Home Addition Planning Can Mean Extra Space For The Teenagers Now Or, Yes, The In-Laws Later

Home Addition Planning Can Mean Extra Space

photography by Lisa Russman

Home addition planning can be exciting when you’re fully aware of the potential hidden costs, allowing you to keep your eyes on the prize. We’ll help you understand what to expect as you plan out your home addition!

Hidden Costs You May Incur

You’re probably so excited to have your teens or even in-laws enjoying their own very separate space from you and your spouse, right? We don’t blame you! But with your focus on the end goal, we want to keep you aware of what costs you should expect before, during, and after your reno.

Insurance. Once your amazing new space is all done your home insurance premium will likely go up; more space means more to insure. It’s totally normal and rather than be surprised later on, give your home insurance rep a call once you have plans approved by your city to talk through what changes you should expect. 

Taxes. You may also see an increase in your property value which means property taxes will be assessed accordingly. Talk to your town officials and your architect team to get a full understanding of what your specific costs should be. 

Permits. Before starting your home addition, planning for the cost of permits for construction, electrical, and plumbing, if you’re adding a bathroom for example, and can vary widely from town to town. To find out the exact costs, work with your project manager and your city to get those final numbers.

Damage. One surprise cost we’ve seen many homeowners disappointed to find are some of the most buried and hard to detect – the cost of preexisting damage. Your home could have wood rot, an old leak wreaking havoc on both pipes and the interior of your walls, there could be mold or mildew, etc. It’s not terribly uncommon to unearth something during construction. So, if you want to be careful, your team can do a thorough inspection of your home before breaking down walls to help you plan your budget accordingly. 

Flex Space That Works for Everyone

Like most homeowners, you’re hoping to add on space that can serve several purposes. You can accomplish this through a number of ways.

  1. Bump outs. If you already have a great space and you just need a little extra flexible square footage, plan a bump-out addition. For those who appreciate unique rooflines and the feeling of luxurious space for a fraction of the price, this is a great option for you.

  2. Dormers. More headspace means more opportunities to add-on bedrooms or simply wide-open rooms that can accommodate “hang out” areas. What teen doesn’t love to hang out?? Design a family room, workspace, or extended-stay experience for out of town family members.

  3. Patio turned Parlor. Take your existing patio and enclose it; turning this space into an open living area allows your teens to get use out of it now and the in-laws to make use of it later.

  4. Basements. If you have an unfinished basement the good news is you have a renovation project just waiting for you to get started! Even better, you don’t need to frame out a ton of walls. This space begs to stay wide open, letting in as much light as possible. Get creative with a satellite kitchen and use wall color or movable walls to designate spaces like dining, living, laundry, etc. Be sure to have a dedicated area for sleep and of course a bathroom, but the rest is about open flow and creative design.

Now you’re ready to start planning for your home addition with creative solutions for your particular home. You’re aware of the possible hidden costs and can avoid the heartache that we’ve seen so many times. Lastly, though, we highly recommend you don’t undertake this project alone. Work with professionals who always have an eye on budget and timeline with years of experience knowing what to look for under their belt.

Does The Cost To Tear Down A House Increase Property Value_ We’ve Got The Figures For You

Does The Cost To Tear Down A House Increase Property Value? We’ve Got The Figures For You!

Does The Cost To Tear Down A House Increase Property Value_ We’ve Got The Figures For You

photography by Lisa Russman

Let’s answer the burning question you’re wondering right now: could the cost to tear down your house make your property more valuable? In a well-established neighborhood, a teardown may be your best bet.

How to Determine if the Cost to Tear Down a House is Feasible for You

Your property could be zoned for a three-story, 6 thousand square foot home. But right now, you’re looking at a ranch that couldn’t possibly fit your partner, the kiddos, and the pups. This ranch sits in the middle of the perfect school district with a price tag so low you have lots of wiggle room to make the home of your dreams. So what do you do? Ask yourself a few questions about the home you want to tear down for your new build:

  • Is this home too small for my family and this neighborhood?
  • Are the most important rooms and features out of date?
  • Is the home an energy-guzzler because of inefficient appliances or a damaged roof?
  • Do I have the budget and prefer entirely custom construction?

