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Like picking a university or falling in love and deciding to marry, choosing to build a new home can be one of life’s most rewarding and stressful experiences. The house plan – your dream on paper – becomes the manuscript which weaves to¬gether the various people (developer, builder, sub-contractors, lender, etc.) and products that will bring your vision to reality.


One of the joys of the home design phase is discovering new amenities that will make the home “just right.” Rather than fitting into someone else’s personality/lifestyle (as you do when buying a resale house), being able to harmonize new design thought with innovative product solutions means your new home reflects you and your priorities. From our staff and the readers of HER HOME, here are our top 10 recommendations when it comes to home design:


1. Establish a realistic budget for your new home. There. We said it. Money. For most of us, price is a constraint. Talk to a mortgage officer to see how much home you can afford and compare that with what you are comfortable paying. You need an understanding of area new home prices. Visit builders’ homes for sale. Get a feel for what’s possible within your budget and don’t base it on the cheapest builder. If you don’t already have your home site, research neighborhoods and land for sale to have an accurate budget number.


2. Embrace how you want your home to “live.” Design Basics research identified that women primarily use four “lenses” when evaluating a home’s suitability: areas for en¬tertaining; de-stressing; storage and organization; and flexible living spaces. Take the Livability At A Glance™ quiz at DesignBasics.com to learn how important these types of spaces are to you!


3. Rank your priorities. A common method identifies three categories: “needs” (things you must have in your new home like wide doors and halls for a brother in a wheelchair); “wants” (important but not must-have items such as a prep pantry in the kitchen); and “desires” (amenities you would love to have if the design and budget allows, such as a sound-proofed home theatre). Then, when you are looking at home plans and/or working with a home design professional, you can ensure important design and product amenities have not been overlooked.


4. Consider the bigger picture. How long do you see yourself living in the new home? Life happens! What will like¬ly change, such as kids moving out? Are “aging-in-place” fea¬tures important? What about parents moving in? Is your home easily adaptable to future needs? Wider doorways may not be feasible at a later date. Design flexibility – the ability to make changes – is key to long-term happiness with your new home. This is also the time to consider resale. You’re single, so two sinks in the owner’s suite bathroom and a private toilet area may not be important to you but lacking those amenities could be a real drawback for resale.


5. Collect. Photos…literature…articles…print outs…all of these help identify and communicate elements of your new home that you like. Houzz and Pinterest are great resources and can help identify your style. You’ll be thankful you did your homework and so will your designer and builder!



6. Study your present home. What works, what doesn’t? Often, what you’re dissatisfied with is driving your deci¬sion to move, so those aspects should appear on your Needs-Wants-Desires list. Knowing room sizes in your present home (i.e., bedroom 2 measures 10 foot by 11 foot), makes it easier to envision 12 foot by 12 foot bedrooms in a home or plan you are considering.


7. Do the research. Touring builders’ model and “for sale” homes is a great way to help you recognize design aspects you like as well as identify those you don’t care for. When searching plans online, rational search filters (type of home, square footage, etc.) help rule out plans that won’t work. Only on DesignBasics.com can you also search by the relative impor¬tance of the four Livability At A Glance™ lenses (see point #2 above) – tremendously helpful in identifying plans that fit your lifestyle and priorities.


8. Mentally and emotionally move in. Take a floorplan you are interested in and place an “X” in key locations, such as the front entry, at the kitchen sink, looking into bathrooms, etc. Then visualize standing in that home where you put the X’s. What do you see? How does it make you feel? As you come in from the garage, are you greeted by a bench and lockers or the clothes washer and dryer? If the bathroom door is open, is the focal point the toilet? Everywhere you look in your home you should like what you see!


9. Evaluate “stock” plans vs. custom. Most builders and home design companies offer a library of readily avail¬able “stock” home plans. The advantages are good design, low price, and quick delivery. Like buying a suit off the rack, a stock plan may be a very good fit. As with alterations to a suit, modifying a stock plan could make it “perfect” for you. As they best know the design, work with the original plan designer on alterations to adapt it to your preferences. Changing a stock plan is usually a fraction of the cost and timeframe for creating a custom home plan. Still, there are many instances where a custom home plan is the only option that makes sense, but like a perfectly tailored suit, the resulting plan should be exactly the look and fit you want.


10. Work with a professional. “You get what you pay for” holds true with home plans. How long has the com-pany been in business? Can they supply references? Do they copyright their home plans for your protection? Are they lim¬ited to local market knowledge or do they have a national perspective? Will they merely put on paper what you describe or will they make further suggestions for improved livability and style? Family and friends may give advice, but it’s often conflicting, causing indecision. Your designer should be your “go-to” advisor on trends, functionality, and aesthetics. Your design professional should also have considerable construction knowledge. Unfortunately, some home designs aren’t build¬able as designed or are unnecessarily expensive due to poor design. All plans are not created equal. During Design Basics 30+ years designing new homes, the company has developed proven design, drafting, and customer support systems. Finding a novice or cheap draftsman that works out of their basement is no bargain when the inevitable problems arise.

Contemplating building a new home? Odds are your future looks bright! What will your new home say about you? It all begins with a plan, and where you get your home plan matters!


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Updated: Friday, May 27, 2016 2:00 PM

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