If you’re in the market to build a new home and you’ve even begun to consider what kind of a plan you should buy it’s quite likely that you’ve been completely overwhelmed by the number of choices you have in the market today. There are literally hundreds of online sources and published magazines with house plans, ideas and designs for you to look at and you’re probably beginning to wonder how you’ll ever make up your mind. Don’t stress out anymore because I’m going to give you 7 steps to take that will let you take a HUGE list down to just a few plans and make your design process a great deal easier.
Step # 1: Start a Binder
Whether you’re searching the Web, sifting through magazines or shopping show homes you’ll need some sort of resource to help you catalogue the plans you’re looking at to compare them. So before you even go to Google to look I recommend having a place to store all your ideas and I’ve always found a binder to be the very best. This way you can not only sort all of your favorite plans into a set of tabs but, if you’re going to have someone do a completely custom design for you, you can also store plans and photos that have ideas you would like to incorporate.
Step # 2: Understand what you want
Right off the bat you know more about what you want in your home than anybody else just based on what’s happening in your life. You know if your family is growing or shrinking. You know what kind of land you have to build on. You know if you might need a bit of help with the mortgage, can anyone say legal suite?
A neat trick I came up with a little while ago is to make a list of the 3 biggest events in your life in the past 3 years and the 3 biggest events you WANT to happen in the next 3. Then throw in 3 things that are just fun.
Last 3 Years – Events in my life
1. Baby Daughter born 2008
2. Purchased a new business
3. Mother had a Heart attack
Next 3 Years – Events in my life
1. Another baby (maybe a boy this time?)
2. Buy a new car
3. Lose 10 Pounds
1. Took a cooking class
2. Daughter started swimming
3. Bought new camping equipment
I think you can see where we’re heading here. Even from just this short list of life events you can see that this family is growing. They’re going to need some extra bedrooms and a lot of storage space for their expanding lives.
Maybe an extra garage bay or an exercise room might be important for them, and they definitely want room for an office in their home.
You can probably make this list in your head fairly quickly but the importance of it appears when you start to look at the kinds of spaces you need to have in your life for the next few years. I highly recommend taking a serious look at it and deciding what you need to have from highest priority to lowest before you even start to look. That way when you start getting creative you can keep track of those priorities throughout the process of design.
Step # 3: Research your area
I always encourage people to have a look at the show homes and new homes that are being built in your area first. There are so many great reasons for this step being #3 but most importantly it gets you into the market you live in and shows you what people around you are doing and “not” doing. Having a wonderful idea that you absolutely have to have in your home is great, but if you ever have to try to sell that house and EVERYONE else is doing the complete opposite of your plan you might have a problem selling your home into that market. So it might not be a bad idea to think long and hard about that door from your bedroom into the garage…or that carpet in your en suite…
Step # 4: Know your budget
It’s really important before you start looking to have an idea of what you can afford to spend on your new home. I recommend talking to some local home builders and finding out what they build for on a price per square foot basis. This type of price guessing isn’t the most accurate as it can vary widely from builder to builder and based on what kinds of finishes you put into your home but it will give you an important benchmark to begin with so you can keep your expectations realistic and avoid a very disappointing estimate once you choose the plan that’s right for you.
Step # 5: Start with the Web
The internet is fantastic when it comes to searching house plans and sorting them into categories. Not only is it a free resource with companies competing tooth and nail to get your attention but it offers you so many options to sort and catalog plans that you can easily sift out the plans that don’t fit your goals and only look at the ones that really might make the cut.
Now that you’ve assessed your needs and what you want to be able to grow into in this home you can easily make decisions about the type of house plan you are looking for so no matter what website you’re looking at for your plans you can make good choices for a design that works for your life.
Once you’ve begun searching you want to keep hard copies of everything you like. Try to print off plans that have ideas you like and especially plans that are the right size and have the right spaces for your family. Catalog them in your binder and put your favorites to the front so you can easily track them.
Step # 6: Pictures and idea books
Whether you found 1, 5, 25 or no plans on the internet that you think fit your needs the next step will be to look in plan magazines and home idea books. If you already have a plan that your set on GREAT, but keep in mind that many plan designers will allow you to customize that plan with any revisions you like in order to make it just right for you. So take a look through some magazines and start cutting out some pictures for your binder that have neat features, window & door ideas and cabinet & kitchen layouts that appeal to you. If you have those in hand when you go to the plan company to have your revisions made they will be better able to give you exactly what you want.
Step # 7: Finalizing your decision
So here we are at the end of the process of selection. Hopefully you’ve found a home plan that is perfect but more likely you’re choosing between 2 or 3 plans. If you’re struggling to make a decision you can refer back to your list of needs to help with the choice. Ultimately you need a plan that will satisfy your needs for the next 3 to 5 years or perhaps longer but whatever plan you choose your new home will be the best place for you and your family because of the work you’ve put into its selection. Best wishes in your new home and may your future be bright.