The opportunity to design and build your own home is not something that is likely to come along too often, so it’s important that you seize the chance to make it the house of your dreams.
At Houseplansdirect, we get the ball rolling by providing ready-made house designs which are a starting point from which you can customise your perfect home. Since our formation in 2008, we have created hundreds of designs and worked with a wide range of clients, and as a result have developed a tried-and-tested system we like to call our “Dreamhome Design Process”.
The “Dreamhome Design Process” is a 26-point system that allows customers to modify even the most seemingly trivial or modest elements of our standard house designs. We know of no other provider of ready-made house plans that goes to such lengths to make sure their customer’s needs are met.
The Dreamhome Design Process – How We Customise Your Home in 26 Easy Steps
- Meeting Your Needs – does the proposed design meet the needs of its intended occupiers, both now and in the future? Will it allow residents to continue living there in old age, or can it be adapted to cater for future needs? Would a different design work better?
- Architectural Style – does the external appearance of the design excite you? And is it likely to be acceptable to the planning authority where you’re looking to build, or do they have a design code which conflicts with your vision?
- Site Location – what geographical features need to be considered when customising your design? Will its orientation mean that it heats naturally through the course of the day, or will the main spaces overheat or stay cold and dark? Do the external materials need to be weather resistant, against things like sea salt, spray, wind or algae?
- Openness – we all know that open-plan living is very popular at the moment, but to what extent do you want all your living spaces to flow together? If you have kids, would you like them to have somewhere separate from the main living area to play in, or conversely, would you prefer a little snug or study area away from the rest of the house? Do you like to cook and entertain guests at the same time, or create culinary masterpieces and make a show of bringing them out to your diners?
- Bathrooms – how many bathrooms do you need? Will one bathroom for everyone work, or do you need some separation in the mornings? Does each bedroom need an en-suite, or could a ‘Jack and Jill’ bathroom be the solution?
- Windows – are the windows shown in the standard design suited to your plot, or could they be made larger to make the most of a view or natural light? Should some of the windows be removed or fitted with obscure glass to avoid any overlooking issues?
- Kitchen – is the kitchen large enough for your needs, and does it cater for the layout and facilities you want to incorporate? Would you prefer to store food in wall cabinets, tall cabinets or a dedicated pantry? If you have an island, do you want this to include a sink, a hob or just worktop space?
- Kerb Appeal – the front of the house and the main entrance should be welcoming and set the tone for the rest of the house. Will passers-by stop and stare in awe, and will guests have somewhere to take off their coat, leave their umbrella and be made to feel welcome before you give them the grand tour?
- Storage Space – often overlooked but never regretted, making sure your home has ample storage space in terms of wardrobes, cupboards, attic space and even linen closets / airing cupboards is invaluable. Think about the occupiers and their toys or hobbies, whether they have separate summer and winter wardrobes, pets and their toys / food / bedding, and so on.
- Bringing the Outside In – this is a phrase / concept that probably didn’t exist ten years ago, but is now increasingly popular. Do you want your indoor living space and outdoor patio space to be easily connected and accessible? Can you envisage entertaining guests with huge bifold doors open and people mingling between the two areas?
- Energy efficiency – another huge topic at the moment and one which will become even more important in the future. Do you want to incorporate renewable technologies such as solar panels or air source heat pumps, or specify extra insulation in the walls, floor and roof to retain heat and minimise running costs?
- Sustainable Design – going beyond simple methods for saving on power and heating, are there other sustainability measures you would like to include? Could you incorporate recycled or reconstituted materials in the design (such as stone or metals), or introduce rainwater harvesting which could be used to water gardens, wash cars or even flushing toilets?
- Working From Home – do you need to provide dedicated office for home working, and how many people might this space need to accommodate? Is there a toilet nearby or can you create a tea station for when you need a cuppa? Or alternatively, is sufficient room needed for hobbies such as crafting, photography or a trainset?
