How Online House Plans vs Architect Plans Differ

You’ve decided to build a house, but your tight budget means you need to find ways to save money without cutting corners. That fact has led you to consider purchasing house plans online. The option of buying online house plans vs architect plans comes down to your need for customization. Let’s consider what each option offers, then cover some of the options you can use to make an online house plan look custom-built once constructed.

Online House Plans

Generically referred to as online house plans, the housing industry calls these stock plans or mass-produced plans. These types of plans existed long before the Internet. Today, some of the purveyors of these plans still publish lookbooks of their plans with photos of model homes built from them. When you find the house style you want, you simply order that plan by its number.

As straightforward as that sounds, before you try to purchase these plans, which typically cost $1,000 or less, consider your needs. Online house plans create generic designs that address essential needs. They don’t address specific problems; they offer designs for the masses.

Consider your reasons for wanting to build a home. Do you need a home with a specific configuration, such as a mother-in-law’s apartment with no steps? Do you need a baby nursery big enough for three children because you just learned you’re carrying triplets? An online plan won’t address those needs.

It’s safe to choose an online plan if you need the basics, like a three-bedroom, two-bathroom Cape Cod with all the bedrooms in the rear or upstairs. Stock plans can provide a gorgeous home, but it won’t resemble a custom home. Only adding custom interior features, such as built-in bookcases or a carved wood mantle can do that.

Architectural House Plans

Conversely, architectural plans require time to create. You’ll need to meet with an architect to discuss your needs. Explain all of your reasons for wanting to build a new home and why you chose a custom design option. Tell your architect if you experience issues with the layout of your current home, such as a too-small home office or an inappropriately shaped room for its use.

An architect designs your home plans from scratch to your specifications. If you want windows that stretch nearly floor to ceiling, you get it. An architect can create plans for a retro mid-century modern home with all the modern smart home technologies. That can save you from the open plans that permeate the Internet.

This level of customization costs up to $60,000, but in some areas can cost as little as $5,000. Architects charge hourly rates ranging from $100 to $250. If you need a custom design, the cost can prove worth it since you will reside in a home you love.

Hiring an Engineering Firm

Regardless of whether you pick architectural plans or online stock plans, you will need to hire an engineering firm as well. The engineering firm confirms that the plans present an architecturally sound design that meets all building code requirements. Once this firm certifies your plans, you can hire your building contractor.

Creating a Seemingly Custom Home from Stock Plans

Many options exist for the later customization of a stock plan design. When you consider online house plans vs architect plans, know that through landscaping, decorating, and custom furnishings, you can create the feel of an architecturally designed home. Let’s consider some of the many ways to do this.

Plumbing Blueprints

While your home design might be stock, your plumbing plans should relate only to your home. When you consider online house plans vs architect-designed plans for a house, you should know that the plans do not include full plumbing specifications. You will need a plumber to design and install your plumbing lines.

If you have a large family, consider low-flow toilets and a tankless water heater. Have your plumber install back flow prevention to guard against sewage backup in your home. Also, contact a compactor business to install a food compactor and a trash compactor in your kitchen. These two separate devices can significantly reduce the amount of garbage you take to the curb for pickup.

Creating the Electrical Design You Need

When you build a custom home, you choose the site of your electrical outlets and how many the home features. Stock homes may feature a lot of outlets, but they might not locate them where you need them. If you pick a stock home plan, work with an electrician to add to the home the outlets and electrical options you need. An electrician can create a smart home for you by adding the options that your online house plan did not include.

What do today’s bespoke home designs typically include that stock homes or modular homes do not? Today’s architecturally designed homes typically feature:

  • A high-speed charger for an electric vehicle in the garage
  • A smart thermostat
  • Smart appliances, including refrigerator, water heater, and freezer
  • A multimedia room
  • A home office with well-placed electrical outlets.

A talented electrician can help you add these items to a stock plan home.

Landscaping Incentives

Landscaping offers another equalizer between online house plans vs architect drawn plans. Hire a landscape architect to design a comprehensive plan for your property that creates curb appeal and customizes the appearance of the home. This lawn plan should include garden plots for flowers, shrubs, trees, and hardscapes. To create a beautiful landscape that lasts through any weather, consider xeriscaping.

Some construction firms only prepare the actual building site by clearing it. That means you may need to hire brush clearing companies to create a space for your landscaper to work. This clean slate lets them plant in freshly tilled land.

