Buying a home at any time is a huge commitment.
But when you’re purchasing a property that will become a home for your family, too, the pressure to get it right is arguably even greater.
Family homes need to function in so many different ways and for so many different people, and there’s a huge amount to think about before buying one.
Here, we’ll reveal seven key things you’ll need to consider when buying a family home.
And we’ll provide some helpful tips on how you can make that home even more family-friendly once you’ve bought it…
What to look for in a family home
1. Space to breathe – and grow
The first thing any family home needs is space.
Family life is busy and can be stressful, so feeling as if you’re all on top of one another only fuels that fire.
But you should also think about the space you’ll need in the future as your family grows.
After all, the kind of space required for toddlers is very different to the needs of teenagers.
Try to think as if you’re living in a home in 10- or 15-years’ time and look for properties with the potential to add or change space as your family grows.
2. Storage or the space to create it
One thing all families need is ample storage – or at the very least, enough square footage to create it.
With children comes ‘stuff’ and if a property’s storage options are limited, that ‘stuff’ can quickly spread and become uncontrollable.
Your family home should work as a social and entertaining space for adults as well as your children, so being able to pack toys away out of sight is crucial.
Also, look for ways you can futureproof your property for the years ahead – either by adding more storage or by reducing it and using vital square footage in other ways that work for your family.
3. A functional layout
You’ll need space but that space also has to function in a way that works for your family.
When viewing potential properties, look for clear sight lines if you have young children who may be playing in one room while you’re in another area of the house.
Open plan layouts, or the potential to open up a space by knocking down walls, are fantastic for creating those clear lines of sight to all areas of your property.
Those sightlines should also extend to the outdoor space, so if your children are playing outside, you can still see them when you’re indoors.
4. A great outdoor space
Having a large garden is another must-have in any family home.
Children love to run around and explore, so having a great outdoor space should definitely be on your wish list when viewing potential family homes.
You should also look closely at a garden’s functionality and ‘child-proofing’, too.
Think carefully about properties with ponds or those with gardens that back on to busy roads.
5. Off-road parking
For families, the weekly shop can feel like a fitness workout when carrying endless shopping bags from the car to the house.
Look for properties that have easy access from the driveway or garage and carefully consider those that only have street parking.
6. Good schools
The location of your family home is equally as important as the property itself.
And when it comes to location, being close to good schools could well be at the very top of your wish list.
Check out the schools in the area before viewing potential properties to buy and make sure you’re fully aware of how the local school catchment process works – as this can vary depending on where you’re looking.
7. A family-friendly location
As well as being close to good schools, you should consider how family-friendly the location you’re looking to buy in is.
Is it popular with other families?
Is it safe, with a low crime rate?
Is it close to the kind of amenities you’ll need as your family grows?
When viewing properties to buy, be sure to take a good look around the surrounding area and speak to neighbours about their experiences of living there.
How big a house do you need for a family of four?
If you have a family of four, you should be looking, ideally, for at least a three-bedroom house.
According to Zoopla, the average size of a property in the UK is just under 1,000 square feet.
And according to research by shrinkthatfootprint.com, the optimum amount of space required by each person in a UK house is 355 square feet.
That means a family of four would need a property totalling 1,420 square feet.
How to make a family home
When viewing properties to buy, it’s important to also look at their potential to grow as your family grows.
Here are five things you can do to turn a property into an amazing family home:
1. Open up the living space to create clear sight lines
As your family grows, life gets busier – and this can mean you’ll sometimes have to get things done while the children entertain themselves.
By removing walls and reorganising your space, you can create clear lines of sight so you’re able to keep a close eye on the little ones while you juggle other tasks.
2. Create a quiet space for work
More and more of us are working from home due to changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
And that means having a clear workspace in your family home has become much more important.
Create a space that’s solely for work, so at the end of the day you can shut down your laptop and turn your focus to family time.
3. Consider an extension
Just because a property doesn’t have the space you need right now, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t.
Think about ways you can create additional living or sleeping space, which could include:
• An extension
• A loft conversion
• A garage conversion
4. Think about adult spaces
If you have the space already, or you’re considering an extension, think about creating an ‘adults only’ space that you can call your own.
Having a room you can relax in after a tiring day with the children, or at work, is a great way to unwind.
5. Create a family garden
Your property’s outdoor space is just as important as the interior when it comes to family life.
Look at ways you can segment your garden, so the children have somewhere they can play, but you have a space you can entertain in, too.
When thinking about buying a family home, you might be considering purchasing off-plan. Our guide explains everything you need to know about the process.
Bungalows can also make great family homes and many have the potential to add extra space. Take a look at our guide to single-storey properties to find out more.