Archive for the The Drawing Board Category

The Multigenerational Household Trend

Posted in Housing News, Lifestyle, New Homes, Renovation, The Drawing Board with tags , , , on January 8, 2014 by Pat Hansen

Family households consisting of three or more generations, or “multigenerational households,” have become increasingly popular in the 21st century. According to the most recent Census, approximately 4.4 million American homes had three generations or more living under one roof in 2010, a 15 percent increase from two years earlier. This is 5.6 percent of the total of 76.4 million U.S. households with more than one person.

There are many reasons for this trend. The recession caused many adult children to return home after college, either because they weren’t able to get jobs that would cover rent, or they wanted to save up to buy homes of their own. According to Pew Institute research, the share of the U.S. population aged 18 to 31 living in their parent’s home increased to 36 percent or a record 21.6 million young adults in 2012.

Multigenerational Home Plan
For many ethnic and immigrant groups
, multiple generations of a family living together is a common cultural custom.

Multigenerational households also form so that grandparents can help take care of their grandchildren, and as they age, their children can care for them. This type of arrangement can ease financial burdens as well, with several generations contributing to the mortgage payment and not having to incur the expenses of childcare, retirement housing or professional care-giving environments.

Home builders and remodelers are building and renovating homes to meet the needs of multigenerational households. These designs allow many generations of the same family to live together under one roof yet have private areas as well as combined living space.

Features of multigenerational home plans can include in-law suites within the main home with separate areas for independent living. These often have kitchenettes and en suite bathrooms, and sometimes private entrances from the street. They frequently include “universal design” products, which focus on maximum usability by people of all ages and abilities. Examples include walk-in showers, smooth flooring transitions, and cabinets with pull-out drawers.

Building professionals who have earned the National Association of Home Builders’ Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation have received training on how to build or renovate a home so that the occupants can live in the home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of their age or ability level. They have been taught the strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically pleasing, barrier-free living environments. While most CAPS professionals are remodelers, an increasing number are general contractors, designers, architects, and health care professionals.

To find a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist in your area, go to

This article is courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders.

Planning Your Spring Garden

Posted in Around Your Home, Landscape, The Drawing Board with tags , on February 20, 2013 by Pat Hansen

February is the time to think about your spring gardening. To begin, you should plan your garden. A piece of graph paper and a pencil are all you need to start. Draw a diagram of your garden. Lay it out so it accurately reflects all planting areas. Once you have completed your diagram, bundle up and walk around your garden area to see what is there and to note the empty spaces. Consider past experiences: What worked in your garden? What didn’t? Consider removing plants that don’t do well in your garden and replace them with ones that will.

Vegetable Garden (ssyredboots |

Put all this information on your garden plan. It is a good idea to keep a record of each year’s garden. It helps you in planting the following year. This is especially true of vegetable gardens. You will want to rotate your vegetables to other parts of the garden for best results. Take a “before” picture of your garden so that you can admire the “after” results.

Butterfly (earl53 |

Photo credit: earl53 |

Once you have a diagram, you are ready to select what will go into your spring garden. Think about what kind of garden you want to have. Is your garden shady, sunny or perhaps both? Do you want vibrant colors? Are you interested in attracting butterflies or hummingbirds? All these questions should be considered in planning your space. Remember if you want blooms until fall, you need to plant accordingly. Now comes the next step – selecting seeds, bulbs and plants.

Seed catalogs abound on the internet and order forms can also be found in gardening magazines. You can order seeds for starting plants inside and transplant seedlings into the garden when the danger of frost is gone. Many varieties that are available in seeds are not available as plants in your local nursery and seeds are cheaper than live plants.

You can also order a variety of live plants and bulbs from catalogs and garden centers. Summer flowering bulbs such as gladiolas and daylilies can be purchased now for spring planting. Keep them inside and plant them once there is no danger of frost. If you took bulbs inside for the winter, go through them before planting. If any seem soft, toss them. Also, look for signs of mold and disease and discard any affected bulbs.

Another option for bedding plants is cuttings from indoor plants. Coleus, which comes in a variety of colors and shapes, is a common house plant. Take several cuttings and root them in a container filled with water. They will thrive in your flowerbed.

Once you’ve made your seed choices, order them and be ready to plant them upon arrival. Make sure that the containers you use allow for drainage of excess water from the bottom so they do not stay too wet.

