Ok.. So you have decided you want to build a new home, and you have obtained mortgage financing , now you have to figure out what kind of new construction home build you want to do? Do you want a new fully custom home, tract built, or semi-custom? Well, regardless of which of those you choose aside from the choice of which home builder you want to hire to build it the next most important factor is your floor plan.
You might not think it’s that important because most are just so excited about having a new house, that their real estate agent will usually run them through a local community by a large national home builder and push them into something without sitting them down to discuss how they should pick out a plan. After all the agent isn’t the one that will be living there day in and day out, you will. Trust me you don’t want to get sucked into a house because you think it’s pretty on the inside or you like the vaulted ceilings, tile floors, or whatever only to regret it in a year because you now realize that the floor plan doesn’t fit your daily family needs. Unfortunately this happens all to often.
If you are going fully custom you will need to hire an architect and then you and your architect will usually talk about all these factors. Hiring an architect (if you can afford one) is definitely the way to go if you are building a custom home, because they can tailor the home to your needs, and they will suggest things you otherwise would have never thought of.
Let’s go over the questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a floor plan:
1.) How large is your family? Do you planning on having children? Although, you might not have kids now, if you plan on having them you should think about things like where is the laundry room (1st or 2nd floor), how large are the bedrooms and closets in the bedrooms, where are the bedrooms in relation to the exits of the home, where are the bedrooms in relation to the master bedroom and stairs. I think everyone knows that open floor plans are the rage, but when having children it is a must have. By having a very open floor plan allows you to be able to cook in the kitchen, sit in your office, or dining room and still easily see the kids to keep an eye on them.
2.) How old are you? How long do you plan on living in this home? If you are older and getting close to retirement you need to consider a one story home, house plan on a slab foundation instead of crawl space, or one with an elevator. Yes; I said elevator. Here in Charleston SC, real estate is commonly known to have elevators because much of our area is in a flood zone, and the lots are fairly small so homes can be close to one another and parking is best suited under the home. You may be nimble now, but as we age it becomes harder and harder to walk up stairs and get around and a home that accommodates your mobility needs is key. Where is the master bedroom located? Obviously, you won’t want to build or buy a newly built home with the bedroom upstairs if you are in your 60’s now and this is to be the last home you live in. To that I also go further and say you should also think about the size of lot you want to build on, or do you want a condo instead. Many seniors opt for a “patio home” which is usually a small one story home on a slab with a small lot so as to keep the yard upkeep manageable. You may find the best home and community until later realize you are spending $200+ month on landscaping costs because you built a home on a large lot and you can no longer do the landscaping yourself.
3.) Closet space – I know this probably applies to mostly woman and is likely the most obvious of the things to consider when picking out or designing a floor plan. If you can’t have your dream, gigantic closet as far as sq footage is concerned think about building the house with 9 ft ceilings and then you can have more room for two rows of hangers, and shelves without needing a lot of extra sq footage.
4.) Storage– Do you tend to collect and hold onto material things? Do you have a lot of family heirlooms? If this applies to you then you need to consider how much space is available for storage, and what unused space in the home can be converted to a storage space. Many home plans have tiny nooks here and there that can be fitted with a door and lined with plywood to make for extra storage space. But wait; how accessible is the storage space that is in the home? Meaning, are you going to have to squeeze in and out of closets, and walls to get to your storage spaces. You may want to consider having a floor plan that has storage in the main parts of the home and not just the attic or basement because if you need to access things you put into storage a lot it will get annoying to go up and down the stairs.
So.. If you are looking to build a new home in a development with a large builder and pick one of their existing home plans, build your own custom home with a local home builder, or buy a house plan from the internet you need to really do your best to think long and hard about it, because you don’t want to be in a home you don’t enjoy everyday. Secondly, if you notice there are annoying things with your home layout there is a good chance that prospective buyers in the future will notice it too. A good real estate agent in Charleston, SC or wherever you are considering building should have this discussion with you so you don’t make the wrong choice.