Modular Home - Visualizing a Floorplan

eldemilaOctober 15, 2006

I'm planning on building a modular home next year. I went to all the area mod. home dealers in the area where I want to build to see what they had and I've scoured books and the web for floorplans for layouts that I may be able to use.

I think my biggest issue is that I need to actually see a model of what I want. The models on the lots are limiting on what they have vs the floorplans available. Understandably so, they can't have all models available to show.

For those of you who have bought a modular, or really, any home you had built from the ground up, when it was all said and done, did you have any issues with the what you thought the floorplan would look like vs what it really ended up looking like?

I'm scared to pick out a floor plan without seeing an actual model. I'm scared I'll hate it if I don't see it beforehand. When looking at the many models I saw I saw things I liked in one, and things I liked in another, but not one I walked in and said WOW, this is it. I've found soem floorplans I like, but again, there's no model.

For those of you who built modular type homes, did you buy it as is or make some changes to the floor plan and if so, what were they and how did they come out.

Did anyone use one of the CAD programs to do their layouts? I bought one that I'm hoping may help, if I can figure it out, it may be helpful, but haven't tried yet.

Would appreciate any and all info. I don't want to end up with a house I hate as I plan on being in it a long, long time (G-d willing).


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As no homeowners have come forward, I'll step up to the plate.

Since home design is what I do for a large part of my so-called living, visualizing the results comes pretty easily to me and I'm pretty much dead-on (in my mind). However, translating those mental images into graphics that a home buyer can envision is a bit more difficult. Most companies will show you a floor plan and a front elevation and leave the rest up to your imagination. Granted, the vast majority of modular home "stock" plans are not too intricate and a 12'x12' bedroom with 8' ceilings in a model home is going to "feel" pretty similar to the same size room in a completely different plan. But even computer-generated 3-d images are no guarantee that you will be happy with the plan.

The only real suggestion I can make is to study hard any plan that you are considering. Start with how it will fit on your lot if you happen to already own one. How will it look as you approach it? Is it inviting? (There's only so much that landscaping should be expected to do.) What is the entry like? Are some of the features being offered, like little reverse gables, simply little more than paste-on clich├ęs or do they add some architectural value?

When first inside, are you in a comfortable transition space or in the midst of a Living Room. (That's Ok if you are comfortable with that. It means the Living Room is now to serve as a place to remove muddy boots in the winter.) Are the sizes of the main public rooms adequate? Hard to tell from a tiny floor plan but you need to obtain prints with the actual dimensions and compare them to rooms you are familiar with such as in your current home. When the plan shows a Living Room only a foot or two bigger than your current cramped space, that grand piano you are dreaming of is going to have to remain only a dream.

Is the Dining Area large enough for the dinner parties you envision? Is there easy access from the kitchen? Is there adequate wall space for china closets or serving tables. Often windows are popped in, seemingly at random in these plans without regard to furniture placement. (This applies to all rooms in the house, by the way.)

How is the kitchen laid out? Are the appliances in a logical pattern for the way you cook? Is the sink to be provided suitable? Do you need an oversized range or refrigerator space? (Standard range space is 30" and Ref. space is 33" or 36" and no amount of wedging will fit that 48" range with grill top in.) Is there a pantry or enough cabinet space? How will you handle recyclables? Will the door to garage suddenly hit you in the butt just as you are lifting the Thanksgiving turkey out of the oven? Is there enough lower cabinets for pots & pans, cleaning supplies, etc? In a lot of kitchens, this is a problem with the area under the countertop taken up by dishwashers, trash compactors, corner lazy susans, the oven, etc. Is there space for a small kitchen table? Is there sufficient distance that an early riser can make a three-course breakfast wighout waking the whole household?

Are the baths comfortable? A small window is very nice to have, both for light and natural ventilation. Many plans will have a stock "hall bath" plan which puts the tub/shower along the narrow end along the exterior wall preventing the installation of any but the smallest awning window up near the ceiling. This is usually done to maximize the efficiency of the plan but often creates dreary spaces. Take notes the next time you are in a windowless bathroom.

Bedrooms: Adequate floor area? Closet space? Window and door locations as relates to furniture placement? (Sill height of windows also for the same reason.) Relative position of your bed to a plumbing wall in an adjoining bath? Will you be woken up every time one of the brood flushes the toilet just inches behind your head in the middle of the night?

Is a bath accesible to all bedrooms without having to go into common areas? Can the kids get up late at night without having to go into the living room where you're entertaining?

And how do all the rooms flow? Are there rooms that seem to be little more than a series of paths to get from one space to another?

Adequate lighting in all rooms? Phone, tv, computer wiring in all possible locations? Ideally, PVC chase pipes that new wiring can easily be threaded through in the future when new technologies make the current wiring obsolete will more than pay for themselves.

A note about furniture placement: In the early stages of selection you will probably be looking at endless simple catalog plans withvery little detail but when you find some promising ones, request drawings printed to scale. That way you can easily make scale paper cut-outs of your furniture and see how they fit into the plan.

Obviously, there is a whole lot more to be added here if this were to be a comprehensive list, but it is just to illustrate some of what is not apparent in a floor plan or even a 3D rendering or fly-though. You need to look at every part of your relationship to your current home and other homes you've had and attempt to determine how the new plan will function based on your past experiences.

But realize, that no atter how much thought you give the project, there will likely be some aspect of it that may surprise you. Likely not to the point that you will hate it, but just not precisely what you envisioned. My most savvy client went through endless revisions including a complete plan trashing and redesign for his new modular three-story, 5000 S.F. golf course-hugging house. When it was done, he just loved it but there still were things that were different from his expectations.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 6:29PM
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