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Building Your Dream Home: 6 Tips for Designing Your Custom Home

Building Your Dream HomeSir Richard Branson is famous as the boss of Virgin Group and as the owner of a very special custom home on Necker Island in the Caribbean. The design is important to him.

From the iconic Tubular Bells album sleeve to his dreams to build the "sexiest spaceship" ever, he values great design.

Thinking about building your dream home? Designing your perfect house is the first step, so check out these tips for a great design.

1. Sketch Away

You don't need clever software and design technology. A pad and pencil are a good place to start. Sketch ideas you have about your dream home.

You don't have to be good at drawing. Sketches for the basis for discussions with friends and family and also with architects and builders. They are a starting point for other ideas.

Sketch plan views and elevation sketches from different angles. Visualize the implications of interior designs on the exterior of the building. Try out different options while the implications of getting it wrong are the cost of a new notebook.

2. Plan Ahead

Make some assumptions about how long you expect to live in this house. As you do this, consider what life changes might happen to you. Plan to take account of these in your design.

If this is a retirement home you may be in great health now. Try to anticipate the implications of mobility problems in later life. I know you've always wanted to incorporate a fireman's pole into a house design but should you make it wheelchair accessible too?

If you plan to have children or grandchildren, is the design child-friendly? Is the pool safe? Do you have enough rooms for the little guests you may have in the future?

3. Story Board It

Getting your ideas across to others is sometimes difficult. Making sure they are coherent is also a challenge. Using a storyboard can help with this.

Cut out inspirational pictures from design or lifestyle magazines. Print out ideas from websites and blogs. Take photographs whenever you see a design feature, building or room that excites you.

Assemble these images and ideas in a scrapbook. Make notes and add sketches next to the images. Use it to stimulate discussions and creative thinking.

4. Check the Lay of the Land

If your vision is of your dream house you may have clear ideas about the interior and even the exterior. It's really important to consider the context that the house will sit in. For this, you need to know where it will be.

Imagine or sketch the house in the landscape. Workout how it will be orientated. Understand the lay of the land.

Slopes can make a huge difference to a house. Will you need to excavate? Will some of the house be underground?

5. Light and Heat

Where will the sun come up and go down? Where will shadows fall? Where is the best place for a garden or barbeque area?

Will there be hot or cold areas? Is the site surrounded by trees and will this have an impact? Consider if trees may grow to affect the view and light.

6. Get Your Priorities Right

Make a wish list and prioritize it. If it's essential that you have five bedrooms rank it in a priority list higher than the non-essential but desirable humidor. Prioritizing will be important when you start turning your dreams into a budget.

One imagines, even Sir Richard Branson has a budget. His may be bigger than yours but he has priorities just like you do.

Plan for Success When Building Your Dream Home

Better to decide your plans before the first spade full of earth is dug. Changes are usually much more expensive after you've started work on building your dream home. Take your time and get it right on paper first.

To talk to someone about your custom home dreams, click here.

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