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Self Build and Renovation: Creating the Perfect Floor Plan

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.

Planning proportions

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.


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Apps for Designing Your Home

Putting your new home together is an exciting yet challenging process. You have to design while imagining how your furniture and accessories will look in each potential layout. But the good news is that several powerful apps are now available to cut out a lot of the guesswork and let you focus on obtaining results.

Open plan layouts are a popular choice nowadays due to their flexible use and ability to change over time. To break the space up, you can alter ceiling, wall, and floor finishes from one location to the next.

Traffic Flow

Once a basic layout is in place, consider how your family will move throughout the house. Circulation space includes hallways, landings, and staircases. They need to be positioned so that movement is natural and ideally have access to natural light: dark, narrow passages aren’t attractive or appealing.

The Kitchen

This important room receives its own section, because it can present the biggest challenges when it comes to choosing a layout, and an incorrect selection can impact how much your family enjoys living in the house.

There are four classic kitchen layouts, each with their own benefits:

  • Single galley kitchens with one or two continuous cabinet lines
  • Double-galley kitchens with one or two continuous cabinet lines
  • L-shaped kitchens (popular due to generous counter space)
  • U-shaped kitchens (surrounds the cook on three sides for easy access to everything)

Before choosing a design, think carefully about how you plan on using the kitchen. These days, kitchens are multi-use places where people cook, eat, socialise, and even entertain. Dining rooms are being made redundant in favour of single, bigger gathering spaces.

If your kitchen has an island, remember that they are not just food preparation tables any more: families eat and even work at them. If this applies to you, consider installing plugs for phone or laptop charging. Many people add bookshelves or wine bottle cupboards for added utility.

Regardless of what layout you choose, keep the following design rules in mind:

  • Keep the dishwasher close to the sink
  • Position the bin within reaching distance of the dishwasher and the food preparation area

This strategy keeps the most-used areas in close proximity to each other. You will also want to store pots, pans, and utensils next to the hob and oven and position the knives and drawers close to the food preparation areas.

These apps can create a digital version of your intended floor plan and let you manipulate it as you change your mind. Some even will position the same set of furniture in each room so you can review the total effect. You can even compare different floor plans and decide which one you prefer.

Below is a list of popular apps, some of which are free:

  • Home Design 3D (iOS) (free and paid versions available)
  • Floorplans ( for iPad)
  • ROOM+ (Android)
  • Floor Plan Creator (Android) (free)

Make no mistake: designing your own home is not easy. But planning, preparation, and the right tools will ensure that the end result makes all that effort worth it.


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