I would love to tell you that somewhere, there is a fairy godmother who waves her magic wand and “poof,” out of the air, your perfect home plan appears, but that is just not the case. In the real world, finding the perfect floor plan can take a lot of time and research, especially if you are not really clear on what you really want/need. Finding the right plan can seem like searching for a needle in a haystack, but with the right magnifying lens, you can do it. Don’t panic yet, I will talk you through the easiest way to find the best plan for your family.
The first step in solving this problem is completing a needs and wants analysis, then you will be armed with the basic information you need to start your search.
Second, you will need to collect some resources:
Home design books (Local library, Amazon, bookstores)
Home plan magazine
The internet (it is huge, so I have included my current favorite resources)
Now it is time to scour your collection of home plan books and magazines and the endless world wide web to find a stock plan that will work as a foundation for what you dream of. Once you find a stock plan that can work as your base, here is the big question: how much will a plan cost you? Do you:
- Purchase a plan online or through a magazine service and build as is: ~$2,000
- Purchase a plan online and have it modified to suit your needs. Due to copyright laws, only certain people can edit plans. Builders, draftsmans, architects, designers are a few options if you go this route: $2,000 + $4,000
- See if your builder offers home plans. Some builders offer to draw up clients ideas as part of a building package (usually at an additional charge.) There is either a draftsman on staff or they hire an outside draftsman. You still need to respect the copyright laws. Cost varies and keep in mind, you are paying for this service somewhere, even if it is offered for “free”.
- Personally hire a draftsman to draw up a plan from scratch. Remember, a draftsman is not a designer and usually starts with an owner provided drawing. Usually, a draftsman provides you with a complete set of working drawings, ready to be built, keeping all local codes and building requirements in mind: $60 – $90/hr
- Hire a specialized home designer that only designs custom homes. These people are harder to find, as many do homes for magazines for a living or work directly for large national home builders: price varies
- Hiring an Architect will give you the most custom design based on your needs. This can be a lengthy process as they start with a design concept and work to a fully developed custom design plan with a full set of working drawings. Sometimes this can be a less expensive option than altering a purchased plan: $1.50 to $2.50/sf or based on the overall total project budget.
Keep in mind, a full set of plans will be a major expense and may or may not be required based on the builder and the complexity and location of the project. Different parts of the country have specific requirements for design, plans and specifications. Each state, county, and city and even some subdivisions may have requirements that your plan must meet and it is important to know what those are. Some areas require an architects stamp for permitting, whereas some places (like the county I live in) require no prepared plans.
I recently purchased a home plan magazine to use as examples in a community ed course I was teaching. Many of the plans that I looked at were around $2,000 to purchase a full set. For several evenings I sat on the sofa and grumbled about the “poor” layouts for the $2,000 home plans. Many people opt to purchase seemingly ready to go floor plans only to realize the plan does not meet their needs. These stock plans can be a great starting point to establish the look and basic layout. A draftsman can then customize it to meet their wants and needs.
I believe it is very important to invest in the design of your new space because it provides you with all the function and beauty that you desire. A floor plan review by an experienced professional can be very beneficial in assessing the “real life” functionality of a design. Remember a draftsman is not a design professional. Having a function and space plan review can save thousands of unexpected building expenses as making structural changes during mid construction is extremely costly. Investing in a floor plan review will help you ensure functionality of the dream home you envision.