If you’ve never owned a custom built home before, your floor plan design probably feels like a journey to an alien planet. It’s not easy to quantify a dream, but if you ask the right questions, you’ll be able to zero in on your precise preferences more easily.

Do you want an open plan?

You needn’t create a hard line between large, open spaces and smaller, enclosed rooms. Most modern homes use a combination of the two. An entirely open plan provides no privacy for sleeping spaces, so if you’re housing a family, you might choose what’s referred to as an “open concept”: an open plan custom built home that uses delineated room dividers such as cabinetry, stairs, and columns instead of walls.

How much space do you want to assign to your landscape?

If you have limited acreage, you might choose a multi-level custom built home to make better use of your yard. This is best for land that offers a limited footprint.

What benefits and disadvantages serve you best?

There’s no such thing as a perfect floor plan, only the ideal one for you. That panoramic two-floor window will add a sense of spaciousness to your house, but it will also reduce privacy and unsettle indoor temperatures. Begin with the features you’d add to your dream board before you discuss their practicalities with your architect.

What functionality is important to you?

Your daily activities will determine how your custom built home flows. If you’re aiming for a highly sociable space, for example, an open plan kitchen and central living room will serve you well. If you like to entertain, you’ll want a porch, dining area, kitchen, and living room that collectively form a central area for guests. If noise reduction is a priority, you’ll want to place your bedrooms away from the street.

What do the experts suggest?

Your realtor will be familiar with design features required from the homes in your neighborhood, while your architect can best advise you on affordability. All the professionals in your wheelhouse will have different suggestions related to mortgage payments, maintenance needs, and energy efficiency. Their guidance is integral to this phase of your development.

What’s your budget?

A stock floor plan is more budget-friendly, but you can leverage your funds in a more balanced way by building upon an existing plan.

Your home reflects your lifestyle and personality. It’s one of the most important sets of decisions you’ll ever make, so it’s well worth the time investment, but don’t forget to honor your dreams. You’re creating the space that will form the foundation of your everyday life, so your floor plan should be as lovable as it is practical.