Rooms with a View–Capturing Views in Your Custom Home

My home here in Utah was built on sensible, mostly flat land below the nearby mountain, where small children learning to ride their bikes don’t have the possibility of flying off the side of a cliff. Having grown up in the flat lands of Nebraska, combined with a fear of heights, I never understood the desire of some home buyers to live on the side of a mountain. That is, until I saw the views from some of those spectacular hillside lots.

When you build a custom home, you have the opportunity to design and build a home that takes advantage of whatever wonderful views your chosen building lot may offer. Make sure that when you meet with your architect, home designer, or home builder to plan your new home, you keep those views in mind. Locate rooms, windows, and patios where you can see and enjoy that city skyline, the gorgeous snow-capped mountain, or an amazing sunset or sunrise.

Here is how some have captured a view.

Custom Home Downtown Condo 015

These condo owners used floor to ceiling windows when they built their condo in a high-rise building in downtown Salt Lake City.

Nelson View

Another home owner situated their hillside home built by DaVinci Homes so that they have this sweeping view of the Salt Lake valley from their great room, kitchen, master bedroom, deck, and even the basement.

Sienna view 3

DaVinci Homes is currently building a home in Eagle Mountain, Utah.  This available home has popular Mount Timpanogos spotlighted in the views out the back of the home.  The master, great room, kitchen, and covered deck all enjoy this view.

Even if you don’t have natural wonders outside your windows, like me, you can plan for future views with gardens, water-features, and other landscape features that you can enjoy from both inside and outside your new home. Happy viewing!

What is your favorite view?

Fall view from window       View of Barn       Flowers through window                Snowy mountain view










Would You Rather . . . ? for Custom Homes


When I drove my daughter Amy to her dance classes, she loved to play a game called “Would You Rather…?” For those of you not familiar with this game, she would give me 2 options to choose from, but they were never good choices. Usually they were something like, “Would you rather get eaten by a shark or get trapped in a burning house?” (What kind of choice is that?) Or, “Would you rather eat 100 smashed slugs or . . . (you fill in the blank with the grossest thing you can think of. I don’t know how this sweet little girl could think up such horrible things for her mother!) ”  I hated her game, but she gleefully persisted in asking the questions.

Life is full of decisions to be made. And that includes decisions made when you build a custom home. But fortunately those decisions aren’t between 2 life-threatening or objectionable options. Just the opposite, the decisions you make for your custom home should be well thought-out, enjoyable, and help you create a home that fits your needs and enhances your life. Utah custom home builder, DaVinci Homes’ goal is to help provide you with clear answers and options for the many decisions you will be making, including:

  • Where will you build your new custom home? Do you already have a building lot or do you need help locating and securing a lot? Are there restrictive covenants that you need to be aware of and what do they mean? Is location or price more important to you?
  • What will your new home look like? Does a rambler or two-story meet your needs the best? How big of a home do you need? Do you feel more comfortable in a sleek, contemporary home or a cozy, craftsman-style home? Will you build from an existing plan or do you want to create a truly custom home plan just for you?
  • What design elements are important to include in your new custom home? Are you a gourmet cook that can’t live without commercial grade appliances, or would you rather put your budget dollars into those glam crystal chandeliers you saw? Do you want to paint your house the serene colors of the beach? Or do you need your surroundings to be vibrant and colorful? Is a fabulous outdoor living space to host your family barbeque or a room to house your electric train collection more important to you?

Remember, when you build a custom home, you are not buying from a production builder who may offer 6 beige tile samples to choose from, and 5 floor plans in a pre-determined location. Custom homes offer so many options to home buyers, and this is when the “Would You Rather. . .?” game gets fun. So now that my daughter has grown up and has a family of her own, maybe next time we can play my version of the game.

How about you? Are you ready to build a new custom home? Let us know if DaVinci Homes can help provide options for your custom home decisions.



How to Read Custom Home Plans

I’ve been looking at floor plans since I was a teenager. Give me a romance novel or a book of home plans to dream over, and I’d probably choose the plans. Now, working with DaVinci Homes, a Utah custom home builder, I look at so many plans that I sometimes take it for granted that home buyers are as familiar as I am with house plans and how to read them. If you are not in that category, don’t despair. Like any other skill, reading a house plan is easily learned once you know a few basics.

