How House Plans Work

Building Your Own Home Starts with a Complete Set of House Plans

By Mark J. Donovan

So you’ve decided to embark on the path of building your own custom home. It’s a major endeavor whether you plan to act as your own general contractor or hirer one. Before thinking about breaking ground and hiring contractors you need to first come up with a set of house plans that meet your specific needs and goals. The best place to look for house plans is online. There are many house plan websites available today with literally thousands of house plans to choose from.

Prior to spending a great deal of time looking at online house plans it’s wise to write down the top level things you are looking for in your new custom home.

At the top of your list should be the house style, followed quickly by a target budget for the cost of building the home. You’ll also want to make note of the desired square feet of the home, as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in it. In addition, you need to figure out upfront whether you want a single or multi-story home. Lastly, you’ll need to decide on whether or not you want an attached garage or not.

Many of the above questions are predicated on the building lot. Not all house plans will work on all building lots. Factors such as soil grade, soil type, and the water table can play a major factor in determining what style of home is appropriate for the building lot.

In addition, easements and covenants also can limit your house style and size options. You may want to visit your local building inspector and/or home association, if you have one, to see if there are any easements or covenants you need to think about prior to building a home.

Then there are aesthetic considerations when buying house plans. Make sure to consider the neighborhood when choosing house plans. The last thing you want is to build an art deco home in a housing development filled with colonial style homes.

The Various Types of House Plans

When buying house plans online you can buy them in various forms. House plans come in complete “sets”. A CAD set is a complete set of house plans that are provided in an electronic file format that enables you or an architect to modify them. CAD house plan sets are very popular because almost always the buyer wants to modify something in the plans.

Study set house plans are, as the name suggests, house plans that allow you to get an overall idea of the exterior views of the house.

You can observe each side of the home, as well as roof lines and foundation details. Study set house plans also allow you to get a quick idea of the cost of building the home.

Construction house plan sets are a complete set of house plans that enable you to build a home from the prints. They include exterior and interior views of the home as well as detailed spec information on the actual construction of the home. For example, they include cross-sectional constructional views of the house from the foundation footings all away up to the roof. At each level in the cross-sectional view they specify the types and sizes of constructional materials used.

The plans also include dimensional information for all of the rooms, as well as for the lumber and materials required. Construction set house plans provide all of the information required to pull building permits and get contractor quotes.

Home Addition Bid Sheets

Reproducible house plan sets are ideal for the prospective homeowner who anticipates needing to make minor changes to the plans. Reproducible house plans can be copied, however they can only be used to construct one home. If more homes are desired to be built from the same house plans additional licenses for the house plans are required.

So figure out what is the right house plan for your custom home building plans and then order the house plan set type that meets your specific needs and budget. Building a custom home is a rewarding project but it is imperative you do your homework upfront, and it all starts with a complete set of buildable house plans.

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

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