Have you answered mostly yeses? Then consider that your tear town has some built-in benefits like existing zoning. You already know your land is zoned for a single-family home, saving you time dealing with town permits, and we all know – time is money. Once you determine the specs on how much size you can build both out and up, you’ll also understand precisely how much value your property has. If that ranch is only costing you $350,000, but you could build a home that appraises over $1.5M, then that’s a couple of figures to consider. But we have more; it’s time to think about how to make the most of your new property’s value! 

What Factors Increase Property Value

If you’ve already picked a neighborhood based on the schools, the proximity to work, and a great downtown, then the next step is to check the comps. It’s a fancy-sounding term for finding out what other homes around the neighborhood have sold for recently. If you’re building something comparable to what’s on the market, then understanding what it goes for will help you establish if those figures are profitable for you in the long run. Since homes are generally estimated by the square foot, if you noticed a comparable property has 4k square feet, and it sold for $1.3M, you can divide that price by the total square footage of the home, making it $325/square foot. Keep in mind, if your dream home doesn’t compare, then bringing in an expert to help you assess those features that make your home stand out is your best bet. 

Plus, a considerable benefit your new build brings that mitigates the cost to tear down that house is simply that more modern homes appraise higher, to begin with. Usually, when you buy a home, you’re paying top dollar for the finishes and upgrades like a new roof or marble countertops. Rather than spend all of your money buying someone else’s finishes, you can guarantee fewer problems, less wear and tear, and no expiring appliance warranties by tearing down that older home in place of your new one. 

Demolition and How to Save

The last figure we want to bring your attention to is the cost of your demolition, which can be around $15,000 based on location, size of the home, etc. But one fantastic way to save and even recoup money is by selling valuable items in the house, cabinets, light fixtures, flooring, crown molding, windows, wood doors, heating, and cooling units, and even metal – especially copper – can rake in quite a chunk of cash. Another great way to save money is by making tax-deductible donations to local organizations that can help people use furniture and items you don’t need. 

This article will help you make the big decision to follow through with your tear down, but when you’re ready, have experts on your team who can help you navigate this detailed process.


Architecture Is Important! Here’s How To Communicate Exactly What You Want


photography by Lisa Russman

So you’ve decided to pursue a home remodel? Great! We know that this can be a stressful, exciting, confusing time, so we’re here to help you get through this as seamlessly as possible. Many of the breakdowns during this process come from simply not knowing what can come up, making communication impossible. Providing you with clarity on typical issues gives you access to clearly communicate with your architecture team. It is important to understand exactly how to do that, so we’ve broken it down for you.

Inspiration Board

Many times during the design phase, we encounter clients who know what they want but simply don’t know the terminology or how to describe it. One recommendation would be to take photos or save pictures of any ideas you come across, even when a home remodel is just a passing thought. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The more photos you have to show what you like and convey what your style aesthetic is, the more tailored your design will be for you and your family. Use Pinterest, for example, to create an inspiration board to capture what excites you. What kitchen design makes you want to stay home and cook for the family? Whatever it is, put it on the board!

Town Permits

As a homeowner, you should not be expected to know what your town allows, and if elements of the project scope require permits. This is where your architects come in. During the design process, recommended upgrades for your home should only be suggested if they are allowed by your town and it’s ordinances. As you move along in your home’s development, you should feel free to add to or inquire about your designs and how they fit within your town’s allowances.

Do You Have a Contingency?

Demolition can uncover a myriad of things that no one could have possibly detected. In such cases, it is important for you to have a contingency that is built into your budget. At the time same, you want to feel comfortable enough with your team that they will do everything possible to avoid such situations. During the initial walkthrough, analyze your house and get to know it as much as you can. Some things to look out for and ask your team about right away are any: ceiling stains, creaks in hardwood flooring, cracks in the walls, or cold spots near windows. 

Have a change of heart? Communicate Sooner than Later.

People change their minds and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Changes to your project’s scope are part of the industry and we welcome change. You want a team that you feel comfortable coming to with a change order. The only time this would become an issue is if the desire to make changes to the scope is if it is communicated too late. Remember, communication in architecture is important and go hand in hand, so speak up about any changes you would like to make as soon as possible.

You are a Decision-Maker!

This is a journey that we are taking together so we invite you to stay involved throughout the entire process. One way to stay in control of your design is to make decisions on the materials for your project. As you are provided with sample materials, feel free to ask questions about durability, cost per square foot, and long-term maintenance of the product. At the same time, don’t be afraid to choose a color, pattern, or texture that perfectly suits your unique aesthetic and style. Never feel like you have to choose something because it’s trendy or popular.

