Understanding House Plans & Getting a Good Deal

January 18, 2009

Its been said that when building a new house, you’re faced with the all-too-common dilemma of finding a house plan that you love AND one that you can live in. This actually is kind of tough, and many new builders struggle through the selection process tirelessly. They go to all the websites and look at all the pretty renderings of house plans on picturesque lots. Well the truth is, its not like you’re buying a car, where you can test drive it for a little while.

Let’s not be mistaken. House plan websites offer an incredible service, providing many house plans in one convenient place. Their professionals can modify the design, flip the house around, or even give you a material list and cost to build. One would think that you couldn’t go wrong with such a service. But unfortunately, these websites are very proud of their plans. Though you may have fallen in love with a particular plan, you may take a pass on the whole process simply because you can’t afford their prices.

For example, let’s examine the typical pricing structure of a house plan website:

Study Set (marked not for construction): $500 - $700

Eight Sets (non-reproducible): $800 - $1000

Reproducible Set: $1000 - $1200

Full Reproducible Set with CAD file: :1200 - $1500

Of course, these prices are generalizations, but anyone who’s familiar with these websites knows that they’re not far from actuality. Many people simply get discouraged because the upfront cost of a house plan that they’ll have to have modified by a local architect anyway is too high. As a result, future homeowners and new builders put off their plans, or secure the services of a local professional. But why are these prices so high? None of the websites can offer you a reasonable explanation. Sure, its their product and they can charge whatever they’d like, but is the market value of house plans really so high?

In order to understand the “actual” value of a house plan, let’s examine the process of creating them. First, a customer comes to a local architect or drafts-person and requests a custom-drawn plan. They discuss the elements of the home, both interior and exterior, and then the professional gets to work. Usually, the homeowner can expect a fee of between $1000 and $3000 for the services the designer. After a lengthy process of review and modifications, the designer reaches completion and delivers the plan to the customer. At this point, the designer has been paid for their services

Now, the customer has their product, and the designer has a house plan on file that can be sold at a later date. Some savvy designers decide to partner with these plan websites, who will then market the plans for the prices listed above.

You see, the main cost of the house plan has already been covered by the original customer. There’s nothing wrong with trying to sell the plans for this amount, but its really not necessary. As a potential home-builder, you should diligently seek other options. Once you sift through the first couple of hundred websites on a typical internet search, you’ll begin to come across some legitimate businesses that have plans for sale at reasonable rates. You’ll also come across companies that will provide you with custom drafting services so that you can have the exact plan that you want. Remember, that no matter where you buy your plan from, or no matter who produces it, you’ll still likely have to procure the services of a local architect or engineer in order to satisfy building department requirements.

In conclusion, be patient and don’t get overwhelmed with all the high-priced plans. Seek out local businesses and internet companies that provide house plans for reasonable rates. Most of them are designers that are selling their pre-drawn plans. Don’t be afraid of low-cost options, but make sure to verify the quality of work that you’ll be getting. And don’t forget the end cost, where you’ll have to pay for the services of a local professional. Many people have found themselves much better off by purchasing a low-cost plan, then having someone local bring it up to code or make modifications. If you go that route, you’ll very likely to end up paying less than the full purchase cost of a house plan website.

Seth G Simmons is the owner and operator of SGS Contracting Services, LLC, a Florida-based business. For more information about him or the company, or to view house plans for sale, please visit his website at:


At his website, you can purchase house plans or inquire about any of his many services related to the construction industry.

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