Construction Loan Center

Architects and House Plans

The First Step for Construction Loans: Obtaining a Set of House Plans

Where is the best place to begin? Should you go at it alone and work directly with your builder from off the shelf House plans, or should you start with an architect and work your way from the ground up??

Construction Contracts

When you get started on the building process for the home of your dreams, one of the first things that you need to do is obtain an architectural floor plan. This is something that you'll do before you even begin to think about construction loans, as normally the amount that you'll be financing for new home construction loans will vary depending on the complexity of the project that you're undertaking..

  • Just because you're working with off the shelf house plans doesn't mean that you lose out on customization. Off the shelf fplans not only can be customized, but they often need to be to adapt to the specific conditions of the lot. This will cost an extra fee, of course..
  • Any plans that you're working from will need to be submitted to your construction lender, and the appraiser, when applying for a construction loan.
  • If the lot that you're working with is in a Planned Development Area, the architectural plans will not be finalized until they're submitted to the local homeowner's architectural board.

When it comes to that all important architectural plan, you have a few different options that you can choose from. You may wish to work directly with an architect to come up with a completely custom home from the ground up. Depending on the situation, you may also choose to purchase "off the shelf" or pre-existing plans and customize them in smaller ways based on your preferences. Both methods are completely valid when it comes to building a custom home and they both have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages based on the situation.

When Working With an Architect is Right for You

A situation where architects can be incredibly valuable has to do with topography. If the area where the home will be built presents certain geographical challenges, has natural obstructions that you need to work around or generally just has uneven terrain, an architect can be quite helpful with regards to turning these challenges into bold new opportunities. One of the primary reasons why people build custom homes in the first place has to do not just with the finished home, but with the entire package. This includes certain features like slopes or drop offs that are inherent in the land that the homeowners want to try to preserve at all costs. Architects can be invaluable in helping people to accomplish exactly that.

Working with an architect can also be a great way to maximize your investment on a new custom home beyond what you would be able to do on your own. Remember that high quality architects will have years of experience in this particular field and will have worked on many projects in the past, while this is likely your first custom home. Architects are great for streamlining the design and construction process to help save you money, but also with regards to unlocking the full potential of both the home design and the land that you're working with.

When You May Want to Go at it Alone

Despite the natural benefits that come with working on an architect on your custom home, there will still be situations where buying off the shelf plans may be the better way to go

For starters, it's important to clear up a common misconception about off the shelf plans. Just because you're buying a set of plans that already exists doesn't mean that you're giving up complete customization over the finished home. You can still work directly with your builder to make certain modifications to help guarantee that the finished home puts as much of your own personality on display as possible.

One of the most obvious reasons why you may want to purchase off the shelf plans and go at it alone has to do with situations where the extensive experience of an architect might not be needed. If you're not looking for extreme levels of customization and don't have significant geographical challenges to account for, working with an architect may not actually be worth it.

Purchasing off the shelf house plans from an established company is also a good idea if you lack two of the most important natural resources present in the custom home construction process: time and money. Designing plans for a new home from the ground up isn't something that happens overnight - it will require a great deal of time, trial and error and lengthy conversations between yourself and the architect. If you're trying to get your home finished sooner rather than later, working with an architect may end up taking more time than you're comfortable with. Even if you're customizing an existing plan with the help of a builder, it will still likely end up taking significantly less time than it would if you were working with an architect.

If money is a factor, this is another reason why you might want to purchase off the shelf plans. Architects are invaluable resources to help you achieve every last goal with your custom home, but that level of experience and dedication also comes at a significant price. If you're concerned about how working with an architect might affect your home construction loans or other financial factors, finding a trusted company and purchasing off the shelf plans that you're happy with is likely the best option for your particular situation.