“Master Plan” Your Project When You Can’t Do Everything Right Now

Sometimes it’s not possible to do everything on your renovation wish list right away. Money’s usually the immediate issue, but if you don’t plan the whole project out now, you might waste it anyway, down the road.

You don’t want to have to significantly renovate “phase one” in order to build “phase two” a few years later.  Avoid that by “master planning” the whole project now.

To most people, “master planning” is more about cities and towns than individual homes. But master planning the design of a new home or remodeling project is a great way to extend the useful life of your home, save money, and get peace of mind.

Master planning your home means looking ahead to things you’re likely to want to do in the future – add space for a growing family, create access to future outdoor living space, make room for an in-law.

If you know those things going in, you can design for them now and save the frustration of trying to make them fit later. A common example is the future screened porch – it always seems that it’s going to block the view from a living space, unless you master plan the screened porch now as an integral part of the home design.

Later, when the budget permits, you’ll know right where the screened porch goes, and won’t have to work the design around existing views and window locations.

Master planning a home project often means going “out” like that screened porch; but it can mean going “up”, too.

A few years ago, I designed a one-story family room addition with a master bedroom suite planned for a future second floor. We knew the master suite didn’t fit the budget at the time, but we wanted to make it as easy to build as possible in the future.

We took a couple of steps to ensure that would happen including designing the first-floor walls to support the future second floor without any changes. And the ceiling joists – normally designed only to support attic space – were designed to support the additional loads from the master bedroom.

Since the new master suite would be the same size as the family room, the roof would be the same size too. So instead of permanently attaching the roof to the family room structure, we bolted the roof on as one piece – which means that in the future, the roof can be unbolted, lifted intact, and placed on top of the new master suite…instead of demolishing the first floor roof and building a whole new one on the second floor.

Big savings in time, money, and hassle with that one.

Finally, all of the plumbing, heating, and electric was brought up to the second floor and capped – when the new second floor is added, the first floor ceiling won’t have to be torn up to tie into the utilities.

Master planning can be done on a smaller scale, too. A very common situation is a future room addition on an outside wall. The existing wall is going to need a doorway in it eventually, so we design and build that in now – and route the electric, plumbing, and heating around it. The opening is then closed in with framing and drywall.

When the new room is built, it’s easy to open up the wall where we’ve already built the opening, and a big relief to know that we won’t have any wiring, piping, or ductwork in the way.

A good master plan will help keep your house in step with changes in your life, help you avoid wasting money on future projects, and simplify the building process in the future.

It puts you in charge of your project and your future.


Need expert Residential Architectural advice for your new home or remodeling project? Contact Richard Taylor, AIA at Richard Taylor Architects.

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