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 House Plan design Phases   

  • CHOOSING A STOCK PLAN

   The house plan room pattern you or your architect creates from the site orientation is just that, a pattern from which a floor plan may be used to make a selection. From this pattern you will know just what to look for in a stock plan; maximum length; maximum width; floor plan layout; plan reversed or flipped. You might not find the perfect match, but you’ll find many house plans that come close.

   Choose a stock plan style that works within your budget. Complexity in design; be it the interior or the exterior cost more in material and labor. Reverse gables, dormers and raised plate lines are attractive, but greatly increase cost. Steep roof pitches, angled or curved walls could also effect your overall cost unless the planning is well thought out and the structural integrity considered by an expert.

   Stock plans are typically priced according to complexity, size, and exclusive rights. A house plan might be low in cost if it is an unlimited edition, meaning thousands could be built just like it, and maybe one right next door to you. No problem if you’re an average Joe, but there are some architects that offer exclusive rights for the immediate geographical location of the buyer, making the house plan more valuable.

   Chances are; if you’ve ordered a set of stock plans from a warehouse; the plans will need to be modified in order to meet local codes; or foundation requirements. Most architectural services will make revisions to the stock plan you purchase from their firm; If the changes you want are minimal, there’s a good chance your builder will just redline the prints. If the house plan you have chosen is offered by a seller that does not provide this service, you’ll need to purchase the plan and get written permission before turning it over to another service.

 Copyright infringement is actively pursued by most architectural designers, and the fine can be up to a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. An architectural service convicted of copyright infringement could lose its license; the building contractor likewise; and the home owner may be fined for using plans without the proper authorization.

  • CUSTOM DESIGN

   There are few who venture into the world of custom house planning design and build. Most buyers have to see what the purchase; it has to exist. Most buyers lack the vision, or the faith for this method, but a few of us have very specific demands; we know what we want, we are particular if not eccentric, and can’t find it on the market. Many times over the years I’ve received custom plans that my clients have created themselves. Sometimes it works out fine, but more often than not, the critical dimensions are off, and there is little if any thought given to structural design.

   A professional can design your custom house plan considering specific house plan floor and roof loads. This reduces costs greatly by eliminating structural waste. Many times over the years I’ve seen expensive beams incorporated into the framing because the structure wasn’t considered during the design process.

         ROUGH SKETCH DESIGN

  If your architect draws your house plan on a table top, the rough sketch design may be free handed, and even colored. Using the pattern created from the site orientation, the actual house plan itself is created. If your architect works on the computer the rough draft of the house plan may be hard lined or maybe built in a 3D program.

   No matter how the house plan design is represented, this first and rough draft of your house plan should be roughly to scale, and should be very close to the size and square footage goal you have established. From this draft, you’ll decide what does and doesn’t work for you; what you like and don’t like. The changes or revisions you request, if not too great, will be incorporated into the next phase.

   If the over all house plan design doesn’t work for you, the architect may give it a second shot and maybe even a third, but if you deviate from the room pattern that has been met with your approval, you may be charged an additional fee.

   From this rough draft of the house plan, you should be able to determine the general lay out and if you are pleased. Study the house plan and mentally live in it, pretending to cook in the kitchen, or soak in the spa. Imagine yourself in each room, doing the things that you do; make believe. Take your time before moving forward to the next phase.

  •  PRELIMINARY DESIGN

   Typically, the preliminary house plan design is a scaled, hard line drawing, showing the detailed layout of the floor plan(s), but with no actual structural or building notes, and no dimensioning except for overall length and width. This house lan will show the general layout with windows and doors located; which will all need to meet with your approval.

   This is your last chance to revise room sizes or make any changes, which should be within reason. If you determine the house plan design is not for you, or the changes you request require a total redraw, the architect or designer may charge an additional fee; the argument is sound; if your changes include deviating from the rough draft of the house plan design.

   These preliminary house plans may include floor plan(s); exterior front view; and possibly an exterior side view. If you want or need a specific measurement, a ruler may be used. Typically, the scale will be called out on the house plan drawings. If you are using a ruler, one inch would be the equivalent to four feet. If the home you are planning is quite large, the scale may be reduced to; 1/8” so that it may be printed at a reasonable size.

