If you’re planning on building a new home from scratch, you have many, many decisions to look forward to.
Depending on where you live and whether you’re building your home within an existing development, you’ll have to choose everything from the position of the house on your lot to the color of exterior paint to the fixtures in the bathroom.
However, perhaps the most important decisions of your homebuilding project are those that relate to the home’s floor plan.
The floor plan will have the most influence on how your space feels and how you’re able to use it. As we’ll discuss, the layout you choose may significantly affect the safety of your home for yourself and your visitors — and your ability to stay in it into your retirement years. And unlike other home features, such as fixtures or paint, the choice of floor plan is relatively permanent.
So, before you choose a floor plan for your new home, take the following steps.
Visualize daily activities within the new floor plan
These days, potential homeowners can view all kinds of beautiful homes and all the rooms in those homes through internet image searches. But not everything that looks beautiful on a Pinterest board or fits the latest trends in home design will actually work for your family.
To clarify what you really need in a floor plan, it helps to imagine yourself and your family going through your daily activities in that new floor plan.
Picture what it will feel like to make and eat dinner or, what will be required to do the laundry. Where will the kids play or do their homework? Where will you sit and read after a long day at the office? How will you welcome guests into your home?
Also, consider whether the proposed floor plan allows for enough space for all of the amenities you want. It may help to measure your favorite pieces of furniture, for example, to get a really clear sense of how much space a floor plan actually has. Sometimes looking at a plan on paper doesn’t make it easy to visualize what it will feel like to be inside the space. That’s why it can be helpful to visit home models. If you’re building custom, you can probably still find a few models with room sizes and layouts similar to the ones you hope to build.
Finally, think back to all of the places you’ve lived in the past. What did you like and not like about the way they were laid out? Did you love the ability to see what your partner was doing in an open layout, or did you wish that a few walls could keep the kitchen mess out of view? Did you hate carrying laundry up and down two flights of stairs? Did you love a certain sunny kitchen nook? These are all factors that can inform the floor plan of your new home.
Consider how those needs will change in the future
Most people who choose to build a new home do so expecting to stay in that home for many years — or even for the rest of their lives. For this reason, you may want to choose a floor plan that will accommodate potential future lifestyle needs in addition to present needs.
Specifically, certain floor plans can include elements that are difficult or even dangerous for children, seniors, or people with other mobility limitations to navigate.
Perhaps your children are grown and you don’t have any grandchildren now, but could you in 10 years? Similarly, you might have full mobility now, but if you plan to stay in the home well into your senior years, it’s a much better idea to choose a home with universal design. Perhaps you’re a young adult with no immediate or certain plans to have kids yourself. Do you want to feel comfortable inviting your friends and family with children to come stay with you? These are all things to consider as you choose your layout.
For more on universal design and other features that make a home easy for seniors to live in, check out our post 5 Things to Look for When Choosing a Home for Your Retirement Years.
Another thing to consider is how your lifestyle might change in ways that affect your floor plan. For example, if you’re heading into your retirement years, you might hope to entertain groups more frequently or finally have the time to cook from scratch more often. If you’re investing in a vacation home in a popular tourist city, you may want to make sure you have enough space for guests.
Get clear on how much the floor plan will actually cost
Looking at new home layouts can be exciting. After all, many people who are building a home have dreamed of this opportunity for years. But when it comes time to finalize the floor plan for your new home, you have to step out of “one day” mode and get realistic about what you can afford right now.
For example, if you’re working with an established developer to build your home, their floor plan options probably offer “upgrades” that can sound amazing — and look great in the model you visited. (For example, The Adler homes in the Upper East River Development in Savannah offer an optional wine cellar.)
Optional wine cellar in The Adler
If these upgrades fit into your current budget, that’s great. But keep in mind that if you can’t afford the “extra” features now, you can certainly opt out of them and hire a contractor to add the features a few years down the road.
Also, keep in mind that other features specified in the floor plan may also come with hidden costs. Specifically, features such as expansive windows or skylights can potentially make your home less energy efficient, which may mean that you end up spending more than you realized for your home over time.
Don’t forget about natural light and window views
The floor plan can accommodate your desire for expansive windows, but it can’t control what you see out of those windows. And depending on the development and lot you choose, the floor plan can’t guarantee that the way the sun travels through the sky throughout the year will optimize the natural light in your home.
Make sure to choose a developer or builder who understands (and can explain to you) how the home’s orientation affects views and light in your new home.Your developer should be able to explain how your home’s orientation will affect views and natural light. Click To Tweet
Of course, prioritizing a development that’s located near natural beauty or amazing city skylines is a pretty foolproof way to ensure that you’ll love the views from your home. Choosing a great location like this can also optimize your home’s value over time.
Related post: What Makes a Second Home a Good Investment?
Finally, if you’re interested in moving into a new home that overlooks the beautiful Savannah River and waterfront, we encourage you to check out the homes of Upper East River. Upper East River is located in the new, live-work-play Eastern Wharf neighborhood in historic Savannah. There are a variety of home styles available, from townhouses to loft-style condos, from the upper $600s. Each home style beautifully emulates the history of Savannah while still offering the most modern amenities.