Choosing a house plan that suits your needs, lifestyle and budget is a challenging task. When you consider other critical factors, like compatibility with neighboring houses and future marketability, this endeavor can be downright daunting. However, if you ask yourself all the important questions, eliminating unsuitable floor plans becomes much easier.
Before you choose your house design, consult our guide on how to find the right house plan for your new build. It makes the planning process go more smoothly if you know what to look for in a design.
What Size of Home Will Work Best for Your Family?
When deciding the appropriate size of your new house, keep the following considerations in mind.
1. What Is Your Current Home Like?
To determine the right size for your future home, the first questions you should ask yourself are:
- How do I feel in my current home?
- Does it feel too big or too small?
Would you be more comfortable with additional rooms? Would you love if one of your walls was pushed back a foot? Make a list of the things you like and dislike about your current home and past homes to figure out what is most important to you.
For example, do you like to host people for parties, but your current kitchen is too small to accommodate your guests? Would you like more children but feel like your current house is at full capacity? Or do all your children live elsewhere, and you have several empty bedrooms in the house? Do you work from home? Consider all of these things as you shop for the right-sized floor plans.
2. How Many Stories?
Do you mind having stairs in your home? If your health is good and walking up and down stairs isn’t a problem for you, you should consider two-story plans.
Two-story designs with a master bedroom downstairs and all other bedrooms on the second floor are a popular choice among younger families. If you have an older relative in your household, the design you choose should have at least one additional bedroom on the first floor. Of course, if you’d rather not deal with any stairs at all, stick to single-level floor plans.
3. The Number of Bedrooms
The size of your family impacts how many bedrooms you need, as does your hosting schedule. How big is your family? Do you plan to have more children? Will you open your home to your aging parents? Would you like guest rooms? How many bedrooms you’d like will greatly affect the size of the home you’ll need.
4. The Number of Bathrooms
What kind of bathrooms you would like and how many you need may be two different things. Would you prefer that the master bedroom has a spacious, luxurious bathroom? If you have multiple children, would you like them to each have their own bathroom? Would you like a bathroom for guests on your main floor? Must they all be full baths, or can a few be half baths? Your answers should give you a firm number for bathrooms.
What Style House Will Fit Your Environment the Best?
Your location may determine the floor plan type that best suits you and your family. Single-family houses provide you with a backyard, giving you more room to play or relax. Attached homes, such as condos or brownstones in urban areas, can also meet the needs of families, although divided among multiple floors. Split-level plans refer to homes that have multiple floors where floor levels are staggered. You may want to find out which designs are common in the area where you want to buy.
Choosing a Floor Plan
When looking over a house plan, ask yourself these questions.
What Improvements Does This House Offer Over Your Current One?
Beyond obvious things like more storage, bathrooms and bedrooms, find other ways a floor plan layout will improve your life. Perhaps the great room will provide more space for family activities or the office will allow you to spend fewer evenings at the workplace and more time with family. If the master bedroom is on the first floor, you won’t have to spend as much time climbing stairs. A bigger garage could provide space for that boat you always wanted to buy.
Will This Home Be the Right Size for You in Five or 10 Years?
No matter what life stage you’re currently in, a house that’s perfect for you now might be too big or too small down the road. A house with a flexible plan allows you to adapt rooms for new purposes as your needs change. If you have another child, you can convert a playroom into a new bedroom. If the home office comes with a bathroom, you can:
- Use the office as a bedroom for guests who stay overnight
- Move in an elderly parent
- Convert it to a first-floor master bedroom
Does the Design Coordinate With the Site Where You Plan to Build?
Many people have a site chosen before they pick a house plan. This lets you compare the plan with the lot and picture where your future home will go on the lot and how it will sit. If your lot is deep and narrow, for instance, going with a shallow, wide home plan is probably not a good choice. Also, keep in mind your lot may be subject to regulations and zoning restrictions that could limit how tall your house can be, as well as how large or small.
Do You Like the Window Placements for Your Location?
Will the placement of windows take advantage of good views? Which areas of the house will get light in the mornings and evenings? Make sure the windows in your floor plan will allow you to enjoy the best views, block undesirable ones, and put morning and afternoon light where you need it most.
One of the greatest floor plan mistakes is not taking into account the position of the sun. In most cases, you can move or resize a window if needed, but you must retain the home’s structural integrity and exterior appearance. These changes must be approved by a professional.
Will the House Fit in With the Surrounding Houses?
While you probably don’t want to build a house exactly like those of your next-door neighbors, you should ensure your design harmonizes with others in the neighborhood. This is an important consideration whether it’s a newer neighborhood or an older, established one.
