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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

House Plans For Your Dream Home

Have you ever dreamed of building your dream house? I have. I designed our first house and my father, husband and brother-in-laws built the plan I drew. We couldn't afford to purchase house plans. Since, then we have done extensive remodeling on 3 homes so by now I have an idea of what it would take to have my "dream home"! How do you decide what you want in your dream home? Some of it has to do with just plain life exeperience. You learn the hard way what you like and whether it works for you. What other criteria would it take to become your dream home? What would your list look like?

Here is an example:
It has to have a large kitchen open to the living area.
Must have 3 bedrooms/2 baths.
Must have attached garage.
Having a large, fenced in backyard.

This is just a small example. You should have a lot more. There are some things that are negotiable and some that are not.

Location is a non-negotiable. When you decide where you want to live, you shouldn't be wishy-washy about it. A house cannot be moved. It is where it is. So if you don't want to live on a busy street, or near the airport, and you want it within 20 mins of work... don't compromise. Because you cannot move the house. You want to have reasonable expectations, but don't just drop your needs on this point. You should have good reasons for why you choose the location. Not just because it's pretty and you like the coffee shop on the corner. Your location should have very good reasons and then stick to your guns.

When Stan and I were young and I was healthy, we wanted to live on my family's farm. As our town's population grew, we weren't out in the country any more so we wanted to move further out. We sold our house and moved about 30 mins from our home town. This turned out to be a mistake. We loved being in the little town and being in the country but we were so far from where we do everything it became impractical. We were too far away from our families, Stan's job, our church, where we shop and go to the doctor, etc. When gas prices started going up we had to think about moving. Then my husband got seriously ill and was in the hospital. It was a 40 min. drive from the hospital to our home. I had to come home every day to shower, change clothes and feed the dogs. Then it was 40 mins back to the hospital. Then I began to worry about what life would be like if he was disabled. We were 30-45 mins from family who could help us. Fortunately my husband got well rather quickly and it wasn't a disabling illness. But it woke us both up.

With my health and the fact that we are middle aged and will only grow older (and that doesn't take into account disabling illnesses or injuries that could come out of nowhere)... we knew we had to move back to our home town. Fortunately, we were able to sell our house. While it was on the market I looked at dozens of houses. Our real estate agent earned his commission! I'm not exaggerating, I was on the hunt for our home and I wasn't going to accept just anything.

Here were our criteria for location:
On the east side of town which is close to the hospital we prefer, and our doctors. This was also close to all of Stan's family and not a bad drive for my family (about 20 mins). It needed to be easily accessible to Stan's job. We knew that there were a lot of the kinds of houses we wanted to look at in this area. The east side is also less congestive than other sides of town. The north and west sides are too congestive and the traffic presents everyday problems. The south side has not developed at all and is a very dead area. We don't have children so schools weren't a concern for us.

What else is non-negotiable? The layout of the house can't be changed. You can paint a room and install new flooring but you can't change where a room is located in the house. For instance, I knew that I wanted a one-story home. I didn't want to have to go up and down stairs at our age. So I wasn't interested in a house where the bedrooms were upstairs. It's something I couldn't change. Maybe you want the bedrooms all together or maybe you like a split bedroom plan. If a house has the layout you like, then other things can be remodeled to make it yours.

When you go into a house and you like the foyer opening into the living room and that there is a separate den next to the kitchen... then don't let the fact that the living room is painted purple ruin your perspective. Painting a room is just lipstick and rouge and has nothing to do with the floor plan of the house. If they have zebra patterned curtains on the windows, ignore them. Does the floor plan work for your family? If they have too much furniture and too many knick knacks, look past it and see the bones of the house. Use your imagination to see the house as you would decorate it and if it would flow with your family. I get so aggravated with these TV shows about selling homes and how you have to make everything bland because home buyers have no imagination and want the house to look like they live there before they will make an offer. How do I know what YOUR tastes are? Then how can I decorate the house to match YOUR tastes? I can't. And if I'm still having to live in the house while prospective buyers are shopping, then the house should still be in my own tastes. I mean, if it doesn't sell, I'm still living there. Why should I paint every room in the house beige just because you can't use your own imagination. (That being said, there are definitely some things you have to do to attract buyers such as having a clean and uncluttered home, making sure the house smells good, has good curb appeal, everything being in good working order with no unfinished business.) I had a buyer who loved our house but her daughter talked her out of it because our living room paint wouldn't match her mother's furniture. Can't you paint a wall? Of course! She could paint the living room, so it was a frivolous reason not to buy a house. Now if the kitchen wasn't big enough or there weren't enough closets, I would say those are good reasons for not buying a house. Don't let someone else's personal tastes deter you from seeing beyond and to the bones of the house.

