Step #4: Style
Houses come in all shapes, styles, and designs. And interestingly, houses that fulfill your "Needs" list can be remarkably different in the way they look. Your requirements of "4 bedrooms, 2-car garage, main level master bedroom, etc." can fit into an ultra-modern architectural experiment as well as they fit in a traditional two-story colonial design. But it's likely that you will be attracted to one style more than the other. You'll feel something different about the floor plan, the layout, the way the space is used, and how the things on your "Needs" list were built by the home builder.
Style introduces differences in architecture, materials, construction, space planning and decor. Style differences are easy to see, both from the outside and inside of houses, and you have years of experience seeing houses of all different styles. Now it's time organize your preferences in terms of style. Here are just a few notes on how to recognize those preferences.
Open Concept vs. Formal Rooms:
Do you like the idea of combining living areas into large open areas, or do you prefer separate rooms? Do you want privacy or party spaces?
Single-Level vs. Multi-Level:
Do you want the convenience of having all rooms on one floor, to eliminate the climb up to the bedrooms? Or do you like the privacy of having bedrooms and other private space removed from the main living area?
Brick vs. Wood Frame vs. Stone, etc.
There are certain inherent advantages to each method of construction. You can assign relative values to at least three variables that are dependent on method of construction. Just to get started in establishing your perspective, use 'Durability,' 'Initial Cost,' and 'Appearance.' Other variables could include 'Maintenance Cost,' 'Flexibility,' and 'Comfort.'
Contemporary vs. Transitional vs. Traditional, etc.:
When it comes to architectural style, it's hard to draw strict lines of separation, because builders and designers have blurred those lines, to broaden the appeal of the houses they build.
Yes, this question of "style" can be a bit overwhelming. But don't worry. You're just trying to develop some preferences. Remember - It's likely that everything you "Need" can be found in great-looking houses of many different styles.
Your Key Step - Style:
Pay attention to the architectural style of houses you visit, see, and consider. See what preferences you develop.