"Some communities promote close neighbors, and some communities promote more breathing space," Martin says. "It's not wise to use up every square foot of building space because you'll have less of a yard." If the lot is located in a suburban neighborhood, consider the placement of windows - take care that they will not align exactly with neighbors' views. Driveways should also be taken into account to make sure that there's plenty of room for parking and turning around.
Square one : The real estate agent's mantra "location, location, location" rings true even when you're building from scratch. From privacy to orientation, your lot is likely to influence which plan you choose. "Theoretically, it's best to start by finding a lot because then you'll have a clear idea of what square footage will and will not fit on the property," says Robert Martin, Architecture Editor at Southern Living. "It's a dangerous proposition to try to gooseneck a house into a lot that's really not ideal for that plan."
In addition, good stock plans come with a detailed inventory, which you can use while you're developing out your dream house. This is important for two reasons: you can look at the materials used to build your house and determine whether your budget will stretch to accommodate them, and you can get a very good idea of where to upgrade and downgrade materials.
Complimenting your lifestyle : Before delving into the thousands of plans available today, evaluate your current living situation. Look around and ask what works and what doesn't. Consider which features matter most to you and which floor plan best accommodates your family's lifestyle. "Does the floor plan live the way you live?" Martin asks. Are you an empty nester who's ready to downsize? A single-level ranch home might be your answer. Is this a house where you expect to raise a family? Check out plans that feature great communal spaces as well as a private master suite. Would you live outside 12 months a year if you could? Pick an airy floor plan with plenty of porches and more windows than wall space.
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