In the age of the Internet, you’re able to do just about anything online including buying plans for that dream home you want to build, but bear in mind that buying house plans online is not without issues you need to keep in mind. You can save a good deal of money on hiring an architect to draft an original set of plans, but you still need to do the due diligence and decide whether this is something that will save you more money in the long run.
What kind of design do you have in mind?
With a pre-drafted set of plans, you are cutting out the inevitable revisions and modifications an architect will have to make that can easily drive up the cost – but you’re also going to be somewhat limited in what you can find online since you can’t expect to have an entirely original design. Nonetheless, a wide variety of options are available to you as a homeowner if you go this route and you’ll have the security of knowing you have a design that isn’t going to look like yet another tract home in a sea of tract homes.
Is the plot you want to build on going to accommodate your design?
This is probably the first thing you’re going to need to settle after you pick out the design you want. If you’re building in a populated neighborhood and not, for instance on the top of a mountain, you’re probably going to have to have setbacks from the property line – not to mention the local municipality may require easements for utilities, sidewalks, etc. Another issue with building in a populated neighborhood is of course the local homeowner’s association – they may have restrictions which can range from reasonable to draconian. Finally, there may be other potential obstacles to overcome such as the local soil conditions that could cause problems with the intended foundation.
What about the local or state building codes?
With house plans you buy online, you’re also going to have to consider whether you can use the design as-is, or if your local/state building codes will necessitate modifications. This is especially important if you’re in a notoriously earthquake-prone area like California that requires buildings to be able to withstand a certain amount of swaying that occurs during an earthquake, for instance. In this case, you may very well end up having to bring in an architect and/or an engineer who can review the design and make sure you’re in good shape.
What about the materials I want to use?
Naturally, the design of the house is going to dictate that you use certain materials – if you have a design that calls for brick facing on the exterior, you’re probably not going to be able to substitute wood siding, for instance. However, that isn’t to say that you can’t choose alternatives for certain materials that are more eco-friendly or less expensive, providing that you’re not compromising the structural integrity of the original design.
Who will plan out the utilities?
Again, when you buy a house design online, you’re generally only paying for the floor plans and not a complete set of plans that lays out exactly where utilities are going to go. You generally will have an electrical diagram with suggestions for placement of outlets and the like for your convenience, but when you actually get around to building the house, a contractor will have to determine the best way to install the plumbing and wiring that is in compliance with the local building codes.
Can you find a contractor willing to build your design?
If you’ve successfully navigated all the other obstacles above – you still have to choose a general contractor who can help you build the house. Are they comfortable with building that particular design? Are they able to answer all the questions you have in regards to building codes, materials, etc.?