The House Plan Shop Blog

Dec 18 2015

Snow Shoveling Safety Tips – The House Plan Shop

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Category: Safety,Seasonal

Snow ShovelingWhile the physically fit may consider shoveling snow as just another workout, it can be problematic for others. Many people associate back problems and sore muscles with shoveling the driveway and sidewalk, but there are other risks as well. For example, heart attack rates are elevated during the winter months and these heart attacks are often the result of shoveling snow. When it snows this winter, follow these safety tips to maintain your health and avoid injury.


  • Avoid shoveling right after waking up in the morning. Slipped disc injuries are more likely to occur in the morning due to the build-up of fluid disc from lying down all night.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated while you work and continue drinking water after you’re done shoveling snow for the day.
  • Spend 5-10 minutes stretching before you head outdoors to shovel snow. This will help prevent sore muscles later.
  • Wear gloves, hat, etc. to cover your extremities. Also, wear layers of clothing and shed the layers when necessary to prevent overheating.
  • Wear sturdy boots with a rubber sole to prevent slipping and falling.
  • Take frequent breaks while you work. If you become fatigued, put down the shovel and go inside to rest.
  •  When possible, avoid lifting a snow-filled shovel. Instead, it is safer to push the snow off your driveway and sidewalks. If you must lift the snow, be sure to face the direction you are lifting and twist as little as possible.
  • Spray or rub your shovel with lubricant such as cooking spray or WD40 to help prevent snow from sticking to the shovel. The lighter the load, the better for your body.
  • Check with your doctor if you believe shoveling snow might present a health hazard, especially if you have a heart condition.

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Dec 02 2015

What does a Set of Stock House Plans Include?

BlueprintsIf you are considering building a new house, you have a couple of options when it comes to purchasing blueprints. You can choose a stock house plan like those found at or you can hire a design professional to draw a custom home plan. Many people who build new homes choose a pre-drawn stock house plans, but often wonder just what is included in a set of blueprints. Below is a list of items that are included in a typical set of construction drawings. Most stock house plans will include:


  1. A Coversheet – Usually the coversheet is an artist’s rendering of the finished home. It serves as a visual aid that represents the finished home. Generally, this page is not necessary for construction of the home, and some designers do not include a coversheet with their designs.
  2. Foundation Plan – The foundation plan is a detailed drawing of the foundation of the home. It provides necessary information about the foundation like the dimensions, location of support columns, thickness of the foundation walls, and floor joist sizes and spacing as well as other details and construction notes.
  3. Floor Plans – The floor plan page reflect the layout of the house and the arrangement of the rooms on each floor of the home. This page typically provides construction details such as room dimensions, wall sizes, door and window sizes and locations, notes about ceiling design and other details about layout and structural elements. Two-story homes and those with finished lower levels may have separate floor plan pages for each level of the home, or they may be found on the same page of the blueprint.
  4. Exterior Elevations – The exterior elevation page(s) provides views of all four sides of the home. These elevations reflect the exterior finish and trim of the home. They call out the materials used to finish the outside of the house such as siding, stucco, brick, stone, etc., and the elevations note the placement of these materials on the exterior of the home as well. Also, the exterior elevations will specify roofing materials and typically indicates roof pitches. Finally, the elevation page(s) will depict or call out decorative elements such as window shutters and porch columns. Sometimes window and door sizes are shown on this page as well.
  5. Interior Elevations – The interior elevations offer drawings and descriptive details specific to some of the built-in elements of the home such as handrails, moldings, fireplaces, built-in desks and bookshelves. Some interior elevations will include a cabinet layout as well.
  6. Simple Plumbing – The simple plumbing can either be found on the floor plan or on a separate page in the construction drawings. The simple plumbing will only reflect the locations of bathtubs, showers, toilets and sinks.
  7. Basic Electric – The basic electrical information will either be found on its own separate page or on the actual floor plan. It will simply reflect the suggested locations of outlets, fixtures and switches.
  8. Sections – The sections of a home plan may be found on a separate page in the blueprints or they may be found on various pages throughout the construction drawings. In general, the sections provide a view of the home that shows the composition of the foundation, exterior walls, interior walls, floors, roofs and stair details. The blueprint sections specify the rooflines, ceiling heights and the relationship between the floors of the home.
  9. Details – House plan details will either be found on a separate page of the blueprints or on various pages throughout the construction drawings. They provide necessary information about how smaller elements of the home should be constructed. Some examples include the design of the handrail and spindles or the moldings used throughout the home.