A house plan is a two-dimensional, bird’s eye map of the structure, with each level of the home shown on a different “map.” And like a map, a house plan shows locations of rooms, has symbols to represent different details, and, depending on the purpose of the plan, includes measurements. As you

Floor Plan example simplified

look at the basic floor plan shown here, dark thick lines represent exterior and interior partition walls. Double, unfilled lines on the exterior walls show window locations, and curved, swinging lines indicate the swing of doors. Each room is labeled with the name of the room. Even in open-concept floor plans, the areas are usually labeled. You can see that you enter from the front porch into the entryway and then into an open-concept Great Room, Kitchen, and Eating Nook.

Details, such as bathroom and kitchen fixtures, fireplaces, and stair-wells on the home plan are shown by the following symbols.

Bathroom plan example                     Fireplace symbol               Stair detail example                       Kitchen floor plan example

In the bathroom detail, for example, it shows a double sink vanity, tub with an adjacent shower, and an enclosed toilet room. It also shows a walk-in closet, with dashed lines on the perimeter of the closet representing the closet shelving. The kitchen layout shows a galley-style cabinet layout, a raised-bar island with sink, a range on the wall opposite, and the refrigerator and walk-in pantry on the end wall. The dashed lines around the eating nook indicate a raised, decorative ceiling. Remember as you look at these symbols, you are looking from an aerial viewpoint. In addition to basic details, architectural or construction plans, which show more complicated systems like electrical, will often include a legend, explaining what the different symbols mean.

All but the most basic plans for marketing purposes include some way of indicating the size of the home. Measurements are shown in different ways on plans. Some plans are marked with the actual dimensions for each home or room right on the plan, while others include a scale.

Scale example

Construction plans used by DaVinci Homes and other home builders are always scaled, which means that the actual built measurements are shrunk proportionately to a size that can be measured on paper. In the example shown, each 1 foot of the home as actually built would be drawn on the plan as 1/8”. Conversely, if we were looking at a home plan with a 1/8” equals 1’ scale, and the length of a room on the plan measured 2”, that would mean that the room was 16’ long. Just make sure if you are determining dimensions by scale, that you are using plans that have been printed to scale. Plans used for marketing purposes are not always printed to scale.

Floor plans offered by DaVinci Homes are accompanied by elevations, or 2 dimensional, black and white line drawings of the planned home. They show front, rear, or side views of the home and allow home buyers to see what the home will look like from an exterior perspective. This is the Front Elevation of our example floor plan above.

Front Elevation example

Obviously, there is much more involved in preparing and reading a complete set of home plans. But knowing a few basics gives a prospective home buyer a better understanding to know if the plan they are looking at is the perfect one for them. Utah custom homebuilder DaVinci Homes has worked with local home designers throughout Salt Lake and the surrounding areas, and has access to hundreds of plans on its web site, Take a few minutes to dream as you look at the plans. It’s more fun than a romance novel and, who knows, you may find a new home to love!

PS.  If you love this plan, DaVinci Homes has a version of it called the Sienna that we are building in the Meadow Ranch V subdivision in Eagle Mountain.  It has gorgeous views of Utah Lake and Mount Timpanogos!

Custom Home Planning: Simple and Clear

What's Your Plan?

For anyone who has been through the process of building a new custom home, it quickly becomes apparent that the process is much different than purchasing an existing home or even building a high volume production home. DaVinci Homes, a Utah custom home builder, has worked hard to make this process simple and clear.

There are several areas where custom home building differs from the purchase of an existing home or a production home. Three of the main areas are in the plan design, design selection and costing. First, custom home plans are unique to you as a homeowner. Whether you start with an existing plan and change it to fit your life-style and individual needs, or create a new plan, building a custom home that is personal to you is a rewarding experience.   DaVinci Homes has worked with many local home designers and can help you find the one that will design a home that utilizes your lot and view, and fits your particular needs and personality.

Second, personalities are like fingerprints– no two are exactly the same. This is evident in the product and color selections for your new custom home. You want to reflect your style and personality. When building a custom home, owners have the opportunity to start from scratch or work with an interior designer to select the design elements that express their style. Since some find it easier to start with a baseline of selections, DaVinci Homes has also put together packages of products based on different price points. These Design Packages become a starting point to help get the creativity flowing and can then be changed accordingly.   In either case, we encourage buyers to come with their ideas and we enjoy helping our clients navigate what can sometimes be an intimidating process.