Soil-less mixes make a better planting medium for seeds because there is no risk of contamination from weed seeds or bacteria, both of which you would find in soil. Make sure the seeds have sufficient light for germination. Also, keep the seeds in an area where the temperature is at least 50 degrees. Enjoy watching your seeds germinate and grow for the next several weeks.

The ideal garden consists of many things: color placement, variety and longevity make for seasons of delightful viewing and enjoyment of your garden. Plan it now and enjoy the results!

Our Last Bloomfield Lot >>> SOLD

Posted in Housing News, Local News, The Drawing Board with tags , , , on June 21, 2012 by Pat Hansen

UPDATE: This beautiful lot in Bloomfield Twp. has been sold. However, we do have lots available in Clarkston, Michigan. For more information, please click here.

Robert R. Jones Homes has one home site remaining in the desirable “Devonshire Downs” area in Bloomfield Twp. It is located at 2540 Wendover Rd (Lot 24) and is in the Bloomfield Hills School District.

We have designed a very unique plan for the site that incorporates “Multi-Generational” living. “Multi-Generational” designs provide comfortable and separate living areas for more than one generation. Whether it is living space for aging parents, young adults moving back home after college or live-in help, the need for well-designed additional living space is emerging.

The 0.60 ac home site allows us to be flexible with square footage necessary to provide for the needs of “Multi-Generational” families. The plan features a separate, private entry to the “one-bedroom apartment” area above the attached 2-1/2 car garage and a covered veranda leading to an additional 5-car garage.  A “Must See” to be sure.

The appealing, classic front elevation, an all-brick, low maintenance exterior, accented with bays and limestone surrounds, is detailed to perfection.  The Basement will have daylight windows and has the potential for creating a small walkout area through the use of retaining walls.

The floor plan features:

  • First floor Master Suite #1 with 2 generous walk-in closets and large master bath
  • Large Library or Home Office adjacent to Master Suite
  • Great Room with studio ceiling
  • Large Formal Dining Room
  • Large Kitchen with cathedral ceiling
  • First floor Utility Room
  • Separate entrance and staircase leading to the “Apartment”
  • Second Floor Master Suite #2 with dual closets and large bath
  • 2 additional secondary bedrooms; each with its own bath and walk-in closet

We are available to meet with you at the home site to review the plans and discuss your needs. Modifications to the plans are possible if made before the Building Agreement is executed. All Robert R. Jones Homes plans are copyrighted.

Please feel free to call Pat Hansen at (248) 895-1115 for a consultation.

Transforming New into Timeless

Posted in I Wish I'd Thought About That, Lifestyle, The Drawing Board with tags , , , , on May 4, 2012 by Pat Hansen

As a builder and remodeler, we at Robert R. Jones Homes often hear the comment that buyers want a new home for energy efficiency, low maintenance, state of the art gourmet kitchens, opulent Master Baths and large closets, but really prefer the charm and character in older homes.  They often state they want a new home that is “Timeless”. In further discussion, what they are often saying is they want a home that reflects a certain period in American or European history, often stated as “Old World” It’s what they feel comfortable with and will enjoy living in.

We typically start with a floor plan that suits their family’s lifestyle. Since form follows function, it is equally important to consider the interior of the home and what is important to their daily living. Here are some considerations:

  • Size and square footage
  • 2-story ceilings in selected areas
  • 9-10 ft ceilings in selected areas
  • 1 or 2 staircases
  • Type of main staircase; circular or dual
  • Great Room vs Living Room/ Family Room
  • First or 2nd floor Master Suite
  • Number of Bedrooms
  • Number of Bathrooms incl. 1/2 baths
  • Formal Dining Room
  • Size of Kitchen and Informal Eating Area
  • Butler’s Pantry
  • Walk-in Pantry
  • Pocket Office/ Bill Paying Area
  • Library/Office
  • Laundry
  • Number of fireplaces

Before going further, look closely at your list and convert your “list of rooms” into a list of functions.  Instead of Living Room, Family Room or Library, think in terms of TV watching, reading, doing homework, working on the computer, managing your home-based business and so forth.  Then scrutinize your list with an eye toward combining as many functions as you can.  For example, can you combine the functions of formal and informal dining?  Do you really need a separate space for each?

Combining multiple functions into a single space, saves space and allows you to allocate just the right amount of space for each function.  Instead of several smaller rooms, each with a bit of wasted space, you can have a single larger space.  The dollars saved by eliminating wasted space can be targeted at providing a higher level of finish, the kind of finish that helps create the charm and character that we to achieve.

