Step by Step Design Guide

How to get Ready to Design Your Own Home

If you’re like most prospective homeowners, you have a clear vision of your dream home. Finding a home that perfectly matches your design preferences isn’t likely, but luckily you can design your own.

Phase 1 – Inspiration
Collect Ideas. Picture what kind of home you would want to live in if money were no object. Think carefully about the home you want. What kind of exterior style do you like? (Front & rear) What interior features do you like? Think about your kitchen, living room, master bed/bath, utility room, bonus room and storage. What is it about the house that appeals to you?

Review Magazines. Looking at some home design magazines are a good way to get ideas. You’ll get a good overview of current design trends. Don’t feel like you must limit yourself to a few specific types of architecture just because they’re what’s fashionable.

Go Look at Houses. To find the style you like, tour some subdivisions and take notes on what you like about the houses. When you see a home that catches your eye, take pictures of its elevations. Photos make great reference materials. (Be respectful of owners’ privacy.)

Phase 2 – Organizing and Refining Ideas

Draw up a responsible budget. Ask yourself, “How much house can I actually afford?” and “What is it the right price?” To help you arrive at a more realistic figure. An articulated budget will be your principal guiding force in the design process moving forward.
Note- 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. The average new construction cost is $110/sq. ft.

Keep a design notebook. Get yourself a sturdy, graph-ruled notebook to record your notes, doodles, and musings in. Use its pages to paste photos, write calculations, collect contact info for potential contractors, and keep track of other important details associated with the project. Identify the most important wants and eliminate the unnecessary and separate the “must haves” from the “would like to have.”

Phase 3 – Flow and Layout

Sketch a rough floor plan based on function. Block out basic areas first, keep your floor plan from getting confusing. When you’re done with the downstairs, you can move on to the upper floors. Keep you and your family’s needs in mind to devise a configuration that promotes both comfort and convenience.
Consider and list individual needs and essential features. This is where space, privacy, and specific building techniques will come into play. 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. For each of the main rooms, list function that the room needs. Layout the function, flow, privacy/open, detail/light, size/height of the house.
Note-The more information you can give to your home designer, 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.

Phase 4 – Meet with a Design Professional

Get your plans on paper. Consult with a home design professional to discuss your plans. Your budget, the layout and exterior style, your list of need and wants, a time line, and know the best times to meet and talk to your designer. Listen closely to the professional, be receptive to advice they offer. Your part of the design is knowing what you want. Your design professional will go over structural integrity, local building codes, suitability of the surrounding property, and other matters that you wouldn’t know to consider on your own.
Note- If you are a morning person, but crash in the afternoon, let your designer know. Designing a house is hard work and those big decisions should be made when you are at your best.

Find a suitable location. Try to have a location secured beforehand, this will make designing your home easier. Know that it will be more difficult to build on hills, rocky, uneven, or heavily wooded terrain due to the additional excavation required.

Note- The average cost of working alongside an architect is roughly $2-8,000. If you’re paying them on an hourly basis, this translates to a rate of around $60 to $125 per hour. A home design professional typically charges 25% less than an architect.