You’ve found that perfect plot of land — one that has all the things you’re looking for: location, utilities, the right zoning, etc. Now it’s time at last to begin the pre-construction phase of homebuilding.
Before builders can get going on all those amenities and layouts you’re dreaming of, they’re going to need blueprints — house plans.
Finding land by using various internet search tools is intimidating enough — how does one even begin to find the right house plans?
Here are some options:
1. Hire a designer
We’ll be the first to tell you that WillowTree has a phenomenal team that includes top-notch designers, there are other ways to get house plans (although our commitment to good pre-construction planning is one of the things that sets us apart).
Hiring a designer or architect allows for maximum customization, allowing the homeowner to be in on the creative process as little or as much as they want. Getting your own custom plans from a designer means the house has a much better shot at being built as intended — because the supervising architect can communicate with the construction team as needed, saving time, money and the final product.
2. Buy pre-made plans
Sometimes people wanting to build a house decide that it would be a good money-saving option to purchase pre-made plans online. While in theory this could be convenient — and sites like houseplans.com boast “high-quality home plans… that stand out because of superior design and… fall in the range of 2,000-2,700 square feet with three or four bedrooms — there are certainly reasons to be wary.
For one, house-building codes vary between states, counties, cities and even neighborhoods, and the plans you buy on those sites may not reflect the requirements therein. Besides that, these pre-made plans don’t take into account elevation changes, a foundation plan or a septic/sewer plan. These are crucial details that will end up costing you time, money and possible building permit approval.
3. Get some plans from your friends
Do you just love your good friend’s house — like, to the point where you’re thinking you’d like to have that exact same house? Well, you can take those plans and build your version of that house.
It’s important to note that there are some legal ramifications to consider if you’re wanting to keep up with the Joneses by building the Joneses house. Build In Common spells it out:
“Copyright protects the relevant design, the “picture” of the plans, not the underlying ideas behind them. If there is a feature or aspect of someone’s designs that you like, you can provide instructions to your designer about the feature or aspect – along the lines of “I like having a skylight above the island bench” but you cannot ask them to copy the design and “just change it up a bit”. You can borrow someone’s ideas, but not the details of their design. If you think about the plans as a photo, you can’t copy their photo, but you can take your own photo of the same beach at sunset.”
So yeah, you can build a new house with already-used plans, but you have to get permission from the designer (and your friend, too).
4. Draw them yourself
If you’re looking for the cheapest possible option, there are a number of programs and online tools that will help you put together your home’s design. The problem is, again, that these tools don’t take into account the intricacies of government regulations and the site itself. The viability of these plans depends on the quality of the tool, the user’s knowledge of the homesite, and their skill at using it.
If you’re going to go to all the trouble of building a house, why not save yourself time (and possibly money) by getting it right the first time — with WillowTree. Our designers stand ready to get you your perfect home plans.