Before Building a Custom Home, Should You Buy a House Plan Online?

Before building a custom home, some people think they need to buy a house plan first so they can design their own home and then show their builder the type of home they want constructed. If the plan requires modifications, they assume the builder can tweak it as needed.

Although many new home builders will use and make modifications to your plans, and can even offer stock plans for you to select from, the process is different when building a custom home with Frankel Building Group.

FBG a One Stop Design-Build Firm

Frankel is a one stop design-build firm. What that means is Frankel builds custom homes from scratch. Every home is different, uniquely designed for the homeowner.

It also means Frankel will personally work with you in designing your custom home. Rather than modifying a house plan or outsourcing the design process to an architect, Frankel provides in-house home design. Doing so enables Frankel to work more closely with a homebuyer in creating a true custom home. It also streamlines the homebuilding process.

The home design process involves a site survey and studies of the ecology and environment of the property you plan to build on, a meeting with the designer who creates a sketch as he learns about your lifestyle and what you want in your home, 2D and 3D sketches and more. Read about the home design process here.

Already Purchased a House Plan?

If you already purchased a house plan, it will need to be engineered for the builders. Some house plans are modifiable, others are not. You are welcome to bring the plan with you and discuss it with our designer.

However, if you did not already purchase one and you select Frankel for building your custom home, save yourself the time and money of buying a house plan or hiring an outside architect. Talk to Frankel first.


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Building New Homes in The Woodlands Area to Meet Energy Industry Demand

The Woodlands Area is becoming an energy corridor as more companies directly related to the energy industry relocate to South Montgomery County and North Harris County, Texas. Along with this growth comes an increased demand for residential housing.

Home for sale in The Woodlands Building new homes in The Woodlands Area, Frankel Building Group is proudly helping to meet that demand.

Energy Industry Growth in The Woodlands Area

Construction of ExxonMobil’s new campus just south of The Woodlands is underway with about 3,000 workers on site daily. Located near I-45 and the Hardy Toll Road in north Harris County, the massive 385-acre corporate campus will open to some employees later this year and employ about 10,000 when fully open in 2015.

This new ExxonMobil campus represents one of many companies in the energy industry moving to The Woodlands Area. In a recent ABC13 article, Karen Hoylman, president and CEO of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, said energy is the newest and most growing area of business in The Woodlands Area.

“We are becoming another energy corridor here,” she said.

Many major employers in The Woodlands Area today are ones in the energy industry, such as Anadarko Petroleum, Baker Hughes, Huntsman, Strike, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, Tetra Technologies and Newpark Resources. Speaking in a recent roundtable discussion coordinated by The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership and hosted by Anadarko Petroleum, U.S. Senator John Cornyn said he was pleased with the “impressive growth and job creation taking place in The Woodlands.”

“This is a community that has fully embraced the Texas economic model of low taxes and limited regulation, and as a result, it has become one of the most desirable places to live, work, start a business and raise a family,” said Senator Cornyn.

About The Woodlands Area

Located in South Montgomery County, Texas, The Woodlands Area includes the cities of Shenandoah and Oak Ridge North as well as The Woodlands, the country’s most successful master planned community.  Nationally and internationally recognized as a model for community planning and development, The Woodlands is the top ranked community in Texas, an honor annually earned for several years.

The Woodlands opened in 1974 and has since earned a long, impressive list of accolades including awards for its environmental planning and design. For the 19th consecutive year, The Woodlands made the top 10 list of the best-selling communities in America, and it is recognized as the best city for young families and the hottest neighborhood in the Houston area, among other bests. The Woodlands is also one of the country’s top shopping destinations.

FBG is Building New Homes in The Woodlands Area

If you are planning to move to The Woodlands Area and are interested in buying a new home, contact Frankel Building Group, the area’s top home builder. Frankel is the exclusive custom builder of 58 luxury homes in ParkGate Reserve, the newly developed Shenandoah neighborhood in The Woodlands Area, and is also developing The Woodlands Reserve, a new addition to The Woodlands’ village of Indian Springs.

Frankel Building Group is a full service custom home design/build company building to LEED® certification standards for the finest in ultra-modern, energy efficient living in a healthier environment. Read about the home building process and how Frankel compares with other luxury home builders. When you are ready to talk about building your new dream home, contact us.

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Before Building on Your Lot, Consider Installing Root Barriers

If you have a lot and are planning on building a home on it, take some time to examine your existing trees and any plans for future trees. Trees could pose a problem for your home if their roots grow underneath its foundation.