The standard architectural scale is ” = 1’-0”

  • CALCULATING SQUARE FOOTAGE OF A NEW HOME

   Square footage is calculated using the exterior wall dimensions; For example, if your house plan is 30’ wide by 50’ long, not including the garage, the size of the structure would be 1500 SF (square feet) Unheated square footage is not included in this figure, but be warned that covered porches, bonus rooms over the garage and basements, and the size of your garage will affect the overall square footage cost of your project.

   There are many house plan standards that architects use in home designing, such as; ceiling height. The standard ceiling height is 8’, but today the market is demanding a higher ceiling and house plans are being more commonly built with 9’ ceilings; more prominent homes may have 10’, 12’ or even 16’ ceilings. If your home is has a room two stories tall, possibly open to a loft or second floor plan above it would be considered as a clearstory ceiling. Ceiling with one sided slopes are termed as vaulted, and ceilings with a two sided slope meeting at the highest point are called cathedral ceilings.

   If you house plan has the standard ceiling height of 8’, you will have doors that are no taller than 6’-8”, but if your house plan has higher ceilings, you have the option to use doors that are 8’ tall. Choose these doors wisely, as they will add to the cost of your house plan. There is a lot of controversy about the width of doors, but your builder will use the standards if not told differently. Door sizes should be called out on the final house plan drawings.

   If you want your house plan to have wheel chair access, considered at 3’-0”, this additional width for doors will increase the cost of your home considerably. Standard door sizes are; bathroom, closets…2’-0” Bedroom…2’-6”  Front door…3’-0”  Garage entry door…2’-8” Garden Drs…2’-0” to 3’-0” Garage overhead doors…8’-0” x 7’-0”single or 16’-0” x 7’-0” double:

   Any final changes or revisions you desire on your house plan are typically incorporated into the next phase and final house plan drawing phase. Make certain that your beds will fit squarely; that your dining room table will sit comfortably in its place. Make certain that all of your needs and wants have been obtained by taking a fair amount of time to review these plans. This is a good time to start meeting with building contractors. From these preliminary house plans, an estimated cost can be prepared before moving forward to the final working drawings.

You might have a builder in mind before you start the house planning process, but if not, shop around. Meet with several contractors that have good references, and compare prices and methods. You should never have to pay for an estimate, but realize these numbers are going to be generalized until the contract is signed. Estimating the cost to build a home requires a great deal of time, sometimes it takes weeks to pull these figures together.

  • CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS

   A standard set of house plan construction documents includes; a plot plan which is a plat showing the house; drive and walk; foundation plan; floor plans; and 4 exterior elevations. Depending on the complexity and size of the project, your package may or may not include additional sheets such as; cross sections and details; roof framing or roof diagram; floor framing; lighting plans; interior elevations; land usage plan;

From these house plan construction documents a detailed estimate can be created. The builder should be able to calculate in precise measurement the amount of materials needed.

  These construction documents are typically generalized with only the information needed for building included. You or your builder will decide what finish materials; brand names; colors and styles which will be used. Besides your design criteria, the architect or house planner of your choice will need to know; what size appliances you’re using; what type of flooring material, such as tile, wood or carpet; ceiling heights; wall thickness; and whether or not you prefer concrete slab flooring or a crawl space; preferred building methods, such as wood frame construction, insulated concrete, or foam core panels. 

   There are many various home building systems on the market today, but the standard method of construction is wood framing; there is a reason for this; it meets the national home building codes and allows for a high insulation value for the most affordable cost in comparison to other systems.

These constructions documents are a part of your building contract; Any revisions, other than minor interior changes need to be approved by you, the builder and your bank if your project is financed.

   Some architects go into great detail; calling out window and door schedules; trim detail and framing detail; some down to the last nut and bolt; These elaborate house plan construction documents require a an additional fee and typically create an added expense in labor on the job. Too much detail can actual slow the progress of a project, but for those of you that can afford it, it’s added insurance of getting just what you want; with no surprises. If the house plans have been finalized and you’ve changed your mind about a design feature or two; the architect will probably charge and additional fee for the trouble.

The builder will need several sets of reproductions of house plan prints throughout the building process which can cost a few hundred dollars; This charge can be paid out of pocket or paid from your over all house plan building budget.      

 

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