially since it’s the first thing anyone sees). So, the bottom line when it comes to perfecting your custom home is to remember that the exterior deserves to have the same attention to detail you’ve given to every other corner of your space. Trust us when we say that if you prioritize it, you’ll be surprised at just how incredible your home’s transformation can be.

Creating a custom home can sometimes be misleading. “Custom” is often synonymous with “new” rather than actually being completely customized to your taste and personality. What often happens is that a custom home is built for an individual family, but it is also a replica of the neighbor’s home, or the home down the street. And while that makes sense to a certain extent given that different builders and contractors favor different styles, there’s still a level of customization that most people crave.

So, how do you truly customize your home’s look when faced with typical builder-grade fixtures, tile, and finishes? The answer is to get creative and source from a wide variety of vendors, including mom & pop shops, vintage and antique dealers, big box hardware stores, and online marketplaces. The wider you cast your net, the more unique your home’s look is bound to be.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most overlooked elements of a custom build, and many people assume they have no other option than to use the exact same flush mount fixtures throughout their home. But nothing screams “cookie cutter” like taking that route, and trust us when we say that getting your lighting right is worth every penny because it will completely transform how you feel in each space. 

To choose your lighting, you’ll first want to narrow down the style you’re drawn to. And whether that’s traditional, modern, vintage, or a mix of all three and more, you want to maintain consistency throughout your home. Then, get your size and scale right. A too-small fixture is always a bad idea, and it’s better in general to choose fixtures that are slightly bigger than you think you’ll need. An oversized chandelier can look absolutely amazing over, say, a dining room table, but a tiny pendant over that same table will definitely seem off. 

When it comes to sourcing your lighting, don’t be afraid to check out different vendors, too. Especially if you’re drawn to popular styles, there are a ton of different options to choose from, and as long as you’re keeping to your overall home style, it’s actually preferred if you have different fixtures in each space. Now, if this feels overwhelming, that’s totally okay – lighting is a fairly straightforward thing to change as time goes on, so don’t be afraid to live in the house for a bit to determine exactly the types of fixtures you love in your rooms.

Tile

Similar to lighting, tile is a major game changer in a home – but with this finish, you’ll definitely want to get it right the first time because replacing tile down the road can be a costly and messy fix. But don’t go rushing to your local hardware store to pick up whatever white subway tile or grey chevron backsplash you first lay eyes on. Choosing a tile pattern and style takes a bit more finesse to give it the most longevity in your home. 

First and foremost, remind yourself of that style goal you had in mind while choosing your lighting. The tile you select should stay true to who you are and what you love because it makes a statement, no matter where it’s placed. Have a bold and whimsical personality? Go ahead and embrace a colorful graphic encaustic tile. Prefer things a bit more streamlined and minimalist? Probably a good idea to stick to neutral colors and simple patterns. Just be sure to follow your gut instead of following whatever happens to be trendy at the moment – you want to be sure you’ll love it 5, 10, and 20 years from now.

After selecting your style, you’ll want to explore as many tile vendors as you can, both in person and online. The benefit to in-person viewing, of course, is that you can really grasp the texture and feel of each piece. But with online shopping, you do also get a much wider range of options to choose from. Whichever route you take, just remember that tile is one of those custom items that can get pricey pretty quickly. The cost runs the gamut from an inexpensive ceramic tile to a large-scale marble tile made of natural stone. These and everything in between are gorgeous, but being aware of your budget while shopping around will definitely help you narrow down your selections and stop you from falling in love with something far outside of your price range.

Flooring

Flooring is another key element you won’t want to skimp on. And whether you’re drawn to engineered flooring like luxury vinyl tile or luxury vinyl planks, or you prefer a good old fashioned hardwood flooring, your flooring is a choice you won’t want to make lightly.

While it may seem easy to just choose inexpensive flooring to get it done, it’s best to consider all options on the market because it will affect the lifespan of your flooring. Will you have heavy traffic areas in your home, like mudrooms and kitchens, that will likely need easy-to-maintain and durable flooring? Are you someone who prefers the soft feel of carpeting under foot when waking up in the morning, or do you like the look of natural wood with a plush rug on top instead? All of these are key factors, and ensuring that you’re looking at a variety of flooring vendors to figure out what they offer is essential.