We hope that this article has answered some questions that were in the back of your mind as well as bring up some things that you didn’t know about this renovation process. It brings us joy to watch you freely and seamlessly participate in designing the home of your dreams.


nobody wants a home thats too noisy especially not nj architects

Nobody Wants a Home That’s Too Noisy – Especially Not NJ Architects

nobody wants a home thats too noisy especially not nj architects

photography by Lisa Russman

When you imagine your dream home, it’s not always exciting to dream about sound-proofing or the element of noise, right? Unless you have toddlers, then you’re probably pretty excited about this. But for most, the concept isn’t something many examine when it comes to building a new home. That’s why it is so crucial to work with a team of NJ architects who understand the science behind the noise and how to save you from it in the long term. We feel it’s critical to arm you with important details now so you can have a voice in every element of your home’s design. 


Noise Pollution 

First, let’s quickly break down one of the two main sources of noise so you can position your home to avoid external sources of the racket.

Outside noise otherwise known as noise pollution is a long term source of noise and is basically defined as the sound of anything unpleasant to your ears. Here’s a list of some of the sources:

  • Trains
  • Traffic
  • Cars, car horns
  • Airports
  • Buses
  • Stadiums
  • Firehouses
  • Police stations
  • Schools
  • College
  • Church or any large gathering place
  • Fast food restaurants

It’s important to know about these outside noise sources so when you build your home you can position it in such a way to avoid hearing as much of it as possible. Here are a few things you can talk to NJ architects about.

Positioning. Knowing where these sources of noise are in relation to your property can help your architecture team know where to place your windows to mitigate that problem right away. They can also place outdoor appliances like your HVAC unit or pool pump away from bedrooms and quiet spaces with a well thought out plan. Keeping the garage and the driveway on the opposite side of where the bedrooms are located whenever possible is also a good best-practice for minimizing the impact of sound. 

Materials. There are various substances that can sound-deaden, refract, or reflect sound, and even absorb sound. Having a conversation with your team of professionals about this at the beginning of your journey will save you time and frustration later and allow them to navigate this potential challenge from day one. 

Airborne Noise

Now you have a fancy term for all of the sounds that take place inside your home – and your neighbors’ homes for that matter, airborne noises. Here are just some examples:


  • Appliance sounds
  • TV playing
  • Music
  • Floors creaking
  • HVAC 
  • Pools

And there are coinciding impact noises like doors banging, furniture scraping, etc. You may not have considered the overall volume in your neighborhood, so we suggest visiting at different times of the day. Maybe you’ll catch the sounds of a party, the hum of various dryers running, or the notes of laughter from neighboring children at play. Just notice what you hear so you can report back to your home design team. Here’s where the good news starts! There are practically unlimited ways to mitigate the noise.

Fences. Sound deadening can start in your landscape design. Solid wood fencing or cement or brick masonry walls tend to be some of the best materials for blocking out noise. Plus, they can still honor the overall look you want your home to embody. If you’re going green wherever possible, you can opt for a privacy wall made of shrubs or trees like hollies, junipers, or evergreen shrubs. 

Arrangement. If you have a teenager then insulation is important. From foam to wood-fiber panels to decorative acoustic panels, your options are vast. Plan on keeping their room away from younger children, even though it’s a somewhat short-term need, it’s one we don’t recommend taking lightly.  

From airflow noise to blaring bass notes, where there’s a chance that noise could interfere with the peace of your home – there is a solution! The best NJ architects know how to build you a home that keeps in the joy and keeps out the noise.

Why Newly Built, Custom Homes Can Change Your Mind on What a House Can Be

When Your Family Expands, So Can Your Home – Second Story Additions Are More Cost-Effective Than You Think

Why Newly Built, Custom Homes Can Change Your Mind on What a House Can Be

photography by Lisa Russman

Every day you’re reminded you need more space in your home, as you bump elbows with hubby in the kitchen, crack goes another egg. Don’t forget the maddening daily hunt for your kid’s favorite toys because there’s not enough storage! And the list goes on. Needless to say, you’re thinking about expanding and we’re here to show you how second-story additions are more cost-effective than you think!