When tree roots grow underneath your home, they can suck all the moisture out of the soil and cause the soil to dry out and shrink, which can cause a condition known as differential settlement.

Differential settlement occurs when the part of your house that sits atop dry, compacted soil sinks while the part of your house that sits atop moist, expanded soil remains level. When one part of your house sinks, its structure can become seriously damaged.

One way to defend your new home against differential settlement is to install one or more root barriers around trees before you build on your lot.

What Are Root Barriers?

Root barriers are physical underground walls that are placed to inhibit or direct tree root growth and prevent tree roots from growing up underneath your home. Broadly, root barriers are used to deflect the growth of tree roots in a different direction or deeper into the soil, where they will cause less damage to your home, sidewalks, and curbs.

For young trees, root barriers can be set up a certain distance away from the root systems to guide the natural growth and direction of roots as the trees mature.

For mature trees, which may need to have their roots cut, root barriers deflect the growth of new, regenerated roots from the cut end. That way the roots won’t simply grow right back into the areas from which they were cut.

3 Kinds of Root Barriers

There are three kinds of root barriers: physical, geo-textile, and chemical.


Physical root barriers are solid walls, typically made up of 90-degree, raised rib plastic panels made of polyethylene, polypropylene, or polystyrene. Physical root barriers can also be made of poured concrete.

Because physical root barriers are either totally or mostly impermeable, they have the added benefit of doubling as moisture barriers. Moisture barriers can be important for maintaining more constant moisture levels around your home’s foundation.


Geo-textile root barriers are made of heat-fused nylon mesh and typically requires support, such as proper backfilling, to stand vertically.

Although these kinds of root barriers can be effective, some plant and tree species actually engage or escape in the fabric. Still, because geo-textile mesh can offer an ideal rooting surface, it may also encourage roots to grow deeper by creating deeper corridors in the soil that have greater oxygen availability.


Some fabric root barriers contain chemical herbicides that impede root growth by burning off root hairs. The chemical is either heat-bonded to the fabric or attached to the fabric in pellet form. The chemicals are usually non-toxic and do not leech into the soil. Like geo-textile barriers, chemical barriers need support to stand vertically.

Controlled-release chemical barriers work best, as single-application barriers release too much chemical initially and then weaken rapidly over time.

A word of warning: if you use chemicals to limit the growth of a tree’s main root system, you’ll need to increase irrigation so that it can develop higher-density feeder roots to compensate.

Root Barrier Installation

Installation of root barrier systems is pretty straightforward:

  • Dig a trench in the ground between the side of trees or other plantings and the home, sidewalk, or curb you’re looking to protect
  • Install the root barrier
  • Cover up the trench

Plastic root barrier panels are connected by couplings, strips, or glue in a linear fashion. Concrete root barriers are simply poured in the ground. Fabric geo-textile and chemical barriers are rolled out and laid out in the trench.

While some guides recommend installing root barriers between 12 and 24 inches deep, other sources recommend installing three feet deep (36 inches) so that the barrier ends up at least one foot deeper than your foundation.

Root Barrier Life Expectancy

While it may seem like a lot of work to install a root barrier system, the good news is that physical barriers made of plastic or concrete should last indefinitely.

If you go with a chemical barrier, you can probably expect a lifespan of about five years. Just keep in mind that the amount of water that your yard gets will strongly influence that figure. The more water you get, the shorter a chemical barrier will last.

Why Root Barriers Should Be Installed Before Building

Many people wait until they have a problem to install a root barrier system. But take it from us, you don’t want to wait until part of your home starts sinking and you’re on the verge of serious structural damage before you install a root barrier. Instead, plan your system at the very beginning, before you build on your lot.

Contact Frankel for questions about whether you should develop plans for a root barrier system before building on your lot.

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Designing Your New Home for Custom Building

Designing and building a new custom home can be one of the most exciting times in your life. You are building a new home! Just thinking about it makes you smile.

But the thought can also seem a bit overwhelming. Building a custom home is very different from buying a new car, or even an existing house. Planning is essential to realizing the home of your dreams.

Before meeting with your home designers, spend as much time as possible thinking about the type of home you want to build and what it needs to include. The following tips might help.

Determine Your Budget

One of your first steps will be to set a budget for the total cost of your home. Determine the estimated amount you prefer to pay and the maximum amount you are willing or able to spend.

