The best way to draft up your dream home

July 29, 2015

Your dream home starts with you grabbing a piece of paper and sketching it out. As your drawing, think about these considerations. They could help you turn your dream into a reality.

The best way to draft up your dream home

A house divided

  • Space in houses generally divides three ways: communal, private and service. When sketching your plan, pay particular attention to the way the different spaces interact.
  • Traffic flow between busy areas should be smooth, and a private living space should never lie between two communal areas.
  • Service areas generally function as appendages to communal or private areas. The kitchen, for example, should be next to the dining room, and bathrooms should be close to sleeping quarters.
  • Separation is important. A noisy family room should be away from an area used for studying.

How will your family grow?

  • Home design should consider future needs. A growing family will either have to include space for new children in the original house or plan on future additions.
  • While building big to start may seem smart, excess space could mean higher than necessary mortgage payments until it's put to use.
  • Plan your addition so that it doesn't interfere with natural lighting or spoil an existing view.
  • Additions must still follow local bylaws or municipal requirements.
  • For a second-floor addition, the original structure must be strong enough to support its weight.

Make a list

  • It's a good idea to write down a list of needs and wants, establishing clearly what you can afford. This becomes the brief, the basis for your plans, that you or an architect can follow.
  • If you plan on using "alternative" materials, an architect experienced in this area will help you make the most of your design.
  • Make sure that the brief includes everything that's important to you — last-minute amendments to a professional designer's plans will incur extra costs.

Draw a rough design

  • If you decide to design your own house, start by sketching out where you want major spaces, such as living areas, kitchen and bedrooms.
  • Next, mark where south is so that you can take advantage of the sun.
  • Indicate where any views are, where the front of the property is and where you would like the front door to be.
  • Try as many layouts as come to mind, and invite others in the family to do the same.
  • Do not use a ruler or introduce measurements yet as this could stifle your creative flow.
  • Once you have a basic sketch you like, start working out how you're going to move through the space, and where storage spaces and bathrooms can go.
  • Finally, draw the spaces up as rooms. Use graph paper to do this, and use a scale of 1:50 or 1:100.

Settling on a plan for a home is a series of compromises. The basic compromise involves size: cost versus interior space versus energy costs and taxes. But if you get a rough draft down first, you can figure out something that works for you and your family, now and into the future.

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