HOW TO BUILD A CUSTOM HOME, Part 4: How to Select – or Design – a Home Plan

In this series, the professionals at the B.O.L.D. Company will take you through the process of building a custom home in the Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area. From plan and lot selection, to mortgage approval, to the actual construction, we’ll take you behind-the-scenes each week for an inside look at a different part of the process.

This week, we offer advice on selecting – or designing your own – house plan.

  • First, consider whether you want to:
    • find a stock plan, make very minor adjustments, and build from that;
    • customize a stock plan with several changes; or,
    • design a custom plan using elements from several floor plans and your imagination.

Your answer to this question will depend on the effort you are willing to put into the process. Of course, the quickest and easiest route is to simply pick one that has already been designed and start building. However, if you have particular needs or wants that are unique to you or your situation, you will spend a lot of time trying to find a plan that fits, when your time would be better spent designing your own.

Some builders will NOT build from a custom plan, nor allow more than very minor adjustments to their stock plans. Some builders WILL build from custom plans, but you will need to find an architect to draw and modify those plans. A select group of custom home builders can help you draw, modify, and build from a house plan.

  • Identify the major features you require of your home:
    • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Consider your current family unit, but also the likelihood of that unit growing (Do you anticipate having (more) children? Is there a possibility of older children moving back in? Or aging parents moving in? Do you have need for guest accomodations, and do you see that need increasing or decreasing with time?)
    • One-floor or two-floor (or more!) living? Do you plan to grow old in this house? You might plan ahead and either build a first-floor master suite, or a first-floor office with attached bath that could become a first-floor master if needed later.
    • What are your lifestyle and / or entertaining habits? Do you foresee a need for formal sitting and / or dining rooms, or would you prefer to put that space toward a more open, less formal great room/kitchen space? Will you need space for many people, seating for many people, or just “living space” for your immediate family?
    • Where do you spend most of your time? What rooms are important to you right now? What would improve those spaces? Would it be helpful to have a space dedicated to a hobby? Or to an office? Or children’s toys? Or to Sunday football?
    • Where do you and your family need privacy? Bedrooms? Offices? Backyard patios? Think about how your floor plan, placement of rooms, windows, doors, landscaping, can provide privacy to those areas that you want to keep quiet or secluded.
    • What do you NEED to store, and what would you LIKE to store? (And how?) Do you need garage space for a boat? Do you want a walk-in pantry in the kitchen? Or maybe a section of the basement devoted simply to shelving for boxes?
    • Consider your home site. If you already know where your home will be built, then you must take the site into consideration when selecting your plan. Will the house fit on the lot? A wide house on a narrow lot can pose problems. Likewise, a steeply sloping lot will pose greater challenges for some home styles than for others. Also consider the area and the homes around your site. If resale is a consideration for you, you don’t want your home to be the most expensive home on the street. Think about the best attributes of your lot and match them with your floor plan: you want windows facing your best views, you may want to take advantage of or, conversely, avoid the sun’s hottest rays of the day (depending on where you live and other factors), and you may want to position your bedrooms and offices to be further from lot lines, roads, and other homes than other rooms of your house.
    • Think about what furniture you intend to move to or purchase for the new house. If you have a giant antique armoire that has been in the family for generations, be sure you have a place to put it!
    • PETS! How can your new home’s layout make pet care as simple and convenient as possible? Maybe a large mud room with a door to the back yard for bringing the dogs in on a rainy day? How about a cabinet for the litter box in the laundry room with an opening so the cat can get in, but stray litter cannot get out? Where could you install your custom 500 gallon fish tank? Or where will you store your horse’s tack and equipment when you bring it in from the barn to clean?
  • Make a list of features that you would like to incorporate into your new home floor plan. Also make a list of what you do NOT want in your home. These lists will help you remember your priorities. Clip pictures from magazines or take photos of friends’ homes that illustrate your notes or that capture the “mood” you want a particular room to have.
  • Take a look at your notes from the questions above. Search house plans (there are numerous online directories – put “house plans” into your search engine, and you can spend the rest of the day looking at floor plans!) and note which ones meet your requirements. FOCUS on the floor plan layout first and the exterior second, because most floor plans can be matched up with most exteriors. If you find the perfect plan, GREAT! If not, make note of the two or three closest to what you want. Make sure you note what it is you like best about each plan (and what you don’t). An experienced builder or architect can help you merge elements of each into one plan.
  • Now it’s time to think about the exterior of the home. What styles do you like? (For ideas, search for the following terms: “prairie style homes”, “traditional style homes”, “modern style homes”, “southern style homes”). Think about the style of the front of your home, but also consider what you intend to use your yard, front and back, for: entertaining and grilling out, kids’ sports or recreation (trampoline, basketball hoop, swingset). How can the floor plan affect your yard? Do you want a screened porch in the back off the master? These kinds of considerations will affect room placement in the layout.

B.O.L.D. Homes, a B.O.L.D. company, has been established as among the premiere Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky custom home builders since 1986. We have well over 500 customer designed homes to our credit. Work one-on-one with the owners of the company including a licensed real estate broker, a licensed real estate agent, a licensed professional engineer, and a CAD draftsman/designer   to design your dream home! Contact us today about plans or check out plans on our web site.


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