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amylou_morgan

best site for buying house plans online?

5 years ago

getting ready to build and want to buy our plans online...a farmhouse southern living style home

Comments (26)

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    Any of the offices of your local architects who work with single family homes.

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  • PRO
    5 years ago

    They're all the same.

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    I think it is Ms Morgan and for what it is worth I have never seen a stock plan on the internet that is perfect so I would advise a good architect to design your house . By the time you make all the changes to a stock plan you will end up paying more than you can imagine in change orders.

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    In addition, generic plans found on Internet plan factory sites do not take into consideration specific site characteristics, or any other local conditions such as zoning, historical, HOA, etc.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Virgil, just curious. What is the 'average' cost of an architect to draw house plans for people? s/f cost?

    Amy.....I would recommend 'Frank Betz'. I'm not associated with them in anyway. I just found allot of plans on their site that I liked.

  • 5 years ago

    There's no such thing as a best site for buying plans. They are almost all worthless. You might find a good plan here or there, but those sites aren't really about getting good houses built; they're just about selling plans to noobs who will probably never build anyway.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Patricia, your point about the cost being neck and neck I do not agree with. Architects charge way too much money. I purchased a plan online, and then had an architect make all my changes, and then had an engineer contribute as well. This saved me over 20k easily.

    Virgil, so often I hear the importance of how a local real person architect with a pulse will gaze out at your lot and pick the almighty location oriented ever so perfectly. Most folks have lots so small that they have no real choice. I have a huge lot and there were only 2 possible spots that could be chosen. Everyone aims for the rear of the home to me south facing, and try like heck to achieve that. Who needs an architect to point you north? Who needs an architect to say its best not to build in that wetland? Who needs an architect to suggest putting the house on the hill with with views with the sun shining gracefully in the rear of the home? Is ARG criss crossing America getting his boots dirty on all the lots for the homes he is designing? Do you not think the homeowner, builder, tree clearing guys, excavators and others who arguably have much better insight know what is best? I really don't understand how much emphasis on this forum about without the guidance of architect in picking the exact house spot and orientation. I don't need to have a 3 hour consultation about how I want to play frisbee at 6:15 pm in July in the sun and not the shade. I also think I put all of you in one room, the architects here, and the worthy ones that have online plans, you would all be just as experienced and qualified. Just a different medium.

    If I was architect, I would put a twist on the matter and have a hybrid of sorts. I would post all my plans online so folks could see my work. I would sell the plans with whatever changes folks would want for 5k, instead of the 1k online price most charge now and then have clunky change order pricing. You would have a 1 hour consult, get 5k, and the client would have a home plan that is personalized and not outrageously expensive. Adapt or you know what.

    I have money, Im just not a fan of ever spending 5 times to much. When Im in a hotel, I never drink that Coca-cola in the fridge for 4 dollars a bottle. I just can't. I will walk to the local store and buy a 12 pack for that price. This is how I feel about architects. The same absurd pricing.

  • PRO
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    "...This is how I feel about architects..."

    Well...taconichills, you shouldn't hold back so much...let us know how you really feel and what you would do to correct all of the ills in the field of architecture...and don't stop there...clean up the rest of the professions and trades while you're at it.

    Looks like this may substitute for the Doomed Thread until it returns.

  • 5 years ago

    I mean no disrespect Virgil, just expressing my opinion. You might be a great guy who charges very reasonable rates. If so, I salute you. Just as you get sick when you read my posts, I get sick when I read things that are contrary to by opinions. I'm the outlier here, or everyone else is reluctant to say things that are in line with my thoughts.

    Seems when I write opinions you scoff at them. That's fine, just don't understand what I wrote that is not quite clear. It's nothing fantastical or out in left field. It's rather matter of fact and true. Now to you it's doomed?

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    I get sick when anyone puts all architects in one group, as if they are all the same, then bashes them. Some may deserve it but a vast majority don't.