Faucets & Hardware

Finally, making the decision on your faucets and hardware is quite important. You certainly don’t want to choose these at random because the result will be a mish mash of clashing styles throughout each space. Instead, with these selections in particular, you want to try to maintain some sort of consistency throughout. Your door handles, for one, should be identical throughout the entire home, while the finishes on your faucets and cabinet hardware can vary from room to room (as long as you’re keeping things pared down visually in those spaces). Mixed metals can work in a room, but if you’re worried about the space feeling too cluttered or overdone, it’s much easier to keep it simple and stick to a single look.

Oh, and just as you’d reach out to other vendors with your lighting, flooring, and tile, you absolutely want to take a look through multiple vendor sites and shops to find the right look for your faucets and hardware. Faucets lining your hardware store aisle are perfectly functional, but often lack the stylistic and customized elements you may prefer in the long run. Similarly, choosing your cabinet hardware is incredibly important because while these pieces are small, together they have a big impact on the overall space.

A home’s footprint and layout don’t have to be 100% customized. In fact, in many cases, reinventing the wheel (so to speak) is entirely unnecessary – after all, there’s a reason builders tend to stick to certain floor plans again and again – they work! But building a custom home should still, at the end of the day, feel customized to your needs. And while furniture and decor certainly accomplish that, you want to make sure you aren’t skipping the more permanent elements in the process. From faucets to tile, there are endless options to choose from, and with a bit of searching, you’re bound to find the look that fits just right for you.

Windows aren’t always top-of-mind for people building custom homes. Many think they’re about as routine of a choice as the location of light fixtures or doorways – what could possibly go wrong? The answer is a lot.

You see, when windows are overlooked, it can affect quite literally everything in your home – the way you feel, the amount of natural light, privacy, water damage, soundproofing, electric costs, and more. So, if you haven’t yet given a thought to where your windows will be located in your new custom home, take a few minutes to read our guide. By understanding several key factors, you’re certain to get it right from the get-go and will definitely avoid costly and unnecessary repairs down the road

Light & Direction

Understanding where your home is situated – that is, the direction it faces – is the most important starting point when selecting your windows. But if you’ve never stopped to consider this, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s one of the most forgotten components of a custom build for homeowners. Have you ever seen a new construction home with a single completely blank wall and zero windows on that entire side? They’re more common than you might think, and unfortunately, that’s a sure sign that the light in the home is minimal, at best.

Generally speaking, a home that faces east will receive the brightest light in the morning, while a west-facing home will see brilliant sunsets from its front windows. The south side of a home will always get the highest amount of natural light throughout the day while the darkest side of a home will be on the north side. What this means is that however your home is positioned, the choice on where to place your rooms and windows will determine exactly how much natural light streams inside.

The best bet is to place rooms that don’t need a lot of light (like the garage or bedrooms), on the north side of your home, and keep the common higher-activity spaces (like your living room or kitchen) on the south end of the building. Of course, in Texas, too much sun can mean higher electric bills in the summer heat. But that doesn’t mean you should ditch all south-facing windows for convenience. Instead, you’ll want to still keep that side of your home prioritized for light and place the light-friendly rooms in that area. You can always combat the heat with quality sun shades for your windows to save on energy, and the way that ample natural lighting will make you feel is abundantly more important in the long run.

Size & Scale

Speaking of light, when you’re choosing your home’s windows, you definitely want to take each room’s size and scale into account. There’s nothing worse than a beautiful living room with soaring cathedral ceilings paired with tiny windows fit for a small bedroom. Windows have the potential to bring a room to life, and just as you’d want furniture to fit your space like a glove, you want your windows to fit accordingly. 

Choosing the size is, of course, a personal opinion (after all, not everyone wants the lack of privacy that floor-to-ceiling windows can bring). But when in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to err on the side of larger windows. If you’ve ever been inside a small bedroom that still feels bright and cheery, it’s likely because the windows are sizable enough to let in plenty of light. By contrast, the opposite – a tiny window in a large room – tends to look stunted and out-of-proportion. 

