10 Tips For Creating A Kick-ass Floor-plan

Here are Glanzmann Group's tips for sketching up your dream home  ( admittedly picked up from only two rounds of drawing floor-plans…) :  

1. Try to line up as many of the interior and exterior walls as possible to help with the structural integrity of your house - the less your walls zig and zag, the fewer structural elements your contractor will need to hold everything up- especially the roof. This is particularly true if you are designing a two story house- the more the walls align, the better for weight-bearing and money saving purposes. Similar logic applies to bathrooms- the more you can stack your bathrooms on top of or next to each other, the more efficient your design and the happier your pipes and wallet will be. 

2. Know your sources of light and place windows accordingly. Remember that if you live in the Northern hemisphere, the south facing side of your house will get most of the sunlight throughout the day.  So, if you’re like us and thrive off of good light and sunshine, orient your windows accordingly. If you want to wake up and drink your coffee in the morning sun, place your kitchen in a part of the house where you can bask in windows that have a southeast orientation. A fan of eating romantic dinners at dusk? Put your dining room in a spot with southwestern facing windows.  Remember however that too much sunlight pouring into your windows might result in a higher AC bill and sad, sun-bleached furniture. Be strategic with your window choices- they are essentially the lungs of your house. While each one costs a pretty penny, they prove an awesome means of making a tight space feel much roomier and bringing nature and greenery into the very heart of your design.

3. Be mindful of square footage. In Westchester for example, with the current legislation in place to keep mansionization at bay, you’re maxed out at around 50% of the lot size. While you can gently push and poke at this rule, if your lot is about 7,000 square feet, your house is capped at 3,500. Take note of the particular rules in your neighborhood of how the local Department of Building and Safety calculates total square footage. We were surprised to learn that any space where ceilings exceed 14 feet actually counts twice towards your total area; think about that before you decide to put your entire budget towards vaulting your ceilings to twenty feet. Also, note that you’re realtor’s method for tallying square footage is not the same as the city planner who essentially has the power to tear down your dream home.

4. Maintain as much of the existing footprint as possible. Add more than 500 square feet to your house’s footprint and you’re looking at costly water-mitigation measures. Instead, build up rather than out - if you maintain the footprint, the amount of roof and thus the runoff will stay the same. You’ve just avoided a massive headache and the need for oversized, unsightly planters. 

5. If you’re building a second story, start your floor-plan design with the placement of your staircase. Its uncompromising size means that it’s difficult to place as an afterthought. Ideally it should be placed in the heart of the home where it lends itself to better circulation by centralizing traffic flow, and wastes far less space than if it was in an entrance. 

6. Open expanses should exceed no more than 25 feet in any direction as such an expanse will result in a need for steel beams. Steel is ridiculously expensive - for our latest project, we spent over 20,000$ on two measly (wrong adjective?) steel beams. The rental cost alone for the crane capable of lifting one of the three-thousand pound beams starts at around 400$/hour. Big boy toys come with big price tags.  

7. Forget what some people say- size matters. It’s recommended that no bedroom be smaller than 13 by 10 feet.  (Legally, the International Code Council R304 mandates that “Habitable rooms shall not be less than 7 feet in any horizontal dimension.” Let’s hope for the sake of your occupants that you’re far from ever needing to be referred to that code…)

And as far as your master-bath goes - it should average approximately half the size of your master-bedroom. While I’m incredibly partial to a beautiful bathtub, enough space for a bed would seem to triumph over this luxury. 

8. If you’re designing with resale in mind, know that each “bedroom” you build needs its own closet to count on paper. And as for bathrooms- to qualify as a full bath you’ll need a shower/bathtub configuration. While you might save space with just a shower, you’ll fall one 1/4 of the way short. 

9. It may seem obvious, but draw in some furniture to scale to truly understand your space. Are you being overly generous in little Timmy’s room while the middle child barely has enough room for their bed? Favoritism can be great- but not when you’re designing a floorplan… Use model furniture to double check whether your configuration is ideal for furniture placement. It’s much better to lose one bedroom than to create a series of tiny, uninviting rooms. Plus a better sense of the furniture size and orientation will help you place your windows. 

10. Another seemingly obvious pointer- don’t forget storage space! Since it’s not the sexiest or most exciting part of the plan, storage is sometimes forgotten. Don’t do it. Whoever moves into your home will love you for having accounted for their Costco addiction and collection of scarcely used camping gear. 

Happy Planning!