Five questions to ask yourself as you select and compare house floor plans:
What kind of lot do you have?
The dimensions and slope of your lot restrict your choice of house floor plan. Designs are available specifically for narrow, wide, sloped, and irregular lots. Check the dimensions to be sure the house will fit your lot, along with garage, driveway, garden, lawn, play areas, and so on.
Who will be living in the home?
If you have or plan children, you will need to consider the size of the bedrooms, closet and storage space, and the traffic flow: is there a good, open flow to the kitchen, bedrooms, and play areas? If you plan to retire in this house, you will want to consider an open, single-floor plan in case of future limited mobility. If you will need space for extended family, look for guest rooms or “mother-in-law” quarters.
What will you do in the home?
If you plan to entertain, look for a flow from dining to living areas that is open and inviting. If you have kids or teens, consider having separate entertaining areas at opposite ends of the house. If the kitchen is the hub of your entertaining, examine the layout carefully for open space and ease of use. Keep in mind any other special spaces you will need for your activities, such as a home office, workshop, hobby room, exercise room, media room, game room, and storage for outdoor activities.
What kind of spaces do you need?
Smooth traffic flow is essential to a good house plan. Be sure your plan moves people where you want them. Examine each room for details such as lighting sources, outlets, and window placement. Check bedrooms for traffic flow and closet space. Can bedrooms share a bath, saving square footage and costs? Do you want the laundry/utility room on the ground floor or the upper floor? Don’t forget storage space for infrequently-used items such as holiday decorations. Be sure that the garage and any porches, decks, and so on don’t conflict with any special needs you may have.
What kind of foundation do you need?
Typical foundation options are slab, crawlspace, basement, and daylight or walk-out basement. Be sure to find out what foundations are recommended in your geographic area. Remember that the foundation is a significant part of the total cost of your home: it’s often cheaper to build up than out.
After all these practical considerations, however, the final question remains: Do you like this house? Pick the plan that attracts and compels you; minor problems can be easily smoothed away as you build the house you truly love.
Top sites for house floor plans:
Most popular site with the most architects and planners. A free downloadable PDF, Houseplans for Beginners, is available with free registration.
Very user friendly site. Free registration allows you to construct and print a PDF personalized catalog of your favorite house plans.
Unique plans, easy site to use, no registration required to save favorite plans. Links to “green” building tips and resources.