Let's look at house plans I found online and I will tell you what I like and don't like about it.

*Note*
Stan and I have separate bedrooms for several really practical reasons. He snores and he says I snore (I don't think I do), he doesn't like to watch the same TV programs I like to watch, I read sometimes instead of watching TV, 5 dogs sleep with me, he gets up early to go to work and would wake me up. He's on 24 hour call at work as the Plant Engineer and Maintenance Manager and those phone calls would keep me up. We really like this arrangement. We like our separate bedrooms but we also like being close so our bedrooms have to be close not across the house from each other.

For you, your circumstances will probably be different. Do you want a nursery close to your Master Bedroom and the older children's bedrooms on the other side of the house or on another floor (split bedroom plan)? Or do you just need a Master Bedroom on one side and the other bedrooms on the other side or on another story (another split bedroom plan)? Or do you like being in the same wing with all the children so you want all your bedrooms together? Maybe you need 2 Master Bedroom suites. These are things to consider.


**Note** Other things to consider?
How hard would it be to re-roof the house? If you stay long enough, you will have to do it one day. Is the roof too steep, has too many complexities? Can you afford roof replacement or repairs if necessary?
Complicated roofs




Simple Roof


How does the lot lay? Is it too steep? Does it have good drainage? You may want a house on a hillside for the view. I prefer a level lot.


Water will drain down this hill straight to the back of this house and this could cause rot damage and damp crawlspace unless correctly fixed.


Level lot


How much yard work are you willing to do? The size of your lot and the complexities of your landscaping will determine how much you do. If you like yard work or you can afford to pay someone, then go for a nice large lot.

Do you want a basement? An attic?

What kind of outside siding do you want? We decided on brick hands down. That was a non-negotiable point for us.

Are the windows going to need replacing? How complicated would that be? If you have skylights or very tall rooms with high windows, you could have an expensive thing going on if you need to replace the windows.

Same with heating and air conditioning systems. Would it be easy for contractors to replace the entire system, including the ductwork? You want to be sure you have an easily accessible crawlspace or basement, easily accessible heating/ac unit so contractors can get to them for repairs.

Do you want a fireplace? Wood or gas? Where is it located in the house? I have had 2 fireplaces that were too close to the heat pump's thermostat so when we have the gas logs on, the thermostat thinks the entire house is toasty warm and won't run the heat. So the den stays toasty warm due to the gas logs but the rest of the house gets icy cold. That is a very poor design and one most people wouldn't even think of until it's too late.


First floorplan.

ArchitecturalDesigns.com (I had a lot of fun checking through this website and I saved many of their house plans under My Favorites which is another way of filing.)
What I like about this floorplan:
The front and back porch. For me, I would screen in the back porch.

The garage opens into a "hallway". I would lose the "niche" and have a row of cubbies there for a mudroom area.

There is a fireplace.

The laundry room is perfect. It's a little far from the master bedroom area but it's nice and big and separate so I could live with it's location. I like the closets and built in ironing board.

The front foyer has a coat closet!

There is a formal dining room.

The kitchen is nice and large with a pantry. I think I would lose the cut off corner where the sink is which would add a little room to make the pantry a little bigger.

No eating area in kitchen other than the bar.

The guest bedroom on the front of the house could be Stan's bedroom. We would cut a door into the walk in closet so he could go from his bedroom directly through a walkin closet (which could be his) and into the Master bathroom. This way I wouldn't be disturbed but I would also only have to keep one bathroom clean instead of always having to clean two. There are two additional walk in closets which could be for me so we haven't lost a closet in that simple modification.

