By Span Glers
Creating floor plans for homes is not as complicated as in the past when computers and software programs were not yet in the picture. Today, the challenge is not in conceptualizing a design but rather in the planning itself. Since it involves a structure that is supposed to provide sanctuary and comfort, the floor plan requires meticulous planning to fit within your design criteria.
• Size: How big or small is the house you intend to build? Today’s trend has shifted to building homes that are easier to manage. People prefer smaller homes because they cost less to maintain. The key on how to design floor plans for homes is to use all the space wisely so that no area becomes useless. Refer to the house your presently live in to get an idea of how you and your family use space. Do you need more space to move around or to store your household items? Base your design on your space requirement as well as how you actually make use of the area.
• Location: Where do you plan to build the house? Find out if any constraining factors that can deter the actual implementation of your floor plan exist. If the lot is situated in a low-lying neighborhood, disregard your plans to have a basement or cellar. Take advantage of what the surroundings offer to inspire your design. For example, if the house is to be constructed atop a sprawling hill, make sure to have an open square that looks out to the stunning scenery. As you consider the location, factor in the shape and orientation of the house. A square house requires more materials than a triangular one. A house with large windows facing the east can save energy costs due to the natural light and air coming in to illuminate and ventilate the entire structure.
• Duration of stay: How long do expect to live or stay in the house? If you plan to spend the rest of your life there, make sure to incorporate some provisions for special imminent needs. The future holds many unforeseen surprises yet these are the very things homeowners can be well prepared for. The family may grow with the coming of additional members requiring more space. As old age sets in, the health declines, making it more difficult to climb stairs. Illnesses, accidents and other extraordinary situations may demand the design of the house to be adapted to these special needs.
• Interior layout: Do you prefer an open floor plan or partitioned rooms? In the past, homes were designed in such a way that too many walls divided it. The kitchen was set apart from the dining room and the living room, which were all separated away from the sleeping quarters. Nowadays, houses are more conveniently designed to fit in the family lifestyle. The living room extends to the dining and the kitchen indicative that the family uses the whole area for interacting with each other. If you give much importance to privacy, you may consider the use of movable dividers to optimize the use of a great space for family gatherings.
• Sun directions: Where does the sun rise and set with respect to the house location? Consider the sun directions in planning where to place the rooms around the house. It is sensible to put the bedrooms on the northern side where there is less light thus making it conducive for sleep. In the same manner, it is logical to put rooms used for lively activities in the opposite south side to take advantage of abundant supply of daylight.
• Room arrangement: Which rooms need to be placed near each other? It makes sense to put rooms that require the same setup. For example, the toilet and bath must be near the kitchen since both areas require plumbing for water supply. Cluster the bedrooms together if a centralized air conditioning unit is to be installed to reduce the length of wiring and other cables to connect the system in all rooms.
• Ceiling heights: What area requires higher, lower, or standard ceiling height? Consider designing a home with varying ceiling elevation. Oftentimes, the altitude of the ceiling creates the illusion of space. The living room can have a cathedral-type ceiling to make it appear larger. Although the rest of the house may have lower ceiling, it is also important to consider the height of tall family members or regular visitors who may have discomfiting feelings about what hangs above their heads.
Once you have factored in all these elements, it is time to start designing floor plans for homes you can select from. As you progress along, you may come up with more ideas to consider in your design. Nevertheless, the real pleasure is in seeing the product of your mind transformed into an actual house which you and your family can truly call home.