How to Start Designing Your Dream Home

We all have visions of our dream home. Maybe you’re watching a home makeover on television and think, “I want that!” or you visit a friend’s home and are impressed by a renovation. Or perhaps you’re tired of having your laundry room in the basement and swear “never again” every time you lug another load of clothes up another flight of stairs.

Having a dream and realizing it are two, very different things. Before you talk to a builder or architect, here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction:

  1. Build a Vision Book. You probably know what you want—and what you don’t. Start a notebook and write down your likes and dislikes. Clip out photos and ideas from magazines, print from the Web, or take photos yourself. Circle architectural details you like, such as windows, doors, trim, entryways, flooring, built-ins, porches, decks, etc.
  2. Determine the size. Figure out the rooms you want and need, the size of each, and how many levels. Do you want a great room with cathedral ceilings? Are you planning on an owner’s suite? Will you have an eat-in kitchen? Do you need a three-car garage? Do the math and this will give you a rough estimation of the total square footage.
  3. Decide on a home style. Do you have a fondness for a traditional cape, a classic Colonial, a rustic post-and-beam, farmhouse, Tudor, or a contemporary home? Are you leaning toward single-floor living? You can find sample home designs and floor plans online and in magazines. Take the time to browse your choices. Drive around and take photos of homes you like. Put these in your Vision Book.
  4. Consider your homesite. If you already own your homesite, consider the type of home that will work best there, Think about how you will situate your home on the building lot. How will you utilize the best features of this land?

Build your Vision Book and then share it with the architects and builders you’re considering. They can help you determine some ballpark costs and advise you how to make adjustments for cost savings, energy efficiency, durability, and comfort. Even if you’re not quite ready to take the next step, start a Vision Book. There’s no price for dreaming!

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