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Home Plan Pre-design Decisions Make Great New Builds 

Birds eye view of a home design showing many home plan pre-design decisions
Home Design Concept

If there is one thing that most new home owners are not prepared for when they go through the new build process, it is the number of decisions they must make.  Making clear home plan pre-design decisions is the key to a successful project. It is possible to find builders who are willing to make all of those decisions for you, and you probably want a lot of the technical aspects to be according to an experienced builder, but having your own ideas reflected in the home is part of the reward of owning a new built home. I have seen builder’s action lists that are over 250 items long, and I am sure there are longer ones. The topics in that builder’s list only began after all the concept and design decisions had been finalized in prepared drawings.

Before your builder makes that list, there are a lot of more personal decisions you will want to consider. These early decisions are your chance to put your dreams and ideas into the essence of your home. If you have clarified these items for yourself early, it can make your entire experience more positive. A clarity of focus, that you can recall during the process, will make all those choices and decisions a lot easier to reach.

Some of these ideas may be completely tangible: “we must have a clawfoot tub in the Ensuite.”  Some of these ideas will be more intuitive: “when people come to visit I need them to feel welcome to walk in and make themselves at home.”  Your designer will capture much of these in the design and the drawings they produce. You should also write yourself a short paragraph or a few bullet points that will remind you why your home plan pre-design decisions were made and then you can recall these priorities when the pressure to make decision and choices is applied.

So what are some of these pre-build decisions? 

 This post is not intended to give you comprehensive information, but we will share a few of the most common decisions you will face. Later we will write posts with a more specific focus.


The one you will hear often repeated is location. This is true in all aspects; location will affect budget, method, timelines, design, and more. You should analyze your location before you approach the design so that you can incorporate any features or obstacles. For instance, a view can be desired or not desired, and a smart floor plan can work with the criteria dictated by the conditions of your site.  Perhaps delivery of some materials will not be possible and so alternate building materials may be required; on remote projects we might not have access to concrete trucks  and so we work with a variety of alternative foundations.  At one heavily treed home site, the insurance company reduced high premiums when specific flame resistant finishes were used on the exterior, this heavily influenced the style the home.  So really take some time to  understand your location, your house will only be better when you consider the entire property as part of the home.


Budget is an absolutely unavoidable factor. If extra bedrooms are a priority you may have to avoid luxury costs like cathedral ceilings. If you are maximizing square footage of the main floor now, you may choose to save money on finishes and upgrade in future renovations; factor in extra framing space for a gas fireplace; locate a large window where the opening to a future family room may be built.  Maybe you are concerned with minimizing your heating bills in winter, which can be as simple as choices in window type, size, and placement or you may choose a wall structure that offers high environmental performance.  Any number of personal desires will factor into what you ultimately build and the more considered you are about prioritization, the more satisfied you will be with your home.


Choosing your builder is the most important choice you will make. This is not just a business transaction; you will be in a relationship for the duration of the build and perhaps a few years beyond. There are many professional associations and consumer advocacy groups who will give you good advice on this selection process, so we will not go into detail in this post.   It is just important to emphasize the importance of your relationship with your builder.  You will rely on them every step of the way, and they will come to you with changes and ask for decisions all along the process.  You should feel confident the information from them is highly knowledgeable, and you need to feel empowered to ask your questions and advocate for your needs. In return they need you to make your priorities clear, and not backtrack on decisions, every time you change your mind the timeline grows. This will cost you money and your builder sleep.  

The take away from this post is that making clear home plan pre-design decisions will reduce stress because you can always reference the vision you clarified at the very start to guide your choices along the way. Next post, I will discuss the Albright approach to designing homes.





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