If you’re like most prospective homeowners, you have a clear vision of your dream home. Finding a home that perfectly matches your design preferences isn’t likely, but luckily you can design your own! With little more than a sketchbook and a few inspirational ideas, you can make your vision a reality.
Come up with a basic vision. Before you draw a single line, picture what kind of home you would want to live in if money were no object. The earliest stages of the design process are not about building materials or zoning regulations, but about how you define your desires. Chances are, you already have a few images in mind that just need to be fleshed out.
Look through architecture publications. Poring over some domestic architecture photobooks or home design magazines at the bookstore can be a good way to get your wheels turning. You’ll get a good overview of current design trends, along with styles that were fashionable in past decades or are just now catching on in other parts of the country. For instance, you might see yourself living in a cozy European-influenced cottage, or gravitate towards something more sleek, modern, and minimalistic
Due to the way tastes constantly evolve, many design styles that have long been considered outdated (such as Art Deco and mid-century modern) are now beginning to make a comeback.
Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to a few specific types of architecture just because they’re what’s fashionable. The winning style is the one that speaks to your personal sensibilities.
Tour neighborhoods with houses that spark your imagination. Go for a drive through a few of the subdivisions in your area and scope out the houses there. Forget about whether or not such a home is within your price range for now—you’re just mining for ideas that you can borrow when it comes time to begin designing your own home.
Take notes on what you like about each property, as well as what you’re not so keen on. It’s just as important to know what sorts of features you don’t want as what you do
Keep an eye out for homes that are up for sale. An open house could present a great opportunity to take a closer look at a particular home inside and out.
Take photographs of attractive houses to study later. When you see a home that catches your eye, get your camera out and shoot it from as many angles as you can. You’ll be able to take in more of the subtle nuances by examining a picture at your own leisure than you could with a hurried walk-through. Photos also make great reference materials when you get into the specifics of piecing together your own home.
Use a dedicated photography camera or HD smartphone camera to take your snaps. That way, more of the key details will be apparent.
Make sure you get permission from the homeowner before you go snooping around on their property.
Organizing and Refining Your Ideas
Draw up a responsible budget. Instead of starting with the question “how much will it cost to build my dream home just the way I want it,” ask yourself “how much house can I actually afford?” This will help you arrive at a more realistic figure and bring your vision into clearer focus. An articulated budget will be your principal guiding force in the design process moving forward.
If it’s your first time building a home, it may be helpful to meet with a certified financial planner who can go over the provisions of your budget with you and explain potential curveballs, like sales tax on building materials and whether the cost of the property will be included in your mortgage.