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Below are answers to some of the most common questions about house plans and building your dream home. For help using this website refer to our Online Help guide.
I want to build a home. Where do I start?
There are plenty of resources to help you get started with your home building project. Begin by checking with family members and friends that have built a new home. They will have a wealth of information to share with you based on experience. Also, consider contacting local professionals that work in fields related to residential construction such as a builder, contractor or county building official. Home improvement stores and lumberyards can provide you with some information as well as the Internet. The House Plan Shop can help you too. Check out our resources page. There are several articles and tip sheets to help you get started and carry you through the building process.
How can I find a house plan that meets my specific criteria?
If you are searching for a specific combination of elements in a home plan, please try the advanced search feature. Enter the criteria you need or want and let the site do the searching. It will only return house plans that meet the criteria you selected. If you find a home plan that does not suit your needs exactly, but is fairly close, the next step is to fill out a modification request form to get a quote for the changes you will need. You may also want to check with your contractor. Sometimes, they can make simple modifications at the building site.
What blueprint packages do you offer?
The House Plan Shop offers a variety of blueprint packages and supplemental items. Please refer to our detailed outline, Blueprint Packages and Supplemental Items, under the Miscellaneous Information heading on our resource page.
How many sets of blueprints do I need to build a home?
The number of sets blueprints will you need depends on you and your builder's specific needs. Besides a set for yourself, you will need a few sets for your builder and subcontractors. Typically, the mortgage lender will require a set of home plans along with your local building department when you apply for building permits. Sometimes, the building inspector needs a set of house plans as well. If you are planning to build the home as-is or with little modification, the five or eight set package is usually sufficient. If you would like to make changes to the home plan, The House Plan Shop recommends the reproducible master to make changes by hand or the CAD files to make changes electronically. A copyright release letter accompanies each of these home plan packages allowing you to legally change the copyrighted house plan and make copies of the changed home plans for construction of the home. Remember the one set package is stamped "not for construction." Building with a stamped set of blueprints is a violation of copyright laws, as well as making copies of a stamped or unstamped set of house plans without a copyright release from the designer.
Why are one set plan packages stamped "not for construction"?
A one-set house plan package is considered a study set and is stamped "not for construction" allowing you to review your home in detail before you begin construction. It can be used to obtain bids and estimates on materials and labor. Reproduction of blueprints is a copyright violation. You can upgrade to another blueprint package within 90 days by paying the difference in the cost of the home plan packages.
What is included with the blueprints?
Most of our home plans offer the following:
- Coversheet - In most cases this is an artist's rendering of the finished home. Generally, this page is not necessary for construction, but rather serves as a visual aid representing the finished home. Not all designers provide a cover sheet.
- Foundation Plan - The foundation page provides a detailed drawing of the foundation including information such as, thickness of foundation walls, column locations, floor joist sizes and spacing, as well as other construction notes and details.
- Floor Plan - The floor plan pages reflect the layout and construction of each floor of the house. In most cases these pages will include all wall sizes, room dimensions, notes about ceiling design, window and door locations and sizes and other structural and layout notes and details.
- Basic Electric - The basic electrical information is sometimes found on the floor plan page, while other times it is on a separate page. In either case, this information will reflect the locations of outlets, switches and fixtures.
- Simple Plumbing - The simple plumbing information may be found on the floor plan, or it might be on a separate page. This diagram indicates the locations of bathtubs, showers, commodes and sinks.
- Interior Elevations - The interior elevations page contains descriptive details and drawings showing the built-in elements of the home such as, fireplaces, kitchen cabinets, built-in bookshelves or desks, vanities, moldings and handrails.
- Exterior Elevations - The exterior elevation page is used to describe the look and feel of the home's exterior finish. It provides views of the house on all sides and calls out the exterior finish and trim materials and their placement, including siding, brick, stone, stucco, etc. This page also indicates the type of roofing materials and decorative elements such as window shutters. The exterior elevations typically indicate details such as roof pitches and ceiling heights. Sometimes window and door sizes are included here.
- Details - Details may be found on a separate page or in various locations throughout the house plan. They communicate how smaller elements should be constructed. This includes items such as how the fireplace should look, the design of handrail spindles and the sizes and styles of moldings used throughout the home.
