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Design Your Own Home
Online Tutorial Introduction

Welcome to the free Design Your Own Home online tutorial. This simple to follow course will walk you through a complete process starting with analyzing your property, then planning your indoor and outdoor spaces based on your household needs (and wants), learning basic residential structural principles (what holds up a house) and finishing with creating a full set of floor plans and construction drawings.

Our Home Design Process

When our family decided to design our own home plans, I read everything I could find on house design and searched everywhere for some kind of tutorial or training course to walk us through the process of starting with raw land and ending up with house plans that would be both functional and beautiful.

After an exhaustive search, I gave up on finding a method book and we set about learning how to design a new home by trial and error.

We created many floor plans and even a few sets of full structural designs before finalizing our house plans and then building the house.

With a background in engineering, many of the structural principles were easy for me to understand. I also have experience creating educational training courses and this side of me kept wanting to create a tutorial to provide others with a clear method for how to design their homes.

Blueprints Book Image

Understanding and Drafting Blueprints
48 page book, Print or Digital

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Course Outline

From my experiences I have created this free online tutorial. This course will guide you through a detailed step-by-step process. During this tutorial, you will:

  • Analyze your house site considering such factors as lot shape, slope, views and wind and noise directions.

  • Research the local zoning regulations to determine any restrictions there may be on the style and size of home that you may build in your location as well as required setbacks from your property boundaries.

  • Plan the outdoor spaces for your property such as relaxation areas, play spaces for kids, vegetable gardens, etc. Also consider how you will ideally approach the land by car, foot, boat, bicycle or whatever applies. This is a critical step in situating your home entrances and how they interface with your outdoor spaces.

  • Complete a home needs analysis chart for all your family members detailing any important activities such as meal times, hobbies, music practice and entertainment. As you begin to create floor plans you will continually come back to this chart to ensure that you have met all these listed needs.

  • Design your indoor spaces. At this stage you will be using bubble diagrams to show roughly where the rooms will lie in relation to one another. This is a point in the design where you can try out many different options without requiring a big investment of drawing time. The idea is to keep it loose and come up with as many ideas as possible and then compare these bubble diagrams with your needs analysis.

  • Plan the exterior house style. Before leaping from your bubble diagrams to drawing floor plans, it is best to consider how you would like your home to look from the outside. Once you have a rough idea of the style of home exterior, you will be better able to define the fixed walls using your previous rough sketches.

  • Learn the basics of residential structural design. Somehow your house will need to hold up the floors and the roof above it. There are many ways to do this and all of them affect where you can put your interior and exterior walls. So before putting pen to paper for the house plans, take the time to understand what will hold up your house and what your options are. The decisions you make here will also greatly affect how much it will cost to build your home.

  • Create floor plans. In this step you will distill all the previous work you have done to create house plans. It is an iterative process however requiring you to cycle through all the steps above as you make decisions and concessions about any constraints and hopes that you have for your land and your home design.

  • Build a 3D house model. This is an optional step but is incredibly useful for visualizing your home design. At this point, many designers will end up making minor (or perhaps even major) changes once they see what the built home will actually look like.

  • Make your own blueprints. A complete tutorial in itself to show you how to start with a blank piece of paper and create floor plan construction drawings.

This site also contains reference material to help you out while designing various other elements of your home. For information on kitchens, lighting design, heating methods, how to read blueprints and more, check out our navigation menu on the left hand side of this page.

Start Your New Home Now

To start designing your home go to Module 1 of the tutorial: Site Analysis.

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