The Five Zones of a Successful Kitchen

The Five Zones of a Successful Kitchen

Congratulations on moving into your new home! You are probably thinking there are so many boxes that you will start putting items in the cabinets and drawers to get the clutter out of the way. Well, let’s not get into a hurry while unpacking. You just bought a new home, and it is time that you start thinking about a new kitchen system.

The kitchen you had before probably did not have the same layout, and if it did, was your setup practical to the flow of maximum usage? Since you are about to start fresh and clean, you should consider the five zones of the kitchen layout for efficient and maximum use of your new kitchen.

Perishables (Consumables)

This zone is the area where you are going to store your food items. The perishable site can be divided into two sections: refrigerated and pantry items.

When you come home from the market, this zone is where you will put up your groceries. You will need to make sure that you keep this zone organized. This will help when you take inventory for your next trip to the market.

When placing new items into your perishable zones, make sure that you follow the FIFO (first-in-first-out) rotation system to ensure that you are using the older inventory first, so your groceries do not expire.

When you put away your refrigerated perishables, take note of the old inventory and look for mold or aged items. Also, remember to keep your raw products away from your ready-to-eat items to prevent any food-borne illnesses caused by cross-contamination.

Non – Perishables (Non-Consumables)

This zone is for storing your everyday dishes, cutlery, glasses, and cups.

When arranging this zone, keep in mind the cleaning zone and the frequency of the dishes you use the most. These zones go hand in hand since you will have to wash the dishes, cutlery, and glasses you use.

You will also want to consider your preparation zone. While prepping your meals, you will have to use your non-perishables for chopping, stirring, mixing bowls, and more. You want to ensure you do not have to walk across the kitchen to get the cutting board and the other direction for your chef’s knife.


This zone is for storing your cleaning supplies. This zone contains your sink, dishwasher, drying rack, and garbage & recycling bin.

The best advice is to clean as you go. If you currently do not clean as you go, this is a good habit to create. The items you should keep stored in this location are your cleaning chemicals, sponges, dish towels, and all other items needed for cleaning.

You will want to keep all your chemicals together and put them back when you are finished with them. You will not want to have the bleach out while cooking or prepping. You might get the chemicals in your food and make people sick.


This zone is where you will do the prep with your perishables. This could be a kitchen island or a countertop/worktop.

Your preparation zone is next to your cleaning area. You will want to ensure that while you are prepping, you rinse your dirty dishes and add them to the dishwasher as you progress with your cooking. Not only will this save time with your clean-up, but it will also keep you from cross-contaminating any food.


This zone is why your kitchen exists; it is where you will be cooking your delicious creations. This area consists of your oven, microwave, and stovetop or range.

You will want to keep the cooking zone clean and organized. All the appliances in this zone are going to be hot and have the capability to catch items on fire. Since you will be doing your cooking in this area, you will want to make sure that you place your oven mitts, potholders, popular seasonings, pots and pans, and cooking utensils in this region.

Moving into a new home can be overwhelming when unpacking and putting items in their place. If you realize that how you have arranged it does not work, no worries, you can always change your storage to fits your needs. The overall goal of the kitchen zones is to ensure that you create a flow in your kitchen and use the layout to its full potential.

Mortgage Loans – Get to Know the Differences

Mortgage Loans – Get to Know the Differences

Conventional Loans

A conventional loan is a mortgage loan that is not backed or secured by any government entity. This type of loan is often held through various private lenders such as mortgage companies, banks, and credit unions. A conventional loan is excellent for someone planning to put 10-20% as a down payment. You may be able to put down less than 10%, but your premium on your private mortgage may be higher. This loan could have higher interest rates. A downfall to this type of loan is that the underwriting is stricter than others, and the lenders might have add-on fees, increasing your cost.

FHA Loans

An FHA loan is a government-backed mortgage by the Federal Housing Administration. This means that the FHA organization protects your lender if there is a default on your loan. This loan is for first-time homeowners who may not have a lot of money for a down payment or even a perfect credit score. The down payment could be as low as 3.5%, and the closing costs could be rolled into your loan.

