Design Your Dream Home
Designing your own home is an incredible opportunity. You get to create a space that’s perfectly suited to your preferences and lifestyle.
But where do you start?
How do you decide what to put in your home, and how do you create plans that an architect or builder can follow?
Don’t worry — you don’t have to be a pro to design the perfect home. Just follow a few simple steps to turn your vision into precise plans that a contractor can work with.
This article will take you through the home design process in six steps and help you bring your dream home to life.
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How To Design A Home?
In most cases, designing a home means that you’ll work with an architect to draw up plans for a builder.
The architect brings experience and expertise to the table. They know what’s realistic, and they can warn you about potential pitfalls in your design.
They might have a perspective you don’t have — for example, they can tell you if a design feature will increase or decrease the home’s resale value.
The design can still be all yours. This is your home, and the architect is there to help you make your dreams a reality.
Whether you have an architect or not, the steps below will help you create the perfect design and communicate it effectively.
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6 Steps To Design Your Home:
1. Determine your budget for designing a home
This is the least fun part of designing a home, but it’s essential. Your budget will affect every other decision you make.
Custom home design expenses can add up quickly. Throughout the design process, you will likely have to make tough discussions about which wishlist items you really need and which ones aren’t realistic.
You can expect to spend money on:
- Architect fees
- Building permit fees
- Site work
- Interior and exterior finishes
- HVAC, plumbing, and electric
- Driveway and deck
Set some of your budgets aside for unexpected problems. Nothing goes perfectly according to plan, and you don’t want a surprise issue to force you to go over budget.
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2. Think about house placement
Before you start designing your home, you have to decide where to put it.
Where the house sits on the property and how it’s oriented will affect the design of your home’s interior. For example, some sides of the house will get more natural light than others, and that might influence where you place each room.
Before you make any decisions, familiarize yourself with local building codes. There may be restrictions on where and how you can construct your house.
Think about energy savings. In a cool climate, direct sun will reduce heating costs. In a warmer climate, placing the house in a spot with more shade is advantageous.
Trees and tall hedges can provide shade and a barrier against the wind. Don’t forget that smaller trees will get bigger and block more sunlight. Unless you’re removing the trees, allow them space to grow.
Hills on the lot can affect drainage and sewage lines. If you’re at the bottom of a hill, rainwater runoff has to be directed away from your home’s foundation. If you’re at the top of a hill, you may need to install a sewage pump. Both can add to your costs.
Consider how you’ll access your home. Additional grading or a long driveway can also add to expenses.
If you think you’ll want additional buildings on your property in the future, such as a shed, think about how they’ll sit in relation to the home.
Finally, think about the view. What do you want to see out the window while you sip your morning coffee?
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3. Match your home to your lifestyle
When you design your own home, you get to create something uniquely suited to the way you live. Think about your lifestyle and how your dream home should reflect that.
For example, should your home be big or small? How many bedrooms do you need?
Where does your family congregate? Everyone remembers to include the kitchen and the bedrooms in their plan, but make sure you also have space to relax.
How much storage do you need? Where do you need it? For example, can most of your closet space be in the bedrooms, or do you want a large closet in the mudroom for storing winter clothes or outdoor equipment?
Does anyone work from home? How much space do you need for your modern home office?
At this point, you should make a list of the rooms and major features you need your house to have. Make some notes about each room, like:
- How big should it be?
- Does it need to be connected to another room (like the master bedroom and a bathroom)?
- Is it important for the room to be quiet?
- How much natural light do you need the room to get?
- What type of furniture will go in the room?
You’ll use these notes when you compile the architect’s brief in step five.
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4. Choose the style of your home
You don’t have to have your house all planned out yet, but you should have an idea of the style you want.
For example, do you imagine a more traditional design or a modern one? Homes with traditional architecture usually have tall, pointed roofs with gables and are made with materials like brick, wood, stucco, or stone. The windows are small and the colors rich.
Modern houses tend to feature muted colors, large windows, and clean lines. They may use materials like reinforced steel or concrete.
Another key difference is the floor plan. In a traditional home design, the space is divided into separate, single-purpose rooms. Modern homes often have open concept floor plans with fewer dividing walls and rooms that serve multiple purposes.
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The choices go beyond traditional and modern. If you’re not sure what you want your home to look like, research some of the most common architecture styles to get ideas.
Those styles include:
- Mid-century modern
- Cape Cod
- Country French
- Victorian Tudor
Even if you’re not sure how to define your preferred style, gather some pictures of houses you like to share with your architect when you prepare your design brief in step five.
Read also – What Does An Interior Designer Do?
5. Write a brief for the architect
If you’re working with an architect, create a design brief for them.
A design brief is a document that outlines your vision and your requirements for space. The more information you give the architect, the better equipped they’ll be to help you create your perfect home.
Include the following information. Your architect may also provide a questionnaire they want you to fill out.
A. Budget and time frame
The architect needs to know what budget you set in step one.
