Nothing is more heart breaking than designing a beautiful home that just got all you want, then get construction quotes… and find out you are way over budget.
First step before starting design is to inquire about construction cost at your building site and establish what you can comfortably afford without crippling your finances with a life time mortgage.
Building costs vary greatly depending on location.
Talk to several local general contractors to know about the average cost per square foot to build a custom home in your area.
That will be a good start.
Log and timber homes can cost more than custom frame homes depending on how much massive wood is used.
Take that in consideration when you estimate the house size you can afford.
Controlling the footprint size of your home and building a multi storey house will give you more living space for your buck than building a rancher one storey house.
Hire an experienced home designer with proven knowledge about the construction style you want and talk budget right away.
2- Street appeal and reselling value
Street appeal means strong aesthetics each time you drive to the home.
The exterior of your home should be welcoming you to see more and make you happy to be there.
It should also be pleasing to others, family, friends and one day a possible buyer.
Never ignore that eventuality that your dream home may be for sale a few years from now.
Personal touch to the design is essential for you to bond with the place.
However keep in mind that your home should be marketable to a wide range of people.
3- What architectural and construction style are you after?
Be aware of any building restriction for your building site.
Are you allowed to build a log or timber home?
If so will this construction style you like so much fit with the surrounding homes and environment?
Architectural styles range from traditional and historic to modern and contemporary.
Log and timber construction styles can be full scribe log home, milled log swedish cope, dovetail massive timber, log post and beam, full timber frame or accent timber home, butt and pass milled timber, fusion style log structure, piece en piece short log build…
4- Topography of your land.
Take advantage of sun facing slope sites to allow walkout basement for cheaper living space construction cost.
Gentle slopes are great for air and water drainage. Excavating for a partially buried basement provide that extra fill to landscape around the house with a sloping grade down outward.
A steep slope may require excessive digging and costly retaining walls and higher construction cost to work around the site.
5- Passive solar energy.
Orientating your new home to face the sun at midday will save you much money on your heating and cooling monthly bill.
Maximize solar exposure to lower heating cost in winter and use roof overhangs to block the sun from entering the home thru the windows in summer.
Ask your home designer to prepare sun studies to accurately calculate roof overhangs required to let winter sun in and stop the summer sun and thus keep your house cool.
The thermal mass of log and timber exterior walls can be used advantageously to reduce heating and cooling through out the year.
6- Capturing the views.
Log and timber homes are usually built in natural settings in the mountain, by a river, lake or ocean.
Views are a main focus to the design. A custom design is then the only way to maximize the view potential of your future home.
A designer / architect site visit may be crucial previous to starting the design.
7- Bring the light in.
A log or massive timber home calls for much wood interior finishes that can darken the inside of your home. Plan for lots of windows and doors for each room for brightness sake and good natural ventilation.
Wide and high doors with sidelights and transoms open the inside to the outside and let the light in. Install large fix glazing in gable walls, skylights over covered decks.
Maximize glass to sunny side of home and less on the opposite side.
8- Outdoor living
Homes in natural setting require extensive outdoor spaces from the inside of the home with BBQ decks and covered patios, screen room to keep the bugs away, sun room…
A breezeway from garage to house and /or a covered driveway in front of the foyer bring much protection from the weather and are great extensions to the home beyond its original footprint.
9- Heating and cooling
What type of energy is available at the site?
You may be off grid. Then solar panels, propane gas, water turbine may be the next solution to energize your home.
Wood stove, masonry stove, metal insert fireplace, gas heater, pellet stove are all good options for different situations.
Air or ground heat pumps, in floor heating or forced air heating and cooling delivery systems are many possibilities that needs to be address at the design stage.
10- Planning for the latter years…
Design your home so it can be easily accessed and used when you get older.
We all get there and it is best to plan ahead.
Have a main floor with at least one master suite, kitchen, dining and laundry a short walk away.
Minimize exterior stairs to access the foyer.
Make sure corridors are wide enough in case of disability.
Study universal design which promotes friendly design features for all, kids, seniors and disables.
Your new home design should be adaptable to future needs.
This will also improve resell potential as your market is not restricted to just young and healthy buyers.