VA Loans

The VA Loan is a government-backed loan from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. This loan is only available to Veterans, Service Members, and select military spouses. This loan has a $0 down mortgage option available, and since the government banks back, it does not require a Private Mortgage Insurance.

Bridge Loans

A bridge loan is a short-term loan from 6-9 months to get you past a time gap. If you are in the process of buying a new home and selling your current home at the same time, this may be for you. If you have already purchased your new home without a contingent clause, you may find yourself paying for two mortgages if you cannot sell your old home. The bridge loan will look at the current equity you have in the home you are selling. Once your home sells, the money will be used to pay back the bridge loan. These types of loans will often have higher interest rates. Ensure that you do your research on this loan and only take it if needed.

Construction Loans for New Home Construction On Your Land

Construction loans are for if you are going to build the home yourself or hire a general contractor or a custom home builder to construct your home on your land. You need to consider a few options on the type of loan you take out. Make sure that you talk to your lender to choose the best option for you. Here is some brief information on construction-to-permanent and stand-alone loans.

Construction-to-Permanent Loans (Single-Closing)

A construction-to-permanent loan (single-closing) is the loan you will take out to pay for the construction of the build. This is typically a short-term line of credit and will be converted over to a long-term loan. The credit usually comes out in draws during certain progressions finished in the construction phases.

Stand-Alone Construction Loans (Two-Closing Loan)

You will be issued two separate loans in a stand-alone construction loan (two-closing). The first one is for the construction, and the second one is a mortgage loan that can/should be used to pay off the construction loan you first received. Since this loan is a 2-part loan mortgage, you will have to pay two different fees.

When looking for any type of loan, make sure that you are getting the best deal around. Makes sure that you contact multiple lenders and get the best possible rate that is currently on the market. You are going to want to make your home perfect, so why not have the perfect loan package! Make sure to check out our page on our recommended lenders.

New Home Mortgage – How Much Can You Afford?

New Home Mortgage – How Much Can You Afford?

When you start looking for a home, you should first consider what your budget will allow. You will want to make sure that the estimate is a comfortable amount. You will also want to shop with multiple mortgage lenders to see who can get you the best interest rate—the lower the interest rate, the lower the payments. The following terms will help to calculate affordability.

Annual Income

Annual income is the amount that you will use as a starting base. You will take the amount of gross pay that you make in a calendar year. If you buy a home with a co-borrower, you will also add in their annual income to get your total combined annual income. In order to find your annual income, you can refer back to your taxes on Line 7 of your IRS From 1040.

Total Monthly Debt

What are your current monthly debts? These are debts that reoccur monthly like rent, car payments, other loans, credit cards, alimony, child support, and any other debts. Once you take these debts into account, you will get a good picture of what you can start to afford with the debt-to-income ratio.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

Debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is a formula that results in a percentage that lets the lenders know how much money is coming into the household versus going out to pay off debts. Lenders look for a DTI of 36%. All lenders are different, and they will have regulations and limitations on their flexibility of DTI amounts.

Down Payment

The down payment is simply the amount of money that you want to put down on a home. It is a common thought that a 20% down payment is required. However, that is not the case. You can have as little as 3% down, depending on the loan. To learn more about the down payment, click here.

Interest Rate

The interest rate is the percentage amount that the lender is going to charge you to take out the loan. The interest rate will depend based on credit score and down payment. This is where we highly recommend shopping multiple lenders to get the best rates available. If you have a 15–30-year home loan, you want to make sure that you get the best offer. This interest rate will stay with your loan until it is paid off or is refinanced.