- Laundry / Utility Rooms – we always encourage clients to keep these separate from the kitchen where space allows. But does it have to be at ground floor level, or would you prefer it on the first floor, near to the bedrooms, so that clothes can be washed, ironed and put away without the need to traipse up and down stairs?
- Your Sanctuary – the master suite is where you will spend most of your time, so what features does it need? Your own bathroom away from the kids or guests is probably preferable, but what else do you have in mind – a balcony to enjoy a morning coffee, a dressing room to get ready for the day, or a chaise longue for when you don’t really feel like getting dressed just yet?
- Parking and Bicycle Storage – not the most glamourous item on this list, but important nevertheless and a material planning consideration. In most cases, you will need to provide a sufficient number of parking spaces to meet local council guidelines, and adequate bicycle storage too. In both cases, these are likely to be relative to the number of bedrooms or occupiers. An attached, integral or detached garage may address some or all of these requirements.
- Bin Storage – even less glamourous than the last item, but where you store your waste and recycling bins is something you need to think about. Depending on where you live, you might have two bins to store or six! Keeping them accessible but hidden from view is the ideal compromise, maybe in a dedicated section of the garage or a wooden bin store.
- Plant Room – with all the new technology available these days comes a host of equipment to power and run it all. We are increasingly seeing clients ask for a dedicated plant room to host ventilation, heating or smart home equipment. You don’t want it taking up space in other rooms, so it makes sense to plan for it in advance.
- Security – features around your plot such as gates, cameras and walls or fences help to keep the site itself secure, but could your home incorporate less obvious deterrents? Reconsidering window positions to increase natural surveillance of your garden and neighbouring properties, designing out any blind spots and specifying security lighting are all simple steps which will make your home safer.
- Building Regulations – our standard designs are all checked to make sure they comply with the latest Building Regulations before they go out of the (digital) door. The same will happen when you customise a design – your allocated designer will pass the final draft to a colleague who will check that any amendments made are still compliant. It’s a simple step but it provides an extra layer of certainty for us, and peace of mind for you.
- Budget – you’d be surprised how many people fail to consider their budget right at the start of the process. How much you can afford to spend is up to you, but we can provide tools and guidance to make likely costs as clear as possible. If you need more certainty, we can also refer you to professional estimators who will calculate costs down to the last screw or light switch.
- Privacy – this is a two-way consideration. Most people are familiar with the idea that when you build a new home, you shouldn’t be able to overlook your neighbours or invade their privacy. Far fewer people consider that their design should protect their privacy just as much. If you’re building a modern bungalow with rooflights and full-height glazing, have you considered whether neighbours in two-storey houses will be able to look into your living room or bedrooms?
- Flexibility – do you need some of your rooms to be multi-purpose? Could a downstairs room become a bedroom with easy access to a toilet in later life, or could an upstairs room be an office some of the time but an emergency guest bedroom when needed?
- Resale Value – the simple fact is that one day, you won’t be around to live in that house any longer. When that day comes, will your home appeal to a wide range of possible buyers or is it so quirky and personal to you that it puts people off? If you have incorporated features which only serve your specific needs, can they be easily reverted when the time comes?
- Future Expansion – does your home need to be easily extendable to accommodate a growing family or other circumstances which don’t apply right now? Thinking about this now means you can plan for future expansion – whether this is into the roof space or by adding a new extension. Simply leaving room for a staircase or including a sacrificial doorway or window can give you options further down the line.
- Timescales – this is relevant not only to your preferred build method, but also to external finishes. Building in a Modern Method of Construction (MMC) such as timber frame, SIPs or offsite modules will save time on-site compared to traditional brick-and-block construction, which in turn saves money on scaffolding and other site costs such as generators, huts and welfare facilities, insurance etc. Likewise, when you specify a particular external finish, such as a named style or shade of brick, or species of wood for cladding, check that they are not on extended lead-times which may delay your project.
Ready to work with us and start designing your own home using our “Dreamhome Design Process”? Get in touch today – call 01432 806409 or email [email protected]!