One of the most important decisions you will make in building your dream home is the floor plan. They say that it takes a potential buyer just 6 seconds upon entering a home to decide if they like a house. Similarly, when you enter a modular show home, you will know almost immediately if you like the floor plan of that home.
Over many weekend drives my husband and I looked at a lot of modular homes. I assure you we could walk in the front door of a regular show home and immediately say to one another, with a hopeful look, “YES”, or conversely, “nah” with a disappointed face, and maybe a slightly curled lip.
Either way, you should walk through the models, even if you do not immediately get that warm and fuzzy feeling. I fell in love with a counter top that I now have, in a show home that could not have been further from our ideal. To that end, carry a notepad and a measuring tape with you if you're in the market to build a modular home! This is a good and essential reminder – how many times have you wished you had either but forgot?
Of course when you are in the market for a pre-fabricated or modular home, you want to choose a show home that has a floor plan closest to what you envision as your dream home. Down the road, you can certainly modify the original floor plan to better suit your needs. It will help you immensely to compile a list of “musts”, and a list of “wants”. First, consider what you absolutely must have to accommodate your family and your lifestyle. Then consider the floor plan details you want that would make your life easier.
– location of main entry
In my opinion, when the front door opens to a dark stairway or a long hallway, I do not consider this inviting. I look for an entryway that leads to the heart of the home, so that when you enter you immediately get a feel for the home and the owners personality.
– how many bedrooms
We have 5 children, 2 are in college. We needed a minimum of 4 bedrooms, and at least one spare room, for the returning students and any overnight guests.
– how many bathrooms
Whenever possible it is preferred to have more than one bathroom. We have a master bath, two bathrooms for the other bedrooms, and a half-bath right off the side door (handy for kids who have to run inside to use the facilities with muddy shoes).
– size of kitchen
As we have a large immediate family, a large kitchen was a must.
– size of living room
Our living room had to accommodate two sofas, and plenty of play room.
– master bedroom upstairs or downstairs
Although we're not quite stepping on the proverbial banana peel yet, we chose a master bedroom that was downstairs, so that down the road, stairs would not be an issue for us.
– attached or separate garage
My husband is a firefighter and 911 dispatcher (yes and a licensed electrician and plumber). He was and is adamant that a garage should be separate from the house. Many house fires begin in the garage and this was something he insured upon.
– open floor plan or more separate
I have a small family, but my husbands family is HUGE (not by weight, but in sheer numbers!). We chose a floor plan that was open. The dining room, kitchen and living room are open to one another so that we can have 40 people for a birthday party, and we can all sit and eat, and still see one another.
– windows and views
Remember what you want to be looking at. Do you want a bay window so that you can see the backyard, or the next door neighbors garage? Just something to keep in mind! That reminds me, I once had a house where if I was doing dishes I could look across the driveway at my neighbor doing dishes. It was not as awkward as it could have been, but it was still kinda weird!
Well, as you can imagine, with five kids, we need storage!
– tv room
We do not have a TV room, but we did choose a large open living room, so that there's room for us all to sit and hang out and watch TV (I mean play scrabble and hold debts).
– a walk in pantry
Did I mention we needed storage? If you can afford a pantry, you can load up on all of those deals in bulk! We were never able to shop at BJ's because we just did not have the room for the bulk goods. Now we have a pantry, and we can shop! (You can imagine my darling husband is thrilled with the new pantry, so enabling me to shop more often !!!)
– washer / dryer on the first or second floor
We have our washer and dryer right off the kitchen. I looove being able to do laundry and not have to haul it up or down stairs! (okay, that's a lie. I do not “looove being able to do laundry … it's just more tolerable without stairs.)
– size of eating area
We chose a kitchen with an eat-at island, a breakfast area, and a breakfast bar. All of us can eat together in the kitchen when we do not feel like eating in the dining room. Plus there's plenty of room for me to cook, while kids tackle homework.
Now that you have an idea of your needs and wants, there are a couple of things you might also like to think about …
I was daydreaming, I mean paying full attention, when my very smart husband suggested that the pitch of the roof would be something important to consider when choosing the floor plan. If you are considering a ranch for example, just changing the pitch of the roof could give you some extra space, such as an office area, or for much more, much needed storage. The pitch of the roof may also be important to consider with regard to your geographical region. A pitch steep enough will allow snow to melt and run off, and prevent excess weight on your roof! This will cost a little extra, but it is worth asking your normal home dealer for details.
Also beware of rooms with odd dimensions or shapes. You're going to have a hard time arranging furniture if the rooms are irregularly shaped. Furthermore, you will need to consider the traffic flow for that room.
When looking at modular homes we discovered a way to arrange our floor plan to accommodate our children that made life much easier for us. Our older children are 22, 17, 14 and 11, so we put their bedrooms upstairs, with a bathroom and “game” area. This way the teens have their own space, and an area for their friends to hang out (while, more importantly, Dad and Mom have the living room TV and sofa to themselves in the evening). We put our bedroom downstairs, as well as our 3 year olds room down the hall from us. This way he has a more quiet space for sleeping and is not disturbed by the older kids for naps. And at night, we can listen out for him.
Consider too your closets (I know, yawn) … just an FYI, make sure closets on interior walls where they can provide a noise barrier.
And one last thought, if you are like us, and can not find a cure for the common birthday, you may want to think about wider hallways and wider doors. Someday they might come in handy, for wheelchairs, walkers, middle-age spread … all that fun stuff! Or, maybe you're a chronic room re-arranger, like me? Wider halls and doors makes moving furniture much easier! And, as an added bonus, you can rearrange the furniture at night, while the hubby is at work. Imagine his surprise when he comes home, in the dark, to newly arranged furniture! But I digress …