After we chose our architect it was time to get into the design process proper. For our second meeting, Michael visited us in our own home to talk about how we lived and what was important to us in the new house.
Inside Out or Outside In?
With our first selfbuild we probably allowed the exterior look of the house to influence the internal layout too much. This time we are definitely working from the inside out instead.
As part of our preparation over the months that lead up to this point we had distilled our wish list down to a fairly concise series of bullet points that included…
- Target size ~2,300 sq ft
- Low Energy
- Contemporary Design
- Open Plan Kitchen, Dining, Living
- 3 Bedrooms (with Master on Ground floor)
- South Facing
- Attached Garage
- High Ceilings (2.7m) & Vaulted Ceilings
- Solid Floors Upstairs
- Solid walls throughout (no stud walls)
- Low maintenance finishes
- Ground mount location for Solar PV
I arrived at that 2,300 sq foot target size by creating a spreadsheet with all of the rooms in our existing house along with their dimensions. Then I set goals for each room in the new house with those dimensions as starting points.
We need fewer bedrooms in the new place and we also want to change the size balance between certain rooms too, especially the Kitchen, Dining, Living area.
We were happy to reduce some room sizes – you can see from the spreadsheet that we had a largish utility in the old house that we felt was wasted space. On the other hand our walk in wardrobe was always a bit small and we wanted more space to have a proper dressing room this time.
The proportions are pretty fixed for some areas, for example it’s hard to deviate from the shape of a double garage. Others are pretty flexible though, a bedroom could be 3.5m x 4.0m or 5.5m x 2.5m, so it’s the area that’s more important in that case.
Ultimately these targets were just that, something to aim for. And while they are not the room sizes we ended up with, they were a great starting point for the design of our floor plan.
We dithered over the need for a snug. In the end thought our architects strongly advised us to have a second reception room, to help with any future sale of the house if nothing else. This, along with the addition of a study / 4th bedroom mean we have over shot our target size substantially.
Measure Measure Measure
As I’ve already said, it can be hard to visualise a 2D plan in 3D. So it’s really useful to compare real world rooms with your dimensions as you are drawing up your requirements. We did this everywhere we went while we were working on the floor plan. Hotel rooms, bathroom show rooms, even the homes of our friends and family weren’t safe from our laser measure 🙂
I have notes in the cells of the spreadsheet to remind me for example that one particular dimension was from a show house we visited. Whenever I see the note I am instantly able to visualise that size of room instead of just seeing a number.
As ever this is just an example of some of the work that lead us to our final design, but hopefully there might be something here you find useful on your selfbuild journey.
Next time we’ll look at our building site as we get closer to revealing our final design. You can follow along with our project on the links below to make sure you don’t miss it.