Where do you start when choosing a house plan? Most people are inspired by the new home designs shown in their local advertising media, or they start to go looking for house plans on the internet. Builders use floor plans in their advertising as a great marketing ploy to get you to contact them. Often you will see a pretty plan, and some overall dimensions – enough information to get you interested – but not too much detail. So then you’re encouraged to sign up for more.
There are some very appealing house plans, that have lots of features, nice room sizes, clever planning ideas and stylish facades – but think about it objectively – it may not be the right plan for you!
When clients come to visit me, it is often with the plan they have cut out of the newspaper or printed off the internet. It’s very nice, it might be the size they want, but they have given very little thought to how it best fits their site, budget, living needs and lifestyle.
It is also very tempting to see a house plan where you love the facade, and thats what appeals to you, but you assume you have to have the floor plan design that goes with it. It’s a little bit like putting the cart before the horse. I treat the facades as if they are the icing on the cake – the plan itself is the generator of the architectural forms and one plan can be “dressed up” in any number of ways. Focus on the floor plan first – worry about the looks later.
The next issue is whether you go to a building designer or architect to design your own home or search for the right one in the plan magazines or on the internet. Either way, you can achieve an acceptable result – it just depends on your budget and the degree of individuality that you want expressed in your new home design. There are some very good “off the shelf plans” it really is a matter of weeding your way through the myriad of options to be able to identify the one best fitting your needs.
Having said that, my bias is obviously towards a plan that is customed designed for each individual client. I can really tailor a design to a family’s specific needs and desires and create a functional and unique home that is suited to a particular site, climate, neighbourhood streetscape and budget. I have seen many attractive homes with stunning floor plans that a well intentioned home owner has chosen because it is so appealing – but it is totally wrong for their site and may completley ignore the benefits of passive solar design, and functionality.
Consulting a professional – whether that is an architect, building designer or draftsperson – will definitely give you the advantage of receiving quality advice about your home plan design. You know enough about yourself to know when you feel ill, but you may not have the expertise to diagnose and prescribe a treatment for your illness – so you consult a doctor. The same process is needed when you embark upon designing your own home. You may have a vague idea of what you think you need, and where to go to choose a house plan, but you lack the expertise to “diagnose” your specific needs and to “prescribe” the right solutions. You will have greater peace of mind that you are choosing the right home design for situation if you have sought professional advice.