Plan your budget accordingly so that you don't get your hopes too high or settle for less than you deserve. That is, plan your budget based on what you can afford. If a half-million dollar home is in your dreams, make sure you can finance it - visit your accountant and bank manager beforehand so you know what budget you can realistically work with.
Ranch style architecture originated in the United States in the 1920's, and it became very popular after World War II as cities expanded into suburbs and inexpensive tract homes were needed by a growing populace. Ranch style houses are most popular where land is inexpensive and the weather is mild, since these homes particularly lend themselves to outdoor living. The low, earth hugging look with clean, modern lines of the ranch style is derived from Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie style architecture.
When you are searching for a designer, search for one that is local to the area where you want your home built. Typically, local designers will have a better knowledge of the region, the laws, and the other issues surrounding your new house building project.
An open floor plan leaves more room for light, a good flow of energy through the home, and easier access for many people. When researching modern home plans, a lot of people choose open floor plans in the contemporary style just for the sake of sheer convenience. When they have small children, it is easier to see across the home and make sure that their children are safe without having to constantly be in the same room. There are plenty of reasons for choosing a floor plan that is open, but this is actually a popular reason.