I’m so glad you have joined me for my Blog Series where I highlight the FOUR KEY PEOPLE WHEN BUILDING YOUR DREAM HOME – Part 1, The Architect/House Designer. Ah! Now that I’ve gone through the trenches and back- I’m so excited to share this part of my journey to the completion of #thelaydenlegacy with you!
Soooo- I can’t even believe I’m putting this in writing– because I’m not sure I want it documented for years to come…but, I began the search for my “perfect” home plan over THREE years ago! Yep! You read that right- THREE years ago. I started working with a architect/designer over three years ago to create my dream home plan! I know that sounds insane but it really took me 3 years to create the perfect (for us) floor plan.
I realize that is a very long time, but what matters most is I FINALLY got there! It’s been such a grueling process that I can’t EVEN believe I actually got to where I needed to be! I hope to share my experience so you can have a much smoother process. Please read onto Part 1 of my Blog Series to discover how you can create your own dream home plan in LESS THAN three years–especially if you are extremely picky and are a recovering perfectionist like me! And as always, feel free to leave a comment or reach out with any questions you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org
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AHHH!!! You have your land! Your emotions are at an ultimate high! You have already spent hundreds of hours on Pinterest and every home plan site known to man looking for the perfect plan to fit your families home needs! And this is where I instantly become your best friend and say LOUD AND CLEAR– it is absolutely CRITICAL to find the proper architect or designer to design the house of your dreams. WHY??? Because I can’t think of a single person that enjoys throwing their hard earned money into the wind. And if you get it wrong the first time, like we did- you WILL be WASTING money!
SOME OF MY OWN PERSONAL FLOOR PLAN MUST HAVES
1. ONE FLOOR LIVING AKA RANCH STYLE HOME – My husband and I are growing older. I don’t see myself building another home. I have always lived in a ranch home my entire life. I don’t like “stairs”, except when I’m working out. Ha!
2. FOUR BEDROOMS – We have three children. For years, my kids have had to share a bedroom. Is this a first world problem? Yes! It is. Could this ‘must have’ go back to the fact I had to share a bedroom with my sister growing up? Probably somewhat! [I do think my sister and I are really close because of this – I love you so much Jennifer!] I know there are studies out there that show sharing a bedroom with siblings is actually beneficial for children- how do I know this? Because I read them! Ha! But, in all seriousness – we have waited a long time to do this. My oldest daughter goes to college in 7 years! Oh my gosh! Am I really going to have a college aged child in 7 years!?! I can’t be that old! The bottom line- hopefully my children have benefited from sharing bedrooms for around 10 years and will help them truly appreciate the space of their own without taking it for granted.
3. MUDROOM – My kids are country kids. They play outside (when I force them to put away their electronic devices!) Need I say more? I don’t want my dream home filled with mud.
4. BONUS SPACE – It must have a nice bonus space. I’ve always pictured a large bonus space above my garage. Ideally, this area would be an exercise room/office/play area someday!
5. THREE CAR SIDE ENTRY GARAGE – I know, this one may sound a bit bizarre to you. I just was never a huge fan of garages that look like they are taking over the whole front of the house and you enter them from the front. And… I learned early on that we will need lots of storage. (One of my own personal lifelong goals is to fit at least one of our vehicles into the garage at any moment– can I achieve this? I have hope. And on second thought, a four car garage may not have been a great idea!) But really, adding an additional garage bay as an add on is actually cheaper than building a large storage shed.
It must…. It must… it must… it must… and the list of my own “MUSTS” kept growing and growing! It grew so much that this topic deserves it OWN separate BLOG POST! Drop a comment if you’d like to see a separate post outlining my floor plan ‘must haves’.
BUT, I PROMISE YOU JESSICA– I’M NOT THAT PICKY!
Now, I have friends who say- “I’m not picky! I know I can find a house plan I like on the internet.” But then, they start truly examining the plans. They make a few calls to the 1-800 number to see how easy it is to customize — and BOOM!…they find themselves in the same rut I was in. Most plans you find online are just NOT that EASY to customize, especially when you start considering side entry three car garages, rooflines, stairwells and vaulted ceilings! Ugh! It can get SOOO complicated and SOOO expensive!
