French Country home designs are to many the dream house plan.The mere name conjures up images of the lush, rolling French countryside in northern and southern France that is sprinkled with estate-like chateaus and idyllic farmhouses. Also known as French Provincial, the French Country style has become quite popular in upscale suburban neighborhoods. The majestic lines and impressive facades make a great first impression from the street and evoke a sense of elegance and refinement.
Homeowners who haven’t built before often have an unrealistic concept of how long it can take to plan, budget and build a home. Let’s take a look at some of the variables that can affect the timetable.
DESIGN. A stock plan will take less time than a fully custom home, even if the homeowners make some changes to that stock plan. A custom home can take months to design and a year or more to build.
Some people see size as the best indicator of how long the project will take. Not so — cost is a far more accurate gauge. Imagine a pair of 2,500-square-foot homes, one for $200,000 and the other for $1 million. It’s a good bet that the latter will have a more complex design that will take longer to build.
PERMITTING. The legal approvals required before construction begins have multiplied over the years. Sign-off will certainly be needed from the zoning board, the building department, the health department, the fire department and, when building in a planned community, the homeowners’ association. In some areas, design committees, historical commissions, water authorities or other entities want their say as well. Not surprisingly, the wheels of these bureaucracies can move slowly, but an experienced builder should be able to estimate the time required to negotiate the red tape.
SITE WORK. Is the lot in a flat subdivision with roads and utilities already in place, or is it a sloped rural parcel where the contractor will need to cut a road to the site, then excavate and fill to accommodate the foundation? The second option obviously takes more time (and requires more permits and approvals).
STAYING ON TRACK. Fortunately, there are things homeowners can do to keep the job moving. These include taking deadlines seriously, providing details on how they will live in the home, and minimizing changes.
AGREE ON A TIMETABLE. Most good home builders work hard to get things done promptly, but without firm dates things can slip. Homeowners should always be sure there’s a date for their next meeting and deadlines for their next steps. “The plans will be done in a couple of weeks” is vague. Compare that to “The plans will be ready on March 15,” which provides a clear understanding for all parties. On the other hand, homeowners who postpone scheduled meetings with the builder will also throw off the timetable.
THINK THE HOME THROUGH. The more detailed the plan, the less chance of hang-ups. For example, vague electrical plans can stop a project in its tracks. The homeowners need to think through where they want furniture and cabinets so that the builder can specify the right number of outlets. If artwork is to be displayed on a wall or above a fireplace, the builder needs to know it in order to specify the correct lighting. If the homeowners don’t drill down to this level of detail until the job is well under way, things can be held up while new wiring is installed or walls and ceilings re-framed to accommodate it.
MINIMIZE CHANGES. Change orders are a huge time killer because they require lots of time to plan and coordinate. Changes made late in the design stage can extend design time and those made after the project has started can extend the build time.
If moving in by a certain date is your priority, you need to be absolutely clear with the builder about it and then you and builder can plan effectively on how to meet that date.
This Old World style cottage plan features a Craftsman-influenced exterior, including stone, shake, and siding, with decorative arches and multiple gables. 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and plenty of storage are included in its 2,324 sq. ft. of living space. Cathedral and tray ceilings in the living spaces give this home an open feel, while columns separate the great room and dining rooms visually. French doors and large windows bring in rear views.
A coat closet and pantry off the garage help keep messes hidden and make it easy to put away groceries, and the laundry room includes counters for extra workspace. A personnel door in the utility room is convenient for easy clean-up after yard work.
The large master bedroom is topped with a tray ceiling and has his-and-hers walk-in closets. The master bath is perfect for relaxation with its walk-in shower and soaking tub. With access to the rear screened porch, the master suite is a true retreat. A bedroom/study lies just off the great room, while additional bedrooms are across the home for privacy. Each has spacious closets and a full bath nearby.
Special details like the barrel-vaulted front porch and kitchen with bar seating create a welcoming home that is perfect for entertaining.
Single dining area offers a convenient space for family meals or entertaining.
Screen porch allows for relaxing outdoor enjoyment.
Utility room, pantry and extra storage throughout the home.
If you are looking for a distinctive Craftsman hillside walkout home plan, Don Gardner recommends The Whitford. A mix of stone, stucco, and cedar shake provide an Arts-and-Crafts exterior that is low-maintenance, with brackets and an arched window to add curb appeal. This 4 bedroom, 3 bath home features 2,569 sq. ft. of living space. The great room with fireplace is perfect for gathering with family and friends and the kitchen and dining room combine to provide a fun spot for preparing and enjoying homemade meals. Cooks will love the large U-shaped kitchen convenient to the huge walk-in pantry and utility room.
The first floor secondary bedroom features a cathedral ceiling and would work well as a study or home office. There are two additional bedrooms on the lower level, separated by a rec room. These lower level rooms offer a private atmosphere for kids or house guests, or can be used as an in-law suite. An inviting master suite beckons after a long day, with its lavish bath and dual walk-in closets.
This hillside walkout home is perfect for sloping lots, often found around lakefronts, mountains, and golf course communities. Designed for rear views, the Whitford also offers outdoor living enjoyment. Relax on your screen porch or eat a meal there as the kitchen and pantry area are located nearby. There’s always room for one more in The Whitford as it offers a convenient layout with extra storage throughout. An additional unfinished basement area allows for future expansion.
View more hillside walkout house plans like this on the Don Gardner website.
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