NC State Extension Publications


Families live, work, and play differently today than 10 years ago, and they have many more possessions. Not only is space expensive, but it also must be insured, heated, cooled, taxed, furnished, and cleaned. You need to take time to analyze carefully the space your family needs as you look at various houses to buy or rent. Use the following checklist as a guide to help you evaluate any house or house plan so that you can select one that includes those features important to you and your family. Included are many desirable features and standards. Score the house(s) based on the following point system: 3 = Good; 2 = Fair; 1 = Poor. Add up your score to see if the house(s) meets your family’s needs and wants.

_______ Family members are able to move freely through the house without getting in each other’s way or interrupting each person’s privacy.
_______ At least one entry is located to allow the greatest convenience when unloading supplies from the car (no more than 30 feet from the car).
_______ Hall space has been kept to a a minimum.
_______ Halls are wide enough to allow ease in passage and moving furniture (3 feet 6 inches to 4 feet).
Space Relationships
_______ The size of social, work, and private areas is good for your family activities and needs.
_______ The public, private, and work areas are adequately separated for your family.
_______ Rooms with multiple use (e.g. master bedroom/sitting; living/dining; dining/study; or guest/study/sewing) are adaptable to your family's changing needs.
Should an extended illness of a family member occur, does the house meet these needs:
_______ – At least one bedroom on the entry level.
_______ – Doors, especially into one bedroom and bathroom, are at least 2 feet 8 inches.
_______ – There is at least one walk-in shower.
_______ – Windows in the bedroom are low enough to see out when lying down.
Social Areas
_______ House suits your family's activities and needs.
_______ Space is adequate for the family to be together and for all the different activities in which your family participates.
_______ Eating space is adequate for your family and usual guests.
_______ There is no space to accommodate an occasional larger group to eat.
_______ Location of the eating space is convenient to the kitchen.
_______ The outdoors is visible from the table.
Planned outdoor living area is:
_______ – Easily accessible from the kitchen.
_______ – Offers some degree of privacy and protection.
_______ – Can be reached from the living area without going through the kitchen (to reduce traffic through the kitchen work area).
Private/Sleeping Areas
_______ Rooms that are to be shared are large enough for each occupant to have a private area.
_______ Bed (or beds) can be located in at least two places in each bedroom.
_______ All bedrooms are large enough to accommodate at least a double-sized bed.
_______ Space is adequate for other necessary pieces of furniture.
_______ Each bedroom can be reached without going through another.
_______ There is at least 4 linear feet of rod space in the closets for each individual.
_______ Closets are located to provide sound buffers between bedrooms.
_______ All bedrooms have reasonable private access to a bathroom.
_______ Each bathroom is large enough to accommodate the number of people who will use it.
_______ Adequate storage is provided for towels and grooming aids.
_______ Plumbing fixtures are located on inside wall to prevent freezing.
_______ Lighting is acceptable for grooming.
_______ There is enough space for each person in family to have their own study area/table/desk.
_______ Space is available for books, references, supplies, and private "treasures" to be stored in the study area.
_______ Adequate space is allowed for the kinds of food preparation you and your family do.
_______ Work area is out of the family traffic path.
_______ Total distance formed by a triangle from the refrigerator to the sink to the range is 12 feet to 26 feet.
_______ Space is adequate for the types of appliances used (microwave oven, food processor, etc.)
_______ Storage cabinets and drawers are of various sizes and adjustable to adapt to changing uses.
_______ There is counter surface on both sides of the range and sink and on the latch side of the refrigerator.
_______ Dishwasher is at least 9 inches (15 inches preferred) from a corner to allow space to open the dishwasher door without hitting cabinet pulls.
_______ Laundry equipment or area is convenient to the source of the soiled laundry.
_______ Floor space in the utility area is adequate for the appliances and room for you to work.
_______ Food freezer location is convenient to the kitchen.
_______ Closets are near both public and service entries for coats and boots.
_______ Storage space is located where it will be needed.
_______ Storage space is at least 10 to 25 percent of the total floor area of the house.
_______ There is suitable and adequate outside storage.
Adequate amount of storage is available for your family's:
_______ – Bed linens.
_______ – Cleaning equipment.
_______ – Out-of-season clothes.
_______ – Seasonal items.
_______ – Hobbies.
Doors and Windows
_______ All doors are located to avoid diagonal traffic paths across rooms.
_______ Outside doors are protected from rain and snow.
_______ Doors are wide enough to allow furniture to be carried through.
_______ Exterior doors are at least 36 inches wide to allow passage of a person using a wheelchair, walker, or assistance.
_______ Doors open into rooms they serve.
_______ Outside doors are solid and hinged rather than hollow core or sliding (to conserve energy and provide more safety).
_______ Outside doors have sturdy locks and peepholes.
_______ All windows can be opened for natural ventilation.
_______ All windows have locks and/or other safety measures.
_______ Larger windows are located on the south to take advantage of the sun and wind.
_______ Windows are large enough and low enough to allow easy escape in case of fire.
_______ All glassed areas are double glazed to save energy.
_______ Front entry is easy to locate and reach from the street.
_______ Public entrance allows access without overexposure of the family within.
_______ There is a door to the utility area from outside (helpful when hanging clothes outside to dry).
_______ House looks beautiful to your family.
_______ Style of architecture is suitable for the lot and neighborhood.
_______ Roof style allows for adequate attic ventilation.
_______ Roof overhang is adequate (30 inches are recommended).
_______ House is oriented on the lot to take advantage of the sun and wind.
_______ Exterior siding materials coordinate with the style of the house
_______ No more than two types of siding materials have been used on the house (three or more exterior materials creates a busy, cluttered appearance).
_______ Windows, doors, shutters, and trim are in scale to the overall design of the house.
_______ Three or fewer colors are used on exterior.
_______ Total Score

200 and Above = Excellent. Your score indicates that the size, space, and arrangement of this house would be above average for a suitable and comfortable home for your family.

150 to 199 = Good. Your score indicates that there may be some factors about the size, space, or arrangement of this house that require your careful consideration. However, it could be a good housing choice.

149 or Below = Poor. Better look elsewhere, even if the price is “right” for your pocketbook.

Adapted from Walls, Eleanor J. 1990. Home Buyer’s Guide: Rate The Space. University of Arkansas. Little Rock, AR.


Executive Director FCS Foundation and ECA Foundation
Office of College Advancement
Extension Housing Specialist
Agricultural and Human Sciences

Publication date: July 1, 1995

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