Dream Home Luxuries

Building a custom home comes with many perks, one of which is being able to incorporate what are considered “luxuries” into the design and many times paying considerably less than if you installed those same luxuries into your existing home.  So if you have a bit extra in your housing budget, or just want to dream about your future castle, here are five of our favorite luxuries to consider for your South Texas home:


Solar Panels

We’ve written an entire series about solar paneling for your home, but the main thing that we love about solar panels is that it makes sense for the amount of sun we get here in Texas and it can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Woodstove or Fireplace

Fireplaces and woodstoves are a beautiful focal point for any home, everyone loves to gather around a warm fire for a lively conversation, or for a solitary moment with a well-loved book.  Plus, it could help heat your home without you having to switch on your heating unit.  Not sure whether you should choose a wood-burning or gas fireplace?  We’ve written a little something that might help you make a decision.

Standing Seam Metal Roof

An easy favorite amongst architects, the standing seam metal roof is the stuff of dreams.  It is sustainable, energy-efficient, and is built to last.  Want to know more about it?  Check back next week for the low-down.

Flat-Panel Radiators

This heating system is quiet and efficient, with a gentle warmth that will envelope your house but remain hidden.  Minimalists adore this system because it frees up floor space but also integrates with practically any house design.  Check back in a few weeks for a blog post on the basics of the flat-panel radiator.

Interior Shutters

If shades and curtains aren’t really your thing, wooden shutters might be just the alternative for you.  Though considered old-fashioned by many, wooden shutters are a beautiful and quiet statement in your custom home.  They shut out enough of the outside to give you privacy, but allow light to filter in to create a warm ambience in your home that can’t be reproduced with artificial lights.

What are your top dream home luxuries?  Drop us a line in the comment section, we’d love to hear from you!

Solar Panels FAQ: Part II

Last week we started our series about solar panels, we’ll continue to talk about them today.  You can find part one of this series here.

How Much Sun Do I Need?

Obviously, solar panels work best and create the most energy when there is a lot of sunshine.  Homeowners in Texas are usually happy with a solar panel system because they get a lot of sun.  One way to decide if you have enough solar energy in your area is to compare the annual amount of sun to your annual electricity usage.  Luckily, there’s a place where you can look up your area’s solar irradiance.  Basically, if you live in a darker part of the country and you need a lot of electricity then a solar panel will not meet all of your electrical needs.  That doesn’t mean that you should write them off completely, solar panels can still help and will provide part of the power of your home.  When they can longer give your home power, the bi-directional meter will automatically switch your power to pull from the city’s utilities grid.  Solar panels have come a long way and here in Texas, we love how solar panels don’t just utilize the sun’s energy but also provide some much needed shade for your home.


There’s no way around it, solar panels are an up-front investment, the exact amount can be calculated with your custom home builder, but here’s some information to help you get a rough idea.  The more electricity you need, the larger the system that you will need, this is also relative to the percentage of energy for your home that you expect your solar system to provide.  In Texas, the average cost of installing a solar panel system is just under $18,000, this figure takes into account government funded rebate programs for which you may be eligible.  Some of these will pay you back over time, while others are a one-time payment.


Most people are under the impression that the installation of solar panels in their home equals big savings on their utility bills.  Savings are all relative and they also depend on credit that your utility company will give you for unused power as well as how much power you currently used compared with how much power your solar system will provide.  The average savings in Texas after 2 years is just over $20,000 which is also the average for the entire United States.


Many custom home owners worry about how solar panels will fit in with their home’s design, but now a lot of solar panels are incorporated into windows, siding, shingles, or other building materials for a seamless integration into your dream home’s design.

*All the estimates of costs provided are from One Block off the Grid.

Solar Panels FAQ: Part I

Energy efficient, going green, eco-friendly, these are all buzzwords in society today.  Everyone’s heard of solar panels and the mythical ways that they can help you cut down on your carbon emissions and power your house while at the same time being kind to your wallet.  Are the rumors true?  What does this mean for your custom home design?  Let’s take a closer look at solar panels and their pros and cons.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

At first glance, solar panels seem to magically create energy out of nothing but in actuality, they are harnessing the power of one of the greatest sources of power in the universe: the sun.  More specifically, solar panels use photovoltaic technology which uses semiconductors to turn rays from the sun into electrons of direct current (DC) energy.  This power is directed into an inverter which changes the DC energy into alternating current (AC) which can be used as electricity in your house.

Your home’s electrical panel will be equipped with a bi-directional meter which will measure the amount of energy that is produced by your solar panels.  When solar energy flows into the meter from the solar panels, it will reverse your energy consumption which will be reflected as a credit on your utilities bill.

Why Install Solar Panels?

The major reason for installing solar panels is for the positive impact that solar power will have on the environment.  Because the majority of our energy in the United States comes from coal and oil, this has resulted in a lot of air pollution which is building up and affecting our world.  The supply of fossil fuels can’t last forever and as it goes down, the cost of oil and coal goes up.  The rays of the sun are not owned by any country or person, it is a free and plentiful resource which can be harnessed for the cost of solar panel installation.  Another good reason for installing solar panels is the money that they will save you on your utilities bill (see part two of this series).

Solar Panels are not easily understood from the information found in one blog post, that’s why we are making this part one of a two part series to help you better understand how to talk to your custom home builder about if solar panels are the right choice for your dream home.