How to Save Money on Custom Home Plans

How to Save Money on Custom Home Plans
By Craig Swanson

Once you have made the decision that you want to live in a home that no one else has lived in before, then you must decide between building a house from a set of floor plans that have been used perhaps hundreds of times or from a set of plans that have been designed specifically for your new home. Plans you would buy from a plan book or off the internet are stock plans and there are thousands available. Since this is such a huge industry, I would assume that this route is one that many people choose to take. With so many variations of floor plans it seems quite possible to find just the right one, or at least one that needs only a few modifications. If that is the case for you, find a builder and go. But there are many that want to create something that is a unique expression of who they are as well as how they live. The problem is that while they know who they are and how they live, they don’t know the first thing about designing a new home and drafting floor plans. If you fit into this category then you need to get a set of house plans drawn by a professional before you and your builder can break ground. Here a few things to do to make that as economical and painless as possible.

1.) Buy or borrow as many plan books and magazines as possible. You probably already have a good idea of what you want, but have an open mind. Looking at these books will get the creative juices flowing and give you ideas.

2.) Surf the net looking for plans and pictures. Set up a “house ideas” file in the Favorites menu of your browser and bookmark the webpages you like there.

3.) Go to builders’ open houses. This is really where you get the feel of things. Builders that have open houses are trying to sell in the current market and so they know the latest trends and what other people want in new homes. Don’t be afraid to take a tape measure and camera. For all they know, you could hire them to build your new home once you have the plan.

4) Start tinkering with putting a floorplan together yourself. If you are computer savvy, get a cheap house plan designing program or download a free one from the Internet. They are usually simple and easy to learn. If you don’t want to bother putting out that effort, then just get some graph paper and a ruler and start drawing.

The truth is that you can design your own home, you just need to hire someone to draft a full set of house plans from the design that you came up with after doing your own homework. A big part of the cost in having custom home plans drawn is in the time it takes for the draftsman to figure out what you want. A hand drawn or digital floor plan that you bring in along with as many pictures as possible, should put your draftsman to work after one meeting. The more complete and thorough you are the less you should have to pay. Just make sure you find someone who will give you credit for doing your homework.

Craig Swanson is a second generation home builder in Spokane, Washington. to learn more about him or his company, Craig’s Building Services, go to

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Francis Gichuhi (692 Posts)

Architect Francis Gichuhi . B.Arch. University of Nairobi. Registered Architect, Kenya. Member, Architectural Association of Kenya. Contacts. email Telephone +254721410684


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