13 Feb 2018

How to design a future-proof self-build

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all predict the future? Especially for self-builders in the planning stages of their new home, how great would it be to anticipate the future and design a home able to evolve and remain effective and comfortable throughout the changing dynamics of your life? Here Oliver Grimshaw, Head of UK Sales at Hanse Haus, discusses the key things to consider when looking to design a future-proof home.

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The reality is it’s incredibly hard to predict how our lives will look in 10 or 20 years’ time but it’s essential to give it some serious thought when creating your own home.

To make your decisions a little easier, here are some key things to consider when looking to design a future-proof home.

The interior

Think carefully about the layout of the ground floor, in particular. Here, make sure there is a room (or rooms) that can be adapted to meet your different needs over time. For example, what might start out as an office could transform into a ground floor bedroom. In this case, think about adding a bathroom. This will ultimately end up being an en-suite further down the line.

It may seem insignificant now, but narrow doorways and hallways can be a major problem when you get older. To help your home grow old with you, incorporate wide doorways and hallways into your floorplans now. That way, it will limit additional costs, disruption or even the sale of your property later on. Open-plan living also offers brilliant barrier-free environments that can have many uses over time and are easily evolved, depending on what your needs are. Kitchen-diners are greatly celebrated as the perfect family-orientated space, but also offer ease of movement in later years.

The exterior

Creating a future-proof home is not just about how you design the inside. It’s also about the clever choice of external materials. In this instance, consider longevity and ease of maintenance. Keep durability in mind when specifying materials, such as cladding, windows and other costly items that will prove expensive should they need to be replaced. Most architects will be able to advise on the best ways to make exterior features low maintenance, so ask for advice.

Be adaptable

While open-plan living has its benefits, having some individual private spaces also can have its place. Semi-open-plan design offers more individuality and gives you the option to change the function of any given space by subdividing and reconnecting rooms as and when you require. For example, a large, communal children’s bedroom can be divided as they grow, meaning a home can be moulded to your changing family landscape.

Think about sustainability

In recent years, we’ve become more and more interested in how to create a home that is cheaper to run. It’s certainly something to consider when designing a future-proof home. Although building to high-efficiency specifications can increase upfront costs, over the long term, the rewards can be considerable, both in savings in energy costs and overall property value if you decide to sell.

Making smart choices on construction methods, materials, structure and positioning, as well as incorporating renewable technologies, such as solar panels, heat pumps and rainwater harvesting systems, can not only lead to a home being more efficient, more comfortable and healthier to live in, but can also be looked at favourably by planners and offer better chances of having a preferred design approved.

Get technical

Have you considered incorporating smart home technology? It could prove to be a great move in creating a home fit for your future self. Investing in technology now – whether it be smart thermostats or security systems – will ensure you are ready for what our homes will inevitably look like in the future. Technology is also making homes more sustainable and cheaper to run – certainly a feature we’d all benefit from. If going for a fully-wired home automation system, selecting exactly which system to go for can be overwhelming. Try to pick a service provider which has been on the scene for a while and make sure you install high data transfer Cat 5 or 6 ethernet cables to cope with the inevitable increased data requirements.

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