p a r t 2
Draw up a responsible budget.
Instead of starting with the question “how much will it cost to build my dream home just the way I want it,” ask yourself “how much house can I actually afford?” This will help you arrive at a more realistic figure and bring your vision into clearer focus. An articulated budget will be your principal guiding force in the design process moving forward.
- If it’s your first time building a home, it may be helpful to meet with a certified financial planner who can go over the provisions of your budget with you and explain potential curveballs, like sales tax on building materials and whether the cost of the property will be included in your mortgage.
Keep a design notebook.
Get yourself a sturdy, cloth-bound graph-ruled notebook to record your notes, doodles, and musings in. This simple resource is where your design for your home will finally begin to take shape. You can use its pages to paste photos, tab out calculations, collect contact info for potential contractors, and keep track of other important details associated with the project.
- Divide the contents of your notebook into sections by room and use colored tabs to mark the pages. That way, you can easily jump back and forth between schematics for different parts of the house.
- Compiling all of your materials in one place will allow you to work much more efficiently than digging through reams of loose paper to find what you’re looking for.
Consider your individual needs.
Now that you’re getting serious about documenting what you want, it's time to zero in on what you need. This is where considerations like space, privacy, and specific building techniques will come into play. You’ve probably already accounted for many of these factors subconsciously when spit-balling ideas, which means it will just be a matter of identifying which of them are non-negotiable.
- In order to determine the type of living space that’s right for you, it may help to outline the number, ages, and relationships of the people who will be sharing it.
- A cozy two-bedroom cottage might not be big enough if you’re planning on starting a family, but a slightly larger Tudor revival-style home could provide the space you need without forcing you to give up on your preferred aesthetic.
Make a list of essential features.
Under individualized headings for each of the main rooms, start naming the amenities you just have to have. Maybe you’re crazy about island kitchen counters, or you’ve always wanted bay windows or a living room with a comfy reading nook. This is the fun part. Let your imagination run wild and jot down anything and everything that tickles your fancy.
- Get as specific as you please. The more information you can hand off to your architect or team of contractors, the closer your finished home will be to your original vision.
- As you move onto drafting a floor plan, you can begin sorting the items on your list based on what’s practical, what’s affordable, and what makes the most sense.
Sketch out a rough floor plan.
Block out basic areas first—for example, you might include two bedrooms on one end of the lower level, with the master bed and adjoining bath across the hall. Leave some room in the center of your layout for an open family room or study, then fill in the other end with plots for the kitchen, laundry room, dining room, and other important spaces.
- To keep your floor plan from getting confusing, focus on completing one level at a time. When you’re done with the downstairs, you can move on to plotting the upper floors.
- Keep you and your family’s needs in mind and try to devise a configuration that promotes both comfort and convenience.