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Building a Home: Choosing the Right House Plan for Your Lifestyle



There are many considerations when you decide to build a home. But first, establishing a home building budget is the first essential step towards good planning and avoiding surprises when you build a home. The pricing components for your home will vary depending on region of the country you live in, the size and type of house, specifics of the building lot, and the quality of building materials chosen. Don’t forget to factor in the price of the building lot. After this has been established, you must understand that building your dream house requires careful planning and a good understanding of the process. Here is an overview of The Plan collection's typical home building checklist.  



Steps Involved in Building a Home


•    Establish the budget
•    Review your lifestyle needs
•    Determine the style of home
•    Find a building lot
•    Specify the house plan specs
•    Choose and purchase house plan blueprints
•    Negotiate a contract with a home builder
•    Arrange financing
•    Get permits and approvals
•    Home construction 
•    Inspection and occupancy
•    Decorate and move in


Once your budget is set, then you must answer a series of lifestyle questions. Do you have children, and if so how old are they? Is there a chance elderly or other family members will ever live in this home too? Are you a quiet family or do you prefer entertaining all the time? Last, you want to make sure the house will remain marketable to future buyers in the event that you decide to sell.



Lifestyle Needs


First let’s take a look at your needs and family lifestyles. It all depends on your family’s stage of life. Lifestyles and family needs differ depending on their life cycles, so before choosing a house plan we suggest that you ask yourself the following questions:


•    Are you married? 
•    Do you plan to start a family?
•    How many children do you have or plan to have? 
•    How often will you have overnight guests? 

•    Is it possible that you will be caring for elderly parents or grandchildren in the future? 
•    Do you prefer entertaining indoors formally or outdoors in a casual environment?  
•    Do you need a home office? 
•    Where do you envision the central or focal point of the home – the kitchen, or family room? 
•    How much privacy do you require (from other occupants and/or neighbors)?
•    How do you envision spending time outdoors on your property? 



If privacy is important to you, consider a house plan with an L or U shape design. Windows are also an important element in providing privacy from your neighbor's windows and yards. 


The actual house plan depends on your family’s personal preferences and needs.


Do you:

•    Have any hobbies that would require additional space? 
•    Need a room for messy projects or noisy music? 

•    Require lots space to store collections (china, dolls, antiques, etc.)? 
•    Enjoy gardening so you will need a mud room and half-bath? 
•    Have pets? 



Aesthetics and Style of Home


Architecture in the U.S. is a diverse representation of our multicultural society. Every region, state, city or small town has its own unique style of architecture that has developed over the centuries. However in the last decade, thanks to companies like The Plan Collection, it has become easier than ever before to select a unique house plan online from an array of architects that come from all over the country, each offering styles ranging from colonial, to modern and everything in between, especially those top-end designers and architects who have a track record for building high-end homes. Browsing plans has never been easier, so it is all about what you and your family envision.


When it comes to how big or small your house should be, according to a new study - U.S. Census Bureau 2013 Characteristics of New Housing - the average size of a new home was 2,598 square feet, topping 2007’s record of 2,500 square feet for a single family house plan. This Texas style house plan (left) was featured in the April 5, 2013 edition of the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled, “Blueprint for a Custom Home.” The same plan is also available in a smaller version (Plan #117-1092.) The architectural style is driven by personal preferences, by the region you live in, or both.


There are a few other factors to consider when you choose the style of house you would like. Would you prefer a one or two story home? Are you considering a full basement or a slab foundation? Your decisions will have an impact on the construction costs regardless of the architectural style you select.


Certain architectural styles will inevitably increase the construction cost of your home and should be accounted for in your budget. For example, ranch house plans are fairly easy to build in terms of their simple architecture as compared to many house plans in the classic Mediterranean or Spanish architectural styles common to Florida or California. Modern house plans can be pricey too, depending on the design.


By purchasing pre-drawn floor plans you will be getting them at a significantly lower cost. Plus, if necessary, these house plans can always be modified to suit your own preferences by a local home builder or draftsman.



Building Codes


Building codes will vary by region, so plans may need further modifications from a local builder to account for local or requirements. Anyone who purchases a house plan online should work with their builder to ensure that the plan suits the building-site conditions and comply with local codes. Online sites are a good starting point, especially for people looking to build a luxury home.


Basically, it’s important to know if the floor plan you choose will accommodate your existing furniture arrangements and your style. To plan room sizes, carefully consider how furniture placement affects the overall feel of the room. You will need ample walking space (36 inches around furniture and door clearance.) Do you have any furniture that will block any windows? It is important to measure the furnishings you plan to move into your new home.


Here is one more thing – when calculating the total square footage – porches, basements, attics and decks are considered unfinished areas therefore they are not calculated in the total square footage of your new house plan.



House Plans and Outdoor Living


The geography and landscaping of your lot might have an impact on the style of home plan you choose. Do you envision a lawn area for outdoor sports activities or do you want a swimming pool and/or Jacuzzi? What about growing a vegetable garden? Do you envision a pond with coy fish?


House plans for flat building lots are less expensive to build, whereas a sloping lot might allow for a daylight basement or garage under the house. Should you choose a narrow lot, the house design would need to rise up instead of spreading out. Wider shallow lots might accommodate a broad one-story house plan. And a lot with spectacular view would call for large panoramic windows and possibly a roomy outdoor deck.


One more factor, mundane as it is, how many cars will you be housing? Will there be enough driveway space for entertaining guests or for parking cars as your family grows.


Once you believe you have selected the right style, size and house plan to fit your budget, you will need to find the right building lot. A good tip is to list the pros and cons of the things that you liked and disliked about places you have lived in the past. Then compose a wish list with important attributes that you are searching for and bring this list with you as you start to check out lot locations. While searching for your ideal building lot, evaluate each lot based upon the qualities on your list.

July 13, 2014

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