One the most exciting, but hardest, aspects of building your own home is choosing the home plans. You probably have an idea of the type home you would like to have, but does it fit both your lot and your budget?
Often, the answer is no, so an ability to compromise is important here. The following are key points to keep in mind when deciding what type house is best for you and your situation.
Consider the lot characteristics. First, consider the size and lay of the land. If your building lot is small and narrow, for example, a two story home with a garage projecting to the rear or front is most appropriate. If the lot is large and flat, you can build a sprawling ranch style home on a slab foundation if you want to save the expense of a basement.
The more you’re able to accommodate the house to the natural lay of the land, the less you’ll spend in grading and excavation costs. A lot that requires major grading work and truck loads of dirt to create a viable building site often does not justify the costs. Of course, in some instances this type lot can be a bargain if you’ve bought it for a reduced price and it’s located in a desirable area.
Consider the overall “footprint” of the house. A footprint refers to the size of the foundation of your house. A two story home has a smaller footprint than a ranch style one level home, for example. That means that the foundation for a 2,000 square foot ranch home will be bigger than the foundation for a 2,000 square foot two story home.
In simple terms, your foundation for the two story home would likely be half the size of the ranch home’s foundation. In some situations–if you are building on a slab rather than a basement, for example– this won’t matter much. But when you are planning a full basement foundation, you could save substantial money by choosing the two story design over the ranch plan.
Consider the basic design of the plan. Homes that are rectangular in shape are cheaper to build than homes with juts and jogs and features such as bay windows, dormers, and complicated roof designs. A classic Colonial design, for example, is cheaper to build that a Victorian farmhouse with a wrap around front porch and numerous gables and exterior trim.
Consider the foundation system. Homes without basements also are considerably cheaper to build. A concrete slab is probably the most efficient and economical foundation. Of course, in some instances a basement offers viable living space , but if your basement will be completely underground and without much or any natural light, you might consider a slab or crawl space option to save money.
Choose a design that uses standard size material. Almost all building material comes in standard sizes and lengths. Framing lumber, for example, comes in even lengths (10′, 12′, 14′, 16′) and so on. If a plan calls for a 15′ wide room, then you’ll end up cutting off a foot from every joist. And since standard carpet comes in rolls that measure either 12′ or 15′ wide, you’ll end up wasting material in a room that’s 17″ wide. Another example is windows.
Manufacturers make them in standard sizes which are the most economical to purchase. But some designs call for custom made window sizes…a much more costly option. And try to steer clear from specialty windows such as arched windows or transoms (small windows placed over the main window). While these windows add charm, they are also very expensive.
Consider the size of the kitchen. While large kitchens are all the rage for most people, kitchens and cabinets are two of the most expensive items in a home. This doesn’t mean that you have to have a tiny kitchen, though. In fact, simple square footage is one of the cheaper items. But if saving money is your main criteria, you can choose a plan that doesn’t require a large number of cabinets and counter tops.
These items alone can add substantially to your overall costs. A growing trend in kitchen design these days includes open shelving in place of upper cabinets. This option saves money now and allows you the opportunity to add more cabinets later. Consider looking at bargain names rather than brand names. Just because you’ve heard of the manufacturer of a product doesn’t always mean that it’s better than its lesser known competition.
Sometimes all it means is that the manufacturer has spent more money advertising and that’s what you are paying up for. Be sure to compare the actual features of the products you are buying. A faucet, for example can range from $30 to $500 and both provide the same function. You can often find bargains and no one but you will be able to tell the difference. Items to compare include windows, plumbing fixtures such as faucets and toilets, light fixtures, appliances and flooring.
Leave some of your “wish-list” items for later. Undoubtedly one of the reasons you are building your own home is because you want to pick and choose all the extras that matter most to you. But, obviously, you’re building it yourself to save money as well. To this end, you can plan for extras but hold off on some during the initial construction and then budget for them as time and money permit. Items such as fancy moldings and trims, for example, can be added later. The same goes for elaborate landscaping. In fact, you can often get a landscape designer from a local nursery draw up a master plan for you and then put in the minimum and add to it each year.
