You’ve finally decided to build a home! Congratulations! This is an incredibly exciting time in your life. However, this excitement can backfire if you become distracted by all of the shiny new options available (granite countertops! Heated floors in the bathroom!) and forget about what will really determine how well you and your family adapt to your new house.
Too many times, we’ve worked with clients who have made the mistake of not putting a lot of thought into their floor plans in the past and have found that they are unhappy with huge portions of their home that they are now unable to change. Forced to put their (once) new home on the market, they come to us having learned their lesson and knowing what truly matters.
Though we enjoy working with these clients, we want to educate those looking to build so they don’t have to make the same mistakes the first time. Homes are unique to the families that live in them, and those families can change over time. To determine the best floor plan for your family, ask yourself the following questions:
How many bedrooms do we need and is that likely to change in the next 5-10 years? Most people ask themselves the first part of this question (We have two children, so we need three bedrooms), but not the second part. Are you planning to have more children? Are your children older and will be leaving home soon? Do you have an aging parent who may need to come live with you in the next few years? This can determine if you should build a home with more rooms than you currently need, or if you need to consider a flex room that can be transformed down the road as your children go off to college.
How healthy is our family and what is our health outlook? Do you have bad knees? Husband have a back that frequently bothers him? Do you have a child with asthma? Considering these factors will help determine the number of levels your home will have and where to put bedrooms and other features that are easily accessed if any family members have health concerns.
Where does most of the entertaining/socializing take place? If you find that your wife is always cooking in the kitchen, but still wants to interact with the rest of the family and any guests you have over, a closed off kitchen and dining area is a bad choice. Keep in mind what will be most conducive to your lifestyle and not just your likes/dislikes in a floor plan.
What is your furniture situation? There’s nothing worse than finishing your dream home and then realizing your beloved heirloom grandfather clock won’t fit in the living room. Take an inventory of the size of your furniture, where you want it to be placed and any ‘wish list’ furniture items you have for your new house. Give these to your builder so he can make sure they work with the plan you’re developing.
What type of utility bills can we afford? Many people get stars in their eyes when they see floor to ceiling windows or skylights, but never think about how that will impact their utility costs. Talk with your builder about what you expect to pay in utility bills and make sure your floor plan is reasonable for your budget. You might also talk about some efficient features such as geothermal options or heat pumps to bring those costs down even more.
Moving into your newly built home should be one of the happiest memories you and your family have. If you work with your builder and consider more than just aesthetics and the ‘wow’ factor in the planning stages, you can ensure that your new home will be a place of rest and enjoyment for many years to come.