So you’re wanting to build a house. Great! Before you start picking out furniture, fixtures and flooring, you’ll want to know what size of house you’re going to need. 

The following questions are some of the basics WillowTree discusses with our clients at the onset of the home-dreaming process. Here are some cruicial questions to consider when choosing the size and layout of your future custom home: 

1. How much space do you have? 

What you do with your home starts with finding out how big your plot of land is. For example, if you’re wanting a 3,000 square foot ranch on a 4,000 square foot plot, things are going to be tight. And, depending on building ordinances, that might not even be legal. Things like easements and elevation changes could hinder best-laid plans.

Instead, you might find yourself modifying your initial dreams to achieve the overall goals you’re wanting for your new home — commensurate with the land you actually have. That could mean scaling your original ideas, or shifting them around with multiple stories (again, if your neighborhood, city, county, etc. allow for that). 

This facet alone is really why you have to do your due diligence on picking a plot of land as part of your home building process. It’s better to get land with your dream house already in mind than to shoehorn your dream into a plot of land that doesn’t quite fit. 

 

2. How many people are going to be living in this home? 

When people describe a home, how do they usually start? Sometimes by using the amount of square footage, but more often than not people are talking about bedrooms and bathrooms. 

It’s generally suggested that a house should have one bedroom per person, plus a guest room or office. A married couple with two babies, Financial Samurai says, should have five bedrooms. Here’s their rationale: 

“After working together as a team feeding and changing diapers every 1-3 hours for the first three months, one or both spouses will need to go back to work. Having the option to sleep alone in your own bedroom is important given babies often wake up multiple times during the night the first year, and sometimes up to the first three years. It’s nice for at least one partner to get a full night’s rest and be more productive at work the next day.”

When it comes to bathrooms, a good rule of thumb is to have 2 bedrooms per bathroom. Got a 3 bedroom house? You’ll only need one bathroom. What about three bedrooms? Go for 2 bathrooms, or at least one bathroom and a half-bath (with no shower/bathtub for guests) or add a three-quarter bathroom (which has a shower but no tub). 

Nobody’s going to complain if every bedroom has its own bathroom attached, but keep in mind that fixtures are some of the most expensive elements of the home-building process — and bathrooms tend to have a lot of them. 

 

3. How long do you plan to be in this home? 

It’s important to think about your eventual future with this home. Are you going to move? Is this your “forever home”? Your answers to these questions are directly linked to how you build your home. 

That “forever home” will come with a lot more futuristic thinking — taking into account the addition of children (and/or the eventual empty nest) — and space flexibility. It’ll also be outfitted to be palatable to both the young person and the retiree. Frankly, there’s a lot more riding on how the designs play out when it’s the “forever home.” 

MyPerfectMortgage shares: “If you’re in your 20s or 30s, either your career or your job may not be permanent. It’s possible that you will need to make a move for employment purposes in the near future. That will be easier to do if you are living in a starter home, than in a dream home that you might not want to leave. It’s even possible that being in a dream home might prevent you from following a dream job.”

You can always upgrade later.

Want help with these questions? Need someone to process with? The homebuilding pros at WillowTree are ready and available to help you meet your wants and needs, answering all these questions and more.

Check out Part 2 of this blog to see some of the more nuanced questions related to homebuilding.