  • 5 years ago

    getting ready to build and want to buy our plans online...a farmhouse southern living style home

    Hi, there. :-)

    Most plan sites I've found are pretty awful, so I can't be much help, there, lol.

    What you'll want to look for, if you decide not to interview a few local architects, is a house that's only 1-2 rooms deep (including covered porches and attached garages). "Skinny" houses allow more natural light to penetrate interior spaces, they keep roofs in proportion (heavy, complicated roofs are more expensive to build, repair, and maintain), and they allow flexibility for adding on to.

    Orientation is super important; if you're in the Northern hemisphere, shared living spaces should face South for maximum sunshine streaming in. Reduce western exposure as much as you possibly can, because that West sun is hot and full of unpleasant glare.

    Good luck!

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    Step by step...!


  • PRO
    5 years ago

    Inch by inch . . .

  • 5 years ago

    "getting ready to build and want to buy our plans online...a farmhouse southern living style home"

    Hubs and I have tossed around the idea of buying some land and building our own home, but I doubt seriously that it will ever happen. We really like the house we currently own (mortgage free). We like the floor plan, and love our lot. The only thing I'd change about our floor plan would be to have the master suite on the first floor now that we're both in our late 60s and retired. But, there is a bedroom and full bathroom on the first floor so if push came to shove we could relocate our sleeping quarters.

    Having said all that, I do love to look at floor plans online, to get ideas. As has been noted many times previously on this thread as well as others, the vast majority of plans that are offered online are far from great. Where I have found good floor plans is from looking at builders' websites. Generally speaking, the builders use architects to design their homes, and the websites often (usually) will have some interior photos of the homes, too. And, some builders will sell their plans. Don't limit yourself to builders in your area - you can look all over the country. If you find floor plans that you like, it will give you a head start when you contact a local architect to draw up plans for you.

  • PRO
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    If you like Southern Living type homes, why has SL not been your first choice for looking at possible plans? Several of them are designed by well known architects and are quite good for mill plans. Many of the architects of those plans offer revisions to meet local codes for a standard fee.

    Changing them to meet your local topography of the lot itself is quite a bit trickier. Mill plans from every source are almost universally assuming that you will be building on a dead flat lot, and that the front of the house faces north. If the lot faces west and has a steep slope from front to back, you will have a very difficult time finding something among existing plans that can deal with that challenge.

    What happens when you try to make a plan designed for one situation fit another? Lots more money to excavate or to have fill dirt brought in is one thing that happens. That can be a very large budget buster. Especially if the lot is rocky, in a seismic zone, or has access Issues. Then there is the added concrete for the taller foundation that is needed, and the stone or brick cladding for that additional exposed foundation. Now you have to figure out how to get people access to a back yard that’s 13’ down from the kitchen. That means some type of deck with stairs. All of that from a house designed for a flat lot being placed on a slope.

    What about that Western sun beating into the front of the house? Thst means more overhang to help with that, and better windows too. That still won’t help at 6:00 pm in the summer. If you have the formal living and dining rooms facing the street, that may not bother you as badly as if your master bedroom faces the street, and you have a shift worker who needs to catch some sleep before being due in at 11. But there won’t be any dinner gatherings in the summer in your dining room. It all be too hot and glaring. So that means maybe you go more casual. It’s summer, after all. Now that bare minimum deck that you put on the house just to have back yard access isn’t going to be big enough for your Labor Day party. And those mosquitos aren’t helping things either.

    How you arrive to a home, bring your groceries in, and go out into the yard matters. Where and how your family gathers to eat and socialize together matters. Being able to stay up late with the kids for old movies in the summer and not disturb the person who has to be at work at 6:00 am matters.

