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Home Plans and Design
Understanding home plans and great design are core foundational building blocks and controlling cost
• Home plan designers – the Good and Bad
• Different cost for different types of home plans
• Cost effective home plans
Home Plan Designers
With financing and a budget, it’s time to talk about home plans and who designs homes?
There are four core categories for home plan designers.
First, there’s the residential architect that designs home plans for their clients. Leading residential architects design and draft beautiful home designs. In producing stunning design and documentation, the challenge with architects is two-fold. First, an architect is hired and works for the homeowner. While this may be elemental, their work product is to satisfy the desires and dreams of their client. The challenge is that their work product is not tied directly to the project budget. This often creates a final project cost (as bid from a homebuilder) that is outside of the budget. Another challenge is the design often uses expensive and non-production construction methodologies that can further drive up price. The second challenge is an architect’s fee structure is expensive. Typically, fees range from 8% to 15% of the project cost.
Online Home Plans
The second category of home designers is the online home plans sold everywhere. There are numerous issues with such plans. The primary issue is that those home plans are designed for a general audience and any changes and modifications can be costly. Every region has different building codes and online plans do not address such issues. Most online home plans will need to be redrafted by a local draftsperson to update for local building permit submittal. Don’t buy online home plans.
The third category of home designers is the local draft person. Often, they will have a plan book of stock home plans that have been designed for the local market. The good news is that a local draftsperson knows the local codes, is available and is cost effective. The challenge can be the design element (stock plans that may be years old) and there is no direct relationship to final pricing.
Like an architect and online plan sales, pricing is handled by the homebuilder and budgets can be overwhelmed quickly.
Homebuilder Home Plans
Local homebuilders that will provide their standard home plans to clients in return for the construction of the home. This fourth category can be effective as the homebuilder provides a fixed price. The downside is that custom changes and modifications are difficult to make, if allowed at all. Often, these home plans have been built multiple times in the region.
Design/Build Home Plans
The last category of home designers is the true design/build homebuilder. While fairly rare in new construction due to the experience required, design staff and technology, the design/build process can be very rewarding. The important element is the design directly links to the final cost. This direct linkage of design/cost is the responsibility of the design/build homebuilder which produces a project that is on budget. If the budget is not met, then the homebuilder will not build the project. The one downside to recognize is the design/build homebuilder will control project square footage and construction products to meet the budget. Good communication between the homeowner and the builder is essential for a design/build program.
Sullivan Homes PNW is a true design/build firm. With hundreds of homes designed and constructed for clients over the last 30 years, we know how to design beautiful homes and keep the cost manageable.
Types of Home Plans and Cost
Homeowners will often ask the square footage cost to understand total project cost. Unfortunately, you can only compare the same type of home with similar home types and products to make an accurate determination of value.
Types of home plans are categorized by the following (no basements):
Single story homes (often called “ranchers”), Two story homes, Main floor master bedroom, two story homes.
The best way to understand is by an example. Image a 2,000 square foot home.
The most cost intensive component of a home is the foundation.
A single story home has a 2,000 square foot foundation. A 2,000 square foot two story has a 1,000 square foot foundation (assuming 1,000 square foot per floor). Similar comparison to the roof system.
The single-story foundation and roof will cost twice the amount versus the two story.
The main floor master bedroom, two story is the most expensive type of home plan. The reason is that a main floor master bedroom requires a main floor size equivalent to a single story (for the master bedroom and any secondary bedrooms), and you are adding a second floor.
With proper design, there’s ways to minimize cost by utilizing certain elements of a plan for additional finished square footage. Smaller single-story home plans with a lower level walkout basement are great examples as well as utilizing space over the garage in a two story for additional space.
Cost Effective Home Plans
Home plans that are cost effective efficiently utilize all space available while minimizing foundation and roof systems.
While your budget may be more flexible, it’s good information to understand cost associated with different types of floor plans.
The main design criteria for cost effective plans is:
• Small foundation
• Living space located over all the foundation components, including garage space
• Minimize foundation by building up, or down (basements and/or walkout basements)
• Minimize interior wasted space such as grand foyers, dining rooms, and long hallways
• Utilizing great design, bring in the exterior view inside to provide a larger living experience.
The following types of home plans are ranked in terms of least cost to high cost:
• California split level
• Three (or four) level homes
• Two stories
• Single stories
• Main floor master bedroom with second floor
Great home design does not have to be expensive. The best process to preserve the budget is to link the design and the construction cost with one entity (homebuilder). Without that direct linkage, the design process can quickly overtake the budget as there is little to limit the dreams and desires that create the design.
Ask for More Information
Sullivan Homes PNW believes the more information our custom homeowners have, the better their decisions will be. Contact us for a video conference call. Any questions and all the answers. We love to talk construction!
Call or text (208) 755-1017

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