"How to Design Your Own House Plans More Accurately From the Start"

Fundamental home design gender differences?
I have found that when it comes time to design your own house plans, women by and large have the most fun with this part of the building process. I think it is that inner desire to create something that you will eventually live in that drives women to be creative.

That's rather tongue-in-cheek because I am a normal guy and I'd simply love to design your own house plans which I will never live in! That's a good thing, I guess, because I have no desire to pay your mortgage, too...

Let's take a look at the fundamentals of getting your basic design on paper.

Avoiding the biggest mistake
There are several key elements that most people miss when they start sketching their home design on paper.

Note: The biggest mistake is not sketching the plan on graph paper. Why does it have to be on graph paper, you ask?

When you design your own plans, you draw the square rooms in their approximate position, then the natural tendency will be to start adding things beside each other that will not fit. Graph paper can be used as a scale, or size, guide. One light blue square equals 1 foot or 2 feet, depending on what you decide the size of each square should be.

This will be the quickest, and fairly accurate, way to find out if your rooms are large enough.

The accuracy factor?

What do you mean by fairly accurate? Aren't home design plans supposed to be very accurate... I was wondering if you were aware of how I worded that last sentence in the previous paragraph!

Even using graph paper will not guarantee total accuracy when you design your own house plans. There is always that critical factor lurking in the shadows that most people never realize is there until they talk to a residential designer like me.

What is it? And what does it have to do with accurate home designs?

Note: I can't even begin to count how many times I sat down with clients who had a very detailed sketch of the new floor plan, when a lot of factors on their floor plan went awry from missing the all-important factor. In some cases, mild adjustments were needed, and in the extreme cases I had to draw a few options for them to pick their new, revised floor plan from.

The preliminary design sketching secret…
Okay, here's the secret. It is the wall thickness of the actual framing.

I'm not kidding! I have literally had people tell me they want two 14’ bedrooms side-by-side in a 28 foot wide house. It looks feasible on paper when you design your own house plans with single-line sketches, but it is not the real world. Wall thickness is critical, so keep it in mind. (In this example they forgot about the overall 15 inches of walls.)

In a nutshell, when you design your own house plans, and you want to keep things as accurate as possible, use these two numbers:

  • For your exterior walls, you will need to draw double lines roughly 6 inches apart.
  • For your interior walls, you will be fairly accurate to use lines 4 inches apart.

This will give you a much better feel for actual construction and finished sizes. And in the end your designer will thank you.



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Denlinger-Fisher Builders
New Holland PA


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... Thanks again for your help with these. You have been by far the best designer we have dealt with, both communication wise and product quality wise. Everything I have looked at had been excellent. Keep up the good work.

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