Choose the Right House Plan

Choosing a house plan to meet your lifestyle and needs may seem time consuming or overwhelming, but knowing what to look for can help lead you to success when selecting a house plan for your new home.

When choosing your house plan it’s important to choose one that not only meets your individual needs but also considers your building lot, natural landscape and whether it will be marketable to future buyers in the event that you choose to sell the house at some point in the future.

It is also important to understand that the total square footage of your new home refers to the finished portion of your house plan. Finished living areas are generally described as covered with sheetrock and wallpaper or paint. A heated area is also a good indicator of finished space. Areas like garages, porches and attics are considered unfinished and are not calculated in the total square footage of your home plan.

House plan considerations:

Living needs and family lifestyles

Lifestyles and family needs differ from individuals and families depending on their cycles, stages and future plans for the home they want to design. Features that newly wed couples look for in a house plan are vastly different from the characteristics that a retired couple might find important.

Before choosing a house plan we suggest that you ask yourself a number of lifestyle and living needs questions …

Are you newly married? If so, do you have plans to start a family? How many children do you plan to have? Is there adequate room in your house plan for expansion as your family grows?

Will you need guest rooms for overnight guests? What about additional living space in the future to possibly care for elderly parents or grandchildren?

How do you plan to entertain? Do you want a formal dinning room and traditional living room for large formal entertaining, or do you prefer small relaxed family get-togethers?

Study your house plan and lot space to see if it is possible to expand the house plan living space in the future.

Think about the time you presently spend in certain rooms in your home, and why. Some families like to make the kitchen the focal point for daily family gatherings and would require a large sunny eat-in kitchen with lots of space, others prefer a den or family room with lots of room for large sofas and a fireplace.

How much privacy do you need and where do you need it?

Most new home owners prefer home plans with more privacy in the master bedroom and personal living spaces, others might need privacy in a home office space.

Another important consideration is how much privacy would you want and need from other occupants and neighbors. If privacy is important to you, consider a house plan with an L or U shape design. These types of house plans can provide you with more privacy when building on an urban or suburban lot.

Check your house plan for placement of windows to see if they will provide adequate privacy from your neighbor’s windows and yards.

Consider how you plan to use and enjoy your outdoor yard space to see whether your house plan features like decks, patios, porches or pools will meet your needs for privacy. Landscaping, lot type and location can play an important factor in how much privacy your outdoor spaces will have.

House plan work space considerations

Where would you prefer the laundry room to be located and how large a space will it need? Do you have any hobbies or special interests that might require additional space or rooms to enjoy them?

Will you have a need for a large workroom for messy or noisy projects? Do you enjoy gardening? You may want to include a mud room or utility room with a half-bath, for quick and easy cleanup. Are you a “pack-rat” who needs lots of attic or storage space to store your treasures?

Furnishings and aesthetics

Will the floor plan of your new home plan accommodate your existing or new furniture arrangements and furniture styles? When planning room sizes, carefully consider the seating areas and how furniture placement will affect the overall feel of the room. Do you want two separate seating areas or one larger conversation area? How will the room flow into other rooms?

Measure your current furniture to determine if there will be adequate walking space of at least 36 inches around furniture and clearance for doors to swing. Will the height of your furniture block windows? Does it provide enough wall space, nooks and areas for art and personal effects? Review the natural “traffic flow” of the house plan, the interior views from each room of the home as well as how natural lighting can be shared and utilized within the home.

House plans and outdoor living

The geographical and natural landscaping features of your lot can have a large impact on the style of home plan you will need to choose. Therefore, while choosing a house plan, consider whether your lot space will provide a lawn area for outdoor games and sports or if you will need to reserve enough lot space to include pools, interesting landscaping or gardens.

If you’ve already purchased your building lot you will need to consider these factors and tailor the house plan that you choose to meet those needs and requirements.

