Leena Robinson

With affordability among the top concerns for builders and buyers, designing a floor plan around attainability means reducing waste and building more economically at every step. But this doesn’t end at cutting costs, as Michael James “Jamie” Walker, founder of Walker Home Design in Millcreek, Utah, aimed to demonstrate at the 2019 International Builders Show in Las Vegas.

In “World Class House Plans: Designing Attainable Homes That Reduce Waste & Save You Thousands,” Walker emphasizes the importance of a home as an investment. Homes that are well-made and economically designed, with consideration to rules of architecture and the logic of structural systems, will save money for the builder and cost less for the buyer.

Here are a few of Walker’s tips for creating house plans that not only provide function and beauty for the homeowner, but create value for the future seller:

Choose The Right Land

One of the costly mistakes builders can make, according Walker, is choosing a floor plan without considering the land on which it will be built. If, for instance, a plan designed for an on-grade lot is chosen for a lot on the side of a hill, builders may have to spend a lot of money – and sacrifice aesthetics - on complex systems of retaining walls or dozens of steps to the front door from the street level.

Follow The Rules of Nature

Walker recommends the use of the “Golden Segment”, also known as the golden ratio, in home and floor plan design. For example, a series of two rooms are in the golden ratio if the ratio of their sizes is the same as the ratio of their total size to the larger of the two sizes.

Consider All Trades

Planning ahead on the placements of plumbing fixtures and other structural components can prevent costly mistakes or awkward appearances. For instance, to avoid situations where plumbing contractors cut through joists in order to fit pipe, be sure to lay out floor joist systems with consideration for plumbing placement, and inform plumbing contractors of the plan ahead of time.

Create Smarter HVAC Designs

Just like plumbing and finishing, the home’s interior structure should consider the placement of its ductwork – lest homeowners end up with inefficient systems or massive “duct trees” in their basements. While some floor plans attempt to hide the basement’s ductwork inside a ceiling drop, this can create an unbalanced look in a finished basement, and create space that is difficult to use. Walker recommends creating false soffits to balance these drops, or hiding ductwork in floor trusses.

Build Smarter Roof Packages

For builders looking to achieve a varied roofline, over-engineering may mean over-paying for pitches that aren’t necessary. Walker recommends mixing either a 6/12 or 7/12 pitch with 10/12 or 12/12 pitches, instead of paying for an entire roof done in 10/12 pitch.

Maximize Space

To end his list, Walker shared how builders could add new, usable spaces to a floor plan without adding a single inch to its footprint. Builders can add new spaces above or below the standard one or two stories with extra trusses at the attic level or suspended slab rooms under the garage. Minimizing hallways adds usable space to existing rooms and creates the open floor plans buyers prefer. And cantilevers, applied correctly, add additional space at the second level and create a visual statement from the outside.