- Sections - Home plan sections may be on a separate page or on various pages throughout the home plan. Typically, they are views of the home showing the composition of the foundation, interior and exterior walls, roofs, floors and stair details. These drawings indicate the rooflines, ceiling heights and the relationship between floors
**Note: Not all stock house plans come with each element described here. They vary by designer.
For more information, please refer to Everything You Need to Know About Stock House Plans.
What do I get with a reproducible set?
A reproducible master is a complete set of home plans on an erasable paper. Typically mylar, sepia, or vellum paper is used. If you would like to make simple changes to the house plan, The House Plan Shop recommends you purchase a reproducible master. This allows your builder or a local residential designer to make necessary changes to the blueprint without investing the time or money it would take to completely redraw the stock house plan or draw a custom home plan. Once your changes are completed, you can make all the copies needed to build your home. Not all designers offer this option, so check for availability. A copyright release is included with a reproducible master giving you permission to legally make changes to the copyrighted home plan and then make the copies you will need for construction. You will need to take the copyright release with you when you take the blueprints to a copy shop. The copyright release does not give you the right to build the home more than once with the same set of construction drawings. (Note: Some designers print reproducible masters on bond paper, and it is necessary to use White Out to make changes. The house plans will come with a copyright release.)
What are CAD files?
CAD files are complete set of construction drawings (excludes commercial building plans) in an electronic file format. CAD files can be used if you want to make substantial changes to the construction drawings. You will need to hire a professional to make the changes. CAD files include a copyright release allowing you to make legal changes to the copyrighted blueprints. A CAD file entitles you to build the structure one time.
What is the PDF file home plan package?
The PDF file home plan package is an electronic version of the construction drawings. In most cases it can be emailed to you within 24 hours of placing your order during regular business hours, Monday - Friday. Because this is an electronic file, it is sent to you via email, saving you shipping costs. Simply take the electronic file to a local print shop to have your blueprints printed. The PDF file allows you to reproduce the number of blueprints necessary for obtaining bids and permits, as well as the copies needed for construction of your home. Furthermore, the PDF allows you to print sets of blueprints in various sizes to suit your needs. Note: PDF files are not available for all plans and cannot be altered electronically. PDF files are non-returnable once the designer has emailed the file to you.
Do the plans/blueprints include HVAC, plumbing and electrical?
The stock home plans published by The House Plan Shop are designed to meet national building codes, but not necessarily any particular state or county codes. Therefore, these construction drawings do not include extensive HVAC, plumbing and electrical details. Information about your HVAC system will depend on the size of your home and the types of units you use. Ductwork will be defined by your local building codes and the type of heating and cooling system you choose. Plumbing fixtures are included on the home plans showing the kitchen and bath fixture symbols and location. The flow of water lines and sewer system is site specific and must be determined locally. Take time to discuss plumbing details with your builder or subcontractors. They should be able to provide you with the necessary information based on your local building codes. An electric schematic reflecting locations of outlets, fixtures and switches is typically included on the blueprints. However, it is necessary to review the electrical details with your contractor to ensure local codes are met.
Are mechanical details included with the plans?
Mechanical details and diagrams are not included with most home plans since they are not required for typical construction, and vary drastically among regions/counties depending on local codes.
Do the blueprints show the framing, floor joists and roof layouts?
Many blueprints published by The House Plan Shop include detailed sections of the framing and the floor joist and roof layouts, but it is not often that they include the entire layout. An experienced builder or contractor will be able to construct your home using the information provided on the construction drawings.
Can I get a different foundation other than what is listed?
The foundations listed on The House Plan Shop's website for each house plan are the available foundations the designer has drawn for each design. If the foundation you need is not available, The House Plan Shop recommends checking with your builder. Most builders can make a foundation change on the building site. If you need a particular foundation not specified in the home plans, you can modify the plan to accommodate your local soil type and foundation requirements for your area. You may want to consider working with our modification team.
What is the walkout basement I see on some of your home plans?
What is the walkout basement I see on some of your home plans? Walkout basements are well suited for sloping lots usually with one wall of the foundation exposed rather than dug into the earth. The exposed wall allows for larger windows and a doorway that directly walks out to your lot.