Window Type

Once your direction and window size are narrowed down, you’ll need to determine the type of window that’s right for you. Style-wise, you’ll usually be faced with choosing between single/double-hung panes or crank-out/casement panes. There are other options as well – custom arched windows, glass block windows, bay windows, awning windows, and sliding windows, to name a few. But these are usually selected on a case-by-case basis, depending on your custom home needs.

Regardless of style, your window type really comes down to two functional factors: ease of cleaning and airflow. Windows like double-hungs (that open from the bottom or top and usually swing out for cleaning) or casement windows (when the full window cranks out from the home) tend to be easier to clean in general. Because you can easily access both the inside and outside of each pane, you can usually clean the entire window from one spot versus having to hire professional window cleaners each year.

As for airflow, you’ll need to decide precisely how much you’d like in your home. Casement windows (and similar-opening windows like awning or sliding options) tend to allow a full window’s worth of fresh air to enter your home. On the other hand, single-hung windows will only open halfway, meaning you’ll still catch a breeze, but it won’t be nearly as strong or cool as if the full window were open. One option isn’t necessarily better than another, but it does depend on your personal preference, so you’ll want to think about what is most important for you and your family.

Window Quality

Finally, determining the window brand that’s right for you is a must. Don’t simply go with whatever brand your builder suggests – do a bit of research on your end as well to find out their specific components, if there are any warranties (both on the window itself and on the hardware), and what their reviews are like. Something like a faucet or even a vanity are easy to change out down the road, but for windows, you want to ensure you get quality right away. 

You see, while windows are visually important for a home (as evidenced by each of the above sections), they’re also structurally essential. Anytime there is a hole cut into a home (doors, roofs, windows, etc.), it literally opens up your home to potential damage. And if these elements aren’t installed properly or they are poor quality, you can be subjected to excessive rainwater build-up or leaks, mold, rotting wood, or even vermin. Plus, a higher quality window will be much more sound-proof and sturdy, and can even provide a better seal to stop unnecessary heat or AC from escaping (keeping your energy costs low). So the importance of choosing windows that are reliable cannot be overstated. Always go for quality if you can swing it financially – we promise it’s worth every penny.

Windows don’t have to be complicated, but they do deserve some serious attention. Because no matter what type of window you’re drawn to, how much airflow you desire, or what level of cleaning ease you prefer, selecting the windows that will fit your vision of your dream home is a must. Over time, it will be one of the smartest investments you’ve ever made.

by: Wild Bill, aka The Texas Authority

About me:  I have been the President of my HOA in Texas for the past 20 years.  I’ve been an accountant, financial advisor, Controller and CFO for literally hundreds of Texas businesses and business owners.  I’ve been involved in local, state, and national politics, and I’ve been a provider for my family for over 50 years here in Texas.  It’s a great place to live, so lean on me and listen up.

Depending on where you build your custom home here in Texas, you may be subject to the rules and restrictions of a property owner association. The popularity of such property owner associations, more commonly called Home Owner Associations (HOAs), has increased dramatically over the last 40 years.  

Today it is estimated that 75 million people in the USA reside in such “covenanted” communities, with standards and specifications that apply to all residents.  

Driving the popularity of these associations is the desire to protect property values and insure an ambiance that makes for a higher quality of life in the neighborhoods they govern.

So before committing to any specific HOA, it is imperative to understand the way these organizations work. Not all HOA’s are created equal.

The Basics

Property owner associations in Texas are formed as legal entities by the filing of a set of founding documents, typically described as “Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions”(CC&Rs).  

Usually these covenants are accompanied by a set of “Bylaws” which lay out essential standards for its residents to live by.  As the association matures, the governing Board may also develop a set of Rules to supplement these founding documents.  

Together these written instruments form the framework for a distinctive neighborhood.  All of these written documents should be available to the public at large, so you should request these governing documents and READ THEM.  

When you acquire a piece of property that is part of an HOA, these documents will become restrictions to your deed.  From that point on you will be required to subordinate your personal preferences to the terms and conditions set forth in them.

