Your House Design Plan
it's time to construct your house design plan. In order to build
a home you must have a set of Plans
will be used by the suppliers and subcontractors to tell what
the home will look like, what's in it, how big it is, and how
it goes together, and by the banker to determine how much money
to lend you to build the home.
By now you have finalized your budget and selected your lot.
It's time to pull out all those sketches and pictures you have
been saving and start seriously designing your dream home.
This is starting to get fun!
By now you probably have a pretty good idea
what you want your new home to look like. You've been dreaming
about this for a long time. Right? Now it's time to stop dreaming
and get all your great ideas down on paper . . . or into a computer!
We probably need to distinguish here
between plans and planning .
The plans are actually a set of scaled drawings of
various aspects of the home (the floor plan, construction details,
etc.). You may also think of them as home floor plans, working
drawings, or blueprints.
Planning, on the other hand, is the process of
making decisions about the design and construction of the home
- not only what it's going to look like and what is going to be
in it, but also who is going to do the actual construction, how
it will be financed, and so forth.
Let's start by examining the elements
that will be included in your house design plan. Later
we'll talk about how to get your custom home plans prepared,
how much they should cost, etc. The material presented on this
web site is not intended to teach you how to design a home or
construct a set of "working drawings",
but rather to make you familiar with these elements so that you
can deal effectively with your architect or designer.
So let's look at what is in the house
design plan or home blueprints (sidebar). Every set of custom
home plans will include the following elements:
· The Foundation Plan
· The Floor Plan
· The Elevations
· The Site Plan
· Other Construction Details
The Foundation Plan
The foundation plan shows
the shape and dimensions of the foundation for your home. It is
used in laying out and constructing the footings and foundations.
It will show the outside foundation walls as well as the location
of any piers and interior columns.
If a slab floor is to be poured,
the foundation plan will often indicate the location of plumbing
fixtures so that the plumber can get the pipes in the right place.
The Floor Plan
The Floor Plan shows what rooms (spaces) are present,
their size, and their relationship (which room is next to which).
is where you will decide how many bedrooms. How big are they?
How many baths?
Are the bedrooms grouped together on the second
floor, or is the master bedroom separated from the rest?
The Elevations of your home are
the drawings that show how it will look from the outside. Typically,
there are four views . . . the front, rear, left, and right sides.
predominant features of the Elevations are overall shape (one
or two story, split level, etc.); roof style, pitch, and color;
type of siding or veneer; window and door location, size,
and style; porches; and trim details.
The Site Plan
The site plan shows your lot drawn
to scale, how the home sits on the lot, and all of the major outdoor
· Walks and Drives
· Decks and Patios
· Swimming Pool
· Fences and Retaining Walls
· Well, Septic Tank, and Drain Field Location
Other Construction Details
In addition to the
elements outlined above, various other construction details are
often included in the house design plan to aid in cost estimating
You may find details on stairs, doors and windows,
cabinets, and a host of other things. One important detail that
is almost always included is a section through one of the outside
The specifications are a written
description of everything that is not convenient or necessary
to show graphically in the plans - like the make and model number
of the kitchen range.
Whatever you don't show in the plans must
be spelled out in the specifications. With your help, your
architect or designer will write up the specifications for your
new home. Make sure they do, your banker will require these documents,
and the construction will be difficult without them.
Your Plans Drawn Up
One way to go about getting the plans and
specifications you need to build your home is to hire an architect
to draw them up for you. Or you may get them from a residential
design and drafting service. Finally, you could do them yourself.
Many architects do not do house plans unless
it is a very large house.
Some architects do, however specialize in residential design.
A less expensive alternative to using an architect is to find
a residential designer or plan service. Almost all large towns
have one or more of these.
In most states, a person does not have
to be a registered architect to do residential design within
certain limits (number of stories and, in some cases, total cost
Many people order stock plans by mail or over the Internet. One
of the advantages of using one of these plan services is that
their plans usually include a list of materials. This can be a
useful starting point for your materials takeoff. We
say "starting point" because you'll probably want to make some
changes in what materials are used.
Doing Your Own Plans
Some people draw up their
own plans. Unless you are specifically trained in residential
design, you will probably not be totally successful in doing this.
That is, your drawings will probably have to be redone by a draftsman
to include all of the details needed to actually construct the
You may, however, find it more difficult than
you had anticipated. There are a lot of dimensions and relationships
that are critical. If you don't know what they are, you may end
up with a design that really doesn't work.
A better alternative would be to explore some
of the residential design software that is readily available.
These programs will give you a professional looking set of plans,
and will often calculate the materials you will need.
You may find
them limited, though, if your design is more complex or if you
have local conditions, which dictate construction techniques
not included in the program. A CAD (computer aided design) program
can overcome these shortcomings. But these programs are costly
and have a very steep learning curve.
If you plan to use
FHA or VA financing, your plans will have to be certified by an architect or engineer. Many municipalities
also have this requirement. This is to assure them that your plans
meet the building codes and all other minimum requirements they
have set for residential construction.
How Much and How Many
Stock plans from a plan service will
cost you under $1,000. Specifications that come with
a stock plan are probably not going
to fit your needs, so you'll
have to rework them. Custom plans from a plan service are often
billed per square foot of heated space (excluding
garages, porches, etc.).
The rate will depend on where you live
and the talent/reputation of the designer. You pay for what
you get! Having a registered architect prepare your plans
and specifications is usually the most expensive route.
architects charge 10% of the cost of construction for the
design, but this could vary greatly. You'll have to get a quote.
Five sets of plans should be sufficient
for construction. You'll want one set put away for safekeeping
and one set for yourself. The other three sets will bounce between
whatever suppliers and subcontractors are currently working
on the job.
Make sure they all understand that the
plans are to be returned when their portion is completed. You
may need additional sets for the bank, FHA or VA, and the building
official who issues your building permit.
vary from place to place, so you'll have to do some checking
to see what your needs are here.
Well, you're really gettin' after it now! Got your budget. Got
your lot. Got your plans.
Time to see how close you came to the
budget. It's time for the dreaded Cost Estimate. Click here.
to the Home Building Answers' Home Page
from House Design Plan