Visualizing Your New Home

In a previous post, I mentioned that 1120 is modeled after another house that I fell in love with.  My wife saw the same unfinished house but wasn’t so quickly won over. We used a combination of technology and kids’ toys to help visualize the final product.

Our first tour was of a house that was almost complete but still had a week or more of finish work remaining. My wife had a hard time visualizing the final details, so I set to work making models of the completed structure.

1120 SE side

Street view

I happen to enjoy using SketchUp. If I had to seek another career, I could enjoy 3D modeling. The renderings you see here are from models I created in order to get a better idea of the plans. The first time I saw the blueprints, I snapped a photo with my phone and began modeling them that very night. Once the architect sent me actual PDFs of the plans, I re-created the model in proper scale.

1120 NW x-ray

X-Ray view from behind

All this 3D nerdery had a point. Using these models, I was able to provide a first-person walk-through of the house. Once we had made the decision to build, I went back to the models to determine exactly where to place an 8 foot wide by 3 foot high window in the front room so it fully illuminates the high ceiling space between 8am and 9am each morning year-round.

We used the models to lay out furniture plans and make sure we had all of the spaces we’d need. I mapped out the landscaping since we plan on bringing in several big beautiful trees throughout the yard. SketchUp also allowed us to fully visualize some pretty big changes such as rearranging the rooms and moving walls.

Homestyler layout

Homestyler layout

If you aren’t inclined to spend several hours using SketchUp, consider some of the many free online home modeling sites such as Ikea’s design tools and AutoDesk Homestyler. Both will produce high-quality results even for CAD neophytes. The Ikea tools are nice if you will be buying their products, but they have a different tool for every type of room in your house. Homestyler is a better choice for whole-house layout and design.

See if your architect can provide a copy of your plans in CAD form. AutoDesk has a free online DWG viewer, but SketchUp is much simpler for a novice 3D modeler. Many architects are still stuck using paper and pencil, but a growing number have discovered the wonders of computer aided design. At the bare minimum, get your 2D blueprints so you can trace them in a floor planning tool.

A paper fireplace

A paper fireplace

While I draw lots of utility from simulations and 3D drawings, my wife really appreciates being able to see things in person. When fancy technology is not the right tool for the job, we resort to toys.

Planning with sidewalk chalk

Planning with sidewalk chalk

When we were discussing kitchen appliances and layout, I used sidewalk chalk on the plywood floors. The drawings helped us determine that we didn’t have room for a pair of all fridge/freezer appliances. When we chose a wide-aspect fireplace and needed to decide how high it would be off the floor, I cut a strip of my daughter’s drawing paper (complete with a Crayola marker fire) and taped it to the wall.

Don’t be hesitant to use any tool at your disposal to help you visualize your future home. Draw some 3D models. Lay out some 2D floorplans. Get yourself some chalk and paper rolls. Build a popsicle stick model. If you’ve visualized your new home sufficiently, you’ll feel like you’ve been living there for months even before the framing is complete. The benefits are well worth the effort.

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6 thoughts on “Visualizing Your New Home

  1. Your house is looking great. Taking the time to really walk through your house before you build whether by using software or toothpicks makes all the difference later when you’re really walking through it.

  2. That’s freaking awesome. How much do you expect it to all be in the end? I’m curious, as I’m writing an article about how much it would cost to build a custom home (just like you!) Obviously, there are a lot of things it depends on, but I’m just trying to get an idea for a standard. Thanks – and looking forward to keeping up with the blog.

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