You’ve chosen the ideal piece of property in the ideal neighbourhood. You’ve secured financing. You’ve scoured the list of contractors for a luxury home builder and chosen Affinity Elite to construct your custom home design. Now it’s time to sit down and figure out all the details that will go into the design of your new home. Your design build contractor will help you figure out the details when it comes to the mechanics of your home, but when it comes to creating the perfect floor plan to fit your lifestyle, there are some common errors you can easily avoid by considering the following key elements.
1) Space for Living – One of the major reasons people decide to have a home custom built, is to create a more spacious environment than their previous cramped quarters. But bigger isn’t necessarily better. A properly designed home has all the space you need without making every room feel like an airplane hangar. Multi-function rooms are a good way to have everything without adding wasted space. The guest room, for example, could double as a sewing room or computer room.
2) Space For Stuff – People with big homes tend to have lots of “stuff,” but they also tend to forget to plan a place to put it. Storage space is important for all those extras – sports equipment, seasonal clothing, and decorations. Closets are also important. Closets aren’t just bedroom storage for your clothes. Don’t forget linen closets in the bathrooms, broom closets in the kitchen and laundry, a coat closet in the foyer or mud room, and storage closets in the family room and common spaces.
3) Plan for the Future – Don’t design just for now, but also for the future. Will everything be exactly as it is five years from now? If you’re newlyweds, you may want to consider whether your plan should include not-yet-existent children. Don’t design your home for a houseful of kids if they are about to head off to college. Older adults may want to consider accessibility issues now rather than retro-fitting in the future.
4) Guest Accommodations – Unless you’re the mysterious neighbourhood hermit, you will have guests. They may not necessarily be overnight guests, but company should still be considered. If you don’t have a guest room, where would an overnight visitor sleep? If you invite friends over for dinner, where will you eat? Don’t overlook things like a dining area big enough for everyone and a guest bathroom so that visitors don’t have to tour your bedroom to get to the ensuite.
5) Windows and Doors – Sometimes, there just aren’t enough of them. And sometimes, there are too many. Make the number of windows appropriate to the room. Living spaces should have lots of windows, but not so many that you are left without wall space for artwork and décor. Bedroom windows should be kept to a reasonable minimum – curtains are expensive, after all. Are there exits to the back of the house? Other doors to keep in mind are those to the patio, garage, laundry room and mud room. These are especially important of you have kids or pets.
6) Kitchens – This is the most expensive room in the house, so make sure you plan it right the first time. Allow enough space for dining without interfering with your work triangle. Position the kitchen close to the dining area, and the place you’ll be carrying the groceries from (the garage, front entrance or side door). Design in enough windows for lots of natural light so you can see what you’re cooking – and eating.
7) Utility Rooms – Guests may be impressed by your haute couture sunken living room or high tech theater room. The laundry room? Not so much. But that doesn’t mean it should receive any less attention when designing your home. The same goes for the garage, mudroom, storage spaces and even the furnace room. They may not be much too look at, but you still have to make sure they are easily accessible and fully functional for everyday life.
8) Details, Details – Designing your home doesn’t end with the floor plan. There are a lot of details to consider and they should be thought through carefully. Lighting fixtures and sink faucets are often taken for granted until you realize that they just don’t work optimally. Things like track lighting, ceiling fans, extendable faucets, programmable thermostats, and the number of outlets in a room can make the difference between a happy home and a frustrating one.
9) Fads Fade – Even home design can fall victim to trends that impress for the short term. Theatre rooms and man-caves are all the rage. That doesn’t mean you should have them. Design for your lifestyle, not to impress your friends or family. Design rooms that you will actually use and that won’t be “so last year” in six months.
10) Plan on Selling – Of course it is your home and you can do what you want, but will you be able to sell it later? Even if you have no plans to move in the next twenty years, that doesn’t mean you won’t. Circumstances that are beyond your control happen all the time. Whether they are financial, marital, employment-related, or a change in family priorities, you don’t want to get stuck with a house that no one else wants simply because it’s too “unique.”
Now that you are aware of all the caveats of designing your new home, there is one more thing you should be aware of. If you see a potential problem in the design of your home, by all means, make your contractor aware of it. But you should also keep in mind that changes can result in additional costs. Once you have decided on all the details for your new home, sit on it for a week or a month – whatever it takes until you are satisfied without changing your mind. After the architect or engineer has put an official stamp on your plans, changes could potentially result in a domino effect of adjustments that can result in costly delays and setbacks.
If there is any detail you’re not sure of or if you need a suggestion, ask your contractor. If your contractor makes a suggestion or advises you of a potential problem, listen carefully. He has, after all, done this before – many times. He has seen what works, what doesn’t work, and the consequences of going ahead with a bad idea.