    There are no unimportant parts. There are no unimportant details if those details force you into adapting with a negative behavior pattern that you would not otherwise have. The best houses seem effortless and “right”. Because they fit you. You’re not giving up family Sunday dinners in the dining room because it’s too hot and too glaring to occupy at dinner time. You’re not giving up a quick after work barbecue meal because it’s two flights of stairs down to the ground where it’s actually safe to put the barbecue fire rather than put the grill on the deck.

    Generic houses that get placed on lots often have these kinds of issues. The expenses associated with you adapting to the house’s demand to need a flat lot can often pay a good deal of an architect’s fee to create something that actually fits the property and your family.

    Keep looking at plans and noting what you like about each. Start to develop a library of ideas that you would like to have. Keep it simple. Don’t be blinded by the “cool hidden door pantry” that costs 6K when you could be wanting an east facing breakfast room with lots of windows to start off your day with the family. Home features impact behavior.

    But also look at the homes that local architects are producing. Houzz is a good place to look for that. So are Facebook groups too. Talk to a few architects. See if anyone gets what you mean by your collection of ideas. A free initial meeting to see what their process is, and how that might work for you, and to look at some of their past projects that might echo your wants is a good educational field trip. Think of it as exactly that: an educational field trip, just like junior high. Instead of going to the space center to learn about rocketry developments, you’re learning about what it might be like to have a home built for you.

    Do the same thing with builders. Look at their projects. Have a 15 minute meeting with them to see if they are someone you want to have a year long relationship with. It’s like speed dating. You don’t want to waste their time, and they don’t want to waste yours. But you both need to see if you are compatible as the very first step.

    At the end of the discovery process, you should have 3-4 plans that you like a lot, and 2/3 architects, and 2/3 builders. Then it’s time to decide what approach you want to consider. Just go into it with an open mind, learning as much as you can from everyone you encounter. Your decision might not be what someone else would choose. But you will have researched enough, and from enough different sources, that you won’t feel like you’re going into your build completely blind about how the processes work.

  • 5 years ago

    Everything that Cook's Kitchen said.

    If you're set on a purchased plan, at least give a look to Allison Ramsey:

    https://www.allisonramseyarchitect.com/plan-books.cfm

  • 5 years ago

    'You might be a great guy who charges very reasonable rates. If so, I salute you. '


    I asked and he totally ignored me............

  • 5 years ago

    Pretty sure Virgil is retired, so that question is more or less irrelevant. Mark designed my house, and it cost me not much more than a stock plan plus multiple changes would likely have run. And gained me quite a lot more than a stock plan plus changes. I now have a set of plans for a Swedish farm house, with a tile stove and set up for a future elevator. Go find me a stock plan that can do that.

    I'm not sure that "price per sq ft" is a metric that gets used a lot. And it isn't necessarily one that make s a lot of sense. My arrangement with Mark was an hourly one, and it worked out well. Other architects will charge a percentage of the projected project cost.

    I think a lot of people go look at one (usually Nationally known) architectural firm, see the price, and go, "Accck!! I can't afford that!" But those outfits have a lot of overhead AND often are providing a full service package. If you look around locally for someone who works in a solo practice (often from home) and is willing to provide services just including construction drawings, you can do a lot better. Some, like ARG will provide charrette services - work up the design, and leave it to you to have it drafted. (I note Allison Ramsey also has a link for charrette services. It looks like they mostly use that for community planning, but it would be worth asking.)

    Judging from the shopping around I did in MY area (and any numbers for real estate are always location dependent), you can get a full set of construction drawings for a reasonably modest house (not attempting architectural flights of fancy and elements that appear to be suspended in midair, etc) in the 2000-3500 sq foot range for anywhere between $5-10K. The price is somewhat less dependent on the size of the house than how many changes happen over the course of the process and what sort of arrangement you make with your architect. (hourly vs. "sq foot" pricing vs. flat fee. Although nobody I talked to worked on a square footage basis.

    So, a stock plan will cost you, on average $1250-2K. And then you make changes.

