Checklist For Preparing Your House Plans
Updated: Jan 25
One of the biggest benefits of building your own home is that you get to come up with the design. As you set the requirements and shape the individual spaces, you can make sure they truly reflect what you are after. This is particularly true when you build a luxury custom home, as the only limits are your budget and imagination.
All that being said, starting from scratch, knocking down and rebuilding, can be quite daunting. Without restrictions and so many options available, it can be hard to know where to start. And while you can (and should) seek out professional design advice and support, you still want to have some control.
We have put together the following handy home planning checklist to help you with this. In this, we run through the main things you need to think about when coming up with your design. We also share our advice on making the right choices for you, your family, and how you want to live.
Doing your research and preparing your wish list for your house plans
Before diving into the finer details, you should first think about the high-level design principles you would like to adopt. For example, do you have a preferred architectural style? And are there any unique features or techniques you would like to use?
As part of this, it is worth seeking out examples of the look and finish you are hoping to achieve. Whether you search for inspiration online or make time to attend inspections, this is a great way to get ideas. It also provides a point of reference when briefing any design professionals you work with throughout the build process.
If you are planning to use a specific builder, their portfolio can also be a great resource. As this shows examples of their previous work, it provides a good sense of what they can achieve. It can also make it easier to visualise what your home is likely to look like once it is complete.
Considering general floor plan details
Once you have broadly defined what you are after, you can move on to some of the specifics. Start by thinking about your practical requirements, like how much space you need and how the design should hang together. As part of this, you should consider:
• Size of the property: The overall footprint of your home needs to be big enough to support your lifestyle comfortably. However, the bigger it is, the more it will cost to build and maintain. As such, you should aim to have enough space for daily life, but not so much that it is wasteful.
• Number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and living spaces: This may seem like a fairly straightforward decision, but it is actually one of the most important for liveability. It can also be a compromise between what you would like and what your space will allow. For example, are you happy to sacrifice living or master bedroom space to squeeze in a guest bedroom?
• Additional flex or specialist spaces: Do you regularly work from home and need a dedicated office space? Have you always wanted a home gym or a fully fitted cinema room? If space allows, these facilities can be easily worked into your floor plan. Or you may prefer a multipurpose space (e.g. a gym that converts to a cinema) to maximise usability.
• Flow between spaces: How the different spaces should work together is a highly personal thing. For example, do you want an open plan living, kitchen, and dining space, or do you prefer separate rooms? Would you like all the bedrooms to be near each other, or would you prefer a separate master suite?
• Orientation of the property: While often overlooked, how your home sits on its site is one of the most important design decisions. For example, if sustainability and energy efficiency are important, you will optimise the northern exposure. Similarly, if your block offers great views, your design should be developed with these in mind.
Refining specific room requirements
With your new home’s layout now broadly scoped out, you can move on to the finer details of individual rooms. When doing this, think about how the space will both look and function – though functionality should always come first. As part of this, some of the things you should consider include:
• Size of specific rooms: Once again, you should aim to have enough space to be comfortable but not wasteful. To help yourself picture how big each room will be, use rooms in your current home as a reference point. You should also take into account the size of any furniture you are keeping or planning to buy.
• Ceiling heights: While higher ceilings make a room feel bigger, they also cost more and make spaces harder to heat. As such, you may prefer to keep your ceilings lower and find other ways to create a sense of space. Alternatively, you may want to vary ceiling heights throughout the living space to hide services and help define different areas.
• Location of windows and doors: The size, shape, and positioning of any windows and doors can have a major impact on a room’s functionality. For example, the general rule is, if you need to move through a space diagonally, it will be difficult to furnish. Similarly, if windows are not correctly aligned, there will be limited natural ventilation.
Placing your services in your plans
While they may not be the most exciting things to think about, your electrical and plumbing plans matter! In fact, the location of power points is one of the most common complaints people have about their new home design. To avoid this disappointment, take the time to think about:
• Kitchen plumbing: Where do you want your sink – in the kitchen island, along the back wall, or in the butler’s pantry? Do you want more than one sink? And do you need a plumbing outlet for your fridge?
• Bathroom plumbing: Do you want a wall-mounted showerhead, a shower rail, or a rainfall shower? Do you want to pair this with individual hot and cold taps or a single mixer? And do you need dual sinks in your ensuites (or any other bathrooms), or are you happy to share?
• Number and location of power points: How many power points do you need in each room? Will that give you enough sockets for both your permanent plugged-in appliances and the things you use occasionally? And do you want to try to hide power points (e.g. behind furniture), or are you happy for them to be more visible and accessible?
• Lighting plan: Are you planning to have any statement or feature light fixtures? Do these need to be supported by additional lighting (e.g. downlights or lamps)? And will there be sufficient task-based lighting in key activity areas (over the kitchen bench, in the bathroom, etc.)?
• Location and design of light switches: How do you want to zone your lighting? Is one switch per section practical, or will some sections require dual switches? Would you like the additional control provided by dimmer switches or lighting automation?
Planning for the practicalities of daily life
Finally, before knocking down and rebuilding, you should make sure that your design offers the little conveniences that make day-to-day life that much easier. While these features may not be high on your wish list, they will make living in your home more comfortable. As part of this, you should consider:
• Storage spaces: Having places to put your things helps keep your home tidy and can improve the functionality of your design. It is also something buyers are increasingly looking for and can actually add to a home’s resale value. So, it is well worth finding space for a kitchen pantry, a linen press, or even a dedicated storage room.
• Garages: More than just a place to park your car, a garage can really boost your home’s total storage space. It is particularly valuable as a place to keep the things you do not want inside – like gardening equipment. Also, connecting your garage to the house (e.g. through an internal door) will make bringing in the groceries much easier.
• Flexibility of design: If you are building your ‘forever home,’ your design should be able to adapt to your changing needs over time. For example, you may wish to include flex spaces that can be easily converted into bedrooms as your family grows. Conversely, you may want to be able to close off sections of the house as the kids move out.
Need help putting together your house plans?
If you are looking to build your dream home and need help putting together the perfect design, contact Carmel Homes. We have over 30 years of experience in creating bespoke, luxury spaces and can guide you through the planning process. We also pride ourselves on providing superior service and are always happy to answer questions and offer advice.
Contact us today to discuss your plans and set up your free design consultation.