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Site Analysis

Module 1—House Design Tutorial

In this first module of our home design tutorial, you will do a site analysis of your property and then create a house plot plan.

These modules are best read in order. If you are just starting to design a home, start at the tutorial introduction.

Site Plan

When I started to design my home, it was paramount that the house fit the land and the neighborhood. I would not have wanted to design the house in isolation of the land nor would we have started with designing a home before having purchased our land. We will assume you have already bought your land.

site plan for house

Getting to Know Your Land

The first step in creating house plot plans (which will act as a guide during your home design process) is to get to know your land really well. Visit the property frequently, walk, sit, play and picnic there if possible. If it’s out in the country, camp on it. Get to know any neighbors and ask them about the area. (We learned from one neighbor that every evening in the summer a cool breeze comes down from the mountain above us. We made sure to have all the windows on that side of the house open in a way to catch that cooling breeze.)

Bring along a notebook and while on your land, make notes to answer the following questions.

  • Where do the local sounds come from?
  • Are they pleasant or unpleasant?
  • Do they vary throughout the day or from weekday to weekend?

  • What directions do the winds come from?
  • Do they shift throughout the day?
  • Do they differ from one part of the land to another?

  • Where does the sun rise?
  • Where does it set?
  • Where are the shady areas?
  • Where are the sunniest spots?

  • Where are the best views?
  • Are there directions in which you would prefer to not have a view?

Drawing the House Plot Plan

Make a rough map of the land. On it show,

  • Property lines.
  • Roads.
  • Existing buildings.
  • All existing trees, plants or shrubs.
  • Areas where you have noticed wind direction.
  • Where the sounds come from.
  • Views—good and not so good.
  • Any high or low spots.
  • Any water features—creeks, ponds, wet areas
  • Any existing services—water, gas, sewage. If the services are not yet in, find out from your local municipal office and utility companies where water, sewage, hydro and/or gas services will come to the property line. If you will need to put in a well or septic tank and field, find out what options you have for their locations.

At this point in your design process it is not necessary for your drawings to be to scale. Later, once you have situated the house and are drawing up full blueprints for your home, you will need to create a scaled house site plan.

Click here for another example of house plot plans.

Next Tutorial Module

When your house site plan is complete, continue on to the next module:

Research your Local Zoning Laws

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