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Once you decide to build a new home one of the first things you think about is finding the perfect house plan. It is easy to get lost on websites looking at literally 10’s of thousands of floor plans. Taking a broad approach to “find something you like” will lead to frustration and disaster. What you need is a plan. A plan to create a framework of criteria and considerations that are important for you and your family. With a plan you can quickly narrow down the overwhelming amount of house plans to ones that could meet your needs. Creating this focus will save time and create a home that you and your family will enjoy for years. Here are seven important things you should focus on when evaluating home plans.
7 Things to Consider
Before you begin your house plan search, take these 7 items into consideration:
Location – This is kind of like the “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” conundrum. Do you find a plan you like and then find the land to fit it? Actually, finding your land first is usually the key in finding a home plan that will fit your building site. Things like property setbacks and other site limitations need to be know to insure you select the right garage placement and foundation. For example, if you have a sloping lot, you will most likely need, or can have, a walkout or daylight basement. Depending on where you live and the extent of the slope you may be able to utilize a crawlspace. Trees, rocks, and other natural features can also play a role in home shape and style.
Accessibility within the Home – This is something most people don’t think of unless they are “getting older”. However, this is an important consideration for everyone. Universal Design, or Better Living Design as it is now being called, stresses ease of use for everyone. People from ages 5 to 85 can enjoy the ease of living supported by the tenets of Better Living Design. It isn’t “institutional” looking like many people have come to believe. In fact, when done correctly, it is barely even noticeable. However, one you have spent any amount of time in a home that has these characteristics, you will know that you miss them when you don’t have them. Accessibility in your home isn’t just about you. Think about young children and visiting older adults. Many adults today are supporting aging parents that may have the need for extended visits.
Do you entertain? – Many home floor plans are centered on entertaining and welcoming guests the minute they step through the front door. Today, many floor plans are more open and light filled. A wide foyer opening into an open floor plan living and dining room and meandering to the outdoors would be perfect for guests visiting. Open floor plan can still allow to small intimate areas by using furniture to create conversation areas with a larger open area.
If you and your family are more private and don’t like your full home on display every time the front door is opened, you may want a formal living room area adjacent to the front door. This will allow guests a place to immediately sit and feel comfortable while leaving the rest of your house private (and maybe hiding a dirty kitchen from view).
Furnishings – For some, existing furniture is important. Large pieces need to fit and must be thought about in the planning stages. Not only where they will be placed, but how will you get them there. It is best to know the sizes of your existing furniture, firsthand, before you finalize your design. Think through not only the furnishings you have now but the ones you will want once you have your new home.
Work and Home – Are you a work at home person or do you have job that isn’t over when you leave the office? If so, then you will need some dedicated home office space. This can be as minor as a desk in the kitchen area all the way up to a formal office with a separate entry. Typically, most people plan a den or extra bedroom for office space. Make sure you have the space you need and think about noise and distractions with proximity to children’s rooms, living rooms, or the kitchen.
Outdoor Living Spaces – This can mean many things; porches, decks, patios, pools, yard, etc. Other considerations are lot space, your geographical location, and your home sites terrain before choosing your house plan. You may also want sheds, garden houses, and gardens. Don’t underestimate the importance of outdoor living spaces. When planned properly, they can be just as useful and important as space inside the home. However, choosing the wrong home plan can spell disaster for access to and usability of any outdoor areas.
Budget – In the end, it always comes down to budget. It’s always a good idea to find out what your home building budget is by getting pre-approved for a construction loan. Another helpful tool when searching house plans is using a cost estimator that is based on the house plan and your building location. It is better to find out early on what your budget is so you can set your sites on a home that meets your needs and pocket book.
Can’t Find the Perfect Plan?
You can search home plan websites, builder’s websites, and grocery store magazines and find thousands and thousands of plans. However, most will rarely find the plan that is 100% exactly what they want. There always seem to be the need to move or remove a wall, add some space, or one of a hundred other items. When it comes to building a home, customization to meet you exact needs is the key. Don’t be afraid work with a builder that can tailor your home and your plan to meet your need. Always ask and don’t assume it can’t be done.
The Modular Option
Modular home design offers flexible choices. In fact, you can either start with an existing home plan and modify it or create a completely custom home plan. In either case, you can design a home that will work perfectly for you and your family. Modular construction allows you to be in your home faster and at a better value than can be offered by the traditional methods of home construction.
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