Thinking Through the Design

Whether you want to add new space, improve existing space, or simply put unused space to use, it's helpful to define the task and to put what you want on paper.

Home Redesign

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With a thorough understanding of your existing house, you are now equipped to think about changing it. It’s time to define the task and to put some notion of what you want to do on paper.

You need to decide whether the task consists of adding new space, improving existing space, or simply putting unused space to use. You may be adding something entirely new onto an existing home; perhaps you’re finishing the unfinished, converting a basement or attic into a livable, finished space; or you may be transforming what you already have in your home or apartment.

Doubling the size of your house with a new addition is not the same as, say, putting a second bath in that small back bedroom, but the steps in the process are essentially the same. The bigger the project, the more time, money, and headaches are involved, but it is generally a matter of more of the same elements.

Regardless of the scope of your project, the first step is to decide what you want and need. Thus, you need to explore those desires. The next step toward actual construction, will be to create—or have created—plans that conform to the require­ments of local building ordinances. That will be the subject of the next chapter. But in moving toward those plans, you need to make numerous subjective decisions about style and materials and answer a multitude of questions for yourself or your architect/designer.

So consider the questions that follow. They will help you develop a feeling for a design you can live with.