Wednesdays with Mary

An AMA with my friend Mary where she asks me questions about custom home design every Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 15th, 2023

This week’s question from Mary:

When you start a new design from scratch, do you start with the inside or the outside?

Well, Mary, that is a very good question and I would love to try to answer that for you!

It depends a lot on who I am designing for.  For a future homeowner, or a custom plan client, I will start by asking them questions about exterior styles they like, and exterior material preferences such as siding, brick, or stone.  I will also ask how many floors they want because a house with two or more floors will look different on the outside than a house with only one floor.  The final overall look of the exterior is very much driven by the floor plan.  So I have to try to find a balance between what my client wants the outside to look like and the shape of the floor plan.  I encourage my custom plan clients to focus more on the floor plan initially, because if the flow and design of the floor plan does not match their lifestyle then the home will not be enjoyable to live in.  But I always keep in mind their exterior preferences as I am working on the floor plan.  

residential contractor, builder

If I am designing a new home plan for a builder, for a spec house, there are typically exterior style requirements imposed by the subdivision developer, or buyer preferences in a certain area, and of course, build cost concerns to keep the price of the finished house within the price for the target market.  Plans for builders often start with the elevation (or exterior) and then I work on designing a floor plan to match the elevation. 

For stock plans, which is a house plan that I develop and sell to both custom home clients and builders, I sometimes focus on the exterior and sometimes on the floor plan.  For example, currently, there is a big demand for the contemporary farmhouse look so I might have a goal to create more stock plans with that look.  I will sketch out a few elevation ideas and then try to create floor plans to match.  Or, I might decide there is a demand for homes with certain floor plan features such as two primary bedrooms, or a master suite and an in-law suite. So I would develop a floor plan with those features and then work on the elevations.   

modern farmhouse

Thank you Mary for your question!  I look forward to your next one!

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