Also let them know how much time you’re willing to spend on the project. If you’re not sure how long you should allow, make a guess and discuss it with the architect when you give them the brief.
Describe how your new home will be used. Go through your daily routine and write down anything you can think of about what you need in a living space.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- How many people will live in the house?
- Do you have any pets?
- Will anyone be working from home?
- Does anyone in the family have special accessibility requirements?
- Are you more focused on relaxation or entertainment?
- How much storage do you need? Any specific requirements, like bike storage?
- Do you need a garage? How many cars?
- Do you ever have guests stay with you?
- What are your heating and cooling requirements?
- How important is it to you to be eco-friendly?
If there’s anything you especially like or dislike about your current home or past places you’ve lived, you can put that in the lifestyle description as well.
Don’t worry about whether you’re including too much information. The architect wants to get a clear picture of who will be living in the house and what they need to feel happy at home.
C. Room requirements
Start by listing the rooms you need to have in your home. You should have a good list from step three.
Go through the rooms one by one and write about your requirements for each.
Do you have thoughts about which direction you want your living room windows to face? How big should the kitchen be? Do you want a bathroom attached to the master bedroom?
Feel free to get carried away listing your dreams for the house. But list your wishes in order of priority. If they aren’t all possible, given your budget, space, and deadline, the architect will start with the most important things.
D. Style choices
Write down the style choices you made for your home in step four. If there are any particular materials you want to use for your house, like a brick exterior or timber frame, include them here.
You don’t have to rely on words to convey your design ideas. Search the internet for any images you can find that resemble your dream home or desired room designs.
Some homeowners create Pinterest boards to share with the architect.
F. Floor plan
An architect can take the information in your brief and create plans for your home. But if you want more control over the design, you can also make your own floor plans. We’ll discuss creating a floor plan more in the next step.
It’s still a good idea to work with an architect — they may have suggestions to make your design more realistic or comfortable to live in. They’ll also be familiar with local regulations and the housing market.
You and the architect can work together on the final tweaks to your house design.
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6. Create your floor plans
You can use one of two methods to create floor plans for an architect or builder.
Floor plan method 1: Draw by hand
You can draw a floor plan for your architect the old-fashioned way: with pencil and paper.
Even a quick sketch will help the architect understand your requirements. But unless you have experience drafting by hand (and the time to do it right), your drawing will likely be imprecise.
Will you have space for your antique furniture in the living room you drew? Is there room for an extra closet in the master bedroom?
It’s hard to say from your sketch alone.
And while even a basic drawing will help an architect understand your vision, it definitely won’t be enough to take straight to a builder.
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Floor plan method 2: Home design software
Home design software is a more modern way to make house plans.
You can easily draw the outline of your home with precise measurements. Each room will be the right size with doors and windows in the correct place.
Sometimes it’s easier to design a floor plan if you can visualize how the house will look filled with furniture and decor. Home design software has you covered.
You can drag-and-drop pre-made 3D models of furniture and other elements into your design.
Move it around, swap it out for different products, and look at it from different angles.
If populating your floor plan with furniture makes you realize that your outline won’t work, you can easily edit the location of walls, doors, and windows.
One really neat thing you can do with home design software is created photorealistic 3D renders of your design. That means you create a picture of your home that looks like a real photo. You can even use these renders to create a virtual tour.
3D rendering can be a useful way to show your design ideas to an architect. It’s also a lot of fun to play with!
You may be wondering how much home design software costs.
Home design software ranges from free to hundreds of dollars per month.
As a homeowner designing your own house, you don’t need all the bells and whistles of an enterprise-level plan. But for under $50, it’s possible to use the same software the pros use.
Look for home design software with a range of pricing options to accommodate everyone, from DIY enthusiasts to design firms.
Floor plan tips
If you haven’t drawn up floor plans before, it can be hard to know how big to make the rooms. Measure the walls of the rooms in your current home as a benchmark.
The flow of the house is an important thing to consider. Imagine you’re living in the house. Where would you go after cooking dinner in the kitchen? If you would go to the dining room to eat, you should probably put those two rooms adjacent to each other.
Think about the route you would take through the home each day. Make sure it’s convenient and easy.
Take your lifestyle into consideration. For example, you’ll probably want a low noise level in the bedroom. So you might want to avoid sticking that room next to the living room where your whole family will hang out.
It might take several tries to create the perfect layout. If you’re creating your floor plans with interior design software, editing your design will be easy.
Designing a home is exciting, but it can also be intimidating.
It doesn’t have to be.
Follow the steps above to make the process as simple as possible — and ensure that the end result is everything you’re dreaming of.
Foyr Neo home design software provides an easy way to draw and edit floor plans for an architect or contractor. You can also experiment with designing the interior of your home using thousands of pre-modeled products (or you upload your own).
When you have a design you love, create beautiful photorealistic renders of the house from all angles or with different lighting.
Ready to start designing your home? Try Foyr Neo for free.