    Take a look at the pricing structure for modifications by Don Gardner, as he was recommended by someone above:

    "Home plan modifications are done at an hourly rate of $165 with a 4 hour minimum required for the entire project. Estimates are based on the time expected to be needed to revise every detail of the original plan affected by the modifications, yielding a complete set of working drawings. The sample prices below are intended as a guideline; please complete a modification request form for a more accurate estimate based on a specific plan.

    Foundation Alterations: Standard Subterranean Basement to Daylight Walkout Basement - starting at $825

    Garage Alterations: Side Load to Front Entry, Front Entry to Side Load, Two Car to Three Car - starting at $495

    Modify Exterior to Brick - starting at $1,320

    Stretch a One-Story Home - starting at $660

    Stretch a Two-Story Home - starting at $990

    Completely changing the exterior facade to a different style - starting at $825

    Modify 8' Main Level Walls to 9' Main Level Walls - starting at $660

    Modify 9' Main Level Walls to 10' Main Level Walls - starting at $660"

    So, say you fell in love with Gardner's Charlotte:
    https://www.dongardner.com/house-plan/1363/the-charlotte

    So you can buy a PDF file of plans (which is what I got, from Mark. So, apples to apples) for $1410.

    But, your lot faces the other way. Reverse the design: $190

    And you want 10' ceilings. Now, Charlotte is larger than a lot of their other plans. SO if this service "starts at" $660, I think we'd better guess $1K is a more reasonable estimate.

    Oh, and you have a walk out lot, so let's change that basement: Probably another $800-1K

    And everybody on Houzz pointed out that the Great Room will be tight because both sides will be walkways, so, let's add a truss or two and lengthen the house in the center... say, $1250.

    Oh, and the exterior is a bit too cottage-y. You'd prefer a modern farmhouse. Lose the double columns and the arched windows, add some metal shed roof elements. Probably another $1K.

    Let's tote that up: $5850, for your modified stock plan. And that's all without moving any interior walls or making any changes to the layout. And - they're going to do exactly what you asked for. Even if you find in the end that the proportions are so changed that the end result is no longer pleasing to the eye. Go back and change it again? Still $165/hour.

    So, in my neck of the woods, a custom design is about the same as, or only a little more than modifying a stock plan. And that "little more" is the difference between two grades of hardwood flooring. What matters more? Select vs. character grade Hickory? Or a design that starts out both functional and well proportioned?



  • PRO
    5 years ago

    Are taconichills and robin0919 one and the same? From the comments above, seems like they may be...


    That would explain the similarity in their comments over time....!!!!????****####

  • 5 years ago
    I’m a big fan of architecturally designed houses, but all this talk about exactly how to situate the house on the lot doesn’t really apply everywhere (as someone alluded to above).
    In my city neighborhood, lot sizes are typically around 30’ x 130’. Not a lot of options on where to put the house, or how to orient it!
  • 5 years ago

    Yes, but you'll note that a lot of the folks who post links to online plans for review are building on 2 acres or more. And the general advice is "why are you plopping a house designed for a suburban lot onto acreage?" When you're actually building a suburban lot, you're right, there are not TOO many options. But I have seen instances where architects have even made good suggestions there for another way to lay a house to take advantage of specific features. And, a plan that will be oriented well on one lot might not be advisable across the street, where directions are reversed. (for instance, placing public spaces on the West into the glare of afternoon sun)

    Virgil, punctuation is sometimes the grammatical equivalent of nested gables, 4 types of siding, and extra columns. Some folks think it ads "interest" or "emphasis." And other people just twitch. ;-)

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    With small lot sizes in urban settings, it's understandable that house placement is very limited. That said, the configuration of the house may remain flexible to some degree, i.e., what are the natural light opportunities on the front, sides and rear of a given property, and to best take advantage of whatever opportunities may exist.


    The discussion about house placement and orientation in the majority of these threads is aimed at large properties where there are a range of possibilities for which many consumers may not be aware.