Building Your Home

Where Can I Find a Plan for my Mountain Home?


What are you looking for in your next home?

Perhaps you are planning your last home and want it to be the best it can be.  And you want it to be energy efficient.  Or maybe you want the perfect vacation home in the mountains.  Whatever your reasons you would not build a custom home, if you didn't want it to be special.


Your Special Home . . .

To make sure you get the best home for the least cost, it is important to identify your needs, your wants, and your budget.


Identifying Your Needs . . .

The first step is to list your family's needs.  How many will be living in the home?  Does anyone have health issues?  Your home can be designed to be more safe and comfortable for those with allergies, back problems, difficulty seeing well, and even someone in a wheelchair.

Will anyone be working at home?  Do you need an office?  With high speed Internet available in many areas, you might be able to work in your mountain home!  Will you need networking between your computers, your entertainment, and a security system?  What kind of entertaining do you do?  Formal parties or picnics with friends and family?  How many would you like to entertain?  What kind of cooking do you do?  How much food storage will the kitchen need?  Will you need an area for entertaining with a sound system, a large television, or bookshelves?  Should this area be centrally located for convenience, or hidden away for quiet.

How many bedrooms are needed?  Can any of the bedrooms serve as an office or den too?  How many bathrooms will be in your home?  Do you use a tub or a shower?  How often would you fill up a large spa tub to take a bath?  Would a standard tub next to a large shower be more practical?  Would you rather have the laundry close?  Should this area be centrally located for convenience, or hidden away for quiet?  Should all the bedrooms be on the same level?

How many cars need to be parked?  Will a carport be sufficient, or will you need a garage?  How much storage will you need?  Can some of the items you store be sold or given away to reduce the cost of your home?  What kind of hobbies do you have?  Will you need a workshop or would a bench and some shelves in the garage be enough?  Do you need storage for recreational items?

What kind of property will you be building on?  Will your home be a lake house, or will it face a mountain view?  Will you be building on level ground or a steep incline?  Will it be easy to plan for driving and parking?  Is your property in a flood plane?


Identifying Your Wants . . .

This is where many homes fail to satisfy their owners.  Many people have trouble identifying their wants, much more so explaining them to their designer and builder.  Perhaps this article can help.

One reason for this difficulty is the advertising media.  They work very hard to change what you want, to get you to buy what they are selling.  This seldom brings real satisfaction.  Another reason is that we are so busy struggling with life that we have lost touch with ourselves.  If you want this home to be the best it can be, you need to invest some time in thinking about this.  We need to peel all of this away to find out what you really want.

Let's start with something easy, colors.  What colors make you comfortable?  Most people prefer warm, natural colors rather than the latest trends.  The next few weeks, take note of the colors that make you feel comfortable.  Notice textures and materials too.  Write down what you observe.

Next let's study building styles by visiting as many homes as you can.  Notice what makes you feel comfortable.  If you pick a design because it is awesome, or cool, remember that that feeling will not last.  Focus on what makes you feel comfortable in other homes and buildings.  You might realize that the only reason you liked that mansion style home was for prestige.  But the massive style and ornate detail might make you feel uncomfortable inside.  Do huge columns make you feel welcome, or intimidated?  Do you really want a great room with a super high ceiling?  Do you want to live in a museum, a courthouse, or a comfortable home?  Notice how the sound is affected by materials and room size.  Will the noise of the television and food preparation compete too much with your conversations?

Now let’s go even deeper inside.  Spend some time trying to remember your childhood dreams.  What kind of person would you be if you didn't have to be an adult?  If you were not afraid of being embarrassed, what kind of childish things would you enjoy?  Try to get in touch with the person you were before adult problems and the advertising media changed you.  Is there something you would want to have in your home, something that you are afraid to tell others because it seems a little weird?  Something that reminds you of visiting your grandparents when you were a kid, or the tree fort you never got to build.  Did you have to give up your dream of being an artist, a musician, or whatever?  Write this down.  Considering these important qualities can mean the difference between having a house and a home.

Let’s also explore your values.  What do you think your home should be?  A place to encourage family togetherness?  Can your home be designed to encourage your family to be closer?  What could accomplish this?  What is more important, a huge mansion, or more time for the family, or even more time for personal development?

After considering these deeper points, you might also want to consider what options you would like to have in your home.  There is no limit of things that can be added to your home, if you had lots of money.  You might do well to make a list, and next to each item write down how this would make your life better, how often you would use it, and how much it will cost.  In this way you can prioritize your options, so you can get the best home for the least cost.


Calculating Your Budget . . .

How much can you afford to spend?  Are you concerned about mortgage payments and utility bills?  Would you spend more on your home if this would reduce your utility bills?

You may want help setting your budget.  If you have enough cash in the bank this is easy.  Just total up how much you are willing to spend.  If you need a mortgage this is a little more complicated.  But mortgage providers are glad to help.  Just bring them your financial papers including loans, assets, and bank statements, taxes for the last several years, insurance policies, and anything else that can help in calculating your financial situation.  The mortgage broker can tell you how much you can afford to borrow.

Next you need to calculate what you can spend.  Have you already purchased land?  Will you need a driveway, well, or septic system?  Be sure to allow for these costs when calculating your budget.


Plans for Your Home . . .

How do you turn all of this into a plan for your home?  How can you get a plan that considers your needs, wants, and budget?  Would you purchase a set of plans from a magazine?  This might cost less than custom plans, but is it a good idea?  Well, why do you want to build a custom home?  Magazine plans are designed to look good in the advertisement.  They often add features that appeal to their average client.  Do you want to pay for all of those features or the ones you and your family need?  Will the home fit on your property?  Will it be energy efficient?  There are many advantages to getting a custom plan for your home.

Does your builder offer "free" plans?  Remember that builders do not work for free.  The time they spend planning and building your project is included in what you pay.  Builders are very busy people.  Most coordinate the construction of several homes at the same time.  They don't have as much time to focus on designing your home.  Many base their designs on a few standard plans that they modify for their clients.  Is this the best way to design a custom home?  Would you have a better custom home if it were designed to fit your needs, your wants, and your budget?

Building a home is expensive and risky.  Your home will have a big impact on your life.  It is a very good idea to hire a professional to design and plan your home.  A good plan can help you get more home for less cost and with less problems.

How do you choose a designer?  This is just as important as choosing a builder.  First you need to like your designer.  Does he listen well?  Can you understand each other?  Is he a good communicator?  Do you enjoy meeting with him, or does it seem like hard work?  Designing a home should be exciting and fun.  Does the designer try to understand what you want, or push you into what he wants?  Is he respectful?  Next, you need to see if the designer has the skills.  Designing a good home requires skills in decorating, structural design, energy efficiency, aesthetics, art, budgeting, and lots of organization.  Make an appointment to interview the designer.  Ask to see examples of his work.  Check out references.


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