By: Todd Fratzel
Seeing that I have recently finished building our new home I thought I’d share some insights into the design of a new home. There are many new house plans available today and the sky’s the limit on features and styles. The biggest problem with the design process is once we’ve decided that we’d like to build a new home human nature kicks in and we want it to happen over night. The problem with that is we typically don’t spend enough time evaluating and considering the design aspects of the new house. The most important thing to remember is spending extra time in the beginning will prevent you from having second thoughts once the house is done. The following list are ten important things to consider when choosing a new house plan.
1. Style – I think the style of the home is the best place to start. The style of the home will connect with so many of the choices you make so its important to spend some quality time thinking about the style you’d like to live in. Are your preferences more modern or traditional? Do you want a house that is similar to your neighbors? What house style will hold the best value in your neighborhood? What style house will closely match your interior style and existing furnishings? These are all questions that you need to ask yourself and your family. This was a tough question for my wife and I as we grew up on two sides of the country and our styles are very different.
2. Number of Bedrooms – This question may seem simple and easy to answer but it is worth thinking about and discussing. The easiest answer to this question would be based on your current family size and needs. You may need a two bedroom today and need a four bedroom down the road when your family grows. Or maybe you need four bedrooms today yet your kids will be off to college in a few years.
3. Single Level Vs. Multiple Levels – Whether or not your new house has only one level or more is really a personal decision. Some people really enjoy having single level living with no stairs to climb up and down. Some people prefer the more traditional cape and colonial home styles with bedrooms on the second floor. Some land sites are quite small and someone looking for decent square footage may only be able to build a multi-level house. If you think you may retire and live in your house as you get older the single level house may appeal to you.
4. Master Bedroom Suite – Today’s new house plans typically offer a master bedroom suite. These suites often have generous closet space, large private bathrooms with soaker tubs, jetted tubs, large walk-in showers and even walk-in closets. These suites generally increase the value of the home and make the house more marketable if you sell in the future.
5. Bonus Rooms (Laundry, Play) – One of the most popular trends in todays house plans are dedicated laundry rooms and the renewed popularity of pantries. In fact, in my new house we made the mudroom a combination laundry and pantry. Some house plans offer laundry on the second floor of multi-leveal houses. A word of caution if you choose a second floor laundry. Make sure you insist that some type of extensive drain system be installed in the unfortunate case there is a broken washing machine hose.
6. Number of Bathrooms – The average number bathrooms in new houses has steadily increased over the years. The average home in the US has 2 1/2 baths and the average appears to be heading towards 3.
7. Kitchen Style – I could write an entire article on this topic, however, the main point here is that many house plans have just a basic kitchen layout. My suggestion is find a house you like and then modify the kitchen to your liking. Plenty of home supply stores will design you a new kitchen free of charge based on the floor plan so don’t let a simple kitchen layout deter you from a house plan you really like.
8. Floor Plans – When evaluating floor plans try to visualize how you will furnish the house and how you plan on using different rooms in your daily life. Get a tape measure and measure rooms in your current house to get an idea of how big a 12’x15′ room really is. Often people have a hard time visualizing the size of a room and later when the house is done they are not happy with the size. I really suggest spending time on the evaluation.
9. Functionality – The functionality of the new house plan is really one of the most important aspects for your long term comfort and use of the house. If you put the dining room on the other side of the living room so that you have to carry meals through the living room you will soon realize that’s not very functional. The same is true about the proximity of bathrooms to bedrooms. Again, I think its important to compare where you currently live to the house plan and think about your likes and dislikes.
10. House Site – The house site can sometimes play a big part in the style, floor plan and functionality. For instance, if you have a very small site you may need two floors. Or maybe your lot is really hilly and needs a drive under garage. Just make sure that when you pick a couple of plans you evaluate them based on the lot as well.
About the Author
Todd Fratzel, P.E. is a building superintendent for a construction firm in New Hampshire. In addition to supervising the construction of new homes Todd is a registered professional engineer in the New Hampshire and Massachusetts and has an extensive back ground in building structures. For additional articles like this one see his blog at http://homeconstructionimprovement.blogspot.com
(ArticlesBase SC #89577)