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How To Choose Building Plans

10 Steps to Your Dream Home

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Young woman in office, writing on blueprint

The home of your dreams begins with careful planning.

Photographer: Bruce Laurance / Collection: Photodisc / Getty Images

Whether you are building a new house or remodeling an older home, you'll need plans to guide you through the project. Here are some tips to help you choose the best building plans for your needs.

Time Required: Don't rush - take at least several weeks

Here's How:

  1. Talk with your family. Discuss what each of you wants. What are your needs now and what will your family's needs be in the future?
  2. Look at how you live and where you spend most of your time. Should you plan for future aging in place?
  3. Reflect on homes you have visited. What features did you especially enjoy?
  4. Consider the features of your land. Where is the sunlight best? Which direction offers the greatest views?
  5. Browse through building plan catalogs.
  6. Use the search function offered by online directories of building plans.
  7. Select a floor plan that most closely matches your ideal.
  8. Select exterior finishing details.
  9. Estimate your building costs. Your budget will determine many choices you make in the design of your home.
  10. Consider hiring an architect to personalize your building plan, or to create a custom design.

Tips:

  1. Choose your floor plan first and your exterior façade second. Most plans can be finished in nearly any architectural style.
  2. It's usually best to purchase your land before you select your building plan. The land establishes the amount of area and the type of terrain you have to build on. To build an energy-efficient structure, try to follow the sun as it crosses your lot. Pre-purchasing the land also helps you budget the rest of your project.
  3. Be sure to budget for landscaping and finishing touches.
  4. Listen actively. Reflect back what you hear when you talk with family members. You might be surprised to find out that your children or in-laws plan to live with you.
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