NOTE: Not all stock house plans include each element described here. The composition of a set of construction drawings varies by designer.


It is important to be aware that stock plans may not include everything you need to obtain building permits or pass building inspections. Sometimes it is necessary to hire a local design professional to add other information to the blueprints before you begin construction. Stock house plans will not include the following information:


Site map

Energy codes

Septic design

Truss layout

Finished electric

Finished plumbing


Engineer’s or architect’s seal/stamp


Additionally, keep in mind that stock house plans are drawn to meet national building codes and are not guaranteed to meet all local building codes. Every state, province, city, county, municipality, etc., may have its own set of local building codes and requirements. Often, local building codes are influenced by geography and climate, and stock house plans may need to be adjusted to meet these codes. For example, a customer building a stock house plan in California will need to make adjustments to satisfy seismic codes, while a customer building the same house in the Rocky Mountains will need to make adjustments for snow load and insulation requirements. A local design professional will be able to add the necessary details to the blueprints in order to meet local building codes.


For more information about what is not included in stock house plans and additional details about local building codes, please review Everything You Need to Know about Stock House Plans in the resource section on our website.

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Nov 11 2015

3 More Ideas for Vacation Home Plans – The House Plan Shop

Vacation House Plan 053H-0029Take a look at our vacation plans! We have a variety of different types to suit any destination. For instance, if taking to the woods is your pleasure, check out our Vacation House Plan 053H-0029.  Not only does this rugged design look at home in the wilderness, it makes a great home away from home for those weekend getaways. There are plenty of windows from which to enjoy a woodsy view. To get even closer to nature, there’s a great porch to sit your rocking chair. Two bedrooms offer comfortable nights for sleeping away from home and the open floor
plan provides great spaces for gathering and dining together for family and friends.


Vacation Design 013H-0088 offers similar spaces for family togetherness but its octagonal shape with surrounding deck is more at home at the beach. With its open flo
or plan, the kitchen and great room provide convenience, simplicity and togetherness. Two bedrooms deliver necessary rest for enjoying days full of fun. While you enjoy the view from anywhere from the 360 degree deck, the kids will be wearing themselves out circling your fortress of solitude.


Lake House Plan 010H-0012
Vacation House Plan 010H-0012
encompasses the best of both worlds, land and water. Its rugged woodsy appearance would enhance a lakefront lot. It too offers great views of the outdoors with its wrap-around porch and sundeck. Creature comforts are provided for with an efficient kitchen, great room, three bedrooms and two full baths. Family and friends will enjoy the amenities at the end of a long day of fresh air and sunshine.


For more vacation home plans like these, please browse our entire Vacation Collection.

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Sep 21 2015

Narrow Lot? No Problem!

Narrow lot house plans

For homeowners who prefer an urban environment, a smaller lot size is inevitable because land is in short supply. This is not bad news.

Narrow lot house plans can be affordable. Specifically designed for the smaller footprint, narrow lot house plans use clever design techniques to optimize every last inch of space. You definitely won’t get a cookie-cutter home. For green-minded homeowners, narrow lot house plans are recognized as being eco-friendly because of their small ecological footprint.

Here’s how to make every square foot you own, attractive, imaginative and yes, even spacious!

Build Up, Not Out

The square footage of a narrow lot home can vary depending on the number of stories you wish to build. A small single-story home reminiscent of that old suburban staple, the low roof-lined “Rancher,” may only be 1,000 square feet or less. A signature detached row house on the other hand, could offer three stories, four bedrooms and around 3,000 square feet of living space – all built on the same small lot.

The minimum lot size? You can squeeze comfort and space into a lot that is 40 feet wide or less. The depth of the home is only limited by the depth of the lot. Narrow lot house plans are typically long and lean to make the most of a deep lot.

