Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
You might be drawn towards an open floor plan for your new house. These plans have become a pretty popular interior design scheme and get lots of attention in listings, but are they cost-effective? Let’s find out.
Open floor plans are not cheaper to build. Partition walls in homes with a closed plan don’t just separate rooms, they also bear the weight of the ceiling. As open floor plans lack walls, they need expensive beams to hold up the structure without any vertical support, increasing material costs.
Open floor plans might sound like the ideal plan for your family, but is it worth it in terms of the cost relative to a closed (or traditional) floor plan. I’ll go over everything you need to know in this article, so keep reading!
What Is an Open Floor Plan?
Houses have traditionally always had separate sections, spaces, or rooms delegated for specific purposes. For instance, there are different rooms for cooking, reading, sleeping, and ‘living’ — but an open floor plan changes that model.
An open floor plan is an interior plan without separate rooms for a kitchen, lounge, living room, etc. They have little to no partition walls inside the house. As a result, most of the traditional ‘rooms’ of the house, like your kitchen, living, and dining, would all be one large, open space.
Pros and Cons of Open Floor Plans
Like every novel approach to a traditionally established way of doing things, open floor plans have their pros and cons. Depending on your preferences and needs, the pros might outweigh the cons or vice versa. So, let’s get into them.
Open Floor Plans Are Great for Social Gatherings – Since there aren’t any partition walls to separate the kitchen, living, or dining rooms, the house naturally provides a more stimulating environment for social gatherings. There’s lots of space for large groups of people and game nights with no walls to get in the way.
Hosts can stay involved in the action even as they work in the kitchen as they would still be in the same ‘room’ as all the guests. This is one of the major reasons why a whopping 86% of people in the market for houses prefer a partially or entirely open kitchen and dining area.
You Have Easier Child Surveillance With Open Floor Plans – If you’ve got lots of kids to watch, an open floor plan makes a lot of sense, as it ensures you don’t need to worry about their safety or wonder what they are doing. You could be cooking and keeping an eye on what your kids are watching on TV — all at once.
Open Floor Plans Offer More Natural Light – Open floor plans generally include large windows or glass doors. Large windows allow the entire interior to be well-lit, and the lack of walls ensures that there is nothing to block the sunlight. They help to significantly brighten up the vibe around the house in the daytime.
Open Floor Plans Offer A Better Utilization of Space – Open floor plans are highly suitable for homes that don’t have a ton of space to work with. Traditionally, the mindset behind a closed-off design was that the more partitioned the house was, the more privacy and functionality you could squeeze out of it. However, that also means wasted space whenever a specific room is vacant.
Homes without much square footage can feel much more spacious with an open floor plan. Whether you’re cooking, reading, or watching TV, you’re always in a large, airy space.
On the other hand, a small house with a traditional plan would instead have a tiny kitchen and a shrunk-down living room, which isn’t ideal.
Open Floor Plans Are Great for Busy Homes – In a house with several kids and working parents who get ready and have breakfast in the morning, a small traditional home can quickly get stuffed as family members get in and out of the kitchen and dining room. However, there are no traffic jams in a wall-less home with lots of open space for everyone.
Open Floor Plans Increase the House’s Value – If you anticipate selling your property down the line, open floor plans are the way to go. Lots of buyers are interested in open floor plans, which means that houses with open plans get more attention in real estate listings. In fact, open floor plans are estimated to add about 7.4% to your property’s value annually.
Open Floor Plan Homes Lack Privacy – While a lack of privacy might be good in a house with lots of children, it’s not ideal if everyone’s a grownup. Open floor plans offer little to no privacy, as everyone sort of coexists in the same space for most of the time. If you’re planning on living with your parents or roommates, it may not be the best option for you.
Open Floor Plans Can Get Noisy – Good luck meditating in the living room if someone decides to watch TV.
While having no walls makes it easier for you to travel around the house, it also has the same effect on sounds. Regardless of where the kids play, you’ll always hear them — no matter where you are.
Open Floor Plan Homes Have High Energy Costs – Your heating or cooling solutions will use more energy to maintain the entire house’s temperature rather than just heating or cooling one room. Even if the whole family sits at the dining table for dinner, having no partitions means the heating and cooling will keep the entire home temperature comfortable, which isn’t ideal for energy costs.
Decide if the Extra Cost Is Worth It
We’ve established that open floor plans not only cost more to build, but they’re also costlier in the long run. They need more expensive materials, such as heavy-duty beams or pillars, and the extra heating and cooling costs add up as time goes by. So, is all of that worth it?
If having open spaces around the house is important to you and your family, getting an open floor plan home might be worth the extra money. The difference in cost wouldn’t be too far apart, but it can still be significant enough that you should choose wisely. I’d suggest getting accurate quotes from a realtor for building an open and closed floor plan on the square footage of your property.
If the benefits we’ve discussed above apply to your situation and preferences, and the open floor plan quotation falls within your budget, go for it!
If you’re looking for a new home that’s tailor-made to your family’s needs and preferences, you’ll have to get one built. But one of the most significant decisions you’ll have to make on that journey is whether you need an open floor plan or a traditional closed floor one.
Once you make that decision, you’ll have to live with it for years. So take the time to think about all the pros and cons I’ve discussed in this article and see if it makes sense for you.
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