A Guide to Buying House Plans: 5 Things to Consider
For years I’ve worked with homeowners who have had an array of experiences buying house plans. I’ve renovated homes built from purchased house plans, designed homes for those unhappy with their purchased plans, and been interviewed as the “competition” to purchased house plans. In this guide, I’ll break down some things to consider before making that purchase.
Need to Modify Your Plans?
Building a house is a large financial commitment – you should have your own personal touch, right? Yes, of course! However, proceed with caution. Often times copyrights of house plans won’t allow for modifications. And even if you can make modifications, most professionals won’t assume the risk of redesigning purchased plans.
Additionally, consider what the exterior will look like. The three-dimensional design is not separate from the two-dimensional floor plan. They should be designed together. If you don’t like the exterior aesthetic, don’t buy the floor plan.
Stretching Your Budget… the Right Way
Less cost per square foot = a bigger house, right? Maybe, but have you considered what you’ll be compromising? Probably quality of construction. This means sub-par framing, cheaper plumbing, inadequate insulation, and lower quality finishes.
Always strive for quality over quantity. Pare down your space needs instead of using cheap construction methods. Failing to pursue quality could lead to high utility bills and a house that ages prematurely.
What Makes Your Property Unique?
Most house plans for sale sit on a completely flat, square lot. However, the majority of properties have sloping terrain, setbacks from property lines, site clearing requirements, and density restrictions. These are determined by local zoning and building code. Even State and International Building Code play a large part as well. Buying house plans does not guarantee code compliance.
As a rule of thumb, always perform an in-depth site analysis before purchasing house plans. Fall in love with your property first, then fall in love with your design. Here is a great article from Undercover Architect, diving even further into this topic.
Fall in love with your property first, then fall in love with your design
Having a backup energy plan can be a matter of survival. The vulnerability of our power grid is at an all time high, what are you doing to prepare your home?
If you want to magically transform your house plans into a sustainable home, think again. The name of the game is site specific design. Where the sun rise and set? What’s the direction and speed of wind? How shaded is your lot? Here’s a great post and series of diagrams that details designing for a specific climate conditions.
Even if a builder is confident in their ability to build from basic house plans only, you should not be so confident. Legible, well coordinated construction documents are crucial. It’s not about telling the builder how to do their job, its about accurate communication of your design intent.
For some tips and tricks on designing a modern home more affordably, check out this recent blog post.
I Simply Can’t Afford an Architect
First of all, there are plenty of residential architects that offer competitive pricing and a broad spectrum of services. Furthermore, hiring an architect shouldn’t mean spending millions on a home. In fact, affordable design services is a core tenant of many architectural practices, including WE+ Architects.
Secondly, many architects offer house plans for sale bundled with customization. This may strike a nice balance for you and your budget. Do some research, inquire about customization services and buy from local professionals with local expertise.
If this guide to buying house plans left you with more questions than answers, don’t worry – just drop me a message and schedule a free consultation!