You've searched for months and months and you've finally found the perfect piece of property. You have an idea of what you want your dream house to look like. You begin to look around for contractors. This is the most exciting time in your life! But what floorplans do you use? How do you want your layout? How do you make sure you get what you want?
Sit down with your spouse and write down every room or space you two can dream up. It can be a lot of fun coming up with ideas you might not normally get with a standard floor plan. Do you want 3 bedrooms or 4? A man cave? A dressing room or walk in closets? What kind of garage? A media room? A huge kitchen or a small one? A craft room? A pool? This is your forever home, so don't be afraid to dream big!
Next, to get the best feel for the layout of your house, draw out each room in bubbles (each room representing one bubble with the name of the room inside it). This is best for planning out the flow (ie. do you want your laundry room next to your garage so anything muddy can be thrown right in? Or do you want it upstairs so you don't have to haul loads of laundry around? Maybe you want two laundry rooms? Do you want your kitchen windows facing southwest to maximize on sunlight while you eat breakfast in the morning? Do you want any windows in your kitchen at all? Do you want your master bedroom on the bottom floor or the top? etc) You'll be surprised at how many questions arise and the ways you come up with to tackle them.
Also during the "bubble" stage, rough out what size you would like each room to be, but don't worry about precision. It's just to get you comfortable with the layout. Sit on it for a few weeks and let your mind mull it over. This will allow you to think about where you've placed the rooms and if you are really happy with your plan.
In the meantime, go visit some models homes and look at their floorplans. BHG.com is a really great website for inspiration and there are TONS of floorplans readily available. Dig out your old home decorating magazines. Check out home design books from the library. Whatever it takes to get your creative mind flowing and help you to finalize your floor plans. This is also the stage where you set up your budget. Maybe you would really love a pool but just can't afford it right now. By bubbling it in you know where you would like to have it and can keep the idea in the back of your mind for later.
After you are happy with your plans, you can take them to an architect to have them professionally drawn up. If you know enough about specs and are up for the task, you can draw them up yourself using a program like AutoCAD.
Now pat yourself on that back, you're one step closer to being in you forever home!