|Custom-home designs and specifications typically are created through a four-step process, as follows:
1. The buyer brings his or her ideas for the home to the table or the buyer and builder develop some preliminary ideas together. Very often, buyers have saved pictures, articles, floor plans and other bits of information relevant to their dream home. The designer and builder can use your clippings to create a plan for a home that is buildable and will meet your needs and fit your budget.
2. The designer begins the preliminary drawings based on your ideas and conversations with you and the builder. The preliminary drawings consist of rough sketches of proposed floor plans and levels, projections for the size and location of various rooms and concepts for siting the home on the lot. Accurate cost estimates can't be calculated at this stage, but the builder and designer can guide the project toward a plan that will be within your budget. A realistic cost estimate can be determined only from complete plans and specifications.
3. Preliminary drawings approved by the buyer then are turned into working drawings. At this time, the designer creates the original drawings from which the blueprints for your home will be made. Working drawings may consist of four to 20 pages, depending on the complexity of your home and the level of detail in the drawings.
4. Specifications-called "specs" -- are created to identify the finishes and features that will be used in your home. The specs determine everything from the type of roof to the trip levers on the toilets. The working drawings determine the quantities of materials that will be needed and the specifications determine the quality of those materials.
You have found the perfect lot on which to build your new home. Now you have an abundance of decisions to make. Where will the house sit on the lot? You will have to decide this based on the total square footage of the house. What kind of features are you hoping to have. These are the things to consider, storage, a laundry room, a home office, a bathroom downstairs, a full bath upstairs, and a family room.
Consider the future? Are you just starting out and planning a family? Do you need a guestroom for visitors? Flexible house plans are probably the best option for you. You donít want your house to end being too big in the future. If it starts getting small, make sure you allow for expansion if necessary, and make sure it is according to your local zoning laws.
How does the house plan you have chosen fit on the lot? If the lot is deep and narrow you donít want a shallow and wide house plan. Where will you place the house so that you get the maximum exposure to sunlight in the morning and in the evening? Make sure the windows are where they are supposed to be.
Check the zoning laws where you are building your house. There may be a limit in the height of the house or on what percentage of space your house can take up on the lot. Be open to suggestions. You can go with a pre-drawn plan or a custom plan that is drawn to your specifications. Another important item is how water drains off of your property. You would want to build the house on the rise of a hill rather than at its base. At the base the run off could do damage to the house.
When thinking about your house in general, does the house style fit in with the neighborhood? You wouldnít put a large Victorian house in a neighborhood that had ranch style homes and vice versa. Find out if there is an agreement with your city or town regarding the type of houses that is acceptable for that area. The size of the house is important. If it is too large or too small it will stick out like a sore thumb.
Will a lot of changes have to be made? There will be changes at some point to add a garage or change the size or shape of a room is fairly easy but you had better be prepared to pay a lot more for custom plans.
When you are thinking of the rooms determine what percentage of total square footage will this room take u p. If the master suite takes up twenty percent of total space is okay if you are also going to use some of that space for a reading area. If not consider a plan with a smaller bedroom. In order to determine the total space of any room you multiply the length times the width and divide that by the total square footage of the home.
You may want a dishwasher or an island in the center of your kitchen but sometimes you have to do a trade off. For example, if you want a dishwasher but will have to lose some cabinet space you must decide which is more important cabinet space or the dishwasher. The colors inside the house are most definitely important. If you want each room to have its own color the best plan for you would be a closed plan which would create separate individual rooms. If you are going to have a solid color throughout an open floor plan might work for you.
If you want the space consider planning a room switch. A room that is now being planned as an office can become a guestroom or a nursery. An extra bedroom could be come a work out room or a family room/library. If you are building a garage consider adding an extra bay and making that a workbench or a potting bench. Once you figure all of this out and you have the plans all set you can if you havenít already choose a lot. With an organized search you could find a plan that comes very close to your ideal home. Once you get the plan you can make any necessary last minute changes.
Building a home is probably the most complicated decision you will ever make. The plan for your new home can be either custom or pre-drawn. Custom plans are more expensive but the expense of pre-drawn plans could be as well if you request any modifications to them. Check with your city or town for their zoning laws.
Once the site for your custom-built home has been selected, the design process can begin. Builders caution against starting with a fixed idea of how your home should be designed because much of the design will be dictated by the characteristics and constraints of the site you've selected.
The custom design process involves talking about ideas for your home, evaluating options for your home's floor plan, reviewing preliminary conceptual designs and preparing working drawings and specifications, which are the written instructions for building your home.
Designing a home that will fit your budget is crucial to the project's success. Builders say the hardest part of the custom-home design and building process is matching buyers' needs and dreams with the realities of their budgets. The tendency is for the designer to stretch the size or specifications of the home beyond what is realistic in an effort to please the buyer. Having a builder's guidance and assistance will help keep the design within your budget.
Many buyers are inclined to try to save money in the home design stage, in part because these expenses can't be recouped if the project doesn't go forward for some reason. Builders advise against cutting corners at this point because a good design is truly the foundation of a well-built home for the following reasons:
1. Structural integrity. A basic element of a good design is making sure your new home won't be prone to structural deformities. The location of beams and posts, the routing of mechanical runs and chases and the engineering of the foundation all affect the home's strength, soundness and livability. Mechanical runs and chases are hidden spaces inside the walls and the floors that are needed for plumbing, electrical, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) and other home systems.
2. Aesthetic considerations. Your new home's curb appeal and floor plan are important not only for your enjoyment of the home, but also for the eventual resale of the home. A good design ensures a well-thought-out floor plan and takes the look and feel of the home into consideration. A good design is timeless.
3. Interpretation errors. A good design and working drawings will minimize errors resulting from the omission of details needed by the subcontractors, suppliers and job-site supervisors hired by the builder. Design errors increase construction costs for you and the builder.
4. Change orders. A plan that is well thought out and closely scrutinized by you and the builder will be subject to fewer costly changes during construction.
A successful home-building project requires a three-sided balance of the size, the cost and the quality of the home. No builder can construct a huge home of the highest quality for a bargain-basement price. Quality and size requirements determine the cost while budget constraints determine the size and quality. Having realistic expectations about the size and quality of the home your budget can accommodate will help you, the builder and the designer agree on a plan that will suit your needs and fit your budget.
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