Real Life Maths: Designing a Dream Home


“Anyone want to watch Grand Designs?” I shout.

My family appears. “We do!”

We turn on the TV, slip a disc into the DVD player and settle back to enjoy.

In every episode of the TV lifestyle program, Grand Designs, a couple or family builds their dream home in their dream location. In every episode, something goes wrong:

“The house will go over-budget,” someone predicts.

“The windows won’t arrive on time.”

“They’ll find an underground river just where they want to put the cellar.”

“And I bet building stops when it rains for weeks. Or snows.”

“They’ll never finish the house on time. They never do.”

It’s always very interesting watching a house being built. As the walls go up, we discuss the design, the location, the building techniques used and even the people who are going to live in the house .

At the end of the program, when we are able to walk through the front door to view the finished home, we are eager to share our opinions:

“I don’t like the bathroom. There’s no privacy with all those huge windows.”

“Those white tiles look good, but can you imagine cleaning them?”

“I like the idea of polished concrete floors.”

“Underfloor heating sounds good.”

“But I don’t like that huge open living area.”

It’s not very often anyone says, “I like that house! I could imagine living there.”

So what would our dream house look like? Even though we are quite happy living here in our current home, it might be fun to plan a Grand Design of our own. This is very easy to do. All we need is an online home design software program like Autodesk Homestyler.

We could start from scratch or modify someone else’s design. And when we’re happy with what we’ve created, we’ll be able to view our house as a 2D plan:


And then take a look at it as a 3D model:


There is a lot of maths involved in house design. Here are a few things that came to my mind quickly:

measurement
prediction
estimation
calculating
problem solving
shapes: 2 and 3D
area
perimeter
length
comparison
ratios and scale drawings
cost
budget
best buy
capacity
mass
angles
patterns

If my girls ever do put together a Grand Design plan of their own, of course, I’ll record it in my Evernote homeschool records notebook.

  • I’ll be sure to use all the above mathematical words.
  • I’ll also insert a few screenshots of their houses, both 2D and 3D.
  • And I’ll clip the website address where they built their creations.
  •  I could add some links and information about the Grand Designs program too!

Just in case you’re interested:

I talked about Grand Designs and real life maths in this week’s podcast, Stolen Paintings and Real Life Maths. (I also mentioned other things we’ve learned while watching this TV show.)

I hope you’ll listen!

Follow Sue’s board unschool maths on Pinterest.

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