Some floor plans have a screw pile foundation. What is it?
A screw pile is a pile often made of steel and designed with a spiral or helical blade fixed to the lower end. The pile is screwed or twisted into the ground rather than being driven in or sunk into the ground by a series of impacts. The pile takes hold of firm ground and acts as a column or foundation for a structure. Although not commonly used for residential building, steel screw piles are very effective and the most cost efficient and time efficient foundations currently available for commercial and residential construction. Not only do they deliver the most rapid installation but they also cause the least disturbance to the soil and land. Screw piles have been used as foundations for lighthouses and bridges, and are often used in soft soil areas such as the sandbanks on the ocean shore.
Are the blueprints stamped/sealed by an architect?
House plans advertised by The House Plan Shop are not stamped or sealed by an architect. If your area requires an architects stamp or seal, you will have to take them to a local architect for review and stamping. The professional you select must be registered in the state where you plan to build.
How is the living square footage of a home plan calculated?
Typically, square footage calculations are made from outside the exterior frame wall and do not include decks, porches, patios, screened porches, verandas, fireplaces, garages, basements, attics, future space and bonus rooms. This means livable, heated and finished (dry-walled, painted, carpeted) space. Two story and vaulted areas are included only once in the calculations of the first floor. Stairs are counted once. Balconies and open walkways in two story and vaulted areas are included in square footage. If a house plan calls out finished square footage in the basement, it will be calculated as part of the total living square footage. Typically, brick is not included in our square footage calculations. This is generally true for all of the home plans on The House Plan Shop website. Square footage is calculated using the actual construction drawings. You will not be able to calculate the square footage using the room sizes from spec floor plans on our website. If you need to clarify the square footage of a particular home plan, please contact us.
What is included in the total square footage for home plans?
The total square footage of The House Plan Shop house plans includes all of the area inside the exterior face of the "heated walls". This refers to heated living space only. It does not include garages, porches, verandas, bonus rooms, future space or decks. It does include the living space of finished basement. The listed dimensions of each room cannot be multiplied and added together to come up with the total square footage because hallways, closets and other small spaces are not included.
I need or want to build a home with particular type of exterior wall framing. How can I search the house plans on this site with only that type of exterior wall?
The House Plan Shop, LLC offers home plans with 2x4, 2x6, concrete block, ICF and log framing. Please visit our advanced search to select the type of exterior wall framing you need, and then begin your house plan search. (Please note: Many of the house plans listed with 2x4 construction are also available with 2x6 construction for an additional fee. You will need to view the home plan page for availability.)
Are the home plans copyrighted?
All house plans sold on The House Plan Shop website are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced. Copies can only be made if a reproducible master or CAD files are purchased. All home plans and illustrations published on this website are the exclusive property of The HousePlanShop, LLC and the Architects and Designers represented on this site. Only one structure may be constructed from the blueprint plan package you purchase. Home plans may not be resold or copied. We strive for accurate representation of renderings and house plans and will not be responsible for errors or omissions on this site. Law strictly prohibits reproduction in whole or in part of any home plans or illustrations on this site.
What do the window and door sizes represent?
Most home plans are designed using a double hung divided light window. Each set of construction drawings uses a generic window sizing system that does not apply to any particular brand of windows. For example, a common size seen on plans is 2850. This is a window that is 2'-8" wide by 5'-0" tall or 32" wide and 60" tall. This standard system is used to identify the size of doors as well. A door labeled 2468 is a standard 2' 4" wide by 6' 8" tall door.
What do the abbreviations stand for that are used on the advertised floor plans?
The following is a list of abbreviations commonly used on spec floor plan drawings shown on The House Plan Shop website.
- BR - Bedroom
- BRK - Breakfast Room or Nook
- CLG - Ceiling
- DN - Down
- DW - Dishwasher
- E - Entry
- F or FURN - Furnace
- FPL - Fireplace
- KS - Knee Space
- LN - Linen Closet
- MBR - Master Bedroom
- MC - Mechanical
- OPT - Optional
- P or PAN - Pantry
- PDR - Powder Room
- R or REF - Refrigerator
- SHWR - Shower
- SKLT - Skylight
- STOR - Storage closet/space
- VLT - Vaulted Ceiling
- W/D - Washer/Dryer
- WH - Water Heater
- WIC - Walk-in Closet
- WS - Woodstove
What do the abbreviations on my stock house plan stand for?