Stack and Share Rooms

Traditional Victorian or Cape Cod style homes have clearly articulated rooms. In these floor plans, the kitchen, living room, dining room and den are delineated with walls and doors. This traditional housing style does not work well on a narrow lot where space is at a premium.

To maximize space, narrow lot house plans incorporate open, airy spaces into their design. Each room may be used for a number of purposes – a combined kitchen, dining room and living space, for example, or an open plan children’s area that accommodates sleep, study and play. Redundant spaces such as corridors are omitted, instead there are large, functional, open areas that can be layered on top of each other as you build up.

Choose Innovative Interiors

Narrow width does not mean narrow choice or narrow functionality. Thoughtful designers layer innovative design solutions into their skinny house plans so you can make the most of your space. Features include:

  • Moving the garage to the back of the lot to take advantage of a deep lot
  • Window placement that maximizes the use of sunlight for better light penetration and energy efficiency
  • Vaulted ceilings and high windows to give that all-important open plan feel
  • Ample storage solutions – think built-in closets, a pantry, shelves and a kitchen island with plenty of drawers.

By building boundary to boundary (where this is permitted) and implementing a variety of space-saving techniques, narrow lot house plans are able to incorporate a myriad of features. If you forget you’re living in a narrow lot home, the plans have done their job properly.

Add Curb Appeal

In the real estate business, curb appeal is the frosting on the cake. It describes a property’s overall appearance from the street, such as its style, building materials and design. Homes with curb appeal command higher sale prices and generally take less time to sell.

Narrow lot house plans are designed to let the exterior details shine. For multi-story homes, you can play up the vertical height by adding floor-to-ceiling windows, columns or a steeply pitched roof.

Inviting porches, balconies, landscaping and even flower boxes are great accents that boost the appearance of narrow lot homes. If yard space is limited, your outdoor area can be designed to feel bigger by installing a vertical garden.

Finally, it is worth remembering that all house plans can be customized. Regardless of lot size, you’ll get precisely the internal space and visual aesthetic you want.


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Aug 05 2015

10 Special Victorian House Plans – The House Plan Shop

Victorian house plans are commonly recognized for their striking exteriors. However, they aren’t always easily recognized for their casual interiors. TVictorian House Plan 027H-0192ake a look at these 10 special Victorian house plans and discover the splendid mix of elegance and comfort they have to offer.


027H-0192 – Offers formal and casual dining and gathering spaces, plus three bedrooms and two baths upstairs for privacy. Don’t miss the bonus room!


032H-0042 – Features a bayed living room with a view and a hearth-warmed family room. Four bedrooms and two baths upstairs accommodate everyone’s needs.


034H-0022 – Boasts an open floor plan with two-story great room and island kitchen. Don’t miss the peaceful den, your luxurious master suite or the large bonus room!


035H-0092 – Elegant exterior with spacious rooms and three floors of living inside! Special outdoor living area, striking staircase, playroom and  a loft where you can kick back and relax!


043H-0162 – Open floor plan with a touch of country living. Kitchen serves the nook and dining room with ease. Deluxe master bath and library will get your attention. Three secondary bedrooms and a bonus room upstairs.


047H-0006 – Country Victorian flavor with an emphasis on outdoor living. Three bedrooms and two baths located upstairs for privacy.


051H-0004 – Showcases formal and informal gathering spaces, plus interesting angles and plenty of windows. All bedrooms positioned upstairs including the caretaker’s quarters.


Victorian House Plan 054H-0121054H-0121 – Bays of windows fill this home with natural light. Notice the spacious family room and nearby rec room. Three bedrooms and two baths upstairs accommodate everyone’s needs.


057H-0009 – Outdoor living abounds, but there is plenty of family gathering space inside too. Features a pampering master bedroom on the main floor and four more bedrooms upstairs.


063H-0184 – Highlights include octagonal sunroom and living room, spacious family room, and access to the turret from your lavish master bedroom. Don’t miss the gazebo and veranda!





Want to see more? View our entire collection of Victorian House Plans to find the design that is right for your family!

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