Choosing a Home Building Lot for your house plan

House plans for flat building lots are less difficult and less expensive to build, although they are not always as eye-catching as a sloping lot. A sloping lot will allow you to tuck the garage under the house and possibly plan for a daylight basement.

Narrow lots generally require a house design that rises up instead of spreading out, whereas, wider shallow lots can be ideal for broad one-story house plans.

Scenic lots or sloping lots with spectacular views will inspire you to choose a house plan that includes large panoramic windows and roomy outdoor deck space which will allow you to enjoy those wonderful sunrises and sunsets.

Another important factor to consider when planning on buying a new house plan is how many cars you currently own. Will there be adequate driveway space as your family grows or parking if you entertain large groups of people?

If you have already purchased your house plan you might need to look for building lot that will complement that design.

Here are some other questions to ask yourself as you search for a lot, remember, you will probably have to make a few compromises along the way, so rank them in the order of importance.

The first thing we recommend is to make a list of the things that you liked and disliked about places you have lived and visited in the past.

Once you have prepared a complete list of the most important attributes that you are searching for you can begin checking out lot locations. While searching for you ideal building lot, evaluate each lot based upon the qualities that you have identified on your list.

Questions to Investigate before you purchase your lot

Is the building lot large enough for the house plan that you want?

Often there are some stumbling blocks or building code restrictions limiting the precise location on the lot space upon which the actual house construction can take place. Therefore, check with local building department prior to purchase to determine what restrictions might be in place for the lot.

If your chosen house plan necessitates a particular side or location for a driveway or garage you will need to determine how much space you will need for clearance and turn space and allow for adequate distance on one of the sides.

Although you could submit a petition after purchase to the local zoning board for a change in variance this can be a lengthy process which can drag out the completion of your home and often communities will not consent to any changes or modifications to the zoning restrictions for residential areas in the community.

Check with the developer or local zoning board for their requirements before you purchase the lot.

What is an easement?

Easements may be considered public or private. Easements grant rights to persons other than the owner access and use of a property.

A private easement is limited to a specific individual such as the owner of an adjoining land. A public easement is one that grants the right to a large group of individuals or to the public in general, such as the easement on public streets and highways.

Easements include:

Storm drain easements.
Sanitary sewer easements
Electrical power easements.
Telephone easements.
Sidewalk easements
Driveway easements, also known as easement of access.

Restrictive Easement

A restrictive easement is a condition placed on land by its owner or by government that in some way limits its use, usually regarding the types of structures which may be built there or what may be done with the ground itself. Restrictive easements are also frequently placed on wetlands to prevent them from being destroyed by development.

If the zoning of a lot has easement restrictions it may limit or restrict which areas of the property can be built and can confine and limit the construction of your new home to a specific size and dimension as well as portion of the lot space. Therefore, prior to purchase it is advisable to check with the local zoning laws to determine if any easements or restrictions might apply to the building lot that you are considering.

Will the lot flood?

Check the drainage after a heavy rain. Make sure the lot is not in a floodplain. A lot with standing water or a heavy flow of water during a rainstorm can lead to wet basements and other problems down the road. Lots which are situated on low-lying areas adjacent to streams that periodically overflow may cause your property to flood. A landscape architect can suggest some solutions to bad drainage or flooding concerns.

Check the direction of the sun. Where does it rise and where does it set? If you are an early riser you might enjoy those early rays of sunshine beaming into your bedroom windows, or you might enjoy watching the sunset from a backyard deck. Which side will get a southern exposure making it ideal for growing plants and flowers, also, you might want to position the house so the garage and or storage buildings can be on the north side. This keeps them in shadows most of the day and allows the living areas to receive more light.

Another point to consider is the direction of the wind. By positioning the house to shield the outdoor living spaces from northwest winter winds you could extend the seasonal usage of these spaces by three or four months.

Keeping the above factors in mind will help you select the perfect lot for your new home.

We also have a great deal of information on How to Read and Understand Blue Prints.