Building Your Dream Home, But Where Do You Start?

You have finally found the perfect lot, in the neighborhood of your choice, and at a price you can afford. Now you have to decide what type of house you want built. In fact you may even know the house you want, be it a big rambling farmhouse, with a wrap-a-round porch reminiscent of your grandmother’s home, a rustic log cabin or a more modern luxurious home. Whatever you choose, the first thing you will need is a set of house plans.
An architect can draw up plans to your exact specifications, but this can be very expensive. A building contractor may show a selection of home plans to choose from, but perhaps a better less costly idea would be to purchase a set of pre-drawn house plans. There are magazines and web sites where you can purchase plans for just about any style house you could imagine.

Most House plans web sites allow you to search, by house style, such as country, cottage, log cabin, Tudor or luxury home. You can also search by price, designer, number of bedrooms, number of stories, garage etc. not all sites offer all search options.

Informational articles, or FAQs (frequently asked Questions) are available on most sites. These provide information about the different types of plan sets available and what is included in each, making changes to the house plan you choose, return policy, finding a builder, return policy, and a number of other questions. For Questions not covered in the information section, there is usually a toll free number you can call to get the answers to your questions.
The types of house plan sets are: Construction sets. Which consists of 5 to 8 complete sets of plans. This set is what you will need, to get a building permit, arrange financing, and actually get your house built. The plans in this set include, exterior views (elevations), floor and roof plans, basement or foundation plans, Building sections, electrical schematic, and usually information about such things as structural specifications, excavation and grading, flooring material, carpentry, and tiling. A building license, not to be confused with a building permit, is included. The license allows you to use the plans to create your dream home.

A reproducible set is available for making minor changes to your plans. The plan is drawn on erasable vellum or Mylar. This set comes with a Copyright Release, allowing you to make as many copies as needed to accommodate the changes you make to the original plan. It also comes with a building, license, but you may not construct more than one house without first getting a multi-use license from the company.

The CAD set is intended for use when you will have a local architect make major changes to the original house plans. It also includes a copyright release so that your designer can make copies as needed. Again you need to get a multi-use license if you intend to build more than one house.

A study set, is used primarily for estimating costs, it usually doesn’t include foundation plans and may not be copied. No license is included and comes marked with a “Not for Construction” label. Lastly there is the Single set it is for obtaining bids, it also bears the “Not for Construction” label, and no license is provided.

The designers of pre-drawn house plans do their drawings to meet national building codes. It is possible that you will need to hire a local architect to bring your plans up to code for your area. It may be wise to contact your local building agency and to find out what is required to get a building permit.

At last you have chosen the plans for your new home, obtained financing, and your plans meet code. What comes next? You need to hire a building contractor, and sub contractors, for electricity and plumbing. Where do you begin? Most areas license contractors, so make sure that the people you interview, have the right qualifications, and licenses. If you had a local designer to alter your plans she may be able to refer you to some qualified, reputable contractors in your area. If you have had electrical or plumbing work done in your present home, that person may have the name of a good builder. Always ask for and check references, Also, make sure your contract provides for redress if the work is not completed, done properly and to code standards Once you hire a qualified builder, he should have the names of plumbers, air conditioning specialists and electricians that he has worked with in the past. Check the Better Business Bureau to see if the person you are considering has any complaints lodged against them.

The companies that sell house plans will usually make minor changes to your plan, for an additional charge and it may not be necessary to hire a local designer. However, the changes must be requested at the time of purchase.
It is possible to have your plans reversed in most cases. If your breakfast nook faces north for instance and the best view from your lot is to the south, you can ask to have the plans reversed. Most house plan web sites allow you to view the reversed image on line. Occasionally the view can’t be seen on line, but most companies will email you a reversed view in that case.

One thing the plans do not include is the actual layout of the electrical, plumbing and air conditioning work, since the designers have no way to know where on your lot these lines would enter the house. Your contractor s will have no problem working that out.

There are dozens of home styles to choose from .A- frame to Victorian. One search option is size. A small house is anything up to 1500sq. ft. of living space, a medium size is from 1500 to 2500 sq. ft. A home over 2500sq.ft is considered large.

A luxury home is also 2500 sq. ft. or more and has extras, such as large main floor master bedroom suite, walk in closets, media room, and home office. Premium homes are also large, often 5000sq.ft. In addition to the Master bedroom suite and extra special use rooms, they generally have a bathroom for each bedroom. Music room’s media centers, and offices are common. The garages with these houses are often larger than 600sq.ft

Your dream house is out there, you just need to do your homework. When you find the right plan to suit your family and your lot. Make sure your contractor is licensed, reputable and qualified to do the work and adheres to your local building code. Be sure that your contract protects you if the work isn’t done to code. Stay in touch with the contractor, visit the site often, be there when the last detail is completed. Now relax and enjoy your new home.