I personally found it was becoming harder and harder to find a plan online that actually “fit” every one of our families needs. I started thinking… can I compromise on this part of the floor plan? Can I compromise on that part of the floor plan? I mean– can you believe it? There are only 1 billion home plans on the internet and NOT ONE of them had exactly what we were looking for or was “easy” to customize! And trust me, I can assure you that I looked at ALL 1 billion of them.
MY FIRST HUGE HOME BUILDING MISTAKE! READ BELOW 👇
When you start thinking of working for years to come to pay off your dream home, you know the floor plan is something you have to live with forever. I got to the point where I just didn’t want to compromise in many (OR ANY) areas! So, I did what most people wanting to build a custom home would do, and I sought out a designer/architect in the area. At our first meeting we gave the designer a list of our MUST HAVES. When the designer came back to us months later with the design, my face fell flat when I saw it. It was more square footage than we wanted and it was practically a two story home. It was not the design at all I had in mind. After more months of backs and forth with the designer (and more money!), I settled on a plan and exterior design I did not LOVE. And this, my friends, is where I’m going to give you my first and MOST IMPORTANT piece of advice in new construction…FOLLOW YOUR GUT! I knew at the first meeting that this specific designer was probably NOT going to be able to capture my vision; yet, I kept working with him. And as y’all know, as you keep working with someone, you will also keep getting BILLS! At the end of the 6 month period, I was left with a floorplan I didn’t love, a house I did not want to put my blood, sweat, and tears into building and a BIG GIANT BILL to pay. Let me repeat — a bill I had to pay and a floor plan of a house I did not want to build. Ugh. Sigh. Cry. All the emotions!
IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED – TRY, TRY AGAIN!
Could I really start all over looking at home plans?!? I just didn’t think I had it in me. Reluctantly, I submitted my plans to our prospective builder. Sticker shock was an understatement! Suddenly, I realized my mistake in choice of house designer could be a much more costly mistake if I went ahead to build a house I wasn’t satisfied with. By not finding the right designer at first, it was a precursor to let us know how critical it is to properly research before selecting other members of the team. So, I went back to the drawing board, and I started looking again at the 1 billion home plans on the internet. Surely I was wrong the first time. Surely there is ONE plan I can find that I like. Surely, there is one plan that could “easily” be customized. I mean, I was willing to compromise slightly. Could I have been wrong the first time around? I made a million phone calls, looked at all the home websites that offer endless searches and “claim” they allow you to customize a plan… and after a few months, I unfortunately realized that I was NOT WRONG! After several more months of looking, I couldn’t find a single plan that was easily able to be customized to our square footage. If I liked the interior floor plan– then I didn’t like the exterior. There was always something wrong with each and every plan. I tried thinking of all the ways to customize the plan but I just couldn’t get EACH and EVERY MUST HAVE I wanted into a 2875 square foot one story ranch home. I was driving myself halfway to the funny farm. You see- there are lots of websites out there that promise they can do customizations quickly. I would be very leary of these sites and remember, every plan you see on these sites was essentially designed by a design firm and it’s ALWAYS CHEAPER to go directly to the designer themselves. Of course, this may involve MORE phone calls and leg work to find out the initial creator of the plan, but I would say it’s a worthy investment of your time! While on one of these home sites, I kept stumbling upon one designer’s home plans that offered most of what I was looking for. I found out that the original constructors of the plans was a company out of Oklahoma called Fillmore and Chambers Design Group. I was connected with the owner, Rick, and this is where my house dreams really started to come true. I found my house designer soulmate and I wasn’t letting him go!
8 THINGS I’VE LEARNED BUILDING A HOUSE + WORKING WITH
FILLMORE & CHAMBERS DESIGN GROUP
- NOT ALL HOUSE DESIGNERS ARE CREATED EQUAL! You don’t have to find a LOCAL architect or designer to help you design your dream home. The internet is literally at our fingertips! What does this mean for you? This means you can EASILY work with any designer in the world (from California to Australia) over Skype, email, phone, or texting. Let’s face it, not all home designers are created equal– just like any profession.
