Whether you’re working with an architect or designing your own home, a detailed and clear brief needs to be prepared before the contractors arrive.
This document sets out your requirements, confirms the project budget, and lays out features that must be incorporated into the final design: namely, the floor plan.
Although creating a floor plan can be time-consuming, it’s not as complicated as one might assume. Drafting the inaugural sketch is typically the hardest part, and you will probably have to change it more than once. But when you come up with a design that works, the payoff will be tremendous.
Important tips when starting out
- Know your requirements. For example, if your spouse has a bad back, limit the number of staircases. If you have small children, make sure all balconies and stairs have sturdy railings.
- Refrain from designing the exterior of the house before the interior requirements have been planned out. Trying to fit the room sizes and types into a pre-designed box rarely works.
- If you have a list of the spaces that need to be incorporated, you can start laying out the best location for each room directly onto a site plan. The result may not be to scale yet, but this step will give you an idea of how the rooms will fit the site and each other.
Where to begin
The ground floor needs to be planned first. The relationship between the family room and kitchen is crucial in most households, and if you want a home office it should be placed near the front door but away from major distractions. The size, location, and connections of these three key spaces should form the nucleus of your plan, with every other room designed around them.
Determining room size
When determining a room’s appropriate size, the following needs to be taken into account:
- The room’s intended use
- The size and number of furniture items it will contain
- Its relative size to other rooms
Planning floor levels
If you’re working with a restricted site, you can gain extra floor space by adding a second floor or using the roof area for extra bedrooms. The downside is that more floor area can potentially be dedicated to bedrooms instead of actual living accommodations. If the ground floor footprint cannot be extended, add a basement or plan for some of the first floor rooms to be used as living space.
When designing rooms, consider their proportions along with their respective sizes. If a room’s width is less than half its length, it can feel cramped and have a limited ability to accommodate larger furniture items.