Snore Rooms: A New Home Answer to Sleeping Troubles

Snore Rooms

With new homes, custom options such as snore rooms are a great way to address daily troubles.

By Drew Knight

It’s a problem that many home shoppers are embarrassed to admit: they have a hard time sleeping because their partners are snorers.

While the issue itself is nothing to be ashamed of, we all should enjoy a good night’s rest. Luckily for new home shoppers, there’s a simple solution. So before you kick your loved ones to the curb, listen up.

The answer? Snore rooms.

Visbeen Architects, a national architecture firm who has worked with homebuilders like Pulte Homes and David Weekley Homes, has started to include these spaces in houses for some of their special clients.

“Snore rooms tend to be things people are incredibly sensitive about,” says Visbeen Architects President Wayne Visbeen. “So many times during the building process I talk to clients very subtly about sleeping habits and I make it easy for them to talk about it.”

And what he has discovered is that many clients interested in these so-called snore rooms are open to the concept, but don’t want to make it obvious that one of them snores. Thus, Visbeen ushers in the art of disguise.

“What we do to disguise snore rooms is create a little sitting area, a reading nook, a room with a TV or a daybed-type of scenario out of the bedroom itself as a snoring room or snore niche,” says Visbeen. “So even when people visit the home and see it, they won’t know it’s actually a snore room.”

Another option Visbeen Architects provides is to connect a library, den or sitting room to the owner’s suite, as well as to another area of the home like a hallway or foyer so that during the day that room is experienced as just that. Yet, during sleeping hours, the doors to that space can be closed and a hidden sofa bed can be revealed for that noisy sleeper.

“Those rooms are very wise uses of space because, frankly, you end up with one space with multi purposes — a cost-savings room with two purposes,” adds Visbeen.

And that, folks, is one of the beauties of buying a newly built home. Today, more than ever, homebuilders are catering to you to deliver a product that suits your wants and needs, no matter how unusual the option.

“We create a lot of unique spaces, whether it’s home management centers or rooms that change uses,” says Visbeen. “We’re offering up solutions for every part of life when we build a home.”

Even if you and your partner are lucky enough that neither of you are snorers, there’s still a lesson to be learned here: If there’s an issue that’s pestering your current living situation, never hesitate to discuss it with your builder. You never know when a simple solution could be hiding in plain sight.

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for New Home Source.

Posted in Custom Homes, New Home Design | Leave a comment

OK, Google, We’re Ready for Google Home

Google Home

Google Home, a personal assistant device, was released today during Google’s Hardware Event. Photo: Google

By Patricia L. Garcia

OK Google, let’s roll! The much-anticipated Google Home is finally here.

Announced at today’s Google’s Hardware Event, the software (and now hardware) company revealed that it has an answer to Amazon’s Echo and it’s ready to ship Nov. 4. Think of Google Home as Google Now on steroids.

The voice-activated personal assistant is $129, which comes with a free six-month trial of YouTube red. The sleek Bluetooth-enabled device comes in several colors, with fabric or metal speakers and works with your Google account, making it easy to access things like your Google calendar. There’s not a lot of hardware on the device, aside from a touch-sensitive top you can use to change the volume or to pause music or podcasts.

According to Google, you can use the device to:

  • enjoy entertainment, such as streaming music throughout your home or listening to your favorite podcast;
  • get answers by asking questions about, well, just about anything;
  • manage tasks like setting alarms or verbally add items to shopping lists;
  • plan your day by searching and asking more about local businesses or get status updates on upcoming flights and
  • control your home with short phrases (our favorite use-case from Google suggests “Get these kids off my lawn” to turn on automated sprinklers).

Of course, there are many more practical – and impractical – ways to utilize Google Home. A highlight of the device is the ability to easily connect to other smart home devices in the home, like Chromecast and Nest, which Google owns.

The very forgetful music lover in me loves Home’s ability to spin up songs you might have forgotten the name of – as an example, during the press event, Google asked Home to play the Shakira song from Zootopia. Home played “Try Everything.”

No word yet on any security issues that may come from using the personal assistant, nor any word on how Home will handle a household with more than one Google account – this is something that annoys me about my car. Sometimes it’ll immediately connect to my phone; others, it’s searching for my husband’s phone.

