Expert Awards

Home Expert Awards: Designing a Home

Everybody has their own idea about what makes a dream home, and for some people, making that home real means designing it from scratch. But planning an entire house isn’t an easy feat, possible for everyone, and many of the homeowners looking to build from scratch have never done so before. With so many possible pitfalls, it’s easy for things to go awry, especially if you don’t know where to start.

Luckily, our experts have a lot of experience with all aspects of home building and planning, and they had a lot of great advice when we put the question to them. Before setting about your dream home design, be sure you take a look at what our experts had to say when it comes to essential elements in any from-scratch home design. Here are some of their best comments.

What things are essential to keep in mind when building a house from scratch?

What mistakes do first-time home designers make most often?

If you could give every home designer a checklist of things to consider first, what would be on it?

Have you ever come across a particularly successful home design that surprised you? What was good about it?

How about a bad one? Any disaster stories?

Most Inspiring

When building a home from scratch, the most important thing I would think is to take your time in picking the correct GC (General Contractor). This is a daunting task!!!! Some people think that they can act as their own GC and save themselves thousands of dollars. ... But most GC’s have good working relationships with all of the trades necessary to build your home on time and on budget. That a typical homeowner does not. read more

We liked Matt's comment because it identifies the key element that a homeowner needs for a daunting task like designing a house--a professional whose work they trust! Hiring the right general contractor can make a world of difference in both your home-building experience and your end result, so it's important to do your research and pick somebody well suited to your needs.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Creative

I built a house from scratch. One of the smartest things we did was ask our interior designer to create furniture layout drawings in conjunction with our architecturals. Right away we knew if windows weren’t place well, where plugs and lights outlets should go, and lights. read more

Anna's comment highlights something most people don't think about when designing their own home--the furniture. It's easy to get caught up in the architecture and square footage, but the whole point of designing your own house is to make sure it's uniquely suited to your needs. If the furniture you want doesn't fit, you're stuck with a house that's less than dreamy.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Insightful

Why? That is my first question – why. There are more than ample houses that are in desperate need of TLC and can be easily modernized or as I say “greensized” to fit the needs of the occupants. read more

Tanya asks an important question that all home-building beginners should ask themselves. Why do you want to build your own house? There's a lot of extra work and resource use involved in building a new home that can be cut down or eliminated if you instead choose to remodel an existing house. Know why you're doing it the way you're doing it, and make sure you've thoroughly researched all of your options!

eLocal Expert Network

Most Articulate

When contractors develop the foundation and install vents and drains they need to have pests like mice and rats in mind. ... Doing things the right way could save you tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime in a house if this is considered during construction or renovations of a home! read more

Joseph makes a great point about forward planning. Building a house isn't just about getting it upright and livable--it's also about ensuring it stays livable. Pest control is just one thing that's important to consider in the house plan. Check your design with professionals from multiple industries, to make sure you haven't overlooked any simple changes that can save you a lot of money and stress in the long run.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Informative

Above all, listen to your builder – if they need you to select appliances or lighting by a certain date, focus on getting those things done so the project isn’t delayed. If your designer, architect or builder has an idea, be sure to listen – they usually know what they’re talking about! read more

Kerry Ann had a lot of great, specific advice for homeowners looking to build from scratch, but 'listen to your builder' is the biggest and most important! Remember that even though it's your dream home, the professionals you hired are the ones with the experience, who know how everything will turn out in the end. If they don't like an aspect of your plan, or are warning you off something, listen! After all, what's the point of hiring professionals if you aren't going to take advantage of their expertise?

eLocal Expert Network