3 Steps To The Perfect Floor Plans – Chapter 1
Gather your thoughts for your floor plans
If you already have floor plans idea pictures in a binder or on a hard drive. Or even better a Pinterest account full of ideas, that’s great! This is your starting point.
Starting the process
How do you work best, on paper, electronically, a combination?
It doesn’t matter. Gather and save all your ideas in a way that works best for you. File folders, three-ring binders, Pinterest, Houzz, pictures and ideas saved on a phone or computer. I’ve seen it all work well. It’s going to come down to focus and organization.
Function: Size and room arrangement. How will you live?
First, let’s separate function (how you live in, your house – floor plans), from looks and finishes (how your home looks – interiors). What bothers you about your current homes floor plans function? How would you solve them in a new house?
Think about these questions for your floor plans:
- More space, if so where? (Living areas, bigger kitchen, more bedrooms, bigger bedrooms, etc.)
- Different arrangement of rooms?
- Do I need better access to the back yard?
- Better access to the garage?
- Am I tired of hearing the kids in the living room when I’m trying to sleep?
- Want more closets or an attic?
Write down everything:
- What do I not like about the layout of my current house? (just talking about arrangement, number, and size of the rooms.)
- How would I solve the above problems in a new house?
Visualize yourself living in a new home.
- How does your day start?
- What does everyone do when they wake up?
- Family members leaving the house?
- When they come home?
- Where do they drop their stuff?
- Work from home?
- How would a new house make those things more enjoyable?
- How does your family spend evenings/ weekends and would a new house enhance them?
Above vision will start to shape the floor plans layout.
Visualization is critical to creating your ideal house. This vision will keep you from getting derailed.
Floor Plans Details
Room Sizes & Numbers
- Number of bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas, dining areas, garage spaces, etc.?
- How big do you need each of the above rooms to be?
- Note “need,” not “want.”
Later, compromising going on (unless you have an unlimited budget). Don’t want to get emotionally tied to room sizes at this point.
Some things to think about:
- If you have children, think about how they use their rooms now, and how you’d like them to be able to use them.
- Bedrooms just for sleeping, or would multipurpose be better.
- Will I use my kitchen to cook or is it art with a little function (we are not judging)?
- Lots of floor space for more than one person working in the kitchen?
- Need more than one?
- Have lots of family and / or friends over frequently?
- Only host groups every once in awhile, will an expandable dinner table work?
Family / living room
- Do your guests frequently hang out in the family room?
Floor Plans Room Layout
- Where should the rooms be in relation to each other?
Here are some examples.
- Should the living room be on the back of the house or the front?
- View to the back from the living room?
- Important to access the back patio from the living room?
- From the kitchen or dining room?
- Do kids come in and out from the back yard needing easy access to a bathroom?
- Should all the bedrooms be on one side of the house or separate?
- Kids are small and want them close now, is that going to change at teenagehood?
- Unload groceries from the car and walk straight into the kitchen?
- Does someone in your family routinely come in from outside tracking in dirt and mud?
- Do you need a mudroom or a drop zone where kids (or anyone) can drop shoes, backpacks, purses, phones, etc.?
- Spend several hours going to look at open houses that are in, or below, your budget.
- Pretend you’re going to buy one of them (find that perfect one, buy it before someone else does).
- Take your specifics list, and take notes
- It’s important to write stuff down.
- Revisit house later after you’ve learned something new and want to confirm it.
Steps you should take as you tour the houses:
- Download and print this free house comparison chart to keep organized.
- Visualize yourself living in each house you tour. (bringing in groceries, hanging out on the back patio, coming home from work, kids coming home from school, etc.)
- Take a tape measure with you and don’t be shy about using it.
- How wide is your bed and nightstands are together?
- Have a feel for how much space you need between the corner of a bed and the wall?
- How closely does house match your list? How would you change it?
- What are your likes and dislikes?
- Layout of the rooms? How could it be better?
- How are the room sizes? Big enough? Too big, like space is wasted?
- Before, during, or after touring all those homes, review floor plan ideas online at elementshomebuilder.com.
- Mark floor plans with the same elements you liked on the house tour.
- You aren’t likely to find that perfect floor plans
- Find visual aids you can refer to later when painting your picture for the house designer, architect, or builder.
