Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Picking House Plans

Front and Back Elevations

One of the biggest steps in building a house is actually picking house plans.  For me, it was a very daunting task.  There are thousands of styles and options to choose from, and, in our case, the decision is essentially permanent.  As I've mentioned, we are building on family land, so we can't ever sell our house and had to think about options that we would love 30 years from now.

To begin, we had to really sit down and make a list of the things we wanted in a house.   For example, we considered what features in a home would be non-negotiable, what types of plans best highlighted our view of the pond, and what architectural style fit us as a couple.

Websites that were incredibly helpful in this process were Pinterest, E-Plans, Southern Living House Plans, and Houzz.  We also spent many weekends reading plan magazines at Barnes and Noble.

Do you think we have enough plan/design magazines?

Through all of our research, we realized that it is easy to get carried away when looking at dream homes.  You always think you need more.  Seeing houses in plans makes them seem so small, but you would take a look and realize the house is 5x the square feet you thought you wanted.  It really helped me to have Daniel pace rooms out with his feet or to give me size comparisons when driving around neighborhoods for ideas.  The biggest conversation we had was "How much house do we really need?"

We decided on a plan where all of our necessary living spaces are on the main floor. The first and last years that we will live in our home will be just the two of us (if we were to have children) and we wanted to be able to live in the house without ever needing to use stairs.   Our house will have a walk out basement with our extra bedrooms and recreation spaces.  This also works well for the natural hillside of our lot!  There is also going to be unfinished space there so that we can "grow" our home if the need arises.

Figuring all of this out gave us the criteria we needed to begin putting together our plan.  We were open to buying plans that already existed and even came close, but we just never found the plans that were exactly right.  The set we almost bought was 97% perfect and for me the missing 3% warranted looking into other options.
We met with a designer and began the drafting process.  This is where all of the research came in handy.  We were able to give him a lot of information about what was important to us.  There would be some instances where he would ask us a question about a preference, and while we didn't have a response about what we did want, we knew what we didn't want.

Creating the plans was fun, but my biggest advice is to know as much about what you want going into it as you can and for you to have patience.  The design process adds another person's ideas, suggestions, and expertise to the mix--it's a wonderful thing, but it takes time to get all of the elements just right.  Below are the floor plans Muffin and I (along with our designer) created with a lot of love and thought (and even these aren't exactly the ones we will be building as changes have been made since these renderings were created).

First Floor Plan

Basement Floor Plan

I know this post was long, but I hope you enjoyed reading about our journey to the right plan.  If you are building a house, my biggest advice is patience and to never settle.  If there are features you want in a home, it can be done.  We had the hardest time finding a plan with a formal dining room AND study/den on the main floor at our square footage.  We kept looking and working until we found the right configuration and we can't wait to see how it all comes together!


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  1. picking the plan was hard for us too. there were sooo many that were ALMOST there but not quite. we meshed some together, and i would say we are 99% happy with our layout. some things we wish we wouldve thought of or moved here or there..but no way of knowing until we lived in it so oh wel!

    1. It's so good to know I'm not the only one! I'm already prepared for there to be one minor thing that I wish I'd done differently, but here's to hoping that we will be at 99% like you!