4 Things To Watch For

1.  Architectural Specifications

One of the primary goals of an HOA is to set standards for the construction and maintenance of the structures within the development’s boundaries.

Serious consideration should be given to the types of materials and design characteristics authorized by the CC&Rs, as they may limit your options for your new home.

Issues such as roof height, percentage of masonry, setbacks, and fencing specification may all be regulated, so any applicable CC&Rs should take center stage in the planning process if you are building a custom home.  This is why it is important to READ THE DOCUMENTS.

2.  Behavioral Restrictions

No one wants to build a home in a neighborhood that allows junk cars to be parked in the driveways, or one that allows animals to roam the streets untethered, or ignores rubbish and debris on a homeowner’s property. 

Do the CC&Rs for your HOA address these kinds of issues?   

Other behaviors that may be addressed in the CC&Rs are overnight parking on the streets, prohibition of invasive noise levels, operation of a business out of your home, rental restrictions and even visitor restrictions.  Again it’s important to READ THE DOCUMENTS.

3.  Association Management

With the increase in residential planned developments has come a proliferation of off-site property management companies to offer services that an HOA may need or desire.  

Although the general policies for the neighborhood fall to an elected Board of Directors, it is instructive to understand who runs the day-to-day affairs of the HOA.  

For example, if the community  irrigation system springs a leak on Saturday afternoon, who shuts off the water valve?  If the common restrooms clog up, who calls the plumber?  If a homeowner persists in accumulating debris in his backyard, who confronts the situation to effect a cure?

Attendance at a Board meeting should enlighten your understanding of who does what to maintain the standards and ambiance of your prospective community.  Additionally, you might reach out to the President or other members of the HOA directly, to better understand the culture and expectations of the community.

4.  Association Fees

The life blood of an association’s health is the amount of money available to carry out its prescribed duties.  These funds are derived from assessments levied on the property owners by the Board of Directors.  

Whether or not such assessments are reasonable is a subjective judgement call, but it must be noted that these financial obligations are mandatory and ongoing.  They must be considered as a cost of living factor moving forward, and you should expect to pay your dues.

Before committing to an association’s rules, it would be wise to understand what triggers an increase in fees.  Is there a limit on yearly increases?  What conditions permit a “special assessment”? Or are the fees frozen? 

An HOA operating without the ability to adjust to future inflation may be placing itself in a short-sighted bind.  And, ignoring the possibility of special circumstances which might arise could be risking the future for the convenience of the present.  The only way to know these factors is to READ THE DOCUMENTS.

Tips for Success

For additional insights into the character of your prospective neighborhood, drive the neighborhood.  Drive the streets in the daylight, and in darkness.  Drop in on weekdays, and on weekends.  And while you’re at it…

Talk to the neighbors.  Find out from them if there are any problems.  Take their pulse to see how they like living in their restricted community.

The Verdict

If your thorough examination leads you to commit to an HOA neighborhood, then commit wholeheartedly.  Be supportive.  Be a contributor.  Volunteer.  You are committing to a lifestyle that will preserve your property’s value, and enhance your quality of life.  Congratulations and welcome to Texas.

Designing a custom home can be overwhelming, to say the least. From hardware finishes to wall paint, landscaping, windows, flooring, and more, there is an infinite number of options to choose from. And while that is, of course, the whole idea behind a custom home, it doesn’t make it any less challenging to wade through the details and narrow down your selections – especially if you’re new to the process.

So, what’s the solution? Do you simply go with the builder recommendations and settle for a carbon copy of the neighbor’s layout? Or do you fully embrace the stress and decision process in order to get what you really want?

Well, it turns out that there’s a middle ground and it entails hiring an interior designer.

Now, if you’ve never considered a designer or aren’t really sure what it is they do or if they’re worth the money, fear not. Today, we’re breaking down exactly what to expect when working with one, and we guarantee it’ll make that decision just a little bit easier for you to manage. Because when it comes to a custom route, we want you to get it right with the least amount of stress possible.

What does an interior designer do?