Customization & Increased Value

Just think, moving your entire herd – kids, pets, holiday totes from the garage – to a bigger home where you’ll probably need to make some changes. The thought is tiring enough, right? You don’t need a bigger home, you need a custom second story addition where you can design it based on your current family structure and future needs! 

The customizations are limitless. You can really dig into your aesthetic as well as your family’s spatial needs by custom-crafting your addition. As your family grows you might be craving natural sunlight to brighten your space. Consider implementing dormers into your second story addition so your kid’s playroom can be light and bright! It also means your second story isn’t a plain rectangle box. Your curb appeal goes way up as your home’s height is doubled with interesting pitched angles. Other fun ways to boost your curb appeal include overhangs, balconies, and refined trim details. 

In the end, having a brand new, fully waterproofed roof also means bonus savings for you in the way of energy efficiency. You can additionally install new HVAC units in your second story addition which is far more efficient than splitting your current unit to now have to cover double the square footage. Plus, the value you’ll be adding to your home increases as you add lots more square footage of livable space.

When you get down to it, you’re creating a custom home without the costs and the timeline of starting from scratch.

As Compared to Moving

If you were to compare to the cost of moving you have to start with the finances and end with the most important factor, your well being. There’s the cost of materials to box and bag up everything you and your family own. Then hire a moving company or rental moving truck. Then add up the time you spend packing. Don’t forget you have to plan to keep certain items out, clothes for the kids, toys, dog food, snacks, etc. 

Before you arrive at your new home you need to coordinate and hire a team to make any changes to the new space that your family needs. When all is said and done, you’re spending a lot of time, money, and energy on a new home but not on a custom home that you have personally designed. Don’t step into someone else’s dream when you can have upstairs be a spitting image of what you’ve had in mind for – let’s face it – quite some time. 

Save on Other Renovation Projects

We saved the best for last! You can also plan on tackling first floor renovations like taking walls down from old bedrooms to make a large den. Or blow out the dining room to create that chef’s kitchen of your dreams. Once you already have a team of architects, engineers, and contractors on-site, it actually costs less to undertake your list of projects. The labor and materials costs are already being accounted for, so adding to the budget versus having to start from scratch is a great cost-saving. 

Think about it, your second story is likely being built to house extra bedrooms including an exquisite master bedroom. So now, the first story can be opened up with endless possibilities for how you want to re-work the flow of your home. Consider renewing the paint or siding on your home to ensure the outside is updated, free of leaks/cracks, and that your second story addition matches your first. 

We hope to have pleasantly surprised you with the real cost-savings that a second story addition can bring to you and your growing family!

Home Building on a Budget? The Best House Materials for the Least Cost Per Square Foot

Home Building on a Budget? The Best House Materials for the Least Cost Per Square Foot

Home Building on a Budget? The Best House Materials for the Least Cost Per Square Foot

photography by Lisa Russman

When building a home on a budget, be sure to discuss house material cost per square foot with your architect from the very beginning. While lumber, stone, and brick are classic, reliable options, many alternative building materials can help to lower the cost of your home during construction and into the future.  

It is also important to remember that house material cost per square foot is just one part of the total equation. There are many variables to consider when deciding which materials you’ll use to build your home. For example, how long are the chosen materials expected to last? What maintenance will the materials require and when? What climates and amounts of natural light can they withstand? How earth-friendly and sustainable are the materials used? Is energy-efficiency and lower utility bills important to you? And, how will the chosen materials affect the labor and construction time needed?

While there are many questions to consider, don’t fret! There are plenty of options that will work for you and your home budget.

House Material Cost Per Square Foot (and Even Lower Cost Alternatives)

In New Jersey, the most common and least expensive house material is lumber. Due to its ease of use, homes with lumber framing are more quickly constructed with lower labor costs.

Also, when considering home finishes such as flooring, reclaimed timber can be even more cost-effective, as old timber is less likely to warp or split. This option is also environmentally friendly!

New Jersey homes are also popular for brick homes, brick siding and interior brick finishes. While slightly more expensive to use than lumber, brick is much more durable and creates both rustic and modern aesthetics when featured properly.

Concrete is not often an option New Jersey home builders consider, but its house material cost per square foot for foundations, framing and even siding can be quite low in the long run. In fact, the cost to construct a home using insulating concrete forms is only slightly higher than if a home builder were to use wooden framing. Durable, customizable, and low maintenance, concrete won’t sprout mold or mildew, saves on heating and cooling bills, and can even lower home insurance costs because it can withstand several natural disasters.

