Know what to ask designers. You need to talk to these people before you choose one to work with and asking the right questions can make all the difference in the world. You need to find out how long they've been in the business of designing home plans, what they have done in the past, and see what they can do for you. Make sure you look at a collection of other houses they have designed; this will give you a solid idea of the quality of their workmanship and creative talent.
The basic idea behind the ranch style is that the major room areas in the house flow one into the other, rather than being small divided-up spaces as in other architectural styles. The access from the attached garage flows into the kitchen, to the dining area, to the living area, and to the bedrooms. The feeling of a ranch style house is one of openness and sweeping - sweeping vistas of the out-of-doors through picture windows and sliding glass panels, which open onto patios or porches where much summer living takes place.
The challenge for the designer today is to produce ecologically-sound buildings without compromising contemporary concepts of beauty. There are plenty of examples of excellence in sustainable design which is soundly built, well-fit for its purpose, and an aesthetic delight. Even small luxury home plans are increasingly ecology-conscious in their choice of materials for conservation of resources and self-sufficiency.
Exposed wooden or steel beams, flat roofs with large overhangs, and split levels to take advantage of the terrain, are also common accents associated with the contemporary style.