Characteristics of a Perfect House Design: A House-Buyer’s Guide

House design has gone through a lot of phases of evolution and change throughout history. In nearly every time period, the way houses have been designed has been a reflection of the economic ability of the population at the time, the needs of people of that era, the available technology, and the general trend of housing. For instance, in the mid-twentieth century when there was a huge influx of immigrants into the US, house design completely changed as people brought over ideas from their home countries and started building houses that better addressed their needs and their lifestyle.

In the 1950s during the economic recession, house designs became more basic as the focus then was on constructing houses at the lowest possible cost. Similarly, there are certain things that haven’t really changed throughout history, for instance, houses in warm areas like Miami are all about being big and spacious and comfortable. Houses in the north are all about being warm, small, and cozy.

There are always exceptions to the rule and there are always those homeowners that are happy with going above and beyond to create their dream house, regardless of the cost. There are those that want to do something completely unique and will meticulously plan out every detail for months, even years, before they ever lay a brick.

The environment that the house is built in also has a huge impact on the way it is designed and what is meant to do. In reality, home design is influenced by a lot of different factors and it will never really be the same for any two people. However, there are a few basic things that you should keep in mind that will help you design a home that is comfortable, economical, that has all the necessary features, and which might even give you a good return if you plan to sell it down the road. These are some of the most important characteristics of a great house design.

Southern Exposure

Not everyone can afford to get a house in the perfect location, but you can do a few things to improve the location you do have. One of the best things you can do for your home is to design it in such a way that you are making the most of southern exposure and benefiting from the natural energy of the sun. This is even more important for those homeowners who want to install solar panels and create their own electricity. Even for people that don’t create their own electricity, positioning your house to correctly use southern exposure can help you reduce your energy consumption tremendously. In the summertime, it will help keep your house cooler, and in the winter it will keep the house warmer.

Homes in the northern hemisphere have sunlight on their south side. If you have a room with a window facing the north, expect no direct sunlight to come through that window during both summer and winter. If you have the majority of your windows on the south side of the home, then you can enjoy waking up to watch the sunrise and also enjoy plenty of sunlight throughout the day.

Due to the Earth’s position in our solar system and the way that it tilts back and forth between summer and winter, having your home face the south helps you get the most from the sun’s energy. Naturally, this is critical for those that want to install solar panels and want to generate the maximum amount of electricity possible. If you live in a particularly hot area then your best bet is to have the home facing north so you can minimize the amount of direct sunlight that you get throughout the year. This one trick alone can save you tens of thousands of dollars in energy consumption costs that you would incur over the course of several years that you spend in that home.


The overall size of the house is a big factor in its price. Not just the covered area of the property but the actual square footage of the structure. In this department, it is important to consider exactly how much space you need, what you need the space for, and how you can most optimally design your home to address those needs. The most cost-effective option is a single-story home, and as you add levels to the structure, the cost starts to increase quite exponentially.

The number of levels appropriate for the home also varies from place to place. For instance, in warmer climates such as Alabama, a lot of people prefer to have double-storied homes as it helps to keep the lower portion of the building cooler. If you have a look at the new listings in Birmingham AL as an example you will notice that they are all double-storied buildings. This style of the home also gives you a lot more design options and it can be the ideal solution if you want to build a multi-family home and rent out one part of it. With a single-story home, you can’t make multiple portions unless the single-story itself covers a reasonably large area. Also, keep in mind that home construction regulations vary a lot. It might be possible that you are not allowed to build multi-story homes in your area. In some areas, people can build multi-story homes, but they can’t have a basement. Be sure to look into these regulations before you start finalizing your home design.


A lot of people want their home to be open, airy, and spacious, but they don’t have a lot of money to spend on the size plot required for this type of home, or they don’t want to have a home with too many rooms. A good workaround to this, after increasing the ceiling height, is the actual design of the home. The size of the rooms, the layout of the house, the materials used in construction, and even the color scheme can all contribute to how spacious the home feels.

Modern homes that focus on minimalist designs are all about creating large open spaces, no matter how small the house is. You can easily do this with some smart design. Making use of hidden cabinets to create storage space, focusing on straight lines and angular designs, and using lighting that illuminates large areas rather than small lights that focus on specific spots, are all ways to make the area feel more spacious.


