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Choosing the Right Home Design

Searching for a house plan that meets your lifestyle, needs and budget may seem overwhelming, but knowing what to look for from the start can help make the search easier. When choosing your home design, it's important to pick a plan that not only meets your individual needs, but also considers your building lot, natural landscape, and whether it will be marketable to future buyers if you plan to sell the house at some point in the future.

It's also important to understand that the total square footage of your new home refers to the finished portion of your house plan. Finished living areas are generally described as covered with sheetrock and wallpaper or paint. A "heated area" is also a good indicator for finished space. Garages, porches, and attics are considered unfinished and are not calculated in the total square footage of your home plan.

Home plan considerations

Living needs and family lifestyles

Lifestyle and family needs differ depending on individual needs, stages, and future expectations. First time homeowners are probably looking for something different than empty nesters for example. Before starting your search for a house design, consider these questions:

Do you have or want to start a family? How many children do you have or expect to have? Is there adequate room in your plan for expansion as your family grows?

Will you need guest rooms for visitors? What about additional living space to possibly care for grandchildren or elderly parents in the future?

How do you plan to entertain? Do you want a formal dining room and traditional living room for formal entertaining, an open-concept layout for large casual gatherings, or do you prefer smaller, relaxed family get-togethers?

Study your home plan and consider your building lot to see if it's possible to expand living space in the future.

Think about the time you spend in certain rooms in your current home, and if you'd prefer them larger or smaller. For example, some families like to make the kitchen the center of family gatherings and require an eat-in kitchen with a large island and lots of space, while others prefer a den or family room to entertain with room for large sofas and a fireplace.

How much privacy do you need and where do you need it?

Another important consideration is how much privacy you want and need from other occupants and neighbors. If privacy is important to you, consider a design with an L- or U-shaped design. These types of house plans can provide more privacy when building on an urban or suburban lot.

Most new homeowners prefer home plans with more privacy in the primary bedroom with a split bedroom layout, but others might want privacy in a home office space.

Consider how you plan to use and enjoy your outdoor yard space to see whether features like decks, patios, porches, or pools will meet your needs for outdoor enjoyment. Landscaping, lot type, and location are important when it comes to how much privacy your outdoor spaces will have.

Home work space considerations

Where do you prefer the laundry room to be located? Do you have hobbies or special interests that might require additional space or rooms?

Will you need a large workroom for messy or noisy projects? Do you enjoy gardening? You may want to include a mudroom or utility room with a half-bath and utility sink for quick and easy cleanups.

Furnishings and aesthetics

Will the floor plan of your new home plan accommodate your existing furniture, or anything you plan to buy new? When planning room sizes, carefully consider the seating areas and how furniture placement will affect the overall feel of the room. Do you want two separate seating areas or one larger conversation area? How do you want your main living areas to connect?

Measure your current furniture to determine if there will be adequate walking space and clearance for doors (at least 36 inches). Will the height of your furniture block windows? Does the home plan provide enough wall space, nooks, and areas for art and personal items? Review the natural “traffic flow” of the home plan, the interior views from each room, and how natural lighting can be utilized.

Home designs and outdoor living

The geographical and natural landscaping features of your lot should be considered to find the right house plan. Before deciding on your plan, consider whether your building lot will provide a lawn area for your desired outdoor entertainment like pools, special landscaping, or gardens.

If you've already purchased your building lot, you'll need to consider these factors and tailor the house design that you choose to meet those needs and requirements.

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