When looking for the perfect plan for your dream house, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the options available. There are literally thousands. A Google
search will reveal that the number of web sites present is pretty vast, too. Fortunately, as you start to delve into the inner workings of each web site, you will find that there are differences to each one that make some more suited to use in your search in others.
The first that jumped out at me was the Dream Home Source web site (www.dreamhomesource.com). Featuring more than 18,000 designs, Dream Home Source has a very rich search function. The user may input the exact range of square footage he is considering, but then has the luxury of using “drop down” selectors to create of range of bedrooms and bathrooms desired. Another exciting function is the list of features desired. The user can check as many as he’d like. If the search doesn’t provide enough options, then he can go back and uncheck one or two. The features listed cover numerous areas from location of master bedroom, location of laundry room, exterior style, and vaulted ceilings.
Once the list is compiled, the user can sort it by several different options including popularity or size. And once at the individual plan listing, the user is offered to search for similar plans or other plans by the same designer. Finally, the user is presented with an average cost to build. Although the cost details are pretty vague, being given as a low, medium and high average, a ballpark figure is incredibly helpful when weighing one plans details against another’s.
Almost as big a presence as on the web as the Dream Home site, was E-Plans (www.eplans.com). It has virtually the same search functions, however does have fewer features to be checked as desired. E-Plans does not offer the cross reference by designer or to similar plans. Another drawback is its size of data. E-Plans, about two-thirds of Dream Home’s size, has just under 11,000 plans available. Nonetheless, E-Plans is very user friendly and is another great starting point for the prospective custom home customer.
Less prominent on the web, another favorite home plan web site is Architectural Designs (www.architecturaldesigns.com). Although it has more plans in its database than E-plans, Architectural Designs has a much less customizable search engine than the web sites mentioned earlier. The exact number of bedrooms and bathrooms must be chosen, but the “drop down” feature is utilized on the square footage field. There is also no ability to select features desired. On the plus side, though, Architectural Designs offers a much more detailed cost estimate. However, there is a fee required to view that information.
Another site, showing over 14,000 plans, HDA (www.houseplansandmore.com) is a nice hybrid of the other web sites. Still using the “drop down” feature for the square footage field, HDA makes use of the range of rooms requested for the bedrooms and bathrooms. What makes HDA really special those is the estimated cost feature available. Unlike Dream Home or E-Plans’ estimates, HDA’s estimated is one number based upon the exact zip code specified by the user. Another fun feature is the ability to specify some search features as more important than others. For instance, the user can indicate that square footage should be placed above estimated cost to build, or vice versa. This tool can be incredibly handy when the user is really getting into the nitty-gritty of his house plan search.
Finally two more web sites deserve mention in the round-up of home plan websites. House Plans (www.houseplans.com) and Home Plans (www.homeplans.com) are both solid, worthy sources of plan information. Featuring over 26,000 designs, house plans is the largest site available, however, none of its other components are outstanding from its competitors. Home plans, also, has several of the benefits that the other web sites include.
Whichever web site is utilized, the search for the perfect home plan is a time-consuming one. At times, you will even realize that some plans are on more than one site. How unfair is that? But hopefully, this quick and dirty rundown will help guide you to the site best suited to your search and help you on that search for your perfect home.