The newest installment of our series "Steps Toward a New Home" examines the home-design phase of the building process.

By this point in your journey, you’ve decided who’s going to build your house, and where it’s going to be built. Now it’s time to decide what you’re going to build. All along, you’ve had a pretty good idea of how you want your house to look, and the basic feel you’re trying to achieve. Now you need to work with your builder and really get down to specifics and design the house…room by room, window by window, light switch by light switch. This will be a very exciting step in the process….it’s the one time when your imagination can run wild with all the possibilities you’ve ever dreamed of. But, it can be frustrating as well, as you have to balance your wants and desires with Home Designwhatever size and budgetary restrictions you may have. The design phase is truly the art of compromise. You need to be able to articulate your vision, so it can be captured on paper in the form of building plans. Throughout the process, your designer will also offer their expertise, to help you along. Make sure you listen carefully, and learn from their experience, but also stand firm for the things that are important to you.

Take advantage of this opportunity. This is why you’ve scoured all those home magazines and websites. This is what all those discussions with friends and family were about. Think about all the things that collectively make up your life…. how you work, how you play, how you sleep, your cooking and eating habits, children’s daily routines, etc. Do you or any family members have any physical limitations that can be eased through thoughtful home design and construction? There are plenty of design features and building products available that make it easier to live in your home more comfortably as you age, or deal with health conditions, or simply raise a family. Now is the time to think it all through. A well-designed home can make everyday life a little easier…. a poorly-designed one can make it very inconvenient.

Don’t rush this part. Take the first draft of the design and study it….really study it. Close your eyes and mentally walk yourself through the front door and all through the house. Make sure the traffic patterns flow properly. Think about proximities….how far is the laundry room from your clothes, how far is the dining area from the kitchen, how far is the bathroom from the bedrooms? Improperly designed, these types of things will drive you crazy after your home is completed. Think about other homes you have been in….what features stand out in your mind as being really enjoyable…what things bother you? How about the views? If you have a wonderful view in the back yard but not in the front, make sure your windows are placed accordingly to take advantage. If you and your family spend a lot of time outdoors, where will everyone come inside and take off wet shoes and dirty clothes?
Run as many of these every-day scenarios through your head as you can. Get input from everyone in the family. Work with your builder to make any revisions that will get you to a final design that everyone is happy with.

The Main Point: Your home is not just a building. It’s an intricate part of your family. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to design and build a home from the ground up, make sure it works with you and your family members to make life easier and more enjoyable.