Planning and Design

Design books

So, where does one begin the story of a new home?

When we began this story we were a large family living off of one income more than an hour from any family. Our home at the time was of a modest size but rapidly become undersized for us. We had dreams of one day building a house, made just for us, but we thought that would probably never happen. Though my father remodeled and built houses the great distance we thought would prove to be too great for that to happen. My wife’s father had acreage behind their house and he said we could have it to build on. Well, the availability of free land sure sparked our interests. That would be huge cost savings. I didn’t really like the idea of moving to another state, but the opportunity to be closer to family and have our own land was too great. I would do it.

We set off to the drawing board so to speak. My wife, using all her resources, started to create a checklist of needs and wants to make the home just for us. We needed to consider many things for big families such as:

  • Number of bathrooms
  • Enough area for everybody spread out and not be at each other’s throats
  • Sizing and durability of appliances
  • Durability of materials

A home built for the ages recalls the hallmarks of old-time craftsmanship, expressed in durable materials, shaped by caring hands.
                                          – Quote origin unknown

My day job takes me to several homes every day. I have done this now for nearly 15 years and have been in thousands of homes. I feel like I have seen everything. I know what I like and what I don’t in a house. I grew up helping my dad with all sorts of things on our house and a job sites he was working at. I had never built a home though from beginning to end so this was going to be a new challenge. Additionally, we have some children with allergy and asthma issues so I wanted to design the house without traditional ductwork that can hold a lot of allergens.

We both love Tudor styled homes and that was to be the original idea but as you will see over time that started to fade. I looked online at some old English timber-framed homes and found some great books on Amazon. I poured over them noting everything I loved. I hoped to make some of them if possible. We went through many iterations to bring the design to where it would fit into the budget but still be something we loved. The plans ended up being more of a farmhouse style, but we love it.

Working on the plans.
Me and my dad working on the house plans. (Sorry it’s so blurry)

I looked around for a long time for good home design software and ultimately settled on a product by Chief Architect. I tried many others and read plenty of reviews. It cost more than I would have liked (about $400 at that time), but it was very customizable without too many training wheels and rigid templates. They also have a great support site that features many video tutorials and even weekly free live online demos with an instructor. If I had to do this again I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.

Next time, I will get into site preparation for the build to begin.

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