September 1, 2016
Changing Floor Plans – How Much Is Too Much?
You’ve decided to have your new home built by a reputable, trusted homebuilder. You’ve found a floor plan that, for the most part, meets your needs and satisfies your aesthetic. But…there are a few elements you don’t particularly care for, and some things you were hoping to find are missing. Now the question arises – can you change your floor plan, and if so, by how much? Most homebuilders can, and will, make certain changes to an existing floorplan to please their customers. Minor changes to a plan are referred to as “redlining”. These changes include moving or resizing doors or windows, changing non-load-bearing walls and changing exterior finishes. Many of these changes can be made with relative ease, and don’t usually carry a prohibitive price tag. However, remember that national guidelines and local building codes require hallways, door entrances and staircases to have a constant width, so these types of changes may not be possible. Always check with your homebuilder to see if your proposed changes will comply with current building codes. Moderate changes to floor plans are a little more extreme. These types of changes include reversing the layout, adding a fireplace, enlarging a kitchen or bathroom, adding a room, garage or porch, foundation changes, exterior wall framing changes or changing the roof pitch. Modifications at this level may be offered as existing options for your floor plan, so be sure to ask if they’re available. For instance, fireplaces, porches, sunrooms and extended rooms are common upgrades available from many homebuilders at a nominal fee. You’ll need to think long and hard about whether or not a floor plan is really for you if you’re considering major changes. Major changes can include changing the dimensions of the house by more than 20%, adding multiple new rooms or changing or removing load-bearing walls. Many requests related to significantly “shrinking” the size of a house cannot be made while keeping the integrity of the plan. Sometimes it is just not possible to reduce the size of a house to the extent desired. Even if these changes are available, they are often costly and require an extension of the typical build time. This caution also leads us to an important point - before you commit to any floor plan changes, be sure you know how they will affect both the final cost of your new home and the building schedule. Some changes will have a minimal impact, while others can push your budget of money and time to the limit - or even surpass it. You may even want to approach a builder about a completely customized floor plan if you find that you love their products, but they don’t have a floor plan that covers all of your bases. Some builders will take on this challenge, while others will not – it often depends on their policies and availability. However, as with many things in life, it never hurts to ask! Just keep in mind that most standardized floor plans look the way they do because they’re tried and true designs that have withstood the test of constructing multiple units. While some modifications are expected, and in some cases, encouraged, others may have a negative outcome on the success of your new construction. If your homebuilder advises against a change, there’s always a good reason for it. Trust in their experience, and you’re sure to be thrilled with your new home!