At a basic level, interior designers guide you from start to finish in the custom home building process, helping you achieve your ideal style, all while staying within your budget and keeping your goals at the forefront of the design. They’re different from the builder in that they are not working exclusively with the structure itself, but also taking into account how you want to use each space – all the way down to your choices in furniture and decor. Whether you have a spacious home office at the top of your “must-have” list, or you need to prioritize your growing family and your love of entertaining guests, an interior designer keeps your specific needs in mind and can make recommendations that will dramatically improve the layout and experience of your custom home.

How much does it cost?

The cost of an interior designer ranges dramatically, depending on the designer you use and the level of service they provide. Most designers will offer a range in their service levels, starting with project consulting and moving all the way up to full-service design work. Project consulting is usually reserved for small design challenges such as choosing paint colors or a furniture layout in a space. Full-service design work is the start-to-finish process that likely comes to mind when you think of interior design; a designer will run point on your entire project from the construction phase through to selecting your furnishings. 

The fee structure can be hourly or charged as a flat fee, but regardless of the method, you can expect to pay a “designer fee” for their expertise on top of the cost of any furnishings or decor. This can range anywhere from $1,000-2,000 all the way into the $10,000 + range. The reason behind the wide variety of charges, of course, is experience. The more veteran a designer is, the higher their hourly rate or flat fee will be. However, while you may be paying more, you’re also receiving top-notch service and they’ve spent their entire careers perfecting the design process, so it’s truly a hands-off and stress-free experience. 

What are the benefits?

Having an interior designer working alongside you every step of the way typically makes the custom home building process much smoother in the long run. Not only do they take the lead from a project management standpoint, but they also help to eliminate the overwhelm when it comes to selecting the right elements for your home. In a full-scale design situation, they work with you first to understand your lifestyle needs and the home styles you tend to gravitate towards. Then, they help you to stick to that goal as you progress through the entire custom building process. Rather than getting distracted by another shiny new finish, they keep you rooted in what you actually want, and take the vast majority of work off your plate. Plus, hiring an interior designer ensures that you won’t pay double for mistakes down the road like buying furniture that isn’t to scale or choosing flooring that doesn’t meet the needs of your busy family.

What are the drawbacks?

Aside from the high cost of hiring an interior designer, designers aren’t necessarily the right choice for everyone. If you’re the type of person who really enjoys a more hands-on approach and actually wants to be a major player in the custom building process, then having a designer on your team could be a detriment. It might feel like too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. Additionally, you have to be very intentional about which designer you choose. Every designer has their own style, and it ranges drastically from ultra modern and minimalist to traditional and vintage-inspired. If you select a designer only for their cost structure, for instance, you may end up with someone whose design style is in complete opposition to your own (and you could hate the final product as a result).

What should I look for when hiring a designer?

This brings us to our next point: hiring an interior designer is a process. You absolutely want to avoid simply choosing a designer based on a single factor alone. Take the time to really vet your options before signing a contract. Price, naturally, is a top consideration. After all, you need to stay within your budget to build a successful custom home. But in addition to this, you’ll want to dig into each designer’s portfolio. Do their designs make you swoon? Or do you find yourself muttering “not my style” under your breath while viewing each photo? While designers do work for a wide range of clients with all different styles, they tend to have a “type” that they prefer to design for, and a quick look through their website and portfolio will tell you all you need to know. 

Beyond a designer’s style, you may want to have a call or consultation with several to determine if they are a good fit for you personality-wise. It may seem unnecessary, but remember that the custom home process is lengthy and there can be a lot of emotions wrapped up in each decision. You want to work with someone who not only has your best interests in mind, but also with someone you feel comfortable working with (even if things get a bit tricky or complicated).

Finally, don’t forget to take into account a designer’s experience in the industry. Newbies who have just started their careers can absolutely create stunning work, but sometimes they are a bit too green to take on a massive custom home project. It may be better to go with a designer who has a thick portfolio of work and a seemingly endless list of positive reviews from past clients. You’ll need to assess your comfort level with this.

