Designing your own home can be extremely satisfying, but can also be challenging. Previous building experience is very helpful, but with the careful use of good references and some consultation with experts, anyone can design a home. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the planning stages as good planning will prevent problems later on. Draw out a floor plan, and design a model so that you can see just how the parts will fit together.
Begin your design process with research. Visit your local library and check out books on architecture, building design, landscaping and building materials. Visit building supply stores, open house home shows and any other way you can manage to look at real buildings. Take a notebook and make quick drawings and notes of things you like. Take pictures if it is allowed. Download and play around with trialware architectural programs to see how they work and to learn standard architectural symbols for things such as doors, windows, plug ins and more. Be sure to include local zoning and building regulations for your planned site in your research materials.
Make a list of all the things you and your family members want in your house. You may have pets, love books or delight in old movies as entertainment. If you regularly host large gatherings of people you may want an area that has plenty of room from group activities. If you have children, you will want to plan private spaces for them and ways to keep them safe from common household hazards.
Draw a quick sketch of the basic shape of your house. Don't worry about the budget at this point; this is your dream house. Include all the rooms, areas and gadgets your heart desires. Don't forget to include the little oddball things such as bow windows for growing plants, a pet door onto a safe patio or yard for pets, or an outdoor area for basketball hoops or swing sets.
Decide how to make your dream home energy efficient. If you plan to go off the grid, make sure you include plenty of space for batteries, places to mount solar collectors or a sturdy base for a windmill. Regardless of your power source, plan for thick walls with plenty of insulation. Keep an eye on safety, as well. Research materials carefully. Plan for any needed security installations.
Draw a more finished copy of your plans, on which you include things like thickness and composition of walls. Make pullout drawings of foundations and wiring diagrams. If you can afford it, purchase an architectural program that you tested and liked. They range in price from around £26 to more than £1,300. If you can't afford a program, pick up a child's protractor and compass set, and revisit the best of the books you checked out of the public library.
Make a list of all the materials and expenses you are likely to incur in building the house. If you are over budget, go back and see what could be set up as a shell and finished at a later time. See if you can develop a modular system for slowly building all the parts you want. Don't skimp on safety or insulation.
Draw a final plan and use it to create a scale model. You are now ready to talk to an architect or builder, or to begin digging foundations.
Your scale model can be given to a daughter, granddaughter or niece as a dollhouse after the big house is built.
Licensed architects or builders may want to make changes in your plans. Listen carefully. There may be structural reasons for the changes.