Building Your Custom Home: 10 Tips to Help You Choose the Best House Plan

  • By Jeremy Thompson
  • 01 Mar, 2017
Many people think the home market in Iowa starts ramping up in the Spring, when in actuality it can start picking up as early as January, particularly if the weather is unseasonably warm. This is when people start to put up houses for sale, in preparation for if they need extra months to sell it… […] The post Building Your Custom Home: 10 Tips to Help You Choose the Best House Plan appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
Many people think the home market in Iowa starts ramping up in the Spring, when in actuality it can start picking up as early as January, particularly if the weather is unseasonably warm. This is when people start to put up houses for sale, in preparation for if they need extra months to sell it… because, yes, spring and summer are prime moving time. In the same vein, if you are considering building a house, now is the time to get the process moving. To help you move the process forward, here are some truly helpful tips to guide you in choosing the best house plan for you and your family’s needs.
1. Take a close look at your current living quarters. Walk around your space, and write down what you like about it and what you don’t like about it, including any issues with how the space is organized. Consider what rooms you wish you had, where you wish you had more space and what rooms you’d eliminate. Do you have any hobbies? If so, you may want to allocate space for storage or a workroom. The overall goal is to choose a plan appropriate for your needs, and not to live with extra unused space that you have to maintain and pay for.
2. Consider how long you plan to stay in the house, and how your family situation and personal needs will differ in 5, 10, 15, 20 years or even longer. Do you plan to add children to your family, or do you already have them? Will an aging parent eventually live with you? How will the space serve them as well as you? Do you plan to live in the house until retirement? How will your needs change over time (e.g. stairs will become harder to navigate as you age or if a family member develops certain medical conditions).

This custom home plan has a zero threshold entrance — no steps — on the large arched front porch, making it easily accessible for all.

3. Evaluate the daily needs of your family. The house should feel functional in relation to your daily activities. Do you need a “drop zone” for shoes, backpacks, keys and other items? A mudroom might be an important consideration then. Do you work from home? A room for a home office situated in a sunny, quiet spot might be an essential aspect of your plan.
4. Consider the needs beyond your family, but only slightly. Do you like to entertain? If so, you may wish for an area where you can accommodate groups. However, if you only entertain occasionally, it may not be worth it to pay for and maintain the extra space. Even if you entertain often there are ingenious ways to add space for extra guests such as buying an extending table or including built-in bench seating in the plan.
5. Find the lot first. Your lot size determines any house size or layout restrictions. And your house plan should make the best use of your lot, e.g. if you have a great view you may want to have a deck or screened-in porch overlooking it, or at least install lots of windows on the side of the house with the view.

This custom home was planned so the expansive wall of windows and doors, and the deck, overlook the beautiful surrounding landscape.

6. Determine the space you will need if you plan to use existing furniture. Even if you are planning to buy new furniture, you’ll still need an idea of what kind of furniture pieces you want to use and their dimensions and how you will work them into the space. You need at least 36 inches of space around furniture for walking space and for clearance for doors to open. You also want to know the heights of furniture to ensure you don’t use furniture that blocks windows.
7. Select a plan suitable to the neighborhood you plan to build in. Neighborhood covenants may dictate the type of house you can build. If you are building in a neighborhood with certain types of existing housing, you may not want to choose a house that looks drastically different as good home design sense says to draw on the surroundings and add those elements into the design — a house not following “the rules” sticks out, and often in a negative way.
8. Understand your budget limitations. It’s easy to get caught up in going bigger and better, and putting all of your desires down on paper with a house plan. But know what the costs are to build that house, and you’ll likely want, or at least need, to scale back. A builder can help you determine what plans fit into your budget.
9. Realize the benefits of floor plan modifications. It can be difficult to find exactly what you want when searching for a house plan, but know that you can modify most plans to account for some changes you’d like in your plan.
10. Assess your privacy needs. Where do you desire more privacy; in your living area, or bedrooms or office, or even the yard? The window placement on the plan as well as how the house will sit on the lot will determine the level of privacy. But you can head off any privacy issues with your plan choice or by making modifications.

This house’s country setting requires fewer privacy considerations. We made liberal use of windows and doors to let light flow in, and to give the homeowners a great view.

House plan searching tip: Google “house plans” to find thousands of options. Your local library and bookstore has lots of house plan books as well. Download house plan design software if you want to take the DIY-er approach. Or consult with an architect or builder for a more custom experience.

Creating Your Custom Home Plan

J. Thompson Builders creates livable floor plans. We have several pre-built plans available, and can help clients as much or as little as desired to find a plan that best suits their desires. We have extensive experience in creating gorgeous lower level living spaces, spacious and functional kitchens, large mudrooms, spacious garages, and ample built-in storage.
J. Thompson Builders also offers “value design consultation” to every client, or can work with your architect or interior designer. We have a passion for keeping up with new styles and trends. To help you realize your most unique and creative visions, our fabrication shop called J.T. Unique  can produce or source looks ranging from cozy cabin to old world.

Browse our Custom Home Gallery for inspiration.