If this device can manage any quirks of many voice-recognition devices (“I said call Alice, phone; not Alex!”), Home will be a welcome addition to the swath of personal home assistants on the market.

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App of the Month: Housepad – A Home for Your Home

Screenshot of Housepad app

Our App of the Month, Housepad, could be the tool that solves all of your housekeeping woes. (Photo courtesy of Housepad)

By Drew Knight

Are you having a hard time juggling housekeeping between your spouse, kids and hired help? The easiest solution might be found tucked away in your pocket right now.

Designed to help you “love going home,” the Housepad App for smart phones and tablets is a home organization tool that has just about everything you and your family need to keep things running smoothly in your new home.

Once you create an account, the Housepad interface allows you to add family or staff members by name manually or directly from your contact list into your “residence,” where everyone can see updates, to-do list assignments, photos of how things are supposed to look and even stored emergency contact information like doctors and veterinarians.

Great for assigning chores, Housepad also has a “To-Do” list feature. Anyone you invite to your household network can be assigned a task and will be notified when it happens. You can also see exactly when tasks have been read or completed, so there’s no excuses if your kids’ chores haven’t been finished when they’re working toward that allowance.

To keep track of how you like your home to look, you can create a “Lookbook.” To do so, make a quick run-through of your home, snapping photos along the way and organizing them by room. Then save it all in your Lookbook, where family members or home employees can see a database of how things are meant to be, from how the bed is supposed to be made to where kitchen utensils are stored.

Housepad is also great for keeping inventory for all of your household items. Your inventory will be easily accessible with options to add care instructions, dimensions, conditions, invoices and images for each item if you so desire. You can also transfer items from one home network to another, always knowing where your things are if you travel between residences.

Don’t want every user having access to all of this info? Users can be granted varying ranges of access to your data, ranging from full access to a limited access of your choosing.

Finally, there’s also a chat feature that’s perfect for quick and easy conversation. If you feel like checking in on uncompleted task, chat allows you to send a direct message to a certain user. Feel like thanking your team for a job well done? Chat can do that too.

Housepad is the perfect solution to help keep everything clean and in place after you move in to your new home. Available on both IOS and Android operating systems, it’s home maintenance made easy.

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for New Home Source.

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Report Unveils Trends Among First-Time Homebuyers

First-Time Homebuyers

A survey conducted by TD Bank has found that a majority of Millennial homebuyers plan to purchase a home within the next two years.

By Drew Knight

The market for first-time homebuyers is ever changing, as are the wants and needs in the homes they’re shopping for.

And the same goes for the economy. As the economy shifts, the buying process shifts as well, affecting the homes first-time homebuyers can afford and the locations where they can buy them.

TD Bank, a banking service based on the East Coast, recently hosted a study evaluating more than 1,000 Americans looking to purchase a first home within the next five years, what kind of homes they’re shopping for and the factors affecting their decisions to buy.

The findings? Millennials are a bit more conservative with their finances than some might believe, as nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they are still saving up to purchase their home. The survey also found that 63 percent of Millennials are considering a purchase within the next two years.

Here are a few more highlights:

Millennials Know Their Priorities

The key preferences survey participants mentioned include:

Move-in-ready homes: 75 percent of those looking to purchase their first home are interested in move-in ready homes.

Suburban life: 43 percent are looking to purchase their first home in a suburban area, while only 20 percent are seeking out big city or metro areas.

Childcare: 57 percent of Millennial homebuyers indicated a close proximity to childcare was important.

Backyard or pool: 60 percent of respondents are most interested in their first home having a backyard or pool.

Going green: 48 percent are looking for smart home and energy-efficient technologies.

Mortgage Rates are Heavily Influential

Among all of those surveyed, 77 percent cited mortgage rates as the most important factor when purchasing a home.

The survey also found that 17 percent of first-time buyers have yet to set aside money for unexpected home costs, which sometimes appear during the mortgage process.

“The costs of running a household can be a shock to new homeowners,” says Scott Haymore, head of pricing and secondary markets at TD Bank. “Monthly expenses for utilities, homeowner’s association fees and cable and Internet can add up quickly. Factoring these in at the beginning of the mortgage process can help borrowers assess their overall budget and determine a realistic monthly mortgage payment.”

The Down Payment is a Major Hurdle

The down payment might even be more influential.

