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Critiquing a Floor Plan

Critiquing a floor plan is one of the most important aspects of choosing a home.

Consumers planning to build a custom house, buy an existing home or remodel their current residence could avoid critical and often costly design mistakes if only they spent as much time considering the floor plan as they do choosing colors, tile, fixtures and flooring!

Although people might not think they understand anything about design because they can’t visualize how plans on paper will turn out when built, everyone can identify with the frustration of an improperly placed light switch, inadequate storage or a dysfunctional kitchen or utility room.

We’ve all seen fancy bloated entryways that are bigger than the kids’ bedrooms, “game rooms” that are too small to hold a standard pool table and backyard patio doors that open onto carpeting instead of easy-to-clean flooring. Whether homeowners choose to “live with” these design mistakes or spend the trouble and expense to “fix” them, most could have been easily foreseen and avoided or improved before the home was purchased/built – if only someone had taken the time to critique the floor plan.

Current residential design seems to deem “Big and Impressive” more important than practical and functional, judging by the wasted and misused square footage I consistently find in plans now offered to consumers. Substituting BIG for thoughtful planning doesn’t just create irritation and inconvenience for the consumer, it also wastes thousands of dollars in building as well as maintenance costs over the life of the home. People are always shocked when they learn that even 100 wasted square feet times $80 to $100 equals $8,000 to $10,000 in construction costs that could have been used for upgrades and amenities – and most house plans easily waste that much and more.

When you add the cost of furnishing, heating, cooling and cleaning all this extra space over its lifetime, the true cost lies well beyond this.

So the distance from the garage to the kitchen, the arrangement of appliances and counter space in the kitchen, and the placement of electrical outlets throughout the house may not seem as important to a male.

To critique a floor plan, follow the following steps:

1. Lay out all your furniture in proper proportion on paper to see how it will fit in each room.

2. Learn to read electrical plans to avoid common mistakes and oversights and make sure all your family’s needs for lighting, appliances, computers, etc. will be met.

3. Ask the following questions: Figuring $80-$100 per square foot, does each square foot in the plan truly “earn its keep?” Can wasted square footage be turned into usable living space or eliminated? Could more storage and closets be added throughout the home?

Does the design take best advantage of the views, maximize the natural light and offer privacy?

Contractors can also expand their design and visualization skills to avoid costly on-site design changes. Real estate agents can learn to recognize any floor plan’s possibilities and problems, leading to better sales and customer service. A minor architectural design solution, cleverly done, can have astounding results.

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