House Plans – Where to Start

Finding the Right House Plans and Building Your New Home

By Mark J. Donovan

Where do you begin to look for house plans when contemplating building a new custom home? Well you have effectively three main avenues for finding house plans. You can hire an architect to develop a set of house plans and blueprints for you. You can buy a complete set of finished house plans online from a plethora of companies that sell them and build the home exactly as designed on the prints. Or, you can buy pre-designed house plans and have an architect modify them to meet your specific needs. However, there are several key factors that you need to think about prior to developing or buying house plans.

Building Lot Considerations When Purchasing House Plans

Prior to deciding upon and buying house plans its wise to also consider the land where the home will be located. Not all land is conducive to every type of house design. For example, if the land has a gentle grade to the road a split level home design may be more appropriate. If on the other hand the land has a gentle grade away from the road then you may want to have house plans generated that include a walkout basement.

Another concern when it comes to the land is the water table. The water table is the average depth of the soil where water becomes a factor. If the building lot’s water table is high you may not be able to have a house design that includes a basement.

Other building lot concerns include the size of the property, and any easements or covenants on it that could limit the size and placement of the home on the property. Similarly you need to consider the shape and size of the property. A narrow property, for example, can really limit your options on house designs. If the building lot is narrow or small you may have no choice but to go with a two story home.

Ranch style homes can take up a large percentage of the property. And to this point, particularly on waterfront property, there are federal and state regulations that cap the ratio of building structure to the size of the lot.

For example, often the building structure(s) can only consume a maximum footprint, on a waterfront building lot, of 25%. Your best bet is to check with your local building inspector to understand all of the zoning laws for your building lot prior to buying house plans or commissioning an architect.

Family Size Considerations When Buying House Plans

Another major factor to consider when buying house plans is the needs of your family. For example, how many bedrooms will you need, both now and in the future. If you’re a young family it’s very possible you’ll need one or two more bedrooms in a few years. Consequently, it is important to design house plans that will support a growing family.

It’s also important to consider the interests of your family. If for example you expect to work at home much of the time it is wise to include in your house plans space for an office. The office should be located away from the main living areas of the home if at all possible. If your family is large and includes teenagers then you certainly want to consider house plans that include a recreation room or home theater space. If, on the other hand you have small children, you may want to include a finished basement in your house plans.

Allow for Expansion of the Home at some Later Point

Another consideration when designing house plans, or purchasing them, is allowing the house to be expanded upon at some later date. Again, the location of the home on the building lot needs to be considered if you want to keep this option open.

Choose House Plan Styles that Match the Neighborhood

Also make sure that you consider the neighborhood when selecting house plans. You should pick a house style that fits in with the neighborhood and region if you wan to do yourself and your future neighbors a favor.

Home Addition Bid Sheets

If for example, you put in a southwestern ranch style home in a New England neighborhood, chances are you’ll have a tough time selling the home someday.

Deciding to build a custom home is a major undertaking. So before you decided to buy house plans and start such an endeavor, make sure you’re up for the task. A good set of house plans should be extremely detailed, and even purchasing a complete set of finished house plans will require additional work on your part. You’ll still have to consider paint types and finished materials to use in your home. If you plan to commission an architect to design your home expect to have to make a lot of decisions during the design process.

For more help on building a new custom home, see’s New Home Construction Bid Sheet. The New Home Construction Bid Sheet provides you with the knowledge on how to plan a custom home building project, and what to look for when hiring contractors for your new home construction. It also includes a detailed cost breakdown table and spreadsheet for estimating your own new home construction building costs.

Related Information

Free Home Addition Price Quotes with No Obligation!

Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote on a house addition from one of our prescreened and licensed home addition contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your house addition price estimate.