What I don't like about this floorplan:
There is no formal living room.

There is no study or office although I could use the sunroom or one of the bedrooms.

There is no storage in the garage unless we did the optional 3rd bay and make that into a shop for Stan.

The kitchen isn't closed off but it's better than most, especially if I straightened that sink corner.



ArchitecturalDesigns.com
In this floorplan there is an entrance hall with a powder room and coat closet. They are perfectly located for guests.

It has an eat in kitchen but no pantry and nowhere to put one which is it's worst flaw.

It has a fireplace.

It has a formal dining room.

I love how the master bedroom and bath are located. The bathroom and closet open into each other. Perfect layout! Stan's bedroom could be just across the hall from the laundry room and he could use the Master bathroom too by going through the laundry room. That means I only have to weekly clean one bathroom instead of the two I do now.

It has an office/study which could also be a 4th bedroom.

It has a 3 car garage which would give Stan a good bit of room for shop since we only have 2 cars.

I like the porches being on the front. The one off the kitchen would be the screened porch for us.



ArchitecturalDesign.com, W42075MJ, 3,329 sq. ft.
There are no coat closets at front or garage doors. And I don't see a way to add them anywhere.

The garage is on the front of the house which is not something I would normally like.

From the front door you walk right into a combination formal dining room and living room.

I really like the kitchen.

It has a large pantry, good laundry room and a BUTLER'S PANTRY!

I like the "Nook" in the Great Room which could be an office/study area.

I like that the bedroom wing is separate from the Master wing. Suite 4 is completely separated from the other 2 bedrooms which would make it great for a guest suite. It's only accessible from the kitchen which is a little strange but would be OK. The other 2 bedrooms each have a bath. Those baths would never be used in our situation but it's good for re-sale value.

The Master Bedroom wing is wonderfully large. The Den/Study on the plans would be Stan's bedroom with a door opening into the closet which then opens into the huge Master Bath.

It has a fireplace.

It has a large 3 car garage with plenty of room for Stan.

It has a lot of outdoor living area. Part of which could be screened.



ArchitecturalDesigns.com, W5648AD, 2,697 sq. ft.
I love the front porch with curved stairs. It's not something that is necessary but it's very attractive!

It has 2 coat closets on either side of the front door and one by the back door.

It has a formal dining room.

It has a fireplace.

I really like the eat-in kitchen and large pantry.

The laundry room is a little cramped. There is a possibility of extending the wall shared with the garage to make it a little wider.

Bedroom #3 could be Stan's bedroom with a door opening into the walk in Master Closet to give him access to the Master Bath. Bedroom #3 also has a walk in closet.

Powder Room is well located.

The garage is at the back of the house which I prefer.

There is a good porch off the Great Room which could be screened.

Here is my criteria for my dream home:
  • Brick exterior siding
  • 2500 sq ft+
  • Large eat in kitchen with nice pantry, I would like to have a bar with stools as well as the eat in area
  • Porch that is screened or can be easily screened in
  • Large working laundry
  • Lots of closets including coat closets
  • Master bedroom close to at least one other bedroom
  • Formal dining room
  • Place for study/office
  • Room for a shop for Stan, a basement, or lot size and money to build one (the bigger the better)
  • Enclosed garage
  • I would like to have a separate formal living room but that is a negotiable item
  • A fireplace
  • In the right neighborhood and right side of town. Not on a busy road but convenient.
  • 3-4 bedrooms
  • 2-3 1/2 baths (depending on how many bedrooms)
  • Level lot with good drainage

There are some stuff I like and always wanted but they are more negotiable. Things like:

  • Deep eaves
  • Bay window
  • Window seat
  • Butler's pantry
  • Outdoor kitchen
  • Wraparound porch
  • Heated pool
  • A jacuzzi tub
  • A library

What is your list for your dream home? On that list, what is essential and what is not necessary for your happiness? You can even begin doodling on how you would want your house to be. Check out magazines and books and keep a file of house plans that you fit your criteria. Don't waste your time being unhappy with what you have. But there is nothing wrong with dreaming either. A little prayer wouldn't hurt. You can make plans and then gather them together and lay hands on them and dedicate them to the Lord.

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