Include new houses in your shopping
- They’ll be more representative of what you can expect to get within your budget.
- Looking for someone to draw your plans later. Find a plan that is close, hire the person who designed it.
- Look for specific design elements.
- See if you can get a copy of the floor plan for reference.
- If you can’t, ask for the name of the designer designed the floor plans.
- If the builder created the design in-house, and that builder doesn’t build on land outside his own communities, that’s OK. You can re-create the elements you like from your notes.
Specific Features In Your Floor Plans
Looking for specific design elements in new house? Also, looking for indicators of the house designer’s philosophy, or approach, to creating floor plans. You’ll see these indicators in finished homes and floor plan ideas, a particular designer will show you as examples of his or her work.
In addition to overall size, overall shape of floor plans have a big impact on cost as well as how the finished home looks. Therefore, when touring homes walk around the outside. The front of the house probably has some offsets, or jogs, or corners, where there are different roof lines, gables, porches, etc. The front needs those things for aesthetics.
Now walk around the sides and back of the house. Are the sides and back straight, do they have just a few jogs, or do they have about as many jogs as the front? Now, look at every corner where the outside wall changes direction: notice that the roof gets more complicated right there as it follows along. Every time the outside wall turns a corner, some material gets wasted.
Are there lots of angles (other than 90-degree angles) inside or outside? Many times a house designer or architect will design walls at 30- or 45-degree angles for the visual effect. If you value that sort of thing, make sure you add it to your list. Those types of angles are a design feature in floor plans cost money for two reasons:
- First, they result in some material waste, and
- Second, they create some wasted square footage that must be added back in somewhere to make the house function.
Hallways, Closests, Floor Plans Wasted Space
Hallways – necessary, of course, to have efficient access from room to room. However, a good design minimizes them through clever room arrangement.
Closets – we all want lots of closets, right? While ample storage is a good thing, many times small linen closets and storage closets are a result of poor design. (represent “dead space”/ poor design)
Keep furniture and traffic in mind as you’re looking at homes, and you’ll start to get a feel for wasted space. A good designer will be able to give a lot of direct with this.
Floor plans elements that are integrated vs. afterthoughts
Look for rooms, closets, or patios whose roof line seems odd compared to the rest of the house. Designing a roof for a complex floor plans can be tricky. However, designers sometimes add something that wasn’t part of the original design which is less fuctional than starting over.
Online Floor Plans Research
Look online for floor plan elements that remind you of some of the homes you toured. It’s great to find floor plan elements on a screen or paper, but being able to bring those elements to life in 3D helps you visualize the reality. For example, that enclosed 11-foot by 12-foot formal dining room looks great in the pretty magazine picture, but try putting a table in that room surrounded by chairs with family members sitting in them, and you’ll see why it won’t work in real life.
Interior Decor finishes: eye candy
So far, we’ve talked about gathering thoughts only on the layout of house plans: square footage, number and types of rooms, and room arrangements.
(So far we’ve ignored the green shag carpet and purple wall paint.)
Let’s apply the same techniques to the look and feel of houses to gather thoughts and ideas on finishes and materials you’ll want for your new house.
We haven’t really talked that much about budget yet, but to keep things realistic, remember to look at houses that are on the market in your price range or a little under.
Give yourself a buffer. Somewhere in the back of your mind is a “must-have” item that you probably haven’t seen anywhere yet, which is one of the reasons you haven’t just bought an existing house.
Leave some room in your list of desires for that item so you don’t mentally spend your “must-have” money on some shiny object of distraction.
Here’s what you want to do next.
How should your new home look and feel? Some questions to think about.
- How important to you is the look of your home?
- What kind of style do you want? Traditional? Modern? Transitional (kind of the best of traditional and Modern)? Do you want a “modern farmhouse” look or “English Cottage”?
- Latest styles in granite, quartz, and floor tile, or is something more modest closer to your taste?
Use magazines – online (Pinterest, Houzz, etc.) for styles and materials you like.
- Touring homes look for the above items—how do they translate in real life? How will they look five years from now? Will they hold up?
- Use the 2nd page of the House Comparison Chart you downloaded to do the same exercise you did above for the function elements of your new house.