Starting with a Stock House Plan: First Steps
By Jennifer Hermes
A full set of working drawings accompanies this L-shaped ranch house Plan 888-8.
Excited to Begin?
Four Steps to Getting Started
You’ve decided to build your new home: now you face an array
of choices and “next steps.” It may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. “It’s
actually straightforward,” says Nick Lee, Houseplans.com chief architect. “Find
a plan, customize it, engineer it, build it.”
We realize it’s not quite that simple, but here, Nick walks you through how to begin thinking
about these steps. In future posts, we’ll share steps of the process in more
1. Choose a plan.
With the wide variety of plans
available here, it’s easy to find the perfect house. And every plan is
flexible. “Instead of buying a home built by a developer in a subdivision,
you’ll get exactly what you want for your site and your needs,” says Nick.
Search the plans by number of
bedrooms, bathrooms, stories, square footage, and more. Narrow your results by
architecture style, lot features, or structure type.
2. Customize it.
You’ve found a plan. Now what?
It’s time to make it yours. If you’d like a different orientation of the master
suite to take advantage of great views, for example, our architects can make
that happen. The house becomes customized to your exact needs.
Then begin making decisions about
materials, fixtures, appliances, doors and windows, floors, and other elements
that make a home special.
A great place to start is with our
questionnaire that walks you through each room of the house to pinpoint exactly
what you want.
“Spend time making these
decisions,” Nick recommends. “Don’t rush, because these decisions are worth
tens of thousands of dollars.”
3. Put it out to bid.
When you put the project out to
bid with contractors, letting them know others are bidding will give you some
leverage. It helps to have a format, like an Excel spreadsheet, to organize
your bids, so you can input the information and compare apples to apples.
Get referrals. Ask: Were they
timely? Professional? Did they come in on budget? How did they handle problems?
Look at samples, see their projects. Remember, the lowest bid is not always the
4. Choose a contractor and begin building.
Plan ahead, Nick recommends. “You
can’t begin building right away. In most places, it can take six weeks just to have
your plans approved through the building department – and that’s after you’ve
taken the time to make your other decisions.”
Begin at least six months in
advance, expecting to begin building in March or April. You could be ready to move
into your new home when the weather turns.