I’ve wanted to design my own ranch house for years, but was hindered by a lack of architectural knowledge. I’ve been pretty handy since I was little. My father was always at work out back in his little workshop, and he taught me how to fix and build all manner of household projects so I figured, why should drawing and building ranch house designs be any different.

I’ve never been one to let common sense stand in my way. I thought that ranch house designs would be easier than other houses, because they only take up one story, and so don’t require as much structural support. I knew the ins and outs of wiring and plumbing, and knew a little bit about post and beam construction, so I figured what the heck, and gut an architectural CAD program to start working out some ranch house designs.

“I made a conscious decision, prior to knowing who the architect was, to listen to the voice in my head that said, ‘Don’t mess this up, don’t upstage it—don’t do much to this house because it’s amazing,’” recalls project designer Chad DeWitt.


Well, as they say, live and learn. Just learning the program enough to come up with my ranch house designs was practically nightmarish. Architectural CAD programs are used by professional house designers, and ease of use is not the number one consideration which goes into designing them. Whether you’re designing a ranch house, or just laying out your bathroom, there is much more that goes in to layout than you might imagine.

And then there are safety regulations which you must keep in mind. Legal ranch house designs don’t just incorporate floor plan and roof. You have to learn all about designing and building a foundation, and that is another set of skills altogether. Then there are fire safety codes, legal load limits, basement design to insure water-tightness. By the time I had come up with a few finished ranch house designs, two years had passed.

I picked my favorite ranch house design, enlisted the weekend aid of a few friends, and got to work. It was like the whole project was doomed. I picked had picked the most ambitious of the ranch house designs, a house plan far beyond my ability. Because it wasn’t a simple rectangular floor plan, but instead incorporated an internal courtyard, it was hideously difficult to precisely excavate and lay out the basement. And once this was done, there was an unseen problem – the courtyard entrance was so small, that I couldn’t get heavy equipment needed for house construction through the door.

I’m happy to be designing and building my own ranch house, but I’m glad I’ll only have to do it once.