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Building a Home

How to Avoid Custom Floor Plan Mistakes

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written by:

Carrie Barker


Many people jump right into designing a floor plan without taking the time to thoroughly think about the best layout for their family’s home. Don’t do this, my friend! The best way to avoid custom floor plan mistakes is to REALLY think about how your family lives BEFORE you create your floor plan!

Building a custom home is a HUGE investment in both time and money … and I want YOU to get your floor plan right so you are proud of the final product! I’ve compiled a list of 25 questions for you to thoughtfully consider and answer so you can create the perfect floor plan for YOUR family.

how to avoid custom floor plan mistakes

I know that creating a custom floor plan from scratch is a daunting task … been there and done that (see my custom home here)! However, if you take the time to really think about your plan before you get started, then you are less likely to regret your decisions.

Simply go through the list of questions below … put the time and effort into considering each question and answering it as thoroughly as possible. I encourage both you and your spouse to answer the questions (separately or together). Hopefully, you’ll come up with the same answers, but you’ll likely have to compromise in some areas.

P.S. there really are no ‘mistakes’ when it comes to designing a custom floor plan … but there ARE ways to make your layout more functional.

Recommended Post: 5 Considerations for Creating a Custom Floor Plan


Q + A to Help you Avoid Custom Floor Plan Mistakes

When answering these questions, do NOT overthink your answers. Go with your gut and answer each question as quickly and honestly as you can … write down what first pops into your head.

Click here to get a printable list of these questions delivered to your email inbox!

  1. If our budget was unlimited, what would our dream home layout look like? Describe in detail.
  2. What is our home build budget? What can we comfortably afford? 
  3. Do we plan to resell this home in the future or is this our ‘forever home’? (i.e. do we need to consider what will be helpful for resell in the future?) 
  4. What does our land look like (dimensions, setbacks, trees, etc.)? If we haven’t selected land, what type of land do we need to accommodate our desired floor plan?
  5. What direction do we want our house to face? Where will the sun be blaring through the windows at sunrise and sunset? 
  6. What goals do we want to accomplish with this house? Describe in detail.
  7. How large do we want our house? What square footage is reasonable?
  8. Do we want a two-story or a ranch home? Tip: ranch homes are typically more expensive to build because they have a larger footprint (foundation) than two-story.
  9. How many bedrooms do we want? How many bathrooms do we want?
  10. What are we missing in our current home that we would like to have in the new home (e.g. large storage closets, mudroom, etc.)
  11. What are specific MUST-HAVES for our floor plan? (e.g. playroom, large foyer, large laundry room, second-floor laundry room, large mudroom, etc.)
  12. What are things that would be nice to have but that we can live without? (e.g. huge kitchen island)
  13. Are there any typical rooms that we don’t need? (e.g. formal dining room)
  14. What is our lifestyle? How often do we entertain?
  15. Do we need separate spaces for each of us to hang out?
  16. Where do we want to focus our square footage? What rooms are most important to us? Do we want to focus square footage in our bedrooms or in other areas of the home (i.e. how large do we want our kids’ bedrooms?)
  17. What storage needs do we have?
  18. What work or hobby needs do we have? (e.g. private home office with a door, a room to store band equipment, etc.)
  19. Do we need any special accommodations? (e.g. first floor master for visiting parents)
  20. What do we want to be the focal point when guests walk through our front door? (e.g. large windows showing the view out back, a special piece of artwork, etc.)
  21. Are there any particular views that are important to us and should be highlighted with windows?
  22. Do we want our stairs visible from the front door or do we want a private staircase? 
  23. Do we have inspiration images collected and organized in Pinterest or in a binder? Tip: share these inspiration images with your builder and/or architect!
  24. Will our kids feel more comfortable sleeping on the same level as us (i.e. can we have a first floor Master and kid bedrooms on the second level)?
  25. Can we do a walkout basement? If so, how will that affect our decking or patio location?

Recommended Posts: 9 Tips to Design a Beautiful & Functional Master Bathroom  AND 9 Tips for Designing a Functional Kitchen


You CAN create the perfect floor plan for your family! All it takes is for you to really think about your floor plan by answering the questions above. The more effort you put into this ‘assignment’, the greater your chance of avoiding custom floor plan mistakes!

These questions are just the start … what other questions can you think of when it comes to designing the perfect floor plan? Please share other questions (or any floor plan ‘mistakes’ you made) in the comments below!

Grab your *FREE* printable list of these 25 questions right here!

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  5. Josie O says:

    Thank you for this write-up. I love Qs 13 & 15. Spot on! I have the worst predicament. I’ve traveled for over 20yrs and collected so many signature furniture pieces I can’t see myself living without. I really “want” a formal room to stage these but do I want to spend money on it? Such a dilemma. And on Q15, an astounding YES! The hubby and I at our age live separately with our time and hobbies. Ever heard that it’s cheaper to keep her? 🙂 Well, in my case it’s him but I consider when building a house, to simply give him his space. A forever retirement home should make you happy and have no stress for the rest of your life.
    Oh and no one really ever talks about retirement home living and planning. I really want this to be my last home and it would be helpful to have guidance on what are accessibility considerations in planning. Thanks again and I do love my husband. hehehe…

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I designed my own custom home from the ground up, inside and out. A home that is cozy, comfy, laid out perfectly for the way my family lives, and makes us happy every single day. Oh, and did I mention I did this all without blowing the budget?! 

Yep, it’s true. I’ve been there, done that, and actually lived through it … and you will too. Pinkie promise!

a.k.a. Caroline on Design

I’m Carrie Barker.

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