In fact, 74 percent of those surveyed listed the down payment as the most significant obstacle in achieving homeownership. At the same time, 65 percent of all consumers indicated that saving for a down payment is delaying their decision to buy a new home.

The survey found that more Americans (about 33 percent) are putting less than 20 percent down on a home and 37 percent of first-time buyers plan to take advantage of mortgage affordability programs.

“For many consumers, a 20 percent down payment is a major barrier to homeownership,” Haymore says. “It’s often difficult to save this much cash, especially for young adults saddled with substantial student loan debt. First-time buyers are shopping for low-down-payment mortgage programs, which allow buyers to put as little as 3 percent down.”

Additional highlights from TD Bank’s second annual First-Time Homebuyer Pulse are available at


Drew Knight is a digital content associate for New Home Source.

Posted in Buying a New Home | 2 Comments

Gadget of the Month: FLARE Smart Security System

FLARE Security System

BuddyGuard’s FLARE smart security system uses high-tech sensors to distinguish the homeowner from invaders.

By Amy Olivarez

No matter what neighborhood you live in, your family’s safety is a priority. With the current growth of smart home technology, why not apply it to keeping your home — and family — safe?

If you have a security system or know someone who does, then you must be all too familiar with the rush to disarm the system as soon as you get inside your home. This new smart home security system, FLARE, takes away that daily dramatic step, but gives peace of mind that your home is safe and sound.

A Smarter Security System

The FLARE smart security system by BuddyGuard is built with a 1080p HD camera and microphone, enabling it with face and voice recognition technology, which allows the system to immediately recognize the homeowners, as well as know when to react to intruders.

When an intruder is detected, FLARE responds with a siren and noises to sound as if someone is home. The system will alert the homeowners of any suspicious activity in the house, like if someone tampers with the device. If the owners don’t respond, an alert is sent to an emergency contact; if they don’t respond, then local authorities are notified. This three-phase alert system prevents any embarrassing false alarms with authorities, as well as ensures an alert to emergency contacts in the case of an intrusion.

The 4.3-inch, disk-shaped device is meant to be placed near the main entrance of the home. With its high-tech camera, it records and saves images of entrances on an online database.

Flare is currently available in Europe, but will be released worldwide in November. The security system is estimated to cost around $349.

If you’re looking for a way to make your home safer, FLARE is an easy investment to do just that.

Amy Olivarez is a digital content intern for New Home Source.

Posted in Buying a New Home, Gadget of the Month, Home Entertainment & Automation | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Latest Outdoor Living Trends: Functional and Efficient

outdoor living trends

The Entertainer model at Maracay Homes’ Victory at Verrado, an active-adult community in Buckeye, Ariz. This floor plan features a breezeway connected by stackable glass doors to create a true indoor/outdoor living arrangement.

By Amy Olivarez

After a long day, do you love to lounge around your patio or backyard? The latest outdoor living trends do just that, with a focus on functionality and efficiency.

According to Elise Goodell, marketing manager for Maracay Homes, current outdoor living trends include designing harmony in indoor/outdoor living spaces, utilizing natural landscaping and functional pool features.

“We will continue to see an upward trend in functional outdoor spaces, from larger open areas with plenty of comfortable seating to grand kitchen areas featuring elaborate cooking islands, sinks, refrigerators and even brick ovens,” says Goodell.

Harmony Inside and Out

Since more homes are being designed to bring harmony to the interior and exterior of a home, homebuyers are using their outdoor spaces more than ever before.

“Buyers want the outdoor space to be an extension of their home, offering the same privacy, comfort and functionality of the home’s interior,” says Goodell. “For starters, they want welcoming front porches and large backyards with covered patios for relaxing with friends and family. But they also want the amenities to go along with the space, including cozy furniture, high-end appliances, fire bowls and plenty of light.”

Goodell says that Maracay Homes has also seen a trend in side, interior patios and courtyards. These spaces offer privacy, as well as a space for the family to enjoy the outdoors.

Native Landscaping

Along with integrating harmony between the interior and exterior spaces, utilizing natural plant life in landscaping is also a major trend in outdoor spaces.

Using plants native to the land complements the charm of the natural environment, while at the same time preserving natural resources.

“We’re seeing a decline in traditional lawns and a rise in drought-tolerant and native plant arrangements, not only for sustainable reasons but also for the low-maintenance aspect,” says Goodell. “These days, more and more people are interested in protecting the environment. And families that are busy with both parents working often don’t have time to take care of a lawn.”