J. Thompson Builders Blog

By 7052540976 15 Nov, 2017
Some of these considerations may not be in the forefront of your mind, but there is a long list of aspects you need to consider when building a new home. These should help to get you started thinking about some of the most important pieces of the home building process.
By 7052540976 15 Oct, 2017
This home is being built with our client’s specific wants and needs in mind. The homeowner
requested a single family home with a modern contemporary house design. Previously, he lived
in a townhome and desired a more private, spacious residence. A main floor living with a large
space to entertain and big volume ceilings were a must on the client’s list.

The client decided building as opposed to finding a pre-existing home was a better solution for
him because he wants something specific to his needs. He already had the perfect location in
mind and it was time for him to own his dream home.

The area is ideal for this client because it allows him to live in close proximity to his hobbies and
interests and it also allows him the ability to walk to nearby restaurants or bike to the
surrounding shops. This homeowner will be close to everything. He truly loves the location!
The design concept picked is pictured below. In sticking with a contemporary influence, the
design has clean, simple lines that will result in an extraordinary modern home. We combined
elements of residential and commercial materials and design to bring our client’s unique requests to life.
By 7052540976 15 Sep, 2017

You decide that you are ready to build a custom home for you and your family. Now it is time to figure out how to finance your dreams!

Let’s start with the basics. As with any loan process, do your research. Talk to several mortgage companies that specialize or have a strong understanding/history of working with construction loans. Ask questions and voice your concerns. Companies of course want your business, but they also want to make sure they are a good fit for you and what you are wanting to accomplish. Reviews and referrals are strongly regarded these days. They want to make sure you have the best experience possible.

There are several main differences between a construction loan and a regular existing home loan. An individual construction loan may require a longer credit history  or a higher credit score as well as more money down and along the way. It is more of a process, but it is most certainly worth it. With the right builder, the more involved process becomes a piece of cake; but, that is an article for another time.

Home loans can have a 30 year term whereas a construction loan typically has a max of 1 year. “The rates on this type of loan are higher than rates on permanent mortgage loans. To gain approval, the lender will need to see a construction timetable, detailed plans and a realistic budget, sometimes called the “story” behind the loan,” as reported by  bankrate . While your home is being built, it is typical to make interest-only payments. 

If you are thinking, “I don’t have enough money to pay off a newly built home in 1 year!” Don’t panic.

A popular option is the construction-to- permanent financing sometimes called “one-time close,” a “single close,” or an "all-in-one" loan. Upon completion of construction, the remaining loan balance is converted into a permanent mortgage with terms up to 30 years. Like most loans, “the rate and other terms of the permanent mortgage are set up-front when the entire loan package is closed” according to the  National Association of Home Builders .  Construction/permanent loans are offered by many different lenders, including banks and mortgage companies and are a great option for those of us wanting to finance their home purchase over an extended period of time.

Another option is a stand-alone construction loan. This type of loan can be beneficial if you currently own your home and want a smaller down payment option.   Read more about stand alone construction loans.

There are many different loan options. What makes sense for one person doesn’t make sense for everyone. Make sure you find the right product for you and your particular project. If you want to talk over some options, contact us! We would love to hear your ideas and figure out how we can build your dream home.

View our work , read our reviews on , and visit our Facebook page to get inspired!
By Jeremy Thompson 01 Aug, 2017
Your home should work for you, your family and the way you live. Sometimes a new custom home isn’t the answer yet. When you need to maximize the space in your current home, find clever ways to make your space more usable by maximizing storage in unique ways. Platforms add additional space and a new […] The post Clever Remodeling Ideas to Maximize Storage Space appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 15 Jul, 2017
The internet puts an incredible amount of information at your fingertips. Why would you not take advantage of it to get home remodeling advice? Often it isn’t created by experts in the field. Here are 3 remodeling myths you may have read or heard about and the truth you need to know to understand how […] The post 3 Remodeling Myths and Tips appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 01 Jul, 2017
With more and more people working from home or taking at least the occasional “work from home” day, the home office has become an essential part of a home plan. Even if you don’t work from home ever, the home office is still a great area to work on creative projects, store important files, or […] The post Designing a Home Office: Increasing Productivity, Inspiring Creativity appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 15 Jun, 2017
We’ve offered you lots of advice over the years about building a custom home. Here is a condensed version of some of the most important tips to follow. Get on the fast track to planning your new custom home! 7 Tips for Building a Custom Home Pay attention to your subdivision covenants. Yes, these are […] The post Building a Custom Home: 7 Quick Tips appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 01 Jun, 2017
Whether building a house or undertaking a remodel you have the opportunity to design your house to suit your tastes and needs. There are many flooring options available, each with unique characteristics and design. Since flooring is a long-lasting part of the house it is important to choose the right floor for each room that […] The post 5 High-Quality Flooring Options Available for Your Home appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 15 May, 2017
Building a new home is an exciting time, filled with anticipation and satisfaction as you watch your vision come to life. However, it can also be a little overwhelming when you’re unfamiliar with some of the technical terms. To help remedy this we’ve defined a few of the custom home building terms you may hear […] The post 5 Key Terms to Understand in Custom Home Building appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 01 May, 2017
Whether you’ve just unpacked your first box or you’ve been living in your house for years, chances are there’s something about your home you’ve desired improving. However, before beginning a project there are a few key home remodeling terms you should become familiar with. Understanding these terms will help you navigate conversations with your remodeling […] The post 6 Key Home Remodeling Terms to Understand Before Beginning a Project appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
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