Should you buy a ready-to-use house plan online or should you hire a house designer to draft a unique blueprint? That’s the question most people ask themselves when they decide to build their own home.
As a St. Augustine home designer, I’m often asked what the pros are of investing in a custom house plan. The justifications are many, so I’ve put together a list of sound reasons why I think it’s almost always better to go for a custom-designed version.
Reasons to have a custom house plan by McConnell Custom Design:
- I take your ideas to create a house plan that fits your lifestyle, taste and functionality (giving you exactly what you want).
- You’ll be able to make changes to the plans through a series of mark-up sets
(saving you money in the long run)
- You’ll get a concise drawing set ready for permit because it will be engineered according to Florida’s building code (saving you time and hassle).
Reasons not to use stock house plans:
- Building departments have been known to reject plans with too much fluff that often comes with stock house plans.
- Stock house plans may imply they’re ready for permit when they are really not.
- Stock house plans often come with multiple situations that only add to the number of pages and do not address your specific local conditions.
- Most counties in the state of Florida require house plans to be stamped by an engineer licensed in Florida; however, many engineers have issues stamping plans with irrelevant information.
The Importance of Engineering House Plans to Florida’s Building Code
Whether you decide to use custom-designed house plans or stock house plans, the cost is small compared to the overall cost of your home, so my best advice is to not buy a stock house plan unless it’s exactly what you want. Remember, this is probably the biggest investment of your life, so you need to nail the design of your house at the very start of the project. If you don’t, you could end up regretting it.
Currently, St. Augustine, St. Johns County and most Florida building departments require a structural engineer to certify the structural plans of a house. Since stock house plans are generally not engineered according to Florida building code, they can be rejected by the building department.
I work closely with local structural and truss engineers when drafting, which is why I can guarantee that a house plan produced by McConnell Custom Design will be accepted by an engineer. Why is it so important to have a stamped engineered plan? Because they tell the builder and inspectors exactly what they need to know about aspects such as the type and location of hurricane clips, header and beam sizes, footer sizes and other requirements. Therefore, building anywhere in Florida nearly always requires the hiring of a structural engineer.
Learn more: An Overview of House Plans
Read about: Building Your Own Home