DIY Home Design (R is for Revision)
Revision is all about jumping back and forth, changing the floor plans to make desired changes happen to the exterior elevations, changing the elevations to make desired changes happen to the floor plans.
Repeat the above process as often as required, back and forth. If you are particularly adventurous, draw (“slice”) a section through the most critical rooms of the house, showing heights of ceilings, rooms looking into rooms below, sloped ceilings, etc.
Integrate The Technical Requirements For Construction.
Start by identifying critical dimensions, tub sizes, kitchen cabinet sizes and layout, stairs treads and risers, fireplaces and chimneys.
Determine if you have allowed for a logical structure. Where are your bearing walls? A good approach is to use tracing paper to overlay floors, verify bearing walls line up, find duct chases for heating and air conditioning; make sure your stairs are in the exact same location on each floor.
What is the required span of floor joists and rafters (consult residential building code for span charts)?
Self Critique Your Design
It is easy to fall in love too early with your own creation. Look to the strength of a design to find its weakness. For example a design which is unconventional, unique, or creative may be too far outside of the mainstream and adversely affect resale value. An open floor plan may not provide adequate privacy. It is not necessary to abandon the central concept of your design, but compromises may be called for.
When bringing a design to its final solution you must be brave, not afraid to tear it apart and rebuild it. You may come back to the same solution proving its correctness but you may also find a surprising or stronger solution.
Last, show your work to others, but know when and when not to value other opinions, don’t take criticism personally.
Problem Solving Approaches
Reduce the square footage of your design by taking slice out of part of house where most inefficient and push the remaining halves together. Identify rooms that are larger than needed, look for inefficient layouts that create long hallways.
Another technique to reducing square footage is to arbitrarily make the house smaller by two feet in both directions, finesse or struggle with design for as long as it takes staying within the confines of the exterior walls.
To repair unattractive window layouts or large expanses of blank wall try revising closet locations, or by rearranging room locations as these are often less critical than first floor living arrangements.
To eliminate unattractive roof lines, again look to modify the second floor plan, bedroom and bathroom relationships and dimensions.
Why Don’t The Lights Ever Go Out In The Greene Building?
The Greene Building houses the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; it is where students regularly “pull all-nighters.” The design process must be a commitment to time. It is an uncertain endeavor. Some designs are put on paper in nearly final form with little effort (perhaps a gift from a higher power) but most work is the result of tedious hours of revisions and restarts; some only give in out of Herculean stubbornness to see the effort to completion.
It helps if this task is not done in the spirit of unsatisfactory work, but a love of the process with the anticipated satisfaction of the final product.