Get an Idea of the Square Footage for Your New Home

Compare the home you now live in to the one you want to build. Does your home have enough square footage? Are there any rooms you wish were larger? Do you need more rooms? Do you want a one-story home, one and a half or two stories? Keep in mind that the price of your home, as well as future heating and cooling costs, increases with each square foot added. Your home designer and builder can provide more information, but it’s best to consider your preferences and limitations in advance.

Make Your Needs & Wish Lists

Make a list of what your new home needs. Then make a wish list of additional features that are not necessary, but would nice to include.

Look Online for Home Design Ideas, Likes & Dislikes

Browse the FBG photo gallery of home designs, entryways, kitchens, bathrooms and more. When you find something you like, note the gallery name and image number, such as #3 of Outdoor Living. Even better, create a board on Pinterest.

Designing Your Custom Home with Pinterest

The popular new social network, Pinterest, is an online pinboard offering an excellent place to gather, organize and share images. You can create a home design board, then search in Pinterest as well as online for custom homes, appliances, plumbing fixtures, lighting, color schemes  – just about anything you can think of for your new home. (If you search for ‘Frankel Building Group’, you will see many custom homes FBG built.)

‘Pin’ the images you like to your board. You could even create a board for each room of your new home. Then when you meet with your home designer, you simply share the link to your board. What could be easier?!

Most likely, this will be the only custom home you build in your lifetime. Have fun with it!

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Questions to Ask Before Buying a Lot to Build a New Home On

You want to build a new home, but you don’t own property. Buying a lot is your first step, right?

It can be, but before you do there are many things to consider. You don’t want to find what appears to be the perfect lot at a very reasonable price and quickly purchase it, only to later discover you can’t build a home on it or doing so would be too costly.

Among the first questions you want to get answers to are:

• Is the lot in or near a floodplain? The building codes in a floodplain will be different, insurance higher, and the property could flood and erode. If your lot is right outside of a floodplain, it might one day be included in one after a periodic re-drawing or update of flood maps.
• What are the zoning, easement and land-use restrictions? You need to know if building the type of home you want, or any home, is possible. You can’t build on an easement, so know how much of your property will be allocated for that. And deed restrictions will tell you how much control you have over what you can and cannot do on your property, as well as what your neighbors can do. If there is a homeowner’s association, you’ll want details about that, including dues cost.
• What will it take (and cost) to get the property ready for building? You may need trees cut, the property leveled, utilities added and more.
• Are utilities available? If utilities are not already onsite, you’ll need to install them. The costs for running electricity poles and lines, installing a sewer system and drilling a water well can be expensive. If installing any utility is not possible, you certainly need to know before buying the property.

You will also need to find out about required permits and any of the city or county’s long range plans that could affect you. There could be plans in the future, such as for a new highway or landfill, that will completely change how you feel about your property.

These are just a few of the main questions you need answers to before buying a lot to have a custom house built on.

Frankel Will Ask the Questions For You
When working with Frankel Building Group to build on your lot, you won’t need to search for answers to these questions. What a relief, right?

We can help you find the best lot for you and the home you’re dreaming about. We will ask you about any current and future plans you might have, research the property, inform you of any restrictions, determine what’s needed to build, and add any associated costs into the price of your custom built home. We take care of the details and keep you well informed along the way. Contact us today to learn more.

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HomeAid, Frankle Building Group Tackle New Shelter Project

HomeAid Houston, a Greater Houston Builders Association charity, and the Frankel Building Group are preparing a new improvement project for SEARCH’s client-welcoming area at the 2505 Fannin location.

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Scott Frankel Talks Products & Great Finds in Custom Home Online

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Benefits of a LEED Certified Green Home

Frankel Building Group is a proud participant in the LEED for Homes program. Watch the US Green Building Council video to learn about the benefits of living in a LEED certified green home.

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New ParkGate Reserve Home Under Construction

Construction of the second Showcase Home in ParkGate Reserve by Frankel Building Group is now underway. Crews poured the foundation last week and framing of the model home at 6 Broadwater Court began Saturday.

Selected to develop a premium 50 acre wooded tract of land near the front of The Woodlands into an unrivaled subdivision, Frankel Building Group will construct 58 luxurious custom and spec homes. Lots in ParkGate Reserve, several of which are already sold, range from 10,000 to 27,000 plus square feet.

Learn more about these custom homes by The Woodlands TX. To inquire, please call Frankel Building Group at (713) 398-7541 or click here to submit a request for information online.

New Home in ParkGate Reserve

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Closing the Gap

Houston Business Journal, October 28th
“Collaborating generations tap Millennium market with modern necessities in home designs”
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