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Architect-Designed House Plans vs "Stock" House Plans

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This article describes the many differences between working drawings from client-inspired, architect-designed, built homes, and the tens of thousands of "stock" plans available on the internet and in plan magazines.

House Plans, Home Plans, Home Designs, House Designs, House Floor Plans, Garage Plans, House Blueprints, Home Floor Plans, Small House Plans, Cabin Plans, Country House Plans, Luxury Home Plans

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You may be one of the growing number of people who want a home that has the quality and craft that only architectural plans can provide, without investing the time and/or money necessary to have an architect create a custom design for you. To quote Sarah Susanka -- author of the highly acclaimed book The Not So Big House -- from an article she wrote for Fine Homebuilding titled �Why architects should sell house plans� (something they�ve never done before), �Many of these people [potential stock plan purchasers] want the quality that comes with the Ralph Lauren or Liz Claiborne label, without having to hire Ralph or Liz themselves.�

Until recently, people wanting to build a new home have had just two choices: hire an architect or a professional designer; or purchase one of the tens of thousands of generic stock plans available in magazines and on the Internet. Now there is a new and exciting alternative that provides the quality of an architect-designed home plan for the price of a stock plan.

First the definitions: Our (architectural) plans are complete working drawings by licensed architects and designers, created for a specific family, that enabled that family to build a one-of-a-kind home. The plans originally cost tens of thousands of dollars to create (architects typically charge 10 to 15 percent of the total cost to build!), and took six months to a year to produce. The vast majority of stock plans, however, were created as inventory, to be sold to builders, developers and private parties via stock plan website s and magazines. In most cases there was no client involved in their creation, and no house was built from the plans prior to them being offered for sale. The plan�s �cost� is the time the designer spent drawing them with a CADD (or similar) software program, with slight changes made to produce many different versions. Both types of plans include enough information to enable a builder to construct a house. But the similarity ends there.

It starts with the way they were created. Architectural plans are the product of countless hours of conversation, interpretation, drawing and design. A family with specific real-life needs worked with the architect, who then translated those needs into a beautiful and functional home design. Neighborhood surroundings, climate, topography and personal aesthetic are all taken into consideration. A design is created from scratch to fulfill that family�s requirements as well as their dreams.

Our dreams are often larger than our bank accounts, so an important part of the architectural design process involves highly efficient use of space and resources, to help clients stay within their budgets. Serious thought is put into the size and location of rooms, doorways, stairs and hallways, and into choosing construction materials, fixtures and building techniques. The reduction of unnecessary square footage that results from efficient design provides immediate and significant savings (click on the question titled �Why is space-efficient design so important?� for a more complete explanation). The architect�s training, past experience and ingenuity are all employed to sati

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