A custom home is an amazing route to take in the DFW area – especially when you can choose exactly the finishes that you know will make you and your family happy for years to come. But before you take on the entire load alone, make sure you at least consider hiring an interior designer. It may make the process seamless and enjoyable rather than stressful and time-consuming. And as long as you follow this list of considerations when making that decision, you’re sure to end up with a designer who fits your style to perfection.

by: Wild Bill, aka The Texas Authority

Quick summary for y’all transplants to Texas:  If you’re thinking about building a house here, watch out for the Homeowner Associations.  They are everywhere, and that’s part of what makes Texas great.  Keeps the riff-raff out.

Unless you’re building out in the sticks, your property and home are likely governed by an HOA.  And, there’s likely to be a group of neighbors who run that HOA and can be, let us say, exacting in their expectations.

BTW, I have been the President of my HOA in Texas for the past 20 years.  I’ve been an accountant and financial advisor and CFO for literally hundreds of Texas businesses and business owners, and I’ve been involved in local, state, and national politics and a provider for my family for over 50 years here in Texas.  It’s a great place to live, so lean on me and listen up.

The background of the HOA

Homeowner Associations evolved as America evolved, coming out of World War II.

The concept of a “planned community” in America began to blossom after World War II with the development of Levittown, NY, on Long Island, which was developed primarily for veterans returning from the war as a place to live.

The community was designed with uniform construction standards and a loose-knit set of rules to govern the activities of its residents.  The success of this model became popular as residential developments increased over the decades and America’s residential housing market grew by leaps and bounds through the last half of the 20th century.

With the growth of suburbia came the increasing formalization of these residential property arrangements into legal organizations, which have today come to be known as Homeowner Associations.

Today in Texas there exists a body of laws known as the Texas Property Code, which governs the powers and limitations of these entities. 

Since homeowners typically subordinate many of their property rights to the Covenants and Restrictions of the underlying Homeowner Association, it is prudent to step lightly into the world of HOAs.

If you want to build a custom home in Texas, the existence of these kinds of restricted residential developments is a major factor to be considered.

Are you comfortable with property restrictions?

The answer to this question will determine whether you choose an HOA community—or not. Residential property owners tend to divide into two groups on this question:

The first group enjoys the unfettered freedom to choose.  Their point of view is that their residence is private property, subject only to their own individual tastes and desires.  Their independent nature, akin to the Texas mentality, asserts that a person’s home is their castle and therefore not subject to anyone’s rules or restrictions.  

Consequently, if they want to paint their front door lime-green and use a busted toilet as a planter on their front porch, they can do it..  If they want to park their riding lawnmower in the front yard and their first family car in the backyard, they can do that.  It’s their property!

The fundamental concept of an HOA is probably not for these people.

The second group, perhaps being at a different place in their lives, perceives that the ambiance of their living environment depends to a large extent on the housekeeping proficiencies of their surrounding neighbors. 

Committed to the upkeep of their own residence, they welcome the idea of a uniform set of rules in their community–and the ability to enforce them.  To them, it’s important that all residences be kept in good repair;  it’s important that the overall appearance of the neighborhood be pleasant—even delightful; and, that the usage be restricted to residential only.

HOAs have their advantages in this respect.

Since these two groups obviously don’t mix well in a residential setting, under current Texas law the Property Code sets up the mechanics of a quasi-governmental entity designed to give the second group exactly what they want.

A Homeowner Association can set standards for its entire community and thereby define architectural specifications, behavioral limitations, and penalties for a variety of deviations. 

Through the legal instrument of Deed Restrictions, part of the contract in any HOA-governed community, the association can require every property owner to subrogate their rights to the association’s Articles of Covenant thereby ensuring an enforceable standard of uniformity for the whole neighborhood.

So, in searching for the ideal location for your custom-built home, in Texas, you have two clearly defined options:   To HOA or not to HOA.  The choice is yours, and welcome to Texas.

When building your custom home, landscaping may be the last thing on your mind. Considering all of the decisions that go into the interior of your home, it’s fairly easy to push it aside for a later time. But before you shelf the world outside your windows, you may want to at least come up with a gameplan in time for planting season.

