Building your home is an exciting opportunity — because instead of trying to make an existing residence work for your lifestyle and needs, you get to handpick the best house plan to suit you.
From knowing the numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms you’d like to deciding the preferred layout for your family’s needs, each decision goes back to finding the right house plan that works perfectly for you. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Know How Much Space You Need. Not every family needs six bedrooms, but, likewise, not every family would be comfortable with two. Think about the members of your household, the possibility of that number growing with more children or shrinking as kids move out, and whether or not you’d like to host overnight guests. This can help you determine how many bedrooms and bathrooms will be best. Along the same lines, ask yourself whether you need one living room for hanging out, watching television, etc., or if you’d prefer having a separate play room or music room, in addition to the main living space. Knowing your specific needs guides your decision of house size. Will a one-story ranch-style home plan be ideal, or do you like two- or three-story house plans? Know how much space is needed and look for floor plans that fit.
Build to Suit the Geography. Just as a beach house wouldn’t make sense in the woods of Wisconsin or a log cabin in Florida, there are probably certain types of homes that don’t make sense where you live. What are the common weather problems — humidity? Hurricanes? Months of snow? What’s more, how will the home plan you like deal with those elements? Whatever house style is chosen, make sure it suits your location.
Know the Neighborhood. If you’ve already picked not just the area but also the land where you plan to build, get to know the neighborhood. Are there rules and covenants that must be followed? Are all the homes a specific style? Think about how a given house plan will fit in to that location. If you’re building a super modern residence, it could look unique amongst the ordinary architecture styles around it, or it could stand out in a negative way.
Decide What Floor Plan Works for You. Some people prefer traditional layouts, where the living room, dining room and kitchen are clearly separated by walls and entryways. Others lean toward the more open layout, which allows all the main living spaces to view into one another. The traditional layout may block some noise and create more compartmentalization for living, and the open layout may make a space seem larger and more inviting. Decide which of the layouts you prefer before settling on a floor plan.
Think about Outdoor Features. Whether you live in an area with harsh winters or an area with a year-round temperate climate, if spending time outside is important to you, look for home plans that make that possible. From patios to porches to decks, explore the possibilities for creating outdoor living areas. You may also be interested in a screened-in porch or a sunroom for greater versatility through the seasons.
Customize As Desired. It’s rare that a floor plan will be exactly what you need right away, but remember a floor plan can usually be modified to your tastes. If you find something that’s close to what you want, if only the garage were on the other side of the home, for example, talk to your builder or contact our modifications department about the possibilities.
Add Amenities That Are Important to You. If you’ve always wished for French doors to the backyard or a bay window in the living room, building your home makes that possible. Figure out which special amenities mean the most to you and look for a floor plan that accommodates them.
Worry about Finishes Later. No matter the chosen house plan, you can always customize floors, appliances and fixtures to your tastes. When you’re evaluating options, don’t get hung up on the light fixtures in one model or the marble countertops in another. For the sake of the home plan, focus on layout and size first.
Picture Your Furnishings Inside. Once your new home is built, will you plan to buy all new furniture, or will your current possessions come with you? Can you visualize how you might decorate the space, or are you a little lost about how you’ll fill such a large living room? While you will be free to make decorating changes as you go over time, it’s still a good idea to imagine the way your finished home will look and how it will fit with your tastes.
Work within Your Budget. Last but not least, understand how much you can afford to spend on the home you build. Realistically, if money were no object, picking a house plan would be easy — you’d just figure out what you want and go build it. However, the fact is, most people are limited financially, so take all your desires and goals and see what you can make happen for the budget you have. Communicate with your builder about expectations and see what you can make work, realistically.
Finding the house plan that suits you is all about knowing what you want, need and can afford — use the tips above to guide your efforts at finding your dream home layout!
Begin your house plan search at www.dongardner.com.
Thank you for pointing out that if we know the plot of land that we’d like to build on that we might want to consider how it would look next to the other homes in the area when we’re choosing a plan. We’re thinking of having a house built for us that we could retire into in a couple of years. If we choose the neighborhood first, it might help us decide on a design that won’t look out of place.
I’m glad you found this helpful, Oscar!
I’ve been wanting to look at some homes for sale for a while now, and I think that being able to get the right plan would be good. I’m glad you talked about being able to work within your budget, which I think is something important to me. I’m going to have to look for a good home for sale within our budget and with the right floorplan to make sure its perfect for our family!
Thanks for the feedback, Jordan!
In the article you mentioned that you may change your mind on a specific item, so you should find a designer that can adapt to your changing needs and wants. My brother and his wife are thinking about building a home, and wanted to find someone who could come up with a design. I’ll advise they look for someone with a reputation for being flexible in the design, as I know my brother can often change his mind a few times before he makes his final decision on things. Thank you for the tips.
Thank you for your comment, Rachel. Building a home is a time to let personal needs and wants shine through, and it is definitely important to find a designer that understands the importance of flexibility!
Thank you for the help. My wife and I are about to start our future house design. I love the idea of building it to suit the geography. Do you think we should get a local designer to help make it fit the area better?
Hi Justin, a local designer may be a good option to customize a home plan to your surrounding area. Especially if you are in an area with extreme climate changes, like on the coast.