Functional Pool Features

Another outdoor trend is swimming pools, but with more functionality in the design of the pool and its accompanying features.

“Raised pool decks have become popular for buyers looking to add seating,” says Goodell. “Swim-up bars that connect to an outdoor kitchen/bar area, tile decks and glass tile decorative walls, fountains and layered pool sections with horizon overflows and knife edges also are popular choices.”

If you often escape to nature when life gets too hectic, dive in to your very own outdoor space.

Amy Olivarez is a digital content intern for New Home Source.

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Texas 4000 Riders Bike to Help Fight Cancer

Texas 4000 Riders Bike More Than 4,000 Miles to Help Fight Cancer

Rows of bikes fill the Builder Homesite Inc. facilities on Friday, June 3, as Texas 4000 riders prepare for the 70-day ride from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska, to help raise awareness and money for cancer research.

By Amy Olivarez

Each year, they gather in the heat of the summer, bicycling more than 4,000 miles through parts of the Mojave Desert, the Rocky Mountains and the Ozarks.

They make this harrowing journey to spread awareness and hope and to raise contributions for cancer research. They are the Texas 4000 riders.

This summer, the Texas 4000 cyclists — all students from the University of Texas at Austin (UT) — go on the 70-day journey for the 12th year from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska. This year, their goal is to raise $825,000. As of day 48, when they stopped in Longview, Wash., they have raised $557,007.

The Texas 4000 ride is not only important to the Austin community and the nation, but also to Builder Homesite Inc. (BHI). Employees of BHI, New Home Source’s parent company, have been involved with the organization for several years. That led to the company becoming a sponsor of the annual ride.

Texas 4000 2016

According to, the organization was started by University of Texas engineering students, Chris and Mandy Condit, in 2004. Chris is a cancer survivor himself, diagnosed at age 11 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Texas 4000 is Chris’s way of continuing the fight against cancer and helping others. The non-profit organization has become the longest annual charity bike in the world, raising more than $7 million in contributions for cancer research.

Every year, a select group of UT students are chosen to participate in the Texas 4000 ride. The chosen riders often have one thing in common: not cycling experience, but a passion to fight cancer. This passion often comes from family or friends being affected by the illness, or sometimes through surviving cancer themselves.

BHI and Texas 4000

Over the past several years, BHI has become more involved with Texas 400 because it complemented two of the company’s core values: philanthropy and wellness.

BHI Senior Vice President Melissa Morman has been involved with the organization for a few years and ultimately joined the Texas 4000 board of directors. Morman says BHI’s involvement with the group is a great way to expose employees to the world of philanthropy and the importance of giving back.

“Texas 4000 especially resonates with us because it is a great cause; as everyone is affected by cancer either personally, through a family member or a friend,” says Morman. “So we love that not only does Texas 4000 raise money and awareness around cancer prevention and research, they also turn out around 80 young people each year who are very philanthropic and prepared to take on anything in life. The ripple effect of developing these young people each year is very exciting.”

Every year, Morman organizes a “send-off” party for the riders, their family members and local community supporters. For the last three years, the party included a sleepover in BHI’s headquarters, a former health club and gym. The company provided food, drinks, music and entertainment from the University of Texas alumni band.

Get Involved

There are several ways for cyclists and non-cyclists alike to become involved with the Texas 4000:

  1. Support a rider. Each rider needs to raise a minimum dollar amount before embarking on the ride, though it’s not too late to donate to an individual rider:
  2. Join the Atlas send-off bike ride. Beginners, their families and friends can participate in riding various distances. If you were unable to attend this year’s ride, learn how to get involved:
  3. Volunteer through BHI. Work at the BHI Texas 4000 events or volunteer directly with Texas 4000. Leave a comment below if you’d like to help with next year’s event.
  4. Attend the annual gala fund raising event. Each August, a gala fundraising event is held to welcome the riders back home and celebrate their achievements. This year’s gala will be Aug. 27 at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin:

The passion, determination and hard work that the Atlas Riders demonstrate makes this notable cause one of a kind. That’s why Builder Homesite Inc. is proud to support the Texas 4000.


Amy Olivarez is a digital content intern for New Home Source.

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