The photo above illustrates this concept in practice.  The functions of food preparation (Kitchen), informal eating (snack bar), formal or holiday dining and reading are combined into a single large space.  Each function borrows space, both functionally and visually, from the adjacent function.  Dollars saved by eliminating unnecessary square footage have been directed at upgrading the finish on the fireplace, light fixtures and adding crown moldings to the room.  Another benefit is that the fireplace can be enjoyed by those busy with food preparation.

Often when it comes to the exterior elevation or appearance of the front of the home, our buyers have some idea of what they want and often have photos of what they like. Here are examples of exterior features we ask them to take into consideration:

  • Roof style
  • Siding if any
  • Brick/Stone; stone accents
  • Window styles; bays
  • Entry door(s)
  • Porch
  • Columns; size and details
  • Chimney style and caps
  • Garage size and style; side or courtyard entry; Porte Cochere
  • Balustrades or other decorative stone details
  • Courtyard entry to main entrance

Initially we do a sketch to give them for their approval. When they are satisfied with the sketch, we present them with a large, color rendering as a keepsake. This makes it easy for them to envision what their home will look like.

We at Robert R. Jones Homes have the in-house capability and expertise to design your “Timeless” new home, thus saving our buyers time and the expense of hiring an architect.  With our 30 years experience in the building and remodeling industry, we have been privileged to build more than one home for our buyers.

The Mini-Mud Room

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, The Drawing Board with tags , , , on December 27, 2011 by Kevin Fox

If you are like most people you could use a little organization in your life.  What is the most stressful time of your day?  For many people it is weekday mornings.  Getting kids off to school while getting yourself ready for work.  Sometimes a little organization can minimize that morning chaos.

If you can find a couple of square feet of unused space near the garage entrance to your home, you can create some targeted storage that may work better for you than the standard reach-in closet.  Here is a short list of the items you may need to store:

  • Coats and jackets
  • Hats, gloves and mittens
  • Shoes and boots
  • School bags and brief cases
  • Umbrellas
  • Storage for off-season items

The photos show a number of different approaches to the Mini-Mud Room storage unit.  What works for you depends upon how much space you can devote, size of your family and, of course, the size of your budget.  Here are some of the features and construction methods you can include:

  • Use of stock cabinets
  • Coat hooks
  • Baskets of various types or other storage containers
  • Drawer units (also stock cabinetry)
  • Storage compartments
  • Open shelves
  • Seating for removing shoes and boots
  • Racks for key storage

The beauty of this kind of storage is that it is individualized.  Everybody has their own space for their own personal items.  A combination of open and closed storage provides a way to keep the space from looking too cluttered.  Padded seats can add a measure of comfort.

The open access is the key for this idea to improve on the function of a simple closet.  It’s an idea that can easily be worked into a new home build or as part of a remodeling project.  It’s also a project that can be tackled by the do-it-your-selfer.

Small is the New Big – Part II

Posted in Around Your Home, The Drawing Board with tags , , , on November 1, 2011 by Kevin Fox

As homes become smaller, the focus for buyers will become: “How does the house live?” instead of the more traditional view of how many rooms/bedrooms does it have.  Some of the factors that will come into play are:

Combining separate rooms into single rooms

  • The overall size can be reduced as each function can borrow space from the other
  • The space appears larger, even if the overall square footage has been reduced
  • It can often eliminate the need for hallways which can save square footage

Eliminating rooms that have single purpose or get limited use

  • Formal Living and Dining Rooms >>> GONE.  Few people entertain “Formally” any more.  Those that do can still afford the space to do it.  Most people entertain “Informally” which means the family dining area should be able to accommodate larger groups as needed.

