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House Planning

Module 4—Home Needs Analysis

In this house planning tutorial module, you'll consider all the needs and wants that you would like your home to meet. Before you can begin to design your home, it's best to create needs lists for each household member and for all the possible functional spaces of the home.

This module assumes you have already completed the previous three tutorial modules, have created a site map, have researched your local zoning laws and have completed your bubble diagrams for outdoor spaces.

These modules are best read in order. If you are just starting out with your house design, go to the House Design tutorial introduction or our tutorial site map to view the course contents.

Performing a House Needs Analysis

In this step of planning a house you'll create worksheets that will act as a blueprint for later when you are designing the floor plans for each room of your home.

Household Member Needs

On a piece of paper, list who this home is for, include:

  • Family members,
  • Friends,
  • Frequent guests.

For each member in the above list, make a list of their requirements. For instance, the list for Katie may say:

  • Quiet place for reading,
  • Bedroom facing morning sun,
  • Play room near kitchen.

For a frequent elderly guest it may have:

  • Sleeping room on main floor,
  • Easily accessible washroom with grab bars in bath,
  • Warm, cozy bright area for reading.

Do not use room names at this point of your house planning since it may very well turn out that a room could serve double- or even triple-duty. For instance, the sleeping room for the elderly guest may also be used at other times as a den or a crafts room. It does not matter what the room labels are on the final house plans—it does matter that their requirements and locations are properly planned.

For each household member on your list from above, project forward and consider how long you are hoping to live in this home. How may the above descriptions and their needs change over this time period? Make guesses at future needs for each person on your list.

Functional Spaces

Next, on another page, turn the page sideways and create a table with room for seven headings across the top. Label these headings:

  • Use
  • Who
  • Approximate Space
  • Light
  • Sound
  • Proximity
  • Features

In the first column of this table, list all the different uses your home will need to fulfill. Again do not think in terms of rooms but simply uses. Room definitions will come later. Some uses you may list could be: sleeping, cooking, eating, bathing, games, reading, music practice, entertaining, TV/video watching, computer use, work, homework, woodworking, sewing and exercise.

Then, fill in all the other columns of this house planning table.

  • For "Who", list all the people who will use this space.
  • Under the "Approximate Space" column, list the rough dimensions you think you may need for that use.
  • For "Light", list the amount or quality of light required. For many of the visual arts you'll most likely want a more diffused northerly light than a glaring sunny southern light. For entertaining, you may want dimmable lights.
  • Under the "Sound" column, list any specific sound requirements. For instance, you may want the play area to be within earshot of certain other spaces, you may or may not want the music practice area to be within earshot of certain other areas, likewise with TV/video viewing spaces.
  • In the "Proximity" column, list which other spaces should be nearby. For instance, you'll probably want the family washroom to be near the bedrooms. Maybe you would like the playroom near the food preparation space or perhaps your work area depending on your family situation.
  • Under "Features", make any special notes for each use. For instance, list storage requirements, view, whether the space should be cozy, confined, open, high or low ceilinged, etc.

Once again, look back to your home members list and consider the forward projections. List any extra uses required for the future in a different color and also list any future changes to existing uses. For instance, you may want your young child's sleeping space near your own and the sleeping space for the teenager he or she will become at the opposite end of the house. This may or may not be something that is easy to accommodate but list it anyway. In the initial stages of planning a house, you could design for a bedroom eventually turning into an office and the old office becoming a bedroom.

Next Module—Designing Indoor Spaces with Bubble Diagrams

In the next module you will use your house planning worksheets from this module to lay out where each room will be situated in the house and how the circulation through the house will flow. Continue on to the next module: Draw House Plans Using Bubble Diagrams.

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