Lastly, “What will this home cost me?” is the number one question DaVinci Homes gets from new home buyers. The cost of your new custom home can vary greatly depending on both the plans and the design selection and can be a difficult question to answer at first glance. Our pre-construction process was created to answer that question and is designed around cost control and making sure there are no surprises through the process. Our 3 level process starts with comparable properties and square footage estimates. The second stage is a full-scale takeoff and pricing based on standard selections to refine the price further. Finally, when your design selection is finalized, we do a full bid and present you with a contract price. Each phase of the costing process is designed give our clients the cost information they need to make important decisions from start to finish.

While the pre-construction phase of building a custom home–home plan design, design selection, and preliminary and final pricing–make take a little longer than a production home, DaVinci Homes has refined this process so that it is simple and clear, and avoids problems during the construction process. And the trade-off is that the home is truly yours, unique to you and your lifestyle. DaVinci Homes has designed our process of helping our clients around our mission statement which read, “We strive to make the home building process clear and enjoyable. We believe in helping our clients enhance their lives by helping create the home of their dreams.” Our measure of success is the happiness of our clients.

10 Home Upgrades to Add Value


Most of us work within a budget when we build our home. Where do we put those hard earned dollars that will give us the most bang for our buck? Value truly comes down to what someone perceives your home is worth, whether that is a buyer, a lender or an appraiser. With that in mind here are some ideas on where to spend those few extra dollars to increase value:

  1. Finish that bonus space –This is one of the least expensive spaces to finish and has a high value per dollar. According to you can expect to get about a 72.5% return for each dollar spent here. Plus, you get that extra space for the kids to play or that extra bedroom you’ve been looking for.
  2. Focus on the master bath – The last several years the importance of well designed master bathrooms has seemed to catch up with what has been the king of value – the Kitchen. Spend a few dollars here to get that wow factor. Walk-in showers add cost but also add value.
  3. Cabinets – If you want to keep the costs in-line but get the look of Euro Style cabinets, think about keeping a frame-style box and upgrading the doors to a full-faced door with hardware. This could save as much as 20% over frameless-boxes and you get the look
  4. Countertops – Granite is always a safe bet, however, quartz countertops are in high demand right now. The clean, contemporary look and the durability make it a good choice. Take a look at Ceasarstone or Silestone, especially for that clean contemporary look.
  5. Add a gas cook-top – If you want to add that custom feel to a kitchen think about adding that separate stainless steel gas cook-top. Even if you’re not a gourmet chef, a separate cook-top can add functionality and style.
  6. A sense of entry – Don’t skimp on the front door. Spend a few dollars here to set the tone of the home. This is one of the parts of the home where guests get up close and personal. Think curb appeal! Increase the size by adding a transom or sidelights with a specialty glass to add size and personality.
  7. Storage adds value – As I look at many plans I am many times frustrated that a good plan is unusable or must be modified to create the essential storage spaces that help make a house a home. Make sure you allocate sufficient space for coat closets, linen closets, pantry space, mudroom if needed, etc. This is an inexpensive yet essential element that shouldn’t be overlooked.
  8. Finish Carpentry can add a big “bang for the buck”. A few dollars spent here on some subtle (or not so subtle details) such as taller base boards, casing windows, wainscoting or chair-rail can add that WOW factor for a very small investment.
  9. Cabinet Lighting – If you want to create some cool ambiance lighting in the kitchen look at adding under-cabinet, over-cabinet, or even in-cabinet lighting. The cost is minimal but the affects can be stunning.
  10. This last item should be higher on the list, however, don’t forget curb appeal. If you’re the ugly duckling on the block a loss of value may not be reflected on an appraisal, however, it may make for a difficult sale. Keep in mind exterior colors and finishes are important. I know colors can be personal and subjective but a few outside opinions (especially from your builder or exterior finish contractor) may give some perspective you did not have and help you avoid a redo. Most exterior finishes look different in large areas than they do on small swatches so don’t be afraid to ask for an opinion.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means but should give some insight into items with low-cost, high-value impact on your home.