Wednesday, 7 May 2014

019: House footprints -- a good idea


I've been out looking at new houses lately and there's one thing I'd like to say to house designers -- please, please, give us free footprints.

For those who haven't encountered this idea before, here's how it works. It doesn't matter if you're looking on Marketplace or out and about in Second Life.  You see a house you like but you're not sure if it will fit on your lot. And, of course, Second Life being what it is, if you buy a house and then discover it won't fit on your lot, you won't be getting a refund in a hurry. Why aren't we sure if it will fit on the lot? Well, even though your "about land" tab will usually tell you how many square feet your land is (mine is 2048); not everyone has a square lot. Mine is long and thin, and one of the thin ends is on the waterline. A long thin house might or might not fit, and it might or might not be possible to have a specific face of the house on the waterline. Some house designers will give you a free "footprint" -- just a large flat prim that's the size and shape of a cross-section of the house. You rez the footprint and put it on the lot and you can easily see if the house fits the lot, and you can spin the footprint to see if you can arrange a specific face to have a specific view.

In the last couple of days, I've found a couple of houses that I liked the look of, but they're far too expensive to buy just on the off chance that they're going to fit my lot. And before you suggest I simply find a lot that fits, well, I like my neighbours and I like my neighbourhood and I like my landlords, and it would be difficult to change the shape of my lot because of houses and landscaping that are already in place. I change houses once or twice a year, and I don't mind spending a few thousand lindens on the right house, but I'm not prepared to buy an expensive house that I can't use.

Some houses will tell you what their "footprint" is -- for instance, it will say "20 x 32" on the sales board. Designers, I know it's hard to imagine since you work so closely with this stuff, but a few SL residents aren't prepared to actually multiply those two numbers to get the square footage of the house, and one or two people I've spoken to didn't realize that that's what's meant. It's also common for a sales board to say that the house you're looking at will fit, say, a 2048 lot. Well, yes, a square 2048 lot. If you have a long thin lot, it might or it might not, and you might also have to place the house on the lot so that the front entrance is right beside your neighbour's bedroom window.

But if you have a footprint, all those issues are clear. The house either fits or it doesn't and, if the designer has put together the footprint properly, you can tell where the entrance has to go, and what face of the lot the balcony will overhang, and things like that.

Yes, there are ways of telling whether your house is likely to fit. (There's a helpful table and information here, among other useful contributions in the forums.) There's a relationship between the size of your lot and the number of prims it allows that gives you a rough-and-ready idea; my 2048 lot should yield about 468 prims, so if you know you are allowed 468 prims, you can work backward. If the house is 800 prims, it's too big, and if it's 60 prims, it's probably too small (which will leave you a lot of room for landscaping and decorating, but most of us like to have as much house space as we can.) Not everyone is mathematically oriented, though. Providing a free footprint in the same location as every house you're trying to sell would short-circuit the whole "will it fit" quandary and leave no doubt in the prospective purchaser's mind, and designers are likely to sell more houses.



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