Home Building: DIY Resource Guide
Buying your own home is exciting, and getting to design it yourself is even more so. However, it can also be extremely stressful. It really helps to have the right tools and resources at hand before you start. If you know where to go for solid information, you’ll have one less thing to worry about. The resources in this guide will help whether you’re looking to map out your current home, design a new home, or plan a remodel. There’s even a guide for those who just want to learn how to read a blueprint.
Helpful Sites for First-Time Home Builders
There’s a lot going on when you’re in the midst of designing and building a new home. Any major construction project presents the potential for all kinds of added expenses and unexpected issues. The sites listed here serve the sole purpose of helping home builders get through the process without making costly mistakes or having regrets about their design choices. Check them out for inspiration and ideas, guides and lessons, industry insights, and lots more.
10 Design Flaws in the Average Home – This slideshow runs through some popular - but unnecessary - design elements that you may want to consider foregoing. It’s important to get some perspective on some of your ideas and expectations before you start mapping out your plans.
Building a Home: What We’d Do Differently – This straightforward list-style article offers some great insights from people who have been there. You might just avoid a costly mishap by learning from their experience.
Design Your Own Home Online Tutorial – There are several parts to this extensive course series and each is filled with valuable information like how to assess your land, how to translate your design ideas into floor plans, and even what to do with your interior spaces.
Drawing House Plans by Hand
Before a home can be built or a renovation begun, there must be well-drawn plans. Prior to the advent of Computer Aided Design (CAD), architects and builders would have to painstakingly create all of their plans and blueprints by hand. Today, technology is infused seamlessly into the process through the use of specialized software programs. If you’re just sketching up a quick remodel, though, you might want to draw your own plans the old-fashioned way. While this is definitely the less common way to go, there are purists and historical period enthusiasts who prefer to work with hand-drawn plans and blueprints.
How to Draw a Floor Plan – This “For Dummies” article shows how to measure and accurately create a floor plan using only low-tech supplies.
How to Figure Out Square Footage –This article is for those who need to calculate the square footage of their home using existing floor plans. This is where you’ll need to start if you’re mapping out future renovations.
How to Create Your Own Floor Plan – This page runs through the basic elements of putting together a floor plan. You’ll see a step-by-step tutorial for setting your specifications down on paper, including an explanation of the tools you’ll need along the way.
How to Read Blueprints – If you want to create your own blueprints, you need to first understand the accepted symbols used in house plans. This Better Homes & Gardens article has an easy-to-read legend for decoding them.
Computer House Design Software
For most projects, you’ll probably want to enlist the aid of some design software. You don’t have to be an architect to use professional-grade tools. There are several programs available to help you create the perfect plans for your house. Others aid in composing the interior design elements or landscape features. There are several to choose from, and they vary significantly in price so it’s a really good idea to check out some reviews before you buy.
Top 5 Home Design Software – These reviews, from Techmagz.com cover five top-of-the-line home design software suites. They are honest and helpful, and come complete with pricing information and screenshots.
HGTV Top Ten Reviews – The design gurus at HGTV put together this review of their top ten picks for home design software. While some focus primarily on interior design, others also include tools for drafting home blueprints.
Home Design Software – This is another well-written and nicely researched review offering some insight into a handful of different design software packages.
House Design Software Reviews – This About.com page gives thorough reviews for some of the major architecture and design software on the market.
Working With Contractors
If you’re building or renovating a home, chances are good that you’ll be working with a variety of contractors to get the job done. From architects and engineers to construction workers and landscapers, there may be several people involved in turning your ideas into reality. Much of the outcome hinges on your relationship to these people. You really need to do your homework ahead of time and make sure you hire qualified contractors that you are comfortable communicating with. The following articles will give you some tips, advice, and helpful information so that you can make the best decisions possible when it comes to hiring contractors.
How to Choose a Home Builder – This no-nonsense guide comes from the National Association of Homebuilders. Read to find out what you should consider before choosing a contractor to build your home.
10 Questions to Ask a Contractor – Read this article for those crucial questions you need to ask contractors you’re thinking of hiring before you make any kind of agreement.
Working With an Architect – The American Institute of Architecture (AIA) offers some sound advice for finding, hiring, and working with an architect.
5 Reasons Architects are Worth the Money – If you’re wondering whether the cost of hiring an architect is justified, read through this MSN article. While it’s true that having a professional designer isn’t always necessary, there are some very compelling reasons for bringing one in to head up your project.
Self-Help for Home Builders
Designing and building a home is a process with ups and downs, and often some unexpected twists and turns along the way. The sites in this section are high quality resources for the new homebuilder or renovator (they’re also pretty helpful to the not-so-novice builder). Head to these pages if you’re looking for inspiration, advice, tips, tricks, and instructions.
Builder Online – Builder Online is a great site to bookmark if you’re planning any kind of construction project. You’ll find reviews on the latest CAD software, how-to articles, and advice that can save you a lot of time and money.
Home Building: What to Expect – this step by step guide by Bigelow Homes runs through the entire process of building a new home
Build Your House – This article is incredibly helpful for the first-time homebuilder. There are so many things that you may not anticipate when you imagine the process of bringing your dream home to life. Read up so that you’re not caught unaware.
Green Building House Plans – Houzz.com is a great all-around resource for anyone building or renovating a home. Their green building pages are specifically written to help you plan and design an eco-friendly residence.
Inspiration and Ideas
One of the best ways to prepare yourself to create your own perfect design is to load up on inspiration. You can’t make an educated decision about your own project if you haven’t looked around to see what others have done with theirs. Even if you’ve already begun building, the value of having a place to find help and advice cannot be understated. Keep these links handy for reliable information and beautiful inspiration as you go.
Bob Vila Online – Long before the design and renovation shows that populate several television networks today, there was “This Old House.” The show’s host, Bob Vila, became known around the world for his master building skills – and now he shares it all on his website.
Fresh Home – This online magazine has inspiration galore if you’re looking for ideas about architecture and home design. Each post showcases a different amazing residence, complete with high-quality images.
Fine Homebuilding – This blog is kept fresh with plenty of articles full of helpful advice, tips, and how-tos for all kinds of projects and building-related issues.
Green Building Advisor – If you’re interested in building a more eco-friendly home, check out this site for plenty of ways to incorporate sustainable and energy efficient design elements into your project. There are lots of great inspiration photos, too.
Home Building: DIY Resource Guide