1. What does this home offer that you don't have now?
Easy answers might include better storage, more bedrooms and bathrooms, or space for entertaining friends. But look beyond the obvious to see how the home will fit -- and improve -- your lifestyle. Maybe the great-room will offer family-activities space that is lacking in your current home, and the home office will mean fewer late evenings at work, giving more time for family fun. The main-level master suite and laundry room will decrease stair climbing. A larger garage might accommodate that boat you've always wanted.
2. Will this home be big enough -- or too big -- in five or 10 years?
Regardless of your current stage of life, a home that is just the right size now won't necessarily be just right in the future. A flexible house plan allows you to convert spaces as needs change. A playroom can become a bedroom when another child is born. A child's bedroom can become a den or sewing room later. If a home office has an adjoining bath, it can be used as a suite for overnight guests, provide housing for an aging parent, or become your main-level master suite in later years.
3. Does the home's design coordinate with your proposed building site?
Home designers always recommend that you have a site before you select a plan. This allows you to compare the home with features of the lot and to envision how the home will sit. If the lot is narrow and deep, a wide, shallow home probably isn't the best choice. In some areas, zoning and regulations may limit the height of a house, or govern the minimum and maximum home size in terms of a percentage of the total lot size.
Continued on page 2: Views, Neighborhood, and Design