Improving the relationship between inside and outside spaces:

  • Outdoor spaces are becoming more popular and useable, but only if they are covered.  Patios and decks have always served this purpose, but the addition of a roof increases their usability to nearly year-round, even in cold climates.  That grille doesn’t have to be relegated to the garage anymore.
  • Inside spaces adjacent to covered, outdoor living areas look and function larger because they are larger
  • The floor elevation of covered outdoor spaces should be as close to the main level of the house as possible.  It looks and functions better (the roof makes this possible)

Right-sizing rooms based on function

  • As rooms get smaller, more attention must be focused on function.  Extra square footage can hide numerous design flaws.  Placement of doors and windows and how the circulation is planned can make a smaller room work perfectly or render it virtually useless.
  • As spaces get smaller, it is critical to get them sized correctly.  A six-inch difference in the size of a family room is hardly noticeable, but if you make a shower six inches too small you will end up with a problem

Shift in focus from size to quality

  • This kind of change does not necessarily mean home prices will be lower
  • Thinking will change to: “if I can eliminate 3 doors, I will be able to afford a better grade of door and hardware on the remaining doors.”  The same thinking can apply to furniture.  As you reduce home size and room counts, the need for furniture reduces as well.  This will allow home owners to buy higher quality, longer lasting pieces.

Small is the New Big – Part I

Posted in I Wish I'd Thought About That, Lifestyle, The Drawing Board with tags , , on October 21, 2011 by Pat Hansen

The American dream is shrinking and the trend in new homes is changing to smaller homes.  A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that while consumer hesitation on home buying is decreasing, the recent housing downturn has changed what buyers are looking for in their next home.

Builders surveyed expect homes to average 2,152 square feet in 2015, 10 percent smaller than the average size of single family homes started in the first three quarters of 2010.

Good-bye living room.  The only area of new homes expected to be enlarged is the family room or great room.  The great room or family room will replace the living room and will encompass kitchen and dining room. Buyers are rethinking how much space they really need. With more of the population working from home, the home office is still a necessity and can easily be converted into a multi-purpose room.

The homes of tomorrow will be easy to move around in, taking into consideration the physical limitations experienced with aging. Special features such as wide hallways and other Aging in Place requirements will be designed to blend seamlessly into the design of smaller homes.

Even high-end buyers are showing more interest in smaller, better crafted and well appointed homes. The interest in over-sized master baths has waned with the decline in home values. Spiral staircases are no longer the main focal point of the home. With the downturn in the economy, the focus is more on what buyers really need than the status of owning a large, opulent home.

Give Spare Bedrooms a New Life

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, The Drawing Board with tags , , on September 13, 2011 by Pat Hansen

A spare bedroom is basically the cheapest space you can renovate because the changes are generally cosmetic. For example, you don’t have to move walls to give a spare room a new purpose. Below are some of the current trends in repurposing spare bedrooms.

  • Convert a spare bedroom into a dressing room/walk-in closet near the master bedroom.  This is an ideal space for neatly organizing shoes, purses, clothing, etc., a place you can step into and not jump from closet-to-closet to get dressed in the morning. Dressing rooms can be as practical or elaborate as you want them to be. Many of the components for creating an organized dressing room can be purchased from a home improvement store or there are closet organizing companies that will design and install closet systems in various price levels for you.
  • Move the laundry room upstairs.  This makes sense and saves time if all bedrooms are upstairs. An existing bedroom closet can serve as storage space for laundry supplies. This change will require the expertise of a licensed plumber and electrician.
  • Create a hobby room or art studio. You are more likely to pursue your hobby if you have a dedicated space that allows you to have your supplies readily available. Hobby and art supply stores sell stackable storage bins for supplies. Easels displaying artwork will add to the décor of the room.
  • Create a place for grandchildren to play. Clear out the bedroom furniture and put in a game table, chairs, free-standing book shelves and storage units for toys. Decorate with framed posters befitting the grandchildren’s ages and interests and they will enjoy their special place.
  • A Home Office can serve a dual purpose as a Guest Room. Daybeds, trundle beds and high-end pull-down beds are all making a comeback. In a dual-purpose bedroom such as a home office/guest room, daybeds really give you the best of both worlds. They provide a comfortable twin-sized bed and double as an attractive sofa while still allowing space for a desk.

At some point, every homeowner will have a spare room which is often cluttered and goes unused. Think about activities you want to do for which you don’t have room.  Write an action plan of what would need to change for a room to accommodate that activity. Tear out magazine photos for an idea file. Most of the changes are Do-it-yourself, weekend projects with little time and money spent.  Make it fun and enjoy the results.