Loan Term

When you take out a loan, you will have to have an end date by which the total loan is to be paid in full. Most loans are for 30 years, but you can also take out shorter loans. When working the mortgage calculator, you can change the term of the loans to see the different payment options.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is insurance for your mortgage. It protects the lender against any losses if the loan goes into default due to the borrower not making payments. If the borrower’s down payment contribution is less than 20%, then the PMI will be attached to your mortgage. If the borrower puts a down payment of 20% or more, the PMI will not apply to them.

Property Tax

When you purchase a home, you will have an annual property tax added to your mortgage. This value will be assessed on the value of the property. Tax rates will vary depending on the state, county, and municipality.

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance (HOI) is required when purchasing a home while taking out a loan. The insurance will cover the residence. The price will vary depending on different variables. Contact your insurance provider for more information

Homeowners Association

A Homeowners Association (HOA) is an association that maintains the community and enforces the rules and regulations of the Covenant for a monthly fee. This is another factor that can affect the affordability of the home. When looking at homes, make sure you pay attention to the details of the neighborhood and community standards.

Top 13 Commonly Explained Terms by Our New Home Specialists

Top 13 Commonly Explained Terms by Our New Home Specialists

Have you considered buying a home, but the jargon scared you off? Well, you are not the only one. We have put together a list of the most common explained words from our New Home Specialists.

Pre-Qualification – The first step in the mortgage step is to get pre-qualified. When you are pre-qualified, you will know the amount of a loan you will qualify for; however, this is not a guarantee that you will get approved at that amount.

Pre-Approval – The next step in the mortgage process is to get pre-approved. This conditional commitment will let you know the actual value that will get approved.

Designer Home – Our Designer Homes are our inventory homes whose selections have been curated by our interior designer. Depending on the building stage of the home, custom selections may be accepted if not already chosen.

Premier Home – Our Premier Homes are custom homes whose floorplan, selections, and upgrades have been selected by our customers.

Contingency – This is a clause written into the contract that the condition of buying the house depends on certain circumstances. The offer was accepted, and the contract was signed, but the agreement states that a specific criterion must be met. For example, there might be a contingency clause that reads the buyer must sell and close on their current home before they purchase the new home from the seller.

Appraisal – An appraisal is a professional opinion evaluating a home’s worth. The examination is used to determine whether the home’s contract price accurately depicts the home’s value given the home’s condition, features, location, and more. This lets the lender know that the transaction is worth the loan’s value.

Inspection – The home inspection is a visual examination of the home and is objective. The inspector looks at the entire structure from the roof to the foundation. A standard home inspection report will cover structural components, basement, and foundation, floors, doors, windows, heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, roof, attic, and insulation. The inspection can take from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the square footage and the home’s condition. A few days after the inspection process, they should send their report with their examination details attached with photos, analysis, and recommendations.

Selections – The selection of the home consists of colors, flooring, light fixtures, countertops, and appliances. If you buy a Premier Home, you will have more selections with the home and the listed options. You will also be able to choose your front door, garage doors, and a few more options. If you are buying a Designer Home, you may be able to select some selections depending on the building stage of the home. You will meet with our interior designer, and they will guide you to options that will coordinate with each other.

Redline – When you build a Premier Home with us, you get to decide many options about the house. The Redline is a meeting in that we have to go over the details of the floor plans and mark redlines on the changes to the plans to finalize the build instructions.

Radon – Radon is a radioactive gas. It is released from water, soil, and rocks. It is tasteless, colorless, and odorless. It is also the number two cause of lung cancer after cigarettes. Small amounts of radon are o to have in your home. It is when the levels get high that they could be problematic. It is highly recommended that you get your home tested for radon during the selling process. If the home shows high levels of radon, there are actions that can be taken to lower the levels.

Easement – There are a lot of different types of easements. An easement is tied to the tile, legally allowing someone else access to a particular area of your property for a specific purpose. For example, an easement with the utility companies will allow them to come in and assess the electrical or sewage line that is underlying your property.

SEER – Is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. SEER rates the efficiency of your home’s heating and air by calculating the output for the typical season divided by the total energy input during the same time. Think of your car’s mileage; it is the same thing just for energy for your heating and air.