- ASK QUESTIONS! And then ASK MORE QUESTIONS. And then ASK EVEN MORE QUESTIONS. You can never ASK TOO MANY QUESTIONS. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true!
- READ REVIEWS! Read every review you can find on every housing designer you are considering hiring. The structure of the house is so important and can’t be compromised. I didn’t mention that with the first designer we hired we ran into a few roof issues. Thankfully we don’t know if these issues would have compromised the structure of the house because we never built it, but please read what others have to say. Houzz and a companies business facebook pages are good places to start!
- WHAT IS INCLUDED WITH THE COST OF DESIGN? Find out exactly what is included in every designers price prior to committing to work with them.Things that you assume may be “standard” probably are not! The first designer we worked with never even gave us a very detailed plan. He never provided an actual hardcopy of “blueprints”. There were no detailed cabinetry details. It was very vague.
- THE EXTERIOR STYLE CAN BE CHANGED ON ANY FLOORPLAN! Did you know that the exterior of a home can be changed to any architectural style for the most part! How did I not know this while looking at the 1 Billion home plans on the internet? Perfecting the floor plan is the most critical part. From there, the exterior can be changed to fit any style. Modern Farmhouse, Craftsman, Transitional, Coastal, Contemporary, French Country – Once you have a plan you love, the rest can easily fall into place.
- INTERVIEW YOUR DESIGNER! Be sure to choose a designer that meshes with your personality. I admit – I am a person who is extremely hard to please (please don’t confirm that with my husband). I know I am not the easiest person to work with- mainly due to the fact that I am a recovering perfectionist. I expect things a certain way. You will work with the person you choose very closely for months! Don’t make a mistake here!
- MEASURE! MEASURE! MEASURE! Stop what you’re doing and go buy about 10 tape measures cause you’re going to need them throughout the process! I’m sure you’ve heard it before- but before deciding on bedroom sizes, etc. you will need to measure. Measure the current space you live in! Go to family and friends houses to measure the size of their spaces. You will be amazed at what you find out. Some spaces on floor plans just aren’t large enough and other areas have wasted space. It seems like a no brainer to measure, but you’d be amazed at the people who don’t do this while creating their dream space!
- IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, RICK CAN DO IT! This is NOT a sponsored post! Hard to believe– I know! I just enjoyed working with this firm so much I wanted to pay it forward! I mean it when I say it– Rick is a magician! Find the square footage print of the house you want and Rick can change anything around on the “inside” of the plan. For example, we had to fit all of our MUST HAVES into 2870 square feet of living space. Within one of Rick’s plans in that square footage range, he was able to put in each and every one of my MUST HAVES. Yes, you read that right, I did not have to compromise a SINGLE must have. Like I said, Rick knows what he is doing. He is truly talented at with he does. His plans are extremely thought out. He knows how to maximize usable space without adding unusable space. This is a key element in housing design and something the previous designer did not have the talent to do. I have gotten a lot of questions regarding why I chose a housing designer over an architect. I’m not getting into the differences as you can google them on the internet yourself. I’m also not creating an online argument as I know this is a touchy subject and everyone has a strong opinion about it. I do know that the determining factor for me when choosing a designer over an architect is simply because there are billions of plans already designed. If you can connect to an amazing and experienced designer – like I did with Rick of Fillmore & Chambers – there is no need to REINVENT the WHEEL. I knew Rick was able to do what I wanted without starting from scratch. What does this mean? I may have recouped some of the money I lost from the first designer I worked with! With Rick- you also won’t find a more professional person to work with. He has a great personality, a great team of people who work with him, and he has a fast turnaround time. He is also very reasonable in cost. I know in life, some things are just meant to be. This is exactly how I feel about working with Fillmore and Chambers. It was just MEANT TO BE. If you give Rick a call to help you turn your house dreams into a reality, be sure to mention that Jessica sent you! And if you do end up working with him- I can promise you won’t regret it!
Wow- That was long but I hope it was informative! I really hope I’ve been able to give you some helpful tips when thinking about designing your dream home. Thank you so much for following along our journey to #thelaydenlegacy. Be sure to come back to read Part 2 of my Blog Series, The Four Key People When Building Your Dream Home. Next up – THE EXCAVATOR.
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