Build and Design your Own home
Method 1Start With A Vision
- Get inspired. Before you draw a single line, consult an architect, or buy that cool new software application that will do it all, consider your dreams. At the very beginning of this process, it's not about board feet or setbacks or even floor plans. It's about how you define your desires. Much of this you will already know—it's your dream, after all!
- Visit your favorite neighborhoods. There is a reason they are your favorites, and it's most likely because you love the homes there. Don't consider price or practicality—yet. What you are looking for is what inspires you.
- Attend open houses. Look for homes for sale in the neighborhoods you love, and make weekend open houses a regular outing during this phase. Each of those will have features that inspire you, and features that will leave you unmoved. Make note of each of those: it's just as important to know what you either don't care about, or actively dislike.
- Take photographs. Shoot every angle of a building you like, inside and out. You'll find more detail in the photos than you saw in person, and after visiting dozens of houses, they'll be a great way to recall that thing you loved right at the beginning.
- Get organized. Dreaming is good, and it's vital to have a vision for what you want to achieve, but achieving it will be much more difficult if you are constantly looking for that scrap of paper you thought you left over there.
- Get a sturdy, cloth-bound graph-ruled notebook (often called a "computation book"), and keep it with you until your home is finished. Its numbered, graph-ruled pages will help you keep your thoughts organized and your sketches neat. You can use it to tape or paste in photos, list quotes, contractors, numbers, and anything else associated with the project.
- Dedicate a couple of pages right up front to things that your house must have—whether it be 3 bathrooms or bamboo flooring, these are the things you require in your home.
- Dedicate another page or two to list of every feature and desire you've culled from your various resources, and call this your "Wish List." This could be anything from a particular shape of molding to an Italian tile bathroom.
- Paint the big picture. Now that you are getting specific about what you love and what you desire, it's time to focus.
- Will you prefer urban or rural living?
- Do your needs put you in expansive home with room for the kids to play and the dogs to run, or a cozy bungalow for two?
- Do you favor clean, modern lines or detailed, hand-built craftsmanship?
- Perhaps the most important of all considerations, what is your budget?
- These questions will help guide you as you begin to focus your vision into actionable steps.
- The more information that you can provide to your architect or builder about the details of your vision, the more likely you will not only get the design of your dreams, you'll stay on budget as well.
- Find a location. This is where the rubber hits the road...or perhaps more appropriately, where the shovel hits the dirt. Before you can really dig into designing your dream home, you'll need to know what you're building on.
- The landscape matters. building on a hill has a different set of requirements and design challenges than building on flat ground.
- A heavily-wooded area may makes a big difference when it comes to windows and lighting, not to mention solar panels or other energy considerations.
- Lots nearer freeways or other noise-producing areas will need more attention to acoustics than isolated rural locations.
- Access to utilities and services vary by location. Make sure your chosen location includes those things we generally take for granted.
- Zoning can make the difference between a dream home realized, or a house full of compromises.
- Enlist the help of a real estate professional who can help you assess your property choices from an objective point of view.