To achieve the concrete look for even less, some home builders have also been warming to the idea of concrete sheets, which are quick to install, sound suppressing, insulating, and weatherproof.

Another incredibly popular option for siding in New Jersey is natural stone due to its rustic yet modern aesthetic and durability. However, because it is more expensive than other options, stone veneer can be used instead to reduce the cost of labor and materials.

Vinyl siding is another great option. It is tricky because traditionally it has looked cheap, though these days, there is much better-looking vinyl siding coming out and you still can’t beat the price. 

Fiber cement is composed of wood fibers that are glued together with cement and very good at simulating traditional wood clapboard and shingle siding. It’s not much less expensive compared to natural wood, but fiber cement lasts ‘forever’ and often carries long manufacturer warranties on color. It’s worth looking into.

Lastly, any home using prefabricated panels as opposed to building on-site will reduce costs by 10 to 20 percent. Quick, cost-effective, customizable, and flexible, prefabricated panels can often eliminate material cost overruns, delayed construction due to weather, and on-site waste removal costs.  

Consider Long-Term Costs When Building a Home

House material cost per square foot is, of course, greatly affected by the quality of both construction and materials sourced. However, on average, New Jersey homes can cost up to $160 per square foot when all is said and done, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

That is why it is important to speak with your architect not only about commodity pricing when it comes to using materials such as concrete and lumber, but also what is appropriate to use for your lifestyle, the climate in which you live, and your local building codes.

Opt for an Interior Design that Creates Flexible Home Work Space

Purchased a Ranch-Style Starter Home? No, You Don’t Need to Move – You Need a Second Story Addition!

Opt for an Interior Design that Creates Flexible Home Work Space

Photography by Lisa Russman

Maybe you’ve got another baby on the way; maybe your parents are moving in after retiring; or, maybe you adopted a puppy that grew way bigger than you ever anticipated!

Whatever the reason, space in your home has become a limited commodity, and you need more of it. Still, you love your location – but so does everyone else! Relocating to a larger home within the same neighborhood might prove difficult, but you don’t necessarily need to move. Instead, you should consider building a second story addition!

Why a Second-Story Addition May Be Right for You

There are many reasons why a second story addition may be the more practical and economical choice when it comes to deciding whether to stay or move from your current home.

First, a second story addition can increase the value of your home by more than half while also increasing available space, especially if you plan to stay in the home for several years. Many homeowners also take advantage of the ongoing construction to heighten first floor ceilings as well to further increase home value.

Then, if your home sits on a smaller lot, expanding your home vertically will not only add property value but also potential bedrooms and bathrooms without taking up any more space outside. That means your outdoor garden or your children’s swing set will remain untouched!

All in all, a second story addition will typically cost between $250 and $500 per square foot, depending on the materials used and how complicated it will be to build upon your current home.

Before You Build A Second Story Addition

Know, however, that there are several factors that may make the decision to stay or move from your current home for you.

For example, your home’s foundation and bone structure must be able to support a second story addition, and you must also be permitted to add a second story by your local government zoning office.

Additionally, some homes are simply not designed well for additional stories. That is why it is important to work with an architect when considering adding more space. For example, ranch homes typically handle second story additions quite well, but bungalows can be more challenging to navigate.

Next, you must consider the “extra” costs to your long-term investment. Your heating and cooling bills and property taxes are likely to increase. Are you able to budget for these additional costs, too?

If the answer is yes, your final consideration will be regarding your own limits. The design and engineering process can take up to six months alone, with construction potentially keeping you out of your home for a year longer. Do you have up to two years to devote to this project? Are you able to stay with friends or relatives while your second story addition is being built? Or, if you are permitted to live inside your home during construction, how will the dust, construction noise, and frequent disruptions to plumbing and electricity affect your day-to-day life and mental wellbeing?

Many homeowners are happy with their decision to build a second story addition, so don’t be deterred – just be prepared!

Consider Your Options

A second story addition, while as stressful as finding and purchasing a new home, is an option available to you when working with the right architect and contractors. In the end, the closing costs involved with selling your home and buying a new one with the space you need may end up equaling what it would take to stay in a home and a neighborhood you love with a second story addition.

why architecture is important and how your home contributes

Why Architecture Is Important – And How Your Home Contributes

why architecture is important and how your home contributes

photography by Lisa Russman

To create the spaces in which we live, work and play, architects focus on more than design – they’re also mindful of economies, natural environments, political climates and more to deliver the best behavioral, physical, and financial outcomes for inhabitants. 

