Home Designing Holistic Approch
When starting a new home design (or any building or development project) it is important to know what it is that you want. It sounds simple but it is not necessarily so.
Let’s look at a few of the things to consider for a new home design: Of course the basics of how many bedrooms, bathrooms, garage or carport. Also for consideration: Who will be living there? What are the lifestyles? Are there children? What are their ages? Are they in school, college? How many people of driving age? Are there boats? RV’s? Quads? Is time spent outdoors playing, swimming, BBQ? Is the family “on the go” or is dinner time spent together? How many years is anticipated for ownership of this home. Are there any handicapped residents? Is there the possibility in the foreseeable future that part of the home will have to be handicap accessible? This list goes on and on. Each answer to the questions above opens the door to other questions. Each project is unique.
Next investigate is the site, know what there is to work with and what are possible constraints. How can alignment of the home added to energy savings (Passive Solar)? Where are the best views? Is there a view that should be blocked? Is there a possibility that someone can build within the viewshed? Will time be spent in the great room, kitchen? Where can natural light be used to its fullest? Should west windows be limited or eliminated? How does the driveway interact with the main entrance, garage, and most used entrance? Will there be a pool? Can slope be utilized for split level floor plan? Does fill dirt need to be brought in? Is it septic or sewer? Where can the leach field be located? What about an alternative leach field? What are the building setbacks? Are there natural areas to be preserved? Are there CC&R’s? Is there a Homeowner’s Association? Are there special zoning conditions to adhere to? Is it located in a flood zone? Are there any easements, etc.? Again, just a sampling of questions, each project is unique with its own assets and liabilities.
Know what building code is current in the jurisdiction. Are there any special codes or ordinances to be considered? Lighting Code? Accessibility Code? Hillside Development Ordinances? Green Building Requirements? Fire District Codes? What can be done to maximize the efficiency of the home’s energy use and conservation? What are the positive and negative points for solar power? Should and can it be tied to “the grid”? Is it possible to offset the cost of heating of the swimming pool with very little cash outlay? Are low flush toilets really economical or is there a better solution? Is an on-demand water heater really practical and cost effective? What low water use plants will add to the exterior appeal and provide shade for the home? Can a “zoned air conditioning system” save money? What about heat pumps? How about mini-splits?
All of these questions have a place and a function in creating the design that will be translated into a set of Construction Documents to permit and build a new residence.
It can be overwhelming for a novice, but there are many qualified designers, draftsmen, architects, and engineers that can help you move through the process.