Buying stock plans (predesigned house plans) to build your dream home is by far the most economic way to get the biggest bang for your buck. It's like going to a discount store and finding a deal on a name brand item you know would cost more at a mall department store. This holds true because stock plans are shelf items or "products" that are ready for sell upon a customer's request. On average, you can save thousands on the cost of planning a house design from scratch. This is true if no modifications are needed on your part.
While modifications will add to the overall cost of the stock plan, the numbers are still significantly less than the option of house designs that are developed from scratch. It has been my experience that about 30%-40% of stock plan sales require some sort of modification by the plan purchaser. Some modifications are minor and some require a more indepth change. Yet, some modifications are not so practical. There are limits to the possibilities of modifying plans. Some example include: reducing or adding a HUGH amount of square footage, drasticly changing the plans footprint or perimeter walls, significantly rearranging the interior layout, etc. Changes of this magnitude either don't work or if by chance it does, raises the cost to elevated levels, defeating the purpose of the stock plan solution.
One thing to consider, when you are looking to buy house plans online, if you intend to have some modifications done, have this estimated cost included in your overall construction budget (excluding your land cost). Most people never consider the cost of plans within the budget of the overall home construction cost. After all, without the plans or house blueprints there is no construction. Remember earlier, I mentioned that stock house plans are a "product" and they are discounted because of that fact. Modifications however, are a "service". This cost is a varying factor and is based solely on the changes requested in the modifications. On average modifications range between $500 to $2,000 dollars plus the cost of the house plan. Some designers modify based on an hourly rate, a square foot rate, or on a fix rate. Others may use a combination of two or all methods depending on the requested modification.
Not all home plan buyers see this as a viable option. The first reaction is "the modifications cost more than the plans". While this is true is some cases, the assumption is the modifications are easy fixes. While the easy fix may be true, the bigger picture has been missed. Looking at a plan brochure or on the web gives you that false impression of moving this wall, stretch that room and you're done. Remember that a stock plan is a finished product, meaning that dimensions, notes, details, electrical plans, elevations, roof plan, details, and other aspects will be affected depending on the modifications. All of these things will have to be adjusted to the changes made on the plans which in turn takes time. Contrary to the belief that it's easy because it's done on computer, you don't just push a button or two and presto! Nonetheless, this option can be the difference in paying thousands more in custom home design fees. A clear example can be a custom home design of 3,000 square feet that may cost between $6,000-$10,000 and a stock house plan of the same size priced at $1000. Add $1,400 (medium avg) in modifications for a total of $2,400. The savings are tremendous!
For some, the aforementioned will still be considered too much. However, the other alternative (custom design services) leave most people with little options. If you take nothing else from this article consider holding on to these few pointers: