Many of the homes you see may appear to be just what you’re looking for. But are they? One way to find out is to carefully analyze what you want in a home. This is an important first step we’ll show you how to take.
For most people, budget is the most critical element in narrowing the choices. Generally, the size of the home, or, specifically, the square footage of living area is the single most important criteria in establishing the cost of a new home. Also, in most instances, it’s cheaper to build up than to build out (assuming the same amount of square footage). Sprawling ranch houses have twice the foundation and roof area of the multi-level homes covering half the ground area.
Your next task is to consider the style of home you want. Should it be traditional, contemporary, one-story or two-story? If yours is an infill lot in an existing neighborhood, is the design you like compatible with the existing residential architecture? If not, will the subdivision permit you to build the design of your choice?
And what about the site itself? What will it allow you to do and what won’t it allow you to do?
Site topography is the first consideration in floor plan development. Slopes, both gentle and steep, will affect the home design you select. If you want a multi-level home with a walk-out basement that appears to be a single-story residence from the street, you need a lot that slopes from front to back. And what about the garage? Do you prefer access at street level or a lower level?
Next, there is the issue of orientation, that is, the direction in which you want the house to face. Considering the north-south or east-west orientation of the site itself, will the plan you choose allow you to enjoy sweeping views from the living room? Does the design have a lot of glass on the south side that will permit you to take advantage of the sun’s warmth in winter?
Now for the tough part; figuring out what you want inside the house to satisfy your needs and lifestyle. To a large extent, that may depend on where you are in life — just starting out, whether you have toddlers or teenagers, whether you’re an “empty-nester,” or retired.
Next, think about the components of the home. Do you want, or need, both a living room and family room or would just one large great room suffice? Do you want, or need, both a breakfast room and a formal dining room? How many bedrooms, full baths and half baths do you need? How much storage? And what about space for working from home, hobbies or a workshop?
When you’ve completed your wish list, think about how you want your home to function. In architectural terms, think about spatial relationships and circulation, or in other words, the relationship of each of the components to one another.
For example, to deliver groceries conveniently, the kitchen should be directly accessible from the garage. To serve meals efficiently, the dining area should be adjacent to the kitchen. The same principle applies to other areas and components of the home. Consider the flow from entry foyer to living, sleeping, and food preparation areas.
As you study your favorite home plan, ask yourself if it’s possible to close off certain spaces to eliminate noise from encroaching upon others. For instance, if you enjoy listening to music, you don’t want it drowned out by a droning dishwasher or blaring TV being watched by another member of the family nearby. Similarly, sleeping areas and bathrooms should be remote from living areas. After you’ve come to terms with the types and relationship of rooms you want in your dream home, you can then concentrate on the size and features you want for each of those spaces.
If cooking is a hobby and you entertain frequently, you might want a large gourmet kitchen or even the ever-so-popular outdoor kitchen. If you like openness and a laid-back environment, you might want a large family room with picture windows, a fireplace, vaulted ceiling, and exposed wood beams. A central living area directly accessible to an outdoor deck or patio is the ultimate in casual, relaxed style.
Deciding what you want in your dream home, where you want it, and how you want it to look is thought provoking and time consuming, but careful planning and thought will have a great return on investment when it comes to you and your family’s happiness.
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