How to Buy House Plans


Having trouble finding an existing house that you want to buy? Consider buying plans and building your own home. That set of blueprints, with or without minor modifications, may well be the first step you take to create your dream home.

Determine the size of the house you can afford to build. The National Association of Home Builders ( has information on the average cost per square foot for new homes in any area. Multiply the square footage of the home you want by the average cost per square foot to determine a ballpark cost.

Draw up a detailed, prioritized list of what you want your home to include in terms of number of bedrooms and baths, and garage size. What are must-haves and what can you live without? Include outdoor features such as porches, decks and a pool.

Ask yourself how you want to use the house now and in the future. Do you like to entertain? Do you want a casual great room or formal dining and living rooms? Will your home eventually need to accommodate aging parents, returning adult children or grandchildren? Do you need a separate entrance for an au pair?

Consider your lot requirements, such as sloping, corner or zero-lot line (where one side of the house sits on one lot line). Foundation options (basement, crawlspace or slab) will be dependent on what the lot will allow, based on the grade and other factors. If you've found plans for your ideal home, buy them and then look for a lot on which that particular layout will work. Otherwise, if you find the perfect lot (see <a href="" target="_top">How to Buy a Lot</a>), you'll need to be pickier as you choose your home plans in order to be sure that they'll fit on your land.

Browse house plan catalogs and magazines found at home improvement stores or bookstores. Many architects offer plans for sale online. Some sites let you specify exactly what features you want, such as a certain size kitchen or number of bedrooms.

Evaluate the plan for overall size, traffic patterns, appealing exterior materials, efficient use of space and materials, and well-planned work and storage areas. Ask a contractor to review the blueprints as well.

Expect to spend anywhere from $400 to $1,300 for plans depending on the project size and level of complexity. Buy up to eight nonreproducible sets--enough to distribute to tradespeople, contractors and lenders, or one reproducible master set.

Hire an architect to review your plans. He or she can make any modifications you think are necessary. See <a href="" target="_top">How to Hire an Architect</a>.

Tips & Warnings

  • Chances are good that plans will need to be adapted to meet your family's specific needs, so don't be afraid to make modifications with the help of an architect. Seismic and local building requirements will also likely mandate changes.

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