If you plan to build in a subdivision, keep in mind that it may have a covenant that establishes acceptable styles for homes, so make sure to check their regulations before buying a plan. You should also give thought to your home’s size relative to those of other houses in your neighborhood. A house that out-scales others in the neighborhood will look strange and out of place.
Will the House Plan Require Extensive Changes?
All new-build house plans will need to go through various changes in order to comply with building codes, match your neighborhood’s style or suit your tastes and needs. Changes like adding in garage stalls and changing the facade are generally straightforward, and home plan businesses often offer quotes to make such changes.
Should You Use a Custom Home Design?
You can, in theory, alter the dimensions of the entire house or individual rooms. You will pay more for customized plans, but you also get exactly what you want, a valuable tradeoff.
Are the Rooms Sized Appropriately?
When looking over your house plan layout, don’t just focus on the sizes of the rooms — think about each room in terms of its percentage of the house’s total area. For instance, spacious master suites can occupy a fifth of a home’s space, which is great if you use the master suite for more than just sleeping, like for reading or working out.
But if the master bedroom is a place you hardly spend any time in, think about changing the plan so you have more space in the area you will use the most. You could also shop for a house plan with a less-spacious master suite.
Do You Value Amenities More Than Square Footage?
In general, the dollars you spend on a home either go toward amenities or space. Think about which is more valuable to you. You may be tempted to take whatever your home budget is and divide it by the average cost per square foot to give you the largest square footage you can buy.
Keep in mind that the average-square-footage cost will give you average finishes and amenities. If you want higher-quality amenities or finishes, you need to decrease your house size or increase your budget.
Will the Openness of the Home Suit Your Decorating Tastes?
If you plan to decorate all the rooms in a similar fashion, you should have no problem with a floor plan that is more open. If you plan to use different colors and furniture styles in each room, consider going with a traditional, less-open plan that has separate rooms. Think about how your decorating preferences and furniture will go with the house plan you’re considering.
Are There Rooms Dedicated to Special Interests, Like Exercise or Hobbies?
As you work out the sizes and types of space you need, don’t forget about the fun things. For instance, if you’re an avid reader, don’t forget to add a cozy book nook. If you want a workshop, consider adding another bay in your garage to accommodate it.
One new home design trend is to make an “activity center” where any member of the household can practice their hobbies. If your budget is tight, think about leaving your specialty space unfinished for the time being — it’s better than having to remodel the space later.
What Are Your Privacy Needs?
You’ll also want to consider the amount of privacy you’ll want, both from other members of the household and from neighbors. If you value privacy, look at options with U- or L-shaped designs — these types often provide more privacy in urban and suburban environments.
Also, check the placement of the windows in your home plan to make sure they’ll provide enough privacy from the yards and windows of your neighbors. Make sure any porches, patios or decks will meet your privacy needs. When it comes to outdoor privacy, critical considerations include:
- Lot type
Will the Plan Accommodate Your Furniture?
Make sure the floor plan you’re considering can comfortably fit the furniture you have as well as any furniture you plan to buy. When you plan the size of each room, consider areas with seating and think about how the placement of furniture will influence the room’s feel. Would you prefer two separate areas for seating or one bigger one?
You should also take measurements of your furniture to ensure there’s enough room for walking around and for doors to swing outward. You also want to make sure the height of your furniture won’t block any windows.
There’s probably no single plan that perfectly suits all your wants and needs. However, with the nearly countless plans available, you can come close if you have organized search methods. Then, you just have to make a few alterations, and you’ll have your perfect home.
Remember to Keep Your Budget in Mind
Admit it — part of you wants to build a home better and bigger than your wildest dreams. Before you become married to a single floor plan type, make sure you know the costs associated with your house layout. Work with a builder or contractor to figure out the costs while you work toward the plan that best fits your budget.
There are features of a house you can do without, but you should never skimp when it comes to the basics, which include structural materials. Begin to prioritize your expenses by focusing on the things that are absolutely necessary and getting the highest-quality materials you can for them. Once the essentials are complete, only then will you have an idea of how much money you can spend on all the other things.
Keep in mind, you can always make improvements or renovations later. If your budget is tight, consider leaving non-essential rooms — like entertainment rooms or special-interest rooms — unfinished for now.
Find the Right House Plan Made Easy With Family Home Plans
How do you plan a house with the right building design? At Family Home Plans, we offer tens of thousands of new-build floor plans. We understand even the design that most closely matches your needs may still need a few minor adjustments, so we provide free quotes on modification before you order your plans.
We offer a price-match guarantee. If you find an identical but cheaper plan on the website of a competitor, whether the price is advertised or a special promotion, we’ll beat the price by 5% of the total. This guarantee applies to up to four weeks after your purchase.
Get started on the house of your dreams. Contact Family Home Plans today to discuss your floor plan by calling 800-482-0464.