For help with Re-purposing bedrooms or any other home renovation project, call me, Pat Hansen at 248-895-1115 or stop by our Model in the Manors of Deerwood

Family Room Battle: Fireplace vs. Flat Screen TV

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Lifestyle, The Drawing Board with tags , , , on July 5, 2011 by Kevin Fox

Do you actually use that fireplace of yours that dominates your family room?  Really use it?  How often?  Is it like the dining room that you use 2 or 3 times a year (if at all)?  How does your big screen TV get along with that fireplace?  If your house is like most, the family room was probably designed for a furniture layout focusing on that fireplace.  Not too big of a problem when TV’s were small. TV’s, however, are no longer small.  If it didn’t look ridiculous, you probably would put that big screen TV right in front of your fireplace.  I’m guessing that you probably haven’t done that.

So where do you put that new, big flat-screen HD TV?  I can see two options.  You could mount it above the fireplace.  If your fireplace is brick or stone the TV just looks out of place.  If you have a painted wall surface above the fireplace you could put the TV there without it looking odd, but do you really want it there?  Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t:

  • First, all fireplaces get hot above the firebox.  I, personally, would not want to risk damage from heat to my expensive TV.
  • Second, I don’t think positioning a TV above a firebox creates ideal viewing conditions.  Having to look up at the TV is somewhat unnatural, and certainly irritating.

That leaves you

        the second option: placing the TV next to the fireplace.  For most homes this is the likely scenario.  It’s less than ideal, but acceptable.  Several examples are illustrated.  Positioning the TV on a shelf to the

      side of the fireplace looks
      like an afterthought and is lousy for TV watching. Building a TV into
      a cabinet does not seem like a good solution either – too many
    access and heat build-up issues.

All this discussion really begs the question: would I really be better

off without the fireplace?   Perhaps you would, but it’s not an option if you already have one.

If, however, you are building a new home, an alternative location may make sense for you.  I suggest the Library, Den, Home Office or Away Room.  These are quiet rooms.  They are smaller and more intimate, suited for reading or quiet work.  A fireplace better fits the mood of this type of room.  Considering the high cost of firewood or operating gas logs, the fireplace has been relegated to appointment viewing.  If you agree with this thought, then having a room optimized for fireplace viewing makes sense.  If you are thinking of building a new home, stop by our Manors of Deerwood Sales Office, in Clarkston Michigan and talk to Pat Hansen.  Check out Our Web Site for directions.

Low-Maintenance Exteriors – Our Top 5

Posted in I Wish I'd Thought About That, Renovation, The Drawing Board with tags , , , on May 31, 2011 by Kevin Fox

Unless you are a born and breed handyperson type, you would probably want to have the exterior of your home as maintenance free as possible.  While no exterior material is truly maintenance free, you can have a low-maintenance home.  Here’s our Top 5 for low-maintenance exteriors:

5. Silicone Caulk

Not much excitement here, just good old-fashioned performance from a high-tech product.  When it comes to the exterior of your home, water is the number 1 enemy.  Individual materials can be very resistant to water damage, but their weakness is where they meet another material.  Sound construction techniques and caulking are key components for most of these situations.  Silicone caulks are long lasting; up to 35 years in some cases.  Silicone caulks are not perfect: they’re expensive and most can’t be painted.  There are, however, enough colors available to fit most any color scheme.

4. Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is certainly more expensive, initially, but can last 2 to 4 times as long as asphalt shingles.  A properly installed metal roof can last 50 years or more.

3. PVC Trim

If the design of your home calls for painted trim, consider PVC trim.  While initially more costly than wood, PVC trim out-performs wood in many ways:

  • PVC trim is insect resistant
  • PVC trim won’t rot, splinter or check
  • PVC trim has no knots
  • PVC trim does not have to be painted.  If you choose to paint it, the paint will last longer because PVC trim does not absorb moisture.

2. Clad Windows and Doors

Some windows with vinyl cladding rely on caulk joints where the individual cladding components meet.  Inspect these yearly.  Weather stripping can fail, especially the threshold sweeps on doors.  Otherwise little maintenance is required

1. Full Masonry Exteriors

Brick and stone exteriors do not require much in the way of maintenance:

  • Don’t allow vines to grow on them
  • Don’t allow weep holes to be blocked. Weep holes, located at grade level, above doors and above and below windows, allow moisture to drain from behind brick veneers.  Over time, mulching in landscape planting beds can block weep holes, which, in turn, can lead to spalling (damage to the face of brick occurring during freeze-thaw cycles)
  • Over time mortar will degrade and needs to be repaired (pointed up).  Generally mortar will last between 25 and 50 years before needing to be replaced.  The areas most vulnerable are near grade where splashing from rain keeps the brick and mortar wet
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