ONCE YOU’VE SELECTED the community that perfectly fits the life you want for your family, it’s time to look at floor plans.

There are a few things to keep in mind once you start looking at plans that help you get more confident and will make this process a fun and exciting one that will help you make the perfect choice.

The first thing to keep in mind is that there is a huge difference between the front of a home (the “elevation”) and the arrangement of rooms inside. Builders usually have several different “elevations” that will work with different floor plans, so don’t worry too much about the outside of your home.

The reasons you’ve decided to buy a new home are elements that are important for you to incorporate into your new home. Telling the new home counselor about the reasons will help them eliminate some plans. If you’ve decided that you need at least four bedrooms, the sales counselor will remove all the three bedroom plans from consideration. In a process called “discovery” the sales representative will ask you questions to determine the best plans to present to you with. They will try and learn everything they can about how you want to live in your new home and help you make the best choice.

Very often, the model home becomes the most popular in the community. This happens for several reasons. First, the model home is often a signature or very popular design. Second, the model home plan is often the easiest to see and the sales person doesn’t have to “paint a picture” for you. Third, the best sales person will listen to what you want and then make the model fit those needs. This isn’t necessarily a bad approach, as the reason that these plans became popular in the first place was because they met the needs of so many families. Great sales people will listen to your needs and have a few floor plans in mind as they walk you through the model to show you some signature elements of that builder’s homes.

Once you find three or four new home plans that fit your lifestyle. The first thing to do is to arrange the plan so that you can easily locate the front door on each. Then the sales person will help you compare them.

The sales person may say, “As you enter through the eight foot mahogany door with beveled glass, a $1,200 feature that is included as standard in this community, you’ll see a beautiful dining room to your right and a private home office to your left. The dining room is 12 feet by 16 feet, has a 12 foot high ceiling with recessed lighting.

You mentioned that a formal dining room was important to you because your home is where the family gathers for every holiday. This is an oversized room that joins the kitchen through this short hallway so you’re never far away. How does that sound?”

The sales person should take you through the entire home in this manner. While the sales counselor paints a picture on the floor plan, don’t be afraid of writing names of who will have particular rooms. This will help you discover how “right” this plan is for you. Don’t feel bad about making emotional commitments to what you find is the wrong floor plan. At this point you’re not obligated to buy anything. Do this with a few home plans then you’ll absolutely know when the right one comes along.

Many floor plans are not drawn to scale and thus may slightly misrepresent the home. Also, if the floor plan doesn’t have room measurements, ask for the dimensions and mark them down on the plan. A couple of measurements to keep in mind are twin beds (3.5’), queen bed (7’) king bed (8’), washer (3X3’), couch (3.5 X 7’). If you have any odd shaped furniture, such as antiques, measure it and make sure it fits in the new home. You’ll also want to inquire about any storage space the plan offers that isn’t indicated on the plan itself. Finally, clarify the meaning of any symbols that appear on the floor plan that you don’t understand.

The sales counselor maybe able to show you what your floor plan looks like by taking you to a similar home in the community. If the builder is selling you one floor plan but demonstrating another, listen very carefully and take notes. Also get the floor plan of the home you’re walking, lay the two plans side by side and take note of any differences before you start to walk around. If the rooms are unfurnished they look slightly smaller than those that are furnished. While you may not be able to imaging what a 12 by 12 foot bedroom looks like on paper, you will once you’re standing in the middle of one.

Taking time to carefully go over the floor plans will not only greatly increase your comfort level with this part of the home buying process, but make you confident you’re making the right choice.