Contributed by Lindsay Shugerman, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
Building a new home is a great way to get exactly what you want in a house, without having to settle for what the previous owners liked. But before you sign with your builder, make sure you’re getting everything you need.
Here’s my list for the top ten floor plan tips to make sure the house you have built is the house you’re going to love.
The most important factor in building a new home is making sure the home is structurally sound. Have a building engineer review the plans for architectural integrity before you agree. Make sure specific materials are listed, and that the builder follow those specs. You may also want a site inspection for ground faults and other geological risks before you build.
We are a nation of keepers. We keep family heirlooms and first grade art work and that bowling trophy you found at the flea market. We have created an entire industry devoted to storing our extra stuff, so it only makes sense that storage should be a factor in your floor plan.
Make sure closets are big enough, doors open wide enough and storage shelves are abundant. If your home is small, consider using otherwise wasted space like under the stairs or over doorways to build in maximum storage.
8. Noise levels
A lot of home are built with open floor plans and thin walls (or almost no walls at all). That’s great if you’re having guests over, or want to be able to see what the kids are doing while you’re cooking. But when little Alex is practicing his trombone, your teen is blasting the latest music, or the next door neighbor decides to use his weed-wacker at 7 a.m., sound becomes an issue.
Make sure your home is built to keep interior and exterior noise under control.
7. Natural light/windows
There are bulbs that simulate natural light, and devices that can offer doses of natural light in the dim of winter, and both are important in the evening or on dark winter days. But neither compares to the real thing.
During the 1970’s and into the 80’s, homes were built with tiny up-high windows or slit windows that looked like something from a fort (big enough for a canon, too small to see a tree.)
But we know now that natural light is critical for health and happiness, so make sure your house plans include enough windows, skylights and glass doors to bring the light into every room. Later you can add curtains or blinds that pull completely out of the way to give you the option of privacy or light, too.
Privacy was another victim of the open concept home trend. If all of the public space is open, and bedrooms a clustered tightly around one area of the house, privacy becomes a distant dream.
Placing the parents’ room at the opposite side of the house from kids and family rooms (or homeowners’ rooms far from guest rooms) is a great way to create privacy. And if you’re planning an open design in the main areas, consider adding a library or den with door for times when you just need to get away from the chaos!
Whatever you do with your floor plan, make sure there are enough bathrooms for your current family size, plus any possible growth over the years. Then, if the budget permits, add at least a powder room more. This is one home plan choice you will never regret!
4. Family room/game room
Including a family room or game room in your floor plan allows you to have a designated room for the TV, the cabinet of board games, and of course, the big comfy couches. Again, if budget permits, take the size you think is just enough, and add 25%. Trust me on this. You will love it!
3. Farmhouse kitchen
No matter what style your decor might be, a farmhouse kitchen works. That’s because it has nothing to do with decor…it’s all about size and function. What it means is a kitchen with lots of counters, big pantries and space for a big family-sized table and chairs. It also means storage for all of that wonderful bakeware, dishes and food for family suppers. And if you design it right, you may not need that formal dining room, which can mean more space for your family room or study!
Whether your home is modern or traditional, the flow of the house is critical its function. Rooms that require you to walk around built-ins, or through other spaces to do everyday things will become frustrating. Make sure the design of your house allows easy entrance to and exit from all rooms and areas.
Anybody can have a set of plain boxes and call it a home. But if you’re building your own home, make sure you add those extra features that add interest to the walls, ceilings, cabinets, and floors. It can be simple or ornate, modern or old-fashioned. But those extra touches now will make your home feel even better once you’ve moved in.