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Planning Ahead
By Tracy Dickinson
HOME TRENDS February/March 2018
home :: home & garden :: home trends

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Planning Ahead

Local professionals give us a peek into creating the perfect home plan.

Maybe you have a Pinterest or Houzz board loaded with ideas for your dream house. Maybe you have a mental list of the little changes that would make your current home your dream home. Or maybe there’s just a sketch on the back of an envelope.

Wherever you start, working with a design professional can help turn those ideas into a working plan.

Step 1: Share your ideas.

“The time and energy a homeowner invests in the planning phase will make their building process easier,” says Beisser’s Amy Larsen. “This process takes time, but a good builder and a good designer will make it easy and fun.”

And you don’t have to come armed with a layout in mind. “We can start from one of our stock plans and customize it for the homeowner,” says Plum Building Systems’ Kevin Riesberg. “But we can start from a sketch on a napkin, too.”

The important part of this step is the conversation—brainstorming and sharing ideas with a design professional who can help translate those images for you.

Step 2: Set your priorities.

Categorizing your ideas can help a good designer pinpoint your style. Maybe even more important, it can help you maximize your budget. Riesberg says, “Most customers know what they want by the time they meet with us. But they don’t always know what they can afford.”

Larsen agrees. “Asking a lot of questions helps a good designer learn what a homeowner needs and wants, as well as how they function in their space. Small details that come up during that conversation can often make the greatest impact on the design.” Listening for those little details early in the conversation is important, she says, since they can dramatically affect the budget if they’re added or changed later in the process.

The growing number of home design programs, online channels, and DIY sites has also had an effect on budget issues. These sources have made it easier for homeowners to narrow their preferences when it comes to styles and products. But they often lead to unrealistic expectations. “What those programs don’t tell you is how big that television budget is or how many of those products and services are donated,” Riesberg says.

Having a list of must-haves and wishes can give your designer the parameters he or she needs to create the home that will meet your budget and your needs.

Step 3: Trust the experts.

Partnering with a design professional provides you with much more than a good floor plan. Professionals’ expertise in designing a home ideally suited to your needs is just one skill they offer.

“Part of what we do is partner with the trades to collaborate on all areas of the construction of a home—the windows, the plumbing, the electrical,” Riesberg says.

Larsen says, “As mechanical systems have become more complicated and homes become more automated, we have to take these changes into account. That typically means 2×6 interior walls to allow for plumbing vents, sufficient straight spaces for heat runs and cold-air returns, and appropriate space for wiring the many systems homeowners are installing.”

Riesberg describes the home plan as a process that continues well beyond the day the builder breaks ground. “Beginning with that initial client meeting, we go through a detailed questionnaire, going room by room, feature by feature, so we know what the homeowner likes, what their lot requirements are, the views they want, everything. And we’re available for changes or questions throughout construction.”

“We have the capability of showing clients 3-D images, and it can help homeowners visualize spaces and transitions between rooms, banks of windows, even the overall roofline and shape of the house,” Larsen says. “But the most important thing is still to listen to the client and be able to transfer what they’re saying into an actual design that can be built well.”

The key to the right home plan is more than just how closely it matches those images. It’s how the home fits your life and how well the form works with the function.

The best Pinterest board in the world won’t achieve that. Planning ahead and the help of a design professional will.

Trends in Today’s Plans

Home styles follow trends, like everything else. In the ’70s, it was split foyers. In the past few years, it’s been ranch homes.

These are some of the trends our experts are seeing now and for the rest of 2018:

  • Spacious public areas
  • Large pantries
  • Fewer full-size office spaces
  • Open layouts
  • More two-story designs
  • More variety in exterior styles
  • Spacious mudrooms
  • Barn doors, sliding doors
  • Walk-in showers
  • Free-standing tubs in larger master suites


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