Zoned HVAC – A Zoned HVAC system allows the homeowner to be able to control their heating and cooling on each level of their home separately. This allows for correct temperatures by having a thermostat on each level of the home. It will also save the homeowners on their heating and cooling bills in the long run.

When you are buying a home with us we want you to have an ease of mind. If there is something that is being said or something you do no understand, we are here to help you through the process and explain everything to you as it arises.

10 Helpful Hints for a Fresh Deep Spring Cleaning

10 Helpful Hints for a Fresh Deep Spring Cleaning

Spring will be here before we know it, and it is that time of year again for Spring Cleaning. The scent of fresh lavender is in the air. The flowers are starting to be in full bloom. The sun is shining, and the weather is warm, yet your house is stale and dirty. It is time to grab your cleaning supplies and make your home as fresh as your flower garden.


Before starting a proper cleaning Spring deep clean, you need to check your inventory to ensure you are equipped with the essential cleaning supplies. Ensure that you have a backup if you have any supplies running low. You do not want to be in the middle of cleaning and have to stop to go to the store for more. Everyone will have different cleaning supplies, but make sure you have a duster, gloves, paper towels, mop, bucket, broom, and dustpan. You will need more than listed; this is just something to get you started.

Open Your Windows

Since you will be cleaning in a closed space, make sure that you open your windows to air out any fumes that might linger while cleaning. Opening the windows will allow you to enjoy the nice weather and air out your house of any unwanted stale fragrances. It will make the home feel clean and fresh with a nice gentle breeze.

Organize and Clean Clutter

Make sure that you do a pre-clean sweep of the rooms. You want to have the rooms ready to be cleaned. That means removing any clutter from the rooms. So put your laundry in the baskets, the make-up in the drawers, and the toothbrushes in their holders. Check for any old mail or magazines that you can toss out. When you finish with the tidying, it’s time for the cleaning to begin!

Work from Top to Bottom

When you clean, make sure that you start from the top and work your way to the bottom. When you are dusting, for example. You would not want to double your workload. The dust from the top will settle on the lowest point possible, the floor, the last place you should clean.

Where to Start

If you have a lot of laundry to do, put a load in and continue switching loads from the washer and dryer as you go. You also might want to strip your bedding first since that takes a while to wash and dry.

Read your chemical thoroughly, and give it the proper amount of time it needs to perform its job correctly. After that, you will want to start with the most time-consuming rooms, the bathrooms, and the kitchen. The bathroom alone can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes.

Clean Room by Room

There is a debate whether to clean task-by-task or room-by-room. When you begin a deep clean, you will want to do it room by room. You will want to make sure that you create a checklist or download one. A list will ensure that you clean everything. Each room will take different amounts of time. If you do each room task by task, you may never complete the entire room. Another idea would be to clean by room type. For example, if you start cleaning a bedroom, start with the next bedroom, and continue until done with all the bedrooms.

Kitchen Hot-Spots

Cleaning your kitchen does not have to be scary, but it could be time-consuming if you do not clean it regularly. The kitchen deep-clean you will make to make sure that you clean the cabinets, dishwasher, fridge, microwave, oven, and trashcans. There are many more areas that you will want to clean also, but these are the most time consuming and overlooked areas.


If you like a good night’s sleep, it all depends on your mattress. Keeping it clean is a significant factor in a clean and healthier sleep: Mattresses collect dust, dead skin cells, dirt, and more. Cleaning a mattress is easy and can leave you feeling healthier, and it will extend the life of your mattress, making it worth your investment.

Ensure Fire Safety

You want your family to stay safe if a fire ever breaks out; that is why you should check your fire and carbon monoxide detectors. You will want to make sure that they have fresh or working batteries.

You will also want to make sure that you clean the lent from your dyer. You empty the lint from the traps before or after each load, but you will also have the dryer vent to clean excess lint buildup.