The move toward integrating both interior and exterior living spaces has created a whole new niche in the design field. An exterior designer fills in the gap of expertise between an interior designer and a landscaper. Making a seamless transition often requires a certain expertise that neither a traditional decorator nor landscaper might have in their portfolio.
Many home owners with simple outdoor areas prefer to do it themselves, but with more complicated arrangements, it may pay to have professional help. Interior designers can be excellent for fabrics and seating purchases, but designing outdoor fireplaces or conversation pits may require knowledge and abilities they don’t possess.
Exterior designers are relatively new in the industry. While they may also offer help with areas like outside doors, gutters and other aspects of the home, many specialize in creating the area that bridges the home and the property. With more and more consumers opting for more elaborate outdoor areas expert advice is highly sought after.
In order to unify outdoor kitchens, seating areas and fireplaces, it takes knowing about both landscape design and interior design. Exterior designers provide this portion of design. While elements of these features may seem the same as their indoor counterparts, they are often quite different in construction and design.
To incorporate proper zoning and technical requirements takes knowledge to put construction into effect. Understanding the variables of outdoor appliances, power sources and other core issues can make a project come together more quickly. This expertise can also open design possibilities because of the designer having additional information.
Exterior designers keep up on all the latest in trends. The benefits of using their expert knowledge in everything from proper scale of furniture to the latest in durable fabrics can help make an outdoor area not on prettier but more usable too. This is especially true if an outdoor area is done after interior design has taken place.
HGTV has changed the way people who at exterior spaces. By televising patios and outdoor kitchens, the demand for higher end or more interesting design is on the increase. Also linked to the economic turn down, people are spending more time at home and want their outdoor areas to be nicer. The exterior designer is there to help.
Many home owners just want help with transforming spaces like porches, terraces and patios into more usable spaces. It takes a certain approach to meld the indoors with the landscape and create a striking design. Working with a good exterior designer is more likely to result in a design that accomplishes the effect.
Creating private spaces in the outdoor area of homes that truly work isn’t as easy as it seems. Working with weather factors as well as other elements in nature like plants and insects can also affect how an approach to design is made. The knowledge of design as well as construction for outdoor areas is what makes exterior designers so different.
Lots of times, when people build beautiful decks and patios out behind their homes and intend to use the space for entertaining or family relaxation, they forget to add one of the most important features. That feature would be a storage shed where they can keep the various accessories that they will be using in the space.
If you happen to have plans for building outdoor livings areas in the near future, you will want to consider having a place where you can store things such as furniture cushions, your barbecue grill and its accessories, and even dishes and eating utensils. You will find that a unit like this will be a real asset to your backyard patio design.
A storage building only needs to be as large as what you have to put into it. However, as with all storage in your home, what seems like a lot at first can actually become way too small later on. So plan your shed large enough to meet your needs both now and in the future.
You also want to consider winter storage options when building this structure. Will you have furniture and other items that you want to get in out of the bad winter weather when the time comes? Is there room in your garage for these things, or should you plan accordingly now?
In addition to storage, you might want to think about building an enclosure where you could do your grilling inside in case of rain. Nothing turns an outdoor barbecue into a disaster quicker than having to cook the meal in a drenching rain storm.
You can put up buildings that will look great with your overall patio design while allowing you space to get inside and work if necessary. With water-tight construction, you’ll be able to use the extra space to store a variety of items and even relieve your home of some of it’s clutter by giving yourself additional space in which to keep it.
Many of these outbuildings come in kit form and are designed to be easy to put together. You will be able to build your shed in a few short hours. Kits come in many different sizes ranging from small, low structures to house garbage cans all the way up to large buildings with windows and loft space.
It will all depend on how much room you have for the building and the amount of interior space you’d like to have. Of course, it may depend on your budget, too, and you’ll find that many types of storage sheds are very affordable.
One of the things you’ll really like about your outdoor storage area is that you’ll be able to purchase something that will blend in nicely with your landscaping and house. Quality wooden structures built of cedar will give you years of beautiful, functional storage. In addition, these buildings can be painted or sided to match your home.
If it’s functionality and hassle-free storage you’re looking for, you can purchase sheds constructed with a steel framework covered with high-impact plastics, such as vinyl and polyethylene. These repositories can be very attractive and almost maintenance-free.