Abbreviations are common on construction drawings. Please see The House Plan Shop tip sheet, Construction Drawing Abbreviations, under the Miscellaneous Information heading in the resource section to review a full listing of abbreviations used on stock house plans and in the residential building industry.
What are building codes?
Building codes are safety guidelines and regulations dictating how a building should be constructed in a particular area. These building codes range from nationally recognized guidelines to specific city and county building laws. Buildings codes are set forth and adhered to as a means of protecting the builder and the buyer of a new home. Many of the building rules and regulations in a particular geographic region or area are based upon elements specific to that area such as soil and weather conditions. All of the house plans published on this website were designed to meet or exceed the requirements of the nationally recognized building code in effect at the place and time each plan was drawn. Generally, blueprints designed after the year 2000 conform to the International Residential Code (IRC 2000 or 2003). Portions of four major building codes compose the IRC. They are listed below. Typically, house plans drawn before 2000 conform to one of these four building codes in effect at the time of creation.
- BOCA (Building Officials & Code Administrators)
- CABO (Council of American Building Officials)
- ICBO (International Conference of Building Officials)
- SBCCI (Southern Building Code Congress International)
Each state, city, county or municipality follows some form of one or any combination of these residential building codes. To learn more about the required building codes in your area, please consult a local building official.
Do the plans meet my local building codes?
At the time blueprints are drawn, each designer puts great care into ensuring the stock house plans conform to national building codes. Please remember this does not mean they will meet all local building codes. Each municipality has its own set of zoning requirements and regulations that work best in that area. It is important to check with a local building official to determine what is required in the area where you plan to build. You may need to work with a local builder, residential designer or another building official to modify your home plans to meet code compliance in your specific area. In addition to the home plans, you may need a site plan showing where the home is located on the lot. Your builder or contractor can help you with this. A septic system design may be needed unless your lot is served by a sanitary sewer system. Some counties have energy codes as well, which involves filling out a form proving compliance. Some areas of the country have very strict local engineering codes like earthquake-prone areas of California, Northern areas with snow load requirements, or hurricane-risk areas along the Gulf Coast. If you are building in these areas, you should hire a local engineer to review the home design and provide additional drawings and calculations required by your building department. If you are not sure, contact your local building official for a list of the items you need to submit for a building permit.
Do your plans satisfy general California, building codes or can they be modified?
Some cities and states require a licensed architect or engineer to review and seal or stamp a drawing (officially approve it) prior to construction. This will ensure your home plans meet regulations and requirements concerned with energy costs, safety, seismic zones, high wind areas and other factors. Prior to applying for building permits or the start of actual construction, be sure to consult your local building official to determine if such a review is required. If your local building department requires your house plans to be sealed for the state of California, you will need to find a professional registered in the state. In this case, The House Plan Shop recommends that you purchase a reproducible master or CAD files. This will allow your selected professional to make changes to suit your local codes when reviewing the home plans.
How do I modify my plans?
There are a few options for modifying or changing your house plans. Sometimes, your contractor can make minor changes on site. You should discuss any changes you want to make with your builder before construction begins. In many cases, your homebuilder can make changes without having to go to the expense of having the original construction drawings changed. Another option is to have changes made locally. In this case, you should purchase a reproducible master, PDF or CAD package for your house plan and have someone in your local area, such as your builder or a residential designer, make the changes for you. The last option is to submit a modification request to The House Plan Shop's modification team. They will be able to determine if your changes can be made and give you a quote within 2-3 business days. We must get all requests in writing. Additional changes may have to be made after you receive the modified house plans in order to meet your local codes. Learn more about modifying your home plan. Whether you decide to make changes locally or work with The House Plan Shop modification team, purchasing a reproducible master, PDF or CAD file will provide you with a copyright release giving your permission to modify and copy the original design.
How much does it cost to have modifications done to home plans?
The cost to modify a home plan varies greatly depending on the plan and the types of changes you want to make. Fill out the modification request form if you would like a quote. The House Plan Shop modification team will give you a quote within 2-3 business days.
