When planning your new home—whether contemplating a move or building from the ground up—there are several points to consider. One of the most important is your floor plan, or use of space. A new home is one of your greatest commitments, and you should put some real thought into the process. Here are four tips to help guide you in discovering your perfect floor plan.
1. Examine your lifestyle.
There are many questions to ask yourself when planning your new home. Consider what stage of life you’re in and what that means for how you and your family move around the house. Are you a new couple, just beginning to think about children, or an older couple whose kids are getting ready to leave home? Maybe your family is somewhere in between—you have young kids, so there’s plenty of years left before they leave the nest. Think about which spaces you use the most and how you use them.
Do you like to entertain? If so, do you want a formal dining room and living room, or is your style more casual and relaxed? Perhaps an open concept floor plan is something that you have to have. Other families like a very compartmentalized house, where each room has a specific use; this helps to contain clutter from spilling over to other areas of the home.
2. Don’t assume that your real estate agent or builder knows your lifestyle and needs.
It’s important to communicate your needs and wants to your real estate agent and builder, because they aren’t mind readers. For example, if you work from home, let them know you need a home office with whatever requirements you have for that space. Does your office space need to be away from the kids’ areas or will a nice alcove working space do?
Do you have a hobby or craft that needs its own room? Or do you need a workshop or game room? Perhaps you want the master suite separate from the other bedrooms, or you prefer all of the bedrooms on the same floor. Make sure your designer/builder is aware of your special interests and specific needs, so they can help you find the floor plan that best fits your family.
3. Have a look at a variety of house styles.
Design styles, floor plans, and finishes all impact what we choose. If you see a lot of different properties, it will give you an idea of floor plans, room use, and features you might want to incorporate into your new home. If you’re building your home, viewing model homes can help you visualize what the builder is showing you on the plans. If you find a style you like, don’t get too hung up on the finishes, as those can often be changed on your plan, or even upgraded later. Always trust your intuition; if it feels right, it’s probably a design you can live with for the long haul. But if you’re not sure, you’ll always have doubts.
4. Consider your budget.
We all want to have the home we’ve envisioned in our mind, but the reality is that some rooms may end up having multiple uses, and some ideas may not be quite realistic, budget-wise … let’s just say that indoor swimming pool or underground bowling alley probably won’t make the cut unless we win the lottery. Learn to differentiate between the needs, like bedrooms, kitchens, and living areas, and the wants, like that formal dining room that you may only use a couple times a year.
Remember that nothing, even the walls of your home, is immovable. Depending on your builder and available options, you may have some leeway to modify your floor plan in the design stage. And, of course, you can do renovations later if needed. But the more you consider up front how your family will live and grow in your new home, the more flexible you can make your floor plan right from the start. So try to keep in mind that life doesn’t always happen as we plan for, and even though we may think we know what the future will provide, kids may return home after college, and elderly parents may move in. But no need to worry because you will have chosen the perfect floor plan that will work for your family for years to come.