Monday, 22 June 2009

Small but Unique, Cheap but Nice House Plans

I was discussing home design trends with a builder friend of mine the other day. He said to me that "small is the new big". This is true because people are demanding much more value in their purchases now. But they also still want quality. So how can designers and builders deliver on this? Here are a few of my thoughts:
  • Build it small - but liveable. A floor plan needs to be smart in order to be functional while remaining compact. Every space should be analyzed for efficiency. Better hire a pro.
  • Keep it simple. Roof form and wall massing should be as simple as possible. This reduces labor costs and additional materials.
  • Keep it square. A square plan has much less surface area than more complicated plan shapes. That means less roofing, wall and foundation materials.
  • Keep it square 2. Square plans have less jogs. And jogs are transitions that cost money. Think about it. It is faster to build one long wall than 3 or 4 separate walls that total the same overall length.
  • 1 for 2 special. One big window is less expensive than 2 small ones. Labor and materials included.
  • Get rid of the ginger bread. A quality design does not need ornamentation but a bad design does. We call it "putting earrings on a pig".
  • Eliminate redundancy. Most folks don't really need 3 places to eat (kitchen island, kitchen nook and formal dining room). Most folks don't use a formal living room if they have a main floor family room. It's not the 1950's anymore Beaver.
  • Use the basement. You have to build that foundation anyway (up north anyway), so you might as well incorporate it into your plan.
  • Use the garage. Many times we will use the space above the garage as a master suite or family room space.
  • Question everything. Look at every building system and every component critically. Ask yourself if there is a better choice to be made. Make sure it's functional as well as beautiful and economical. If it's functional but ugly - I don't call that value.
  • Plan ahead. Get your plan completely right before you build. Work with a pro. If you get the plan right then you can build without changes. Changes during construction always cost time and money.

  • Ok, I'll stop. There are a million other great ideas. I'd like to hear some of yours. Please comment.

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