Architecture is important because it also tells stories. Everything from the layout of a home to the building materials used is a reflection of the time and culture in which it was built.

We learn a lot from historical structures, such as the narrow staircases and light-reducing arrowslits in European stone castles – that must not have been easy to navigate, but it shows how inhabitants valued protection and legacy over comfort! 

We also can learn a lot about the future from Architecture. Why are tiny homes growing more popular? Why are “yurts” making a comeback? The answers reveal a lot about how society today utilizes natural resources and values mobility over permanence. 

When building a home, it’s important to keep in mind why architecture is important, what your home says about you now, and what it might teach others about you later!

Home Layout And Materials Matter To Society 

The flexibility, flow, and format of each home not only determine one’s daily productivity and interactivity – but they also can serve as “branding” for who you are and how you operate. 

When you visit a new friend’s home, what’s the first thing you notice? Size! We instantly feel we learn something about one’s lifestyle based on how small or large one’s home is. 

Then, when inside the home, you might notice bamboo flooring they’ve installed or high-efficiency heating and cooling systems they’ve invested in. You might then assume how environmentally conscious they are or how long they plan to stay. 

The attribute that most often goes unnoticed, however, is the style of the home – which accurately reflects much more! 

Architecture is important because while historical homes in the Garden State vary greatly in design, home builders in New Jersey have lots of room to explore.  

For example, if you live in a Cape Cod colonial, you might enjoy family dinners by the fireplace and the comfort of second-floor bedrooms. If you renovate a Grand Anne Victorian, you might like reading on a porch and intricate design.  Or, if you build a contemporary home with open floor plans, though more minimalist and modern, you might be more community-oriented. 

How Functionality Creates Culture 

Why is architecture important? How we design our homes expresses who we are! Are we creative or reserved? Do we lead organized or organic lives? Are we well-traveled or homebodies? Our homes can tell!  

The functionality of each space also shares the story of who we are, what we do, and how we interact with others. For example, the desire for a mudroom or finished basement might indicate young children with active lifestyles, whereas the addition of a raised outdoor deck suggests homeowners who like to entertain guests. 

A home also speaks to one’s level of security. Do you pull your car into a garage or are you comfortable leaving it in the driveway? Do you prefer window shutters that can be opened or closed? 

Your home’s front exterior can be the most telling. Are there walkways and yard lamps leading up to your home? Is the door tall and imposing or classic and charming? It’s amazing how simple it can be to determine how guests are made to feel when visiting and it’s important to know how others might be encouraged or discouraged from entering your space. 

When building a home, communicate with your architect about why architecture is important to you and what you want your home to say about you and the world you live in today!

Window shopping? new jersey architects weigh in on window designs

Window Shopping? New Jersey Architects Weigh in on Window Designs

Window shopping? new jersey architects weigh in on window designs

photography by Lisa Russman

When building a home in New Jersey, you want to make sure the windows that keep your family safe also reflect your interior and exterior design preferences. The good news is NJ architects have many options to choose from when installing windows! Some maximize light while others promote flow, but the most important elements to keep in mind are function, safety, and design for East Coast living.

“Classic” Window Styles

Single-hung and double-hung windows, the most common and economical window types used by NJ architects, slide vertically, with both stashes able to be moved (and more easily cleaned) on double-hung windows. In cottage windows, the upper sash is shorter than the lower.

Slider windows operate much like double-hung windows, yet open horizontally and typically provide more unobstructed views to complement more contemporary New Jersey architecture.

Casement windows, hinged to open at the side, create tighter seals than double-hung and slider windows and are therefore ideal for colder climates and harder-to-reach locations, such as over sinks.

However, if natural light is most important, bay windows are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. While more expensive, these angular, multi-plane windows project out from the wall to increase viewing areas and create additional space inside the home, including window seating or shelving. Most also include side windows that can be opened. Bow windows are bay windows that create a smooth curve rather than angles in the exterior and interior of your home.

Windows for Every Function

New Jersey architects know how home builds and renovations vary drastically across the region. That’s why there are windows specifically designed for tight spaces and fickle climates, too.

