Building a new home can be an exciting experience whether you already own a home or you’re just getting started as a homeowner – you get the opportunity to choose the home you want at the budget you want and use the materials you want, allowing you to truly personalize your new home rather than buying an existing home and modifying it to suit. However, building a new home can be fraught with pitfalls for even an experienced homeowner, not the least of which includes drawing up house plans. Unless you’re an experienced architect who has the necessary background, you’re more than likely going to need to consult one. This can easily add thousands of dollars to your budget, owing to the need to meet with an architect to discuss the project, have them draft plans and revise them – not to mention if you have a particularly large or complex design in mind for your new home, this can also drive your budget up as well.
Buying blueprints for your new home online can be an alternative to consulting an architect, but again there are various factors you need to consider:
Designs Available: Naturally, buying pre-drafted floor plans does save you money over a custom design but you may be limited to a set number of designs that might not be exactly what you’re looking for. However – the advantage here is that you’re dealing with a proven design that can be executed as intended rather than a custom design that may have specific issues that an engineer may need to be consulted on.
Local Building Codes: This can be a particularly thorny issue for some homeowners, especially in areas such as California or Florida where any new construction may require additional modifications to bring them up to code in the event of earthquakes, hurricanes or other natural disasters. When buying blueprints online, be sure to find out if you can modify them as needed to suit your local area’s building codes.
Utilities: Due to the immense variations across building codes from area to area when it comes to utilities, building plans purchased online will not include plans for the utilities aside from a rough electrical diagram that gives suggestions as to placements for outlets and switches. You will need to consult contractors for the plumbing and electrical plans in order to determine the best way to install them in your new home.
Choosing A Builder: Once you have the plans in hand, you’ll need to choose the right home builder. Will they be able to build the home based on the plans you have in mind, whether it’s a one-story 2-bedroom bungalow or a two-story Victorian with 3 bedrooms? Will they be able to build it within your budget? Can they advise you of any potential issues with the design that may arise due to local codes? These are just some of the factors you’ll need to keep in mind.
Land: Is the plot you have in mind to build your home on suitable? Setbacks from the property line, easements for utilities, soil conditions and even the local homeowner’s association can all affect whether you will be able to use your design of choice.
John Kramer is a home improvement enthusiast who writes on a variety of home improvement topics. Follow him on Twitter!