Can I modify the exterior walls from 2x4 to 2x6 or vice versa?
Most house plans come with 2x4 framing. However, blueprints can be modified for 2x6 framing. This is a simple change that in most cases can be done by your builder during construction. Please check with your builder or building code officials for local requirements. In some cases, the designer offers both types of framing. Availability is indicated when you view a house plan on this site.
If a house is shown with siding or stucco, can I change it to brick or vice versa?
Whether you want to change the exterior finish of the home for economical reasons or for personal preference, it can typically be done without causing any problems. Keep in mind when adding brick to a house the foundation should be modified to create a brick ledge. Also, you may need wider overhangs. If brick is being removed, a ledge on the foundation is not required. Consult a local building official or your contractor to discuss the changes you want to make to the exterior finish.
Is it possible to switch from a front car entry garage to a side car entry garage and vice versa?
This is a common change that new homeowners often want to make, and typically, it is not difficult to do. The garage structure and the beam that spans across the garage are the most important things to consider when making this change. Depending on the current design of the garage doors and windows, the structure may need to be changed when the door is relocated. Most of the time your builder or contractor can make this change for you in the field. However, if you would like a quote to have this change made to your plans, please complete a modification request form. You will receive a quote within 2-3 business days.
I already purchased an initial set of house plans. Can I upgrade my blueprint package or order supplemental items?
You can upgrade your blueprint package or purchase supplemental items within 90 days of placing the original order. You cannot place an order to upgrade your blueprint package or purchase supplemental items online. Please contact us by phone or email and we will be happy to help you with your upgrade.
What is a material list and what does it include?
In general, a material list is a complete list of the building materials needed to construct a home. All of your typical materials such as lumber, doors, windows, drywall exterior finish and more are included. Appliances, HVAC, foundation materials, rough plumbing, and other various interior finishing materials may not be included. (Note: The materials included on material lists vary by designer.)
Is a material list available?
Material lists are available for many of home plans published on The House Plan Shop website. Availability is indicated when you view a plan on this site.
Can I purchase only a material list?
Material lists are only available with a purchase of blueprint package for a home plan of the same plan number.
Do I need a material list to build the home?
A material list is not necessary to build your new house. Please remember however, material lists indicate the quantities and sizes of materials needed to build your home. They will save your contractor time and allow you to get accurate bids from lumberyards and material suppliers in a short amount of time.
What if the plan would work better on my site if it were reversed?
Sometimes a particular house plan will work better on a lot if the original plan layout were reversed. In these cases, mirror reverse and right reading reverse plans are available for some of the home plans advertised on The House Plan shop website. Availability is indicated when you view the plan page.
What is a mirror reverse?
Mirror reverse house plans can be a helpful tool. Sometimes the house will fit on the lot better if the floor plan were flipped. Mirror reverse house plans are a mirrored image of the home plan, with the text appearing backwards, just as if you were looking in a mirror. Though the dimensions and lettering are not readable, mirror reverse plans serve as a visual aid reflecting the layout of the home they way you plan to build it and also show correct door swings. You cannot obtain a building permit with mirror reverse plans, so when ordering, only order one or two sets with the mirror reverse option and order the rest as correct or right reading plans.
What is a right reading reverse?
A right reading reverse house plan will flip the floor plan from left to right with all text reading correctly. If you order a right reading reverse house plan, all sets will be shipped in right reading reverse. Availability is noted on the home plan page.
Ordering and Shipping
How long will it take for me to receive my plans once I order them?
Shipping options and rates vary per plan. The shipping methods available for the plan you wish to purchase will appear in the "Choose Shipping" section on the plan page. Generally, in the Continental U.S., Regular delivery is 8-12 business days. Also, The House Plan Shop offers Priority (3-5 business days) and Express (1-2 business days). For house plan orders shipping to Alaska and Hawaii, we offer Express shipping only. For those home plan orders shipping to or from Canada, Regular delivery takes 8-12 business days. Priority delivery (3-5 business days) is available as well. Many of our designers will ship house plans internationally. International orders may take up to 3 weeks for delivery. All rush orders should be placed online or by phone by 11:00 a.m. CST Monday through Friday.
Do you ship the plans overseas?
