The cost of house plans can vary greatly, depending on your needs and desires. Traditionally, architects have been hired to draft designs, however there are a number of alternate methods of acquiring house plans, including ordering from a catalog, house design software or the use of a general contractor's design services. Although some states and municipalities require an architect, most do not, however it is extremely important you check with your authority having jurisdiction's (AHJ's) code requirements and zoning ordinances before completing the design of house plans.
Hiring an Architect
House plans developed by an architect require a few months and usually cost between $1000 and $4000 USD, however the cost can grow much larger if you would like very detailed construction documents. Although this may be the most expensive option, it will allow you to have the house of your dreams, without sacrificing quality.
Purchasing House Plans from a Catalog
House plan catalogs are available online and at bookstores. Thousands of house plans are available, and they cost $400-$1200 USD, depending on the number and type of plan sets purchased. Although there are many pre-drafted house plans, none may suit your needs perfectly--alterations may be necessary to suit your needs.
Home Design Software
Home design software is available at many stores and on the internet. The software costs $60-$300 USD, and it allows you to be the architect. However, you might not meet code and zoning requirements using the software. Consult your building department's officials.
A general contractor can provide basic drawings for $200-$500 USD, but the plans might not be for the house of your dreams. Try to review the contractors plans as often as possible.
There are design alternatives available today, including design-build and fast-tracking. Design-build is the combination of the services of the contractor and architect into one package. These services can be included in the price of the house or equal to an architect's fees, however you only work with one party--the design-builder, instead of an architect and general contractor. Fast-tracking shortens the design and construction time by overlapping the phases of design and construction. The fees for this service may increase the cost of design to $1500-$5000 USD, but the construction costs should be decreased by the overlapping phasing. These alternatives may not be allowed in your jurisdiction--check with your building department.