When it comes to designing the interior of the home, one of the most important considerations is the height of the ceiling. In older homes, you will notice that the ceiling is about 8 feet high and in more recently constructed homes the ceiling is between 10 and 12 feet high. If you want the best of both worlds then set your ceiling at 9 feet high.

Lower ceilings help to create that cozy atmosphere and also reduce the overall size of the house, making it a lot more affordable to build. Taller ceilings make the home feel more spacious, but it not only increases construction costs; it also increases operational costs since you are dealing with a bigger house. Just a couple of feet in ceiling height can add quite a bit of surface area to the home overall, meaning you have that much more space to heat, cool, paint, repair, and so on. The important thing is that, even if you are in an already constructed house, you can still modify the height of the ceiling. If you have a low ceiling then pushing it up by one or two feet will not only improve the look and feel of the space but you will easily earn your money back later because it will significantly increase the resale value of your home.


Heating and cooling are a big expense for homeowners unless you are fortunate enough to be living in an area where the climate is comfortable throughout the year. If you want to minimize energy costs in your home, then the way you design it and the kind of materials that you use are both important considerations. To improve this even further you can look into different insulation options for your home. This is something you should consider before building the home as some kinds of insulation, such as floor insulation and wall insulation are close to impossible to do once the house is built, or if the house is not designed to have these areas insulated. It can be done, but it will cost a lot more than if the house was designed for this feature.

A lot of people focus on insulating the roof but in reality, your walls and the flooring contribute just as much to the overall surface area as the roof. Moreover, while the roof does draw heat in the summer and let out heat in the winter, the walls and floor also retain and lose heat. If you are starting off with a fresh project, you could even get your central heating and cooling system installed under the flooring. This will make it less intrusive, but more importantly, it will increase efficiency a lot. When choosing insulation, you want something that will be a good mix in keeping the naturally occurring heat and cold out of the home, and keeping the heat and cold that you generate artificially within the home.

Room Size

If you want the home to be practical and to be cost-effective, then consider keeping the room size under 100 square feet each. If money is no object or you want to create the dream home you have always wanted, then you can go for as big a room as you like. Having moderate-sized rooms will give you more square footage for other parts of the home. Maybe you want to have an indoor garage, a play area, a study room, or an entertainment area. With smaller rooms, you can make space for these things in other parts of the home.

When considering the size of the rooms, also keep in mind the building regulations in your area. In most places, the structure of the house itself can only cover a certain percentage of the overall plot size. When designing rooms, you are working with the covered area square footage and not the square footage of the plot size. In some cases, this might only be a small change in the overall size that you have to work with but in other cases, it could be a considerable difference. So keep this in mind and plan accordingly.

Outdoor Area

Older homes generally don’t have a lot of outdoor amenities. Even though they might have a lot of open space around the home, most of it is either just a garden or it is consumed by the driveway and garage. There is a growing trend for having livable outdoor spaces like patios, outdoor kitchens, play areas, and other amenities. When designing your home it would help to keep this consideration in mind so you can make adjustments accordingly.

Even though it is quite possible to add a patio or an outdoor kitchen later on, it will save you a lot of money if you already have the appropriate settings for these additions. If you are short on cash right now, you will be easily able to upgrade your home later when it is already designed to have those amenities added. Otherwise, you might have to make big changes and even go through a lot of paperwork to get these changes approved by the local housing authority or council.

When designing your home you should also consider the materials being used. A small change in materials could completely change the way the home looks and feels, but it could also save you a lot of money in the long run. Homeowners don’t realize how important it is to have good sidings, for example, and even though they get the house constructed quickly and economically, the poor siding materials cost them a lot of money later on. If they had started off with something more durable, it could have easily lasted them several decades and also required no maintenance during that time. These little changes might require you to go a little over your budget at the start, but in the long run, it will be a life-changing investment.


Tags: home, house, Perfect House Design, residental

Author: Maja Markovski


A 35-year-old female architect with a passion for innovative, sustainable design. I blend creativity and functionality to transform spaces into beautiful, practical environments.


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