How To Build a Better Home: 17 Online Tools to Help You Build Your Dream House
Building your own home is a daunting task. But with the help of online tools, it can be much easier and even fun!
There are so many different aspects to consider when building a house: what kind of foundation do we want? How big should our rooms be? What colors will make us happy? And these are just the beginning!
Luckily, there are plenty of great tools available that let you experiment with all kinds of options for designing your perfect home. Before you know it, you’ll have a blueprint in hand and an excited builder at the door!
In this article, we’ll walk through our process of designing a new home using online tools to bring your dream house to life.
The best place we’ve found to start is Houzz (https://www.houzz.com/). The website contains thousands of concept images from all over the world, ranging from modern to rustic and everything in between. You can search for specific rooms, like kitchens or bedrooms, or go through featured image galleries – Houzz also has a wide variety of pages with home design tips and tricks!
Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/). This hugely popular image-sharing social media site contains hundreds of rooms that real people have designed, and also has a great set of search tools. You can focus on the specific style you want, like modern or rustic or even Scandinavian!
What about if you’ve already got an idea in mind? There are plenty of wonderful resources online to help sketch out your ideas for a new home design.
SketchUp (http://www.sketchup.com/) is one of our favorites. This 3D modeling tool allows you to create quick mockups for ideas and experiment with different layouts before you invest in working with an architect to create a detailed project.
Our only advice is to start small; you can always make your floor plans bigger or smaller if the scale doesn’t work out!
House Beautiful (http://www.housebeautiful.com/) is another site that’s full of inspiration for designers new and old! It features a wide variety of styles from contemporary to mid-century, and gives you plenty of options for changing the colors and furnishings to create exactly the look you want. They even have printable checklists if you’re in need of inspiration for every room or step along your building journey, from “Dreaming” to “Making it Happen.”
There are many places online where other people who share your dream home can meet up to discuss their plans. Houzz has a popular forum section that allows members with varying levels of experience to contribute ideas, ask questions, or simply discuss the positives and negatives of their own projects. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, try posting in the forum! You’ll likely get a lot of great ideas from other users with similar interests.
HouseLogic (http://www.houselogic.com/) is a fantastic forum as well, where homeowners with all kinds of ideas and projects can meet up to discuss their builds or give advice on what design decisions to make.
And while the website’s main focus is interior home design, there is a large section at the bottom for those in the process of planning or building an exterior structure – perfect for getting advice from users who are working through similar challenges!
At Home With Our House
At Home With Our House (http://athomewithourhouse.tumblr.com/ ) has a great blog that focuses on architecture and different ways to integrate nature into your home. Its author loves using small buildings like greenhouses and tree houses, and there’s plenty of advice on how to design and build your own!
If you’re looking for a “big picture” view of what’s going on in your local architecture and homebuilding scene, check out Architizer (http://www.architizer.com/), which is actually one of our favorite websites for building design ideas!
Here, you’ll find pictures of real house projects that are currently in the works from all over the world – everything from large commercial buildings to luxury bedrooms. Not only can you use this as inspiration for your own designs, but it’s a great way to see how architects approach certain projects or even just to get an idea of what different areas look like.
The Home Design Photo Gallery
The Home Design Photo Gallery (http://homedesigncorner.blogspot.com/) has a collection of beautiful pictures from homebuilders and architecture students covering a variety of styles – anywhere from modern to craftsman, with lots in between. If you’re looking for pictures of homes or buildings that are similar to your own project, then this is a great place to start!
You’ll find loads of pictures with information on where they were taken and who the architects were. And if you like any of them, be sure to click through to see more from their websites!
Architecture for Humanity
Architecture for Humanity is also worth a visit for fantastic pictures, as well as resources on how to get involved in future projects around the world. Some of the most inspiring home designs come from architecture students; these people are full of ideas about what modernism might look like, which can provide plenty of inspiration for your ultimate design goals. Just make sure you check before embarking on a new build that none of the plans you find are illegal in your area.
The International Building Code
The International Building Code is also a good place to start if you’re planning on building an addition or altering your home’s structure. You’ll find everything from the foundations and framing decisions to electrical, plumbing, and HVAC layouts. This site is a great resource for those who like to know exactly what will be involved with their project before they get started – but it can be pretty daunting! Maybe save this one for after you’ve already found an architect or builder that you trust…
NOVA Home + Garden
NOVA Home + Garden has some beautiful (and inspirational!) pictures of interior design as well as exterior gardens and pools. If you’re looking specifically for landscaping ideas, this is your place! While not everyone will have a budget that includes thousands of dollars for landscaping (nor the space required to accommodate large green spaces), you can still find plenty of inspiration here.
Architectural Designers & Builders
Architectural Designers & Builders is a great site for finding local architects and builders in various regions across the United States, as well as Canada. It’s usually free to contact these people directly through their websites – so if you’re looking to retain services from an architect or builder but don’t want to invest thousands into professional fees yet, this website will allow you to get some quotes first before making any commitments.
And if all else fails, there are loads of forums and communities dedicated to homebuilding on the web , whether you’re interested in general feedback or specific advice on your own project.
Home Design Library
The Home Design Library (http://www.housedesignlibrary.com/) features a wide variety of books that are completely free to read online. Browse by style or location to find plans for specific areas of your house, or search by keyword using their quick input bar – it’s easy! And if you like what you see, print out the pages in PDF form so you can save them for later.
A yearly subscription from Popular Mechanics magazine is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in building and design! Each monthly issue is packed with great content – from DIY projects to new inventions – and you’ll never run out of things to read.
Popular Mechanics is also the home for an incredible collection of DVD’s on architecture, remodeling, and construction: pick anything from a small garage or shed construction project all the way up to building your own luxury mansion!
Online Professional Organizations
If you don’t already have one in your area, joining a local Homebuilders Association is a fantastic way to meet other people who are involved in the industry that share similar interests as yourself; many associations even offer workshops and seminars where you can get some advice on building techniques. For example, almost every state has chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) – search the AIA website to find your local chapter. If you’re looking for actual contractors, it never hurts to ask!
The Earth Sheltered House Blog
Feeling more adventurous? The Earth Sheltered House Blog is a fascinating blog that showcases various earth sheltered designs from around the world – whether small or large, simple or complex, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here! The author has even written a book on the subject: Earth Sheltered Houses , which is available in print and Kindle formats.
This site offers not just free tips and tutorials for building your own earth sheltered home (or “underground house”), but also includes a helpful forum where you can talk to other people interested in building their own underground home.
As you can see, the internet is full of resources for …