Establish New Cleaning Habits

Let’s face it; not everyone has the time or willpower to keep a clean house 24/7. If you set a routine cleaning checklist, you will be on track to forming a new habit, and you will have a cleaner house than before. This will make the next deep cleaning that much more simple and less time-consuming. The routine does not have to be grand; simply start by starting a load of laundry each day and putting it away after they are dried. If you are the last one out of bed, you could make the bed before your head to work. The small little habits will be well worth it in the long run.

Your house is not clean and ready to go for a fresh Spring and a fun-filled Summer. If you remember these easy 10 Helpful Hints for a Fresh Deep Spring Cleaning, your house will be off to a great start, and you will not have to spend all your free time cleaning. Your main time will be spent cleaning up all the clutter that just gets thrown

“Spread Your Roots” – A Referral Program

“Spread Your Roots” – A Referral Program

As a small token of appreciation for each referral* that signs a contract to buy or build with Miller Family Homes, we will have a tree sapling of your choosing from the “Your Tree Choices.” Please read on to learn more about how the program works, important details, rules and restrictions so that you know what to expect from our referral program and the process.

How The Referral Program Works

  1. You recommend a friend or family member use Miller Family Homes for their Pathway to Homeownership by either word of mouth or through the “Referral Form.”
  2. The person you referred visits with a New Home Specialists and ultimately decides to write a contract with Miller Family Homes to either buy a designer home or build a premier home. Prior to or at contract signing they must mention that you referred them or they can submit the “Referred By Form.”
  3. Once we have received verification that the person you’ve referred has signed a contract, we’ll contact you to provide you with information on available trees and/or to see which tree you would like planted if you’ve reviewed the available tree choices here on the website. You may also fill out the “Tree Selection Form” below.
  4. Once you choose a tree, and we’ve coordinated a planting date with you and the tree vendor, we’ll purchase and have the tree planted in your yard at the desired location.
  5. We will repeat this process for up to three referrals per household within a 5-year time frame of your home’s closing date.

Important Details, Rules & Restrictions

Miller Family Homes will accommodate the purchasing and planting of your tree sapling from a vendor of our choosing on a day and time that works with your schedule. Please provide us with multiple days and timeframes that will work for your tree to be planted. For example, September 24th-28th between 2pm and 3pm. Providing a timeframe of multiple days allows us to better coordinate with our tree vendors and their working days.

Each household is limited to three tree sapling plantings even if more than three of your referrals sign contracts. Referrals must sign a contract within 5 years of your home’s closing date to count towards the referral program. Please note that those being referred do not get a tree planted in their yard. They must make their own referrals to take advantage of this program.

You’ll choose a tree for planting from a pre-determined, professionally recommended, selection of trees known to thrive and do well in the Wichita area’s soil, climate, and drastic weather changes. Please provide a second, different tree option as well should the tree you’re wanting not be available as we’re limited by what’s in season and what the nursery has available.

All of our tree vendors offer all-inclusive planting meaning that the area around the tree will be appropriately prepared and established based on the type of tree (mulching, staking, etc). The tree sapling and planting comes with a 1-year warranty through the tree vendor.

The tree vendor will supply you with the warranty information and instructions for caring for your new sapling tree. It is up to you to ensure that the tree is properly cared for after it has been planted.

Should you have questions or issues with your tree sapling, please refer to the materials provided after planting or consult a professional landscaping, lawn or tree care company.

Miller Family Homes holds no responsibility or liability for the trees themselves or damage that may be caused to your home from the tree, tree planting, tree growth, root systems, etc. The information stated here on our website and within any print materials provided to you was obtained from reliable resources and is provided as a guide. Miller Family Homes holds no responsibility or liability for decisions made from this information. All use is at the customer’s will and risk.

If you have any questions about our refer program, “Spread Your Roots,” please reach out to our New Home Specialists or contact us at marketing@millerfamilyhomes.com.