4. Are there windows where you want the best views, and which rooms will get morning and evening sun?
Having your lot before selecting a home plan also lets you examine where sunlight strikes the site. Compare this information to the placement of windows in the plan to ensure the design will take advantage of the best views, block views that are undesirable, put morning and evening light where it's most needed, and prevent excessive heat gain. Windows can usually be moved or resized if necessary, but care has to be taken to retain the appearance and structural integrity of the building.
5. Will this home fit in with surrounding homes?
Nobody wants to live in a home exactly like the one next door, but you should make sure the design of the plan you choose fits the neighborhood. This applies whether you're building in a new neighborhood or in an older area with established homes. Subdivisions may have covenants that establish acceptable home styles for the area, so check regulations before you purchase a plan. Also think about the size of the home relative to others in the neighborhood. A home that is out-of-scale with its neighbors -- whether too small or too large -- will look as out of place as a glass-walled contemporary house in an older neighborhood.
6. Will extensive changes be required to make the house you want, or might a custom design be better?
Every home plan goes through some changes to meet local building codes, to match the style of a particular neighborhood, or to suit individual needs and tastes. Changes such as modifying the fa�ade or adding a garage stall are usually relatively easy, and most home plan companies can quote prices for making these changes. In theory, you can change dimensions of individual rooms or the whole house. Just be prepared to pay considerably more for a custom plan.
Continued on page 3: Rooms, Amenities, Decor, Hobbies