Many house plans available at The House Plan Shop can be shipped overseas or internationally. If you are not a resident of the United States or Canada, the international shipping rates will apply to your order. Delivery may take up to 3 weeks. Shipping charges vary per plan and are posted in the "Choose Shipping" section of the plan page.
Is my privacy and credit card information secure?
We make every effort to ensure your online shopping experience with The House Plan Shop is as secure as possible. When you place a home plan order online, all information is encrypted before sending it from our secure server to an automated payment-processing center that validates your credit card. Once your credit card has been charged, your order information is sent to the order-processing center without your credit card information. This ensures that your credit card information is never stored on our server and no one has access to it at any time. As for your privacy, your personal information is used only for our account management and is not sold or given to any other companies or organizations.
Will I pay sales tax when I purchase from this site?
Sales tax is charged on any purchase made in the state of Missouri.
How will credit card charges appear on my credit card statement?
The charges on your credit card will appear as The HousePlanShop, LLC.
What is your return/exchange policy?
Your blueprint purchase is NOT returnable. Since our blueprints are printed and shipped in response to your order, The House Plan Shop does not honor any requests for returns, refunds or exchanges under any circumstances. Review your order before placing it. Be certain you need and want the items plan to order. Also, it is EXTREMELY important that you check the dimensions of your land, site or lot before purchasing a home plan. All sales are FINAL.
Is a construction license transferable even if I did not build the house?
The building license is not transferable. It is only granted to the person who originally purchased the home plan.
Can we build the house more than once?
As the original purchaser of the house plans, you are licensed to build a single home from the plans. Constructing the home more than one time with the original purchase of the house plans is copyright infringement and violates the designer's copyright laws. Buying a multiple set plan package does not entitle you to build the home more than once. In the same manner, purchasing additional sets of the construction drawing does not give you the right to build the home again. However, some designers offer multiple build licenses or multi-use fees for those who wish to build the home more than once. Multi-use fees vary by designer. Please call one of our House Plan Consultants for a quote.
Are there photographs available of the home I am interested in?
Photographs are available for many of homes published with The House Plan Shop. If they are available, the photos are published on the plan page for each design. If there are no photos posted on the plan page, there are no photos available for that particular plan. As we receive new photos of our houses, they are added to our site. Please check back periodically for new photos. If you would only like to view house plans with photographs available, please visit our photo collection. (Note: The photographs displayed online may differ from the actual plans, depending on the modifications performed by the owner/builder. Refer to the floor plan for the actual layout of the home.)
Can I get an address where this home plan has been built, so I can see the finished home?
The House Plan Shop sells home plans throughout the United States and internationally. We know where we have shipped the house plans, but we do not know exactly where our home plans have been built. In an effort to protect the privacy of our customers, The House Plan Shop does not track this information. However, we have photography for many of our home plans. Any available photos can be viewed on the home plan page. When we receive new photos, we post them right away.
Can I get a rear elevation of a house plan I like?
In most cases if a rear elevation or photo is available, it is published on our website. When The House Plan Shop receives new elevations or photos, we make an effort to post them on the site as soon as possible. However, if you would like to see a rear elevation that we do not currently publish on The House Plan Shop website, please contact us, and we will do our best to obtain the elevation from the designer.
Are your house plans handicap accessible?
Some of our house plans were originally designed for handicap accessibility. You can search for these plans using the advanced search feature. However, if you find a home plan that is not handicap accessible, you can fill out The House Plan Shop's modification request form to receive a quote to have it modified for handicap accessibility.
What is green building?
Green building, sometimes called sustainable building, is the method of creating homes or other structures using processes that are resource-efficient and environmentally responsible throughout the lifecycle of the structure including construction, operation, renovation and deconstruction/demolition. The goal of green building is to reduce the overall impact of the structure on the environment and human health. This can be accomplished with energy efficiency and use of renewable energy, water efficiency, waste reduction, avoiding use of toxic products and those that give off other emissions, using products made with salvaged, recycled or agricultural waste content, using smart growth and sustainable products. Green building also contributes to a safe and healthy indoor environment by using products that emit minimal pollutants. Some examples of building green include incorporating recycled materials during construction, installing energy efficient appliances and featuring landscaping that reduces water usage such as choosing native plans that survive without extra watering.