Landscape all four sides of your home, not just the front. Creating continuity between the front, side, and rear yards provides a bespoke appearance and adds to your home’s curb appeal. If a side yard remains too narrow to feature a garden and walkway, use stepping stones to create a path and place small or medium-sized outdoor planters along the home’s exterior wall.

Keep a Safe Lawn

Creating a safe lawn means delineating open space for play and separate areas to admire that contain gardens. Maintain the lawn, ensuring that no thorny vines or burrs grow in it. Also, police it to remove any trash, such as broken bottles, so your kids don’t require a visit to the local pediatric office for a cut on their foot.

Locate an outdoor trash can out of sight from the street view, but easy enough to access that everyone who enters your yard can place refuse in it. Let neighborhood children who play at your home know that all trash, especially glass and aluminum or tin cans must go in the trash, not in the yard. This contributes to your lawn’s safety and beauty.

Open Spaces for Movement

When considering online house plans vs architect-created plans, consider your exterior needs, too. A custom architectural plan can include a carport or portico that lets you show off an electric bike for sale. The same architectural design can include a multi-vehicle garage that enables your family to park its automobiles inside. Otherwise, a landscape architect can add a carport as a hardscape to your stock plan home, but it may not appear as fully integrated as it would if the carport belonged to the original design.

Different Furniture Situations

The indoor and outdoor furniture that you choose can also balance the divergence between online house plans vs architect-drawn plans. Layering Persian rugs in hardwood or tile floors creates depth and adds color and texture to the room. Drapes or curtains with valances and tie-backs create picturesque windows.

Windows comprise at least two-thirds of many homes, contributing light and lovely views. Consider using a power window kit or installing windows with a solar film that blocks harsh UV rays to protect your skin and furnishings. Stick with low emission (low-E) windows and choose at least double pane designs to maximize your home’s energy efficiency. An energy-efficient home design costs you less money in monthly utilities.

Purchase furniture that seems opulent or custom-designed, even if it came from a store. Consider chairs and tables that feature exam table upholstery, the black leather used on doctor’s exam tables. This reasonably priced upholstery looks great for years and feels comfortable to snuggle into for hours.

Online Resources

Maybe you don’t need to build a new home, you just need to renovate your existing one. For this option, you need to hire an architect or a general contractor who employs one. You could search all day for the best condo website for stock plans, and you won’t find one because stock plans only refer to new builds.

You can find stock plans for improvement projects, such as how to build a dividing wall with a built-in bookcase. Many home improvement and hobbyist carpentry websites offer these types of project plans. To explore these options, visit the websites for Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, Rockler, and home improvement project sites like Home Stratosphere and Bob Vila.

Before you make changes to your condo or apartment that you own, check with the condo owner’s association about any limitations. Your purchase agreement should contain a link to any covenants that apply to your home or a copy of the covenant text. As long as you modify the interior within these guidelines, you can alter the interior of your condo or apartment as you like. Consider installing a dividing wall to create two rooms out of a cavernous one that seems impersonal.

Overall Management

Renovating a home also lets you skip the online house plans vs architect plans consideration because you will need a custom plan to alter the structure. Check with your local municipal office to obtain a permit application. These applications require you to submit a copy of the engineer-approved blueprints for your project.

When you make repairs to a home, such as a stucco repair project, you typically don’t need a permit. You won’t alter the initial structure of the home for this type of repair, you simply restore it to its initial state. Likewise, if you repair a retaining wall, you typically do not need a permit, but if you erect one, you do.

You can save your heirs some time, trouble, and money by renovating or making major repairs like a roof replacement during your estate planning process. Ensuring that every major home improvement need gets addressed before you place a home in a trust can simplify things for your beneficiaries. You will know that whatever happens to you, the home your spouse or children inherit remains habitable and safe.

Do You Need an Architect Designed Home?

Hopefully, this article has helped you consider the question of whether your home project requires online house plans vs architect custom plans. In review, if you need to build a home to solve problems you’ve discovered with your current home, like a layout that doesn’t work as you age or too few bedrooms in a growing family, go with an architecturally designed home. If you merely need a larger home or one with a home office and a bonus room that you can transform into a second home office, choose the stock plans.

The minimum cost difference between stock plans and architect drawn plans equals about $4,000. That translates to hefty savings that you can apply to building your dream home. If you reside in an area where architects charge higher rates per hour, the savings of choosing a stock plan that you modify can equal up to $59,000.

Perusing stock plans of homes online can’t hurt and could provide you with ideas for a home renovation that negates the need to build a new home. Whichever option you choose, add landscaping and hardscapes to provide a finished look to your abode. Ramping up your curb appeal can improve the appearance and utility of any home.