Before You Build: How to “Experience” a Walk-through of Your Dream House Plan
One of the most exciting parts of the new home-building journey is dreaming of your new home and searching through house plans to find the perfect ones for you. This entails weeks if not months of searching home plans, making sure every single aspect and feature of the build adds up to what amounts to be your dream home. The process can easily turn to disappointment or anxiety if you struggle to comprehend the plans and how they will actually convert into a luxurious home.
What if someone gave you one of these homes as a gift? Close your eyes … visualize and think of what you would do with a timeless one-story Acadian style plan like the one at left (Plan # 142-1100) ... or a two-story storybook European Tudor like the one at right (Plan # 153-1750).
… or a luxurious two-story Mediterranean style house plan like this, with its arches and terra-cotta roof tiles (Plan # 134-1011)? Start thinking in images as you plan/build your dream home.
You shouldn't fret over not being able to visualize how a floor plan on a piece of paper or computer screen will someday become the home where you make lasting lifetime memories. To the naked eye house plans are just that—a picture, and a confusing one at that if you don’t know what you are looking at. But we offer you some tips learned over years in the design and architecture industry that have helped our customers bring these floor plans to life.
A designer/architect can help you understand the technology—but ultimately, it’s your home. So unwind the reel of images in your mind, and visualize every detail of your dream home (Plan # 106-1276).
Orient Yourself within the Plan
One of the main sources of confusion or the inability to visualize floor plans is the fact that you are actually looking down on the property—something that will never happen unless you own your own helicopter. While this aerial perspective is unfamiliar, try to orient yourself with the front of the home in the floor plan, kind of like a “you are here” in a shopping mall directory.
Take a long and close look at this Craftsman-style home, and start visualizing its interior: think of where you want to position everything for the ideal floor layout (Plan # 198-1006).
Once you have oriented yourself with the front of the house on the plans, the rest of the property should seamlessly fall into place. Your front door is your starting point, but now from the aerial view, you can start to visualize, say, standing on the porch with the foyer in front of you, inside the living room on the right, and the dining room on the left, possibly a garage on the distant left, and other features that will become familiar parts of your home.
Once you've “found north,” so to speak, on the house plans and have identified the front, back, and sides of your property, the next tip to help visualize is to start walking through the home. Imagine yourself on a day like any other, pulling into your driveway and heading toward the front door. In your mind, imagine opening that front door. Look for visual clues in the floor plans that will become focal points. Maybe the first thing you notice when you open the door is the vaulted ceilings or a back wall fireplace. The vaulted ceiling will appear as diagonal dotted lines in the floor plan, and the fireplace will be marked against a wall. If your plans have your front entrance opening into a kitchen, take note of the cabinet or breakfast island callouts on the floor plan.
AImagine yourself walking slowly to this attractive entry (above) made of stone and wood, with its double doors (Plan 142-1083). Or slowly open the door to this beautiful, sun-filled foyer (Plan 142-1090). Stop for a minute, and visualize what else you can see inside your house-to-be (below).
A crucial part of visually bringing your home to life through floor plans is actually walking through the plans as you would if the house were built. Imagine yourself walking down the hallway to a bedroom or passing through the kitchen to get to a restroom. Labels used in the floor plans will help greatly as you progress. The more you make your way through the house and “play” with different routes within the plans, the more they will start to become familiar.
A typical floor plan that details every nook and cranny of a one-story Craftsman-style home with a front porch, two-car garage, three bedrooms, two baths, study, and mud room (Plan # 106-1276).
Pay attention to the symbols used in the floor plan.
• For the most part, they are common-sense representations of items such as toilets, sinks, cabinets, kitchen islands, appliances (sometimes labeled “REF” or “DW,” etc.), stairs, etc.
• A solid-looking cabinet against a wall with a dotted line, for example, indicates base cabinets with upper wall cabinets above indicated by the dotted lines.
• An opening in a wall with a curved line coming off it indicates a hinged door that swings.
• An opening in a wall with two or three lines running through it between the wall opening indicates a window.
• Dotted lines coming from a wall and forming a rectangle or other shape in the middle of the room indicates a tray or vaulted ceiling.
• Dotted lines that look like walls indicate support beams in an open floor plan, so you will know that you can actually see through the space into other rooms.
Renderings and Photos
It can sometimes be difficult for potential homeowners to imagine their build just from looking at two-dimensional (2D) drawings, but that visualization becomes much easier with the presentation of three-dimensional (3D), technically “perspective,” renderings. Many plans have either interior photos or perspective renderings that will ultimately help you read your 2D floor plans that much better. Sometimes you need to see a rendering of the front of your house with siding, windows, or even trees and bushes to truly know it's the design you had in mind. Interior renderings work the same way by inserting 3D cabinets, appliances, and even stairways and paintings for a more realistic point of view.
Start from this perspective rendering of a two-story home … imagine, create, and imagine some more …
… and voila! Enjoy the sight of this classically simple and beautiful country home (Plan 126-1297)!
Check for Rear and Side Elevations
Many of our house plans include rear- and side-elevation views, which helps in the visualization. (They all include them in the final purchased plan package.) What an elevation drawing basically contains is the view of the home from the outside. One of the biggest disadvantages of looking down aerially on a floor plan is the inability to visualize walls, doors, windows, and similar vertical features. Rear- and-side elevation views include these exterior features but also important visualization clues such as a roof line and pitch or material styles like siding and brick. Elevation views also help a customer view the home with its second or even third story from the North, South, East, and West. Some of our customers actually have an easier time conceptualizing their home via an elevation view than they do a rendering, believe it or not. If you don’t see a rear or side elevation with a floor plan, ask for it.
Rear and side elevations give you a clearer picture of the home’s exterior—from walls to doors, windows, and roof lines, as shown in the left and right elevation of this Craftsman-style home plan (Plan # 106-1276).
Other Tips To Consider
One of our main tips to customers who are struggling to visualize or orient their floor plans is to actually go out to the plot of land where the home is going to be built. By standing on the area that will soon be your actual home and navigating the property physically, it helps a picture become reality.
One other tip that we like to stress is that the design and concept phase is the time to make any changes. If you are uncertain whether you like a feature of the house—and you might want it changed or moved—it is much easier to modify a home plan than it is to demo a wall once built!
With a little effort and time spent with floor plans, you will be able to enjoy searching for and visualizing your Dream Home!
Footnote: The lead image (upper) in this article is a gorgeous two-story, five-bedroom house plan that features Mediterranean touches. For more details, click here.