Awning windows, for example, are hinged at the top to open outward – even in light rain or snow. Like casement windows, awning windows provide excellent insulation and ventilation options, while hopper windows, which open inward, make efficient use of small spaces in bathrooms, basements or closets. 

However, if you need both more shelving and natural light, garden windows, or box-style windows, extend outside exterior walls for maximum viewing and are ideal spots to grow indoor plants.

Lastly, skylight installations, while more expensive, are a good option for natural light and ventilation when exterior wall space is limited.

Aesthetic-Only Window Designs

Windows are a great way for NJ architects to add design elements to your home!

Picture windows, for example, create dramatic aesthetics and unobstructed views while filling rooms with natural light, while arched windows give New Jersey architects a way to vary architecture design by adding rounded tops to standard windows.

There are also accent windows to make your home design pop while letting in more light. Radial windows (semi- or full circles) and geometric windows (triangles, diamonds, trapezoids and more) are statement-makers, while transom windows (typically square) can help break up or accentuate door and window designs in unique ways.

Safety First

While design and function are extremely important, you must also consider your family’s safety.

Storm windows, or exterior windows installed in the same frame as current windows, are typically installed by New Jersey architects due to the region’s prevalence for hurricanes. The additional layer also blocks drafts and prevents heat loss during cold weather months.

Egress windows, often required by code, provide escape routes in attics or basements while also increasing light and ventilation.

Both window types provide great ways to increase the value of your home while keeping your family secure.

The cost of windows varies based on design, size, materials, and glass, with labor rates fluctuating based on location. Still, when building a home in New Jersey, there are many options to choose from – especially when working with knowledgeable NJ architects!


What NJ Architects Are Saying About How to Incorporate the Latest Smart Home Tools and Designs


photography by Lisa Russman

Whether you are building a new home, adding on to your existing house, or looking to remodel, upgrading to smart home technology can improve your life and lower your bills. Residential architects in NJ are using these tools more frequently in their designs as consumers see the value they add. What are smart home tools, and how can they be incorporated into the design and build of your home? 

Understanding Smart Home Tools and Technology

Smart devices are those that connect to each other or the wider world via the internet. When appliances, gadgets, and other technology can send information, take specific commands, and communicate, then life becomes more comfortable and your home runs more efficiently. Today, smart tools include everything from lights to doorbells, from appliances to clocks.

These types of features allow for home automation, which enables you to control various features and functions in your home with just the press of a button. Say you are playing with your kids but need to get dinner started. Smart technologies can allow you to start appliances, like a stove or crockpot using an enabled device, like your phone, from wherever you may be. Life in New Jersey is busy, these technologies can make your life easier.

What Smart Tools do New Jersey Architecture Firms Recommend?

We love technology that makes your life easier, helps you save money, and keeps your attention where you want it to be, which is making memories, not managing your house. The best smart tools are those that complement your lifestyle and automate tasks that take up time in your regular schedule. For example, if you have a pet, then investing in a smart feeder ensures that your four-legged friend gets fed on time while managing his portions. It can even order more food for you when you are running low.

Other smart design features cater to your entire home and can help save you money, too. A Wi-fi enabled, learning thermostat can make sure that you and your loved ones stay comfortable, that your house is protected from harsh weather, and that your utilities remain low. You can control the temperature of your home from wherever you are, which means you can keep the temperature low when no one is home and adjust the system using your phone as you head back home. Smart thermostats also alert you to potential problems, so you don’t have to wait until your pipes burst to find out your furnace when out. 

Also, New Jersey architecture increasingly includes smart technologies that control and monitor home security. Smart locks can allow children, neighbors, or trusted friends into your home via keypad or smartphone without the need to share keys. Indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras can help you keep an eye on your home and loved ones when you are away, too. 

Smart lighting allows you to control the lights in your home from your enabled device, including when you aren’t home. The latest offerings in this category even enable you to program the brightness and color of each bulb, so you can have the exact ambiance you want in each room. And you won’t have to come home to a dark house ever again!

Smart technologies are available to help you manage your sprinkler system, to control the heating and air vents in every room of your home, to detect leaks in at-risk areas of your house, and to open and close blinds for light and privacy. You can even find smart versions of kitchen gadgets and small appliances, as well as larger electronics like refrigerators and stoves. 

Talk with your residential architect about how smart home technologies can improve your home’s design and function and what value they can offer to your family.