"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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A Few Comments:

"Thank you! Received the plans yesterday. They look great. We will definitely recommend you. I'm so excited now to have a visual. We'll have you out when it's all done.

Take care and God bless."

- Tommy & Christine
Mohnton, PA 

"In my line of work I build both log and conventional homes. It can be difficult to find someone who can draw prints for both styles. I received a flyer in advertising Larry's Home Design. I was planning to build a house for myself and decided to try Larry's that way I could guage whether I would use him for my clients. I was very impressed and since then Larry's Home Design draws prints for all our customers."

- Marvin Fisher
Denlinger-Fisher Builders
New Holland PA

You might find this helpful if you are looking for even more personalized design strategies before finalizing your own plans…

"…very easy to work with and quickly understood what we wanted. Larry, I truly enjoyed working with you on the design. You were always there to talk to me… It was wonderful for me getting to help the guys build the house and see it come to life. It was a lot of work, but now we can enjoy the fruits of our labor. Please stop in and see us whenever you can. You are always welcome."

- Keith Johnson
Bainbridge, OH

"Believe me, Larry & his ability to design structures, is a 'jewel in the rough.' I was referred to him as an experienced log home designer & I had either a log (or log slab) home in mind. I contacted Larry, & in no time, had plans & the specifications. This was to the last nail & piece of siding.

Larry's work is reasonably priced & excellent quality. He knows builders & suppliers who can have you in 'front of the fireplace' in no time."

- James E. Vaughan
Groveport, OH


... 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.

- Thanks Gary
Crockett Log Homes