Building a Home: Putting Together a House Plan

If you are a first time home builder, here are three questions which will help you determine if you are ready to move on to the next step:

1) Have you decided whether you want a rural, urban or suburban location for your new house?

2) Have you narrowed down the locale and selected a site?

3) Finally, have you ensured that you comply with the zoning ordinances?

If you’ve answered “yes” to those questions, then it’s time to put together a house plan.

A house plan is a series of drawings detailing what you’re going to construct and how you’ll be building it. These drawings or papers include the floor plans, the elevations, the interior elevation details, the sections and the structural set.

The house plan will also contain details on the foundation, the framing, the electrical wiring, the roof and the plumbing.

Many times a house plan will also include renderings of the imagined house from the front, from the sides, from the back and even from above. These views will help you solidify the concept of your house in your mind, and give you an idea of how it will look on the actual property.

Now here is what you need to do next:

Secure an Architect or Design Firm

When you’re putting together a house plan, you will benefit greatly from the options and advice of a reputable architect or design firm–especially if you’re a first time home builder.

If you don’t know where to find an architect or design firm, check with friends who have built their own houses, or do a Google search. Look specifically for firms that build houses (not coops or businesses).

Or…Get Relevant Software or Books

If you would rather create a house plan from scratch using computer software or by reading books, you can do that too. Several ready-made plans can be found on line and at your local book store.

Before you decide to tackle this on your own, keep in mind that experts recommend that persons preparing their own house plans should have some training in structural engineering and plan drafting.

Discuss Your Budget

If you have hired an architect or design firm don’t be afraid to discuss your financial constraints with the representative that has been assigned to you. It’s important that you tell her or him what you can and can not afford.

Some first time home buyers erroneously believe that their architect or design firm will not be able to accommodate their dream home if they disclose their budgetary concerns; this is usually not the case!

In most cases you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what experienced professionals can do while working within your means!

To stay on track, get frequent feedback about cost from your builder, even if she or he can only give you a ballpark figure.

Important note: don’t make changes once the actual construction on your house has begun, or at least keep the alterations to a minimum. The costs can sky rocket if you change your mind about your plans after the building process starts.

Plan Your House Features Well

You need to plan the features of your home so that you and your family can stay in the house for many years to come. For instance, you might decide to include several extra bedrooms, if you have children. As they get older, children tend to want their own rooms.

Or, if you are planning on having children in the future, your design might include a den that can be remodeled into bedrooms.

In addition, your elderly parents or other relatives may come to live with you some day. For that purpose, you may want to consider adding wider doorways and other factors designed to accommodate older persons who might have trouble getting around.

Finally, optional elements like a swimming pool or a carport might be incorporated into the house plans.

Keep On Top of the Codes

You may have heard the phrase “up to code”. It means that you are in compliance with the local home building codes. Building codes exist to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare.

If you have an architect or design firm, make sure that the person you are working with is aware of what these codes are. If you don’t have an architect or design firm working with you, go online and search publications that put out user friendly checklists for do-it-yourselfers. (Tauton Press has published a checklist booklet that is easy to understand.)

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