Every area of the country, of course, has its own unique climate, and North Texas is no exception. So when it comes to your landscaping, you don’t want to start planting any old tree or flower on a whim. Getting the right mix of plants – and ideally perennial plants native to Texas – that will survive and thrive in the heat and in the proper soil is a must. Not only does it ensure the health of the plants themselves, but it also helps to establish your own peace of mind. And trust us when we say that a self-sustaining landscape design is worth every second of planning. In the long run, it’s far less work and it allows your home to blend in with its natural surroundings.

Large-Scale Trees & Shrubs

Perhaps the most maintenance-free of plant choices, trees and shrubs offer both shade and a variety of visual height and silhouettes to bring your custom home to life. Our state tree – pecan – is an obvious starter choice since its wide-spreading branches offer shade and an added bonus of fresh pecans right in your own backyard. Additionally, oaks and maples are great shade trees to plant given their hardiness in high heat climates and their vibrant autumn colors. For ornamental trees that add an infusion of color and sweet-smelling blooms to your yard, you can’t go wrong with crape myrtle, yaupon holly, Texas mountain laurel, or magnolia.

Ideal shade shrubs include boxwoods, hydrangea, yews, and Rose Creek abelia – many of which produce a show of flowers each year. For full sun areas, stick to junipers for added height and nandinas and Purple Diamond loropetalum for a splash of pink and purple in your garden.

Flowers

It’s always a good idea to add a bit of color into the mix, and given our sun-soaked land here in Texas, there are endless species available to use. Generally speaking, you want to layer your flowers in a way that balances things visually. Keep the higher-growing plants towards the back of your garden and the lower ones in front so each gets its chance to shine (and you don’t miss out on the array of gorgeous colors that will bloom). 

Salvia adds a beautiful purple color into the mix, is incredibly hardy, and keeps pests away while inviting an array of butterflies and hummingbirds into your garden. For show-stopping blooms, you can opt for hibiscus (Lord Baltimore or Moy Grande) or rose (Belinda’s Dream or Knock Out); both are larger than life and a lush tropical aesthetic to your landscaping. And of course, for flowers with ultra-fragrant and colorful blooms, be sure to pepper in some gold star esperanza, Fourth of July roses, Mexican plum, or sweet white violet. 

Groundcover

Groundcover plants, while not essential, are excellent landscaping options – especially if you’re looking to fill empty spaces or provide a layer of texture to your lawn. They also help to create a healthy environment for surrounding plants since they act as “rain gardens” of sorts, soaking up any excess hydration and preventing larger plants from being overwatered. They also serve to minimize weed growth and halt erosion and soil damage.

A few go-to groundcovers we love that provide a nice lush green color include straggler daisy, cedar sedge, silver ponyfoot, and horseherb. For groundcover plants that add a touch of color, consider incorporating primrose, phlox, or verbena.

Grasses

Of course, choosing the right grasses for your custom home’s landscaping is a must as well. Grasses can, admittedly, struggle to survive in North Texas for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the soil is not well-maintained or does not drain properly (and this is especially the case for custom home lots that have seen massive soil compaction during the building process), so getting the right balance of nutrients is essential. Other times, people plant the wrong grasses for the level of sun or shade that their lawn receives each day. Different species of grasses will thrive in different environments, so you’ll want to choose the right one so you don’t have to replace it a short time down the road.

In general, grasses that thrive in full sun include Bermuda grass and buffalograss. Partial shade grasses to consider include St. Augustine and Zoysia. Shade grasses are a bit more difficult to grow, but there are several species that do well overall in these areas. These include Mondo grass, fescue, and bluegrass. You can also opt for more ornamental grasses to add some height and texture to your garden; zebragrass, purple fountaingrass, pampasgrass, and inland sea oats are excellent candidates.

Whether you are drawn to the larger silhouettes of trees and shrubs, prefer a burst of color in your garden, or enjoy the simplicity of a grass-filled lawn, getting the right landscaping for your custom home is an incredibly important step in the building process. Because as thrilling as it may be to see your home come to life within its four walls, without a strategically-placed mix of plants, it will feel stark, empty, and completely void of curb appeal. And while landscaping is certainly lower on the list of items to complete, it’s something you definitely don’t want to skip.