Why Custom Design?

If you are planning to have a home custom built, you may be wondering if you should find a stock plan that you like well enough and have it built as drawn. Of course you would still specify the colors, fixtures, and materials. This can be done, and it would create for you a home that is custom built, but not custom designed. What reasons might you have for also having your home custom designed?

The design of a home begins with the approximate size, location, and layout of the spaces for living, cooking, sleeping, playing, entertaining, conversing, relaxing, studying, working, washing, and so forth. How these spaces are placed will affect how you and your family live every day.

  • Planning a short route from your car to your kitchen may save you more time and energy than an easy-clean bathroom counter surface.
  • Each square foot of a house adds to its cost, so you should be the one to decide whether to put that square foot into the bedroom or the living room.
  • If you are hunting for a stock plan for a narrow lot with a room-sized pantry and a sauna, but with only one bedroom and one bath, you may have a very long and futile hunt.

Next comes the design and placement of windows and doors, according to the way you will use the rooms.

  • Windows that have been placed to take advantage of your views might have a great effect on your family’s morale.
  • You may need doorways and hallways wide enough for a wheelchair, either now or at some point in the future.
  • You may want different kinds of doors. Swinging, bifold, bypass, French, atrium, or pocket doors each have their own spatial and structural requirements. They are not necessarily interchangeable.
  • You may want to make sure that upper-story window sills are high enough to protect children from falling.

Also, there are aesthetic considerations. If you grow tired of decorating schemes, wall treatments, fixtures or cabinets – you can change them. But, short of major remodeling, the design and overall shape of your home (both exterior and interior) is permanent. If you love the way your home looks and feels, you’re likely to feel happier when you come home.

Finally, there are the practical aspects of the home site. Many lots have characteristics which make it difficult to use a stock plan.

  • If your land has a severe slope right where you’d like the house to be placed for the best views, custom design is essential. The home must be fit carefully to the land.
  • Other examples are water frontage, easements, oddly-shaped lots, and areas with slide, flood, erosion, fire, wind, or earthquake risks.
  • For some sites, you will need engineering work done to satisfy the building department or to ensure the durability of the house. The plan needs to take the engineering requirements into consideration, without sacrificing livability.

What if you want some changes made to a stock plan? You may want more of your own personal touches. Or you may have special needs which will require you to commission extensive redesign and redrafting. You may want to make the house accessible, enlarge the garage, whirlpool bath, separate shower, or powder room. These kinds of changes require walls to be moved, layouts to be changed, and structural support systems to be redesigned. It might make more sense to start from scratch and end up with the home you really want.