Floor Plans Bought Online

By: Mark Mathis

One question that we receive almost every day is whether or not the floor plans package for plan XXXX contains everything that a person would need to build the home in the state of "XXX"... As such, we wanted to provide some additional information to clarify the subject.

In most areas of the United States, purchasing a stock floor plan package from an website and/or from a house plan book will include all documents that you will need to build the home. However, in certain regions of the country, a person may also be required to obtain additional design details and/or plan modificationsto obtain a building permit. In the majority of cases, a stock floor plan package will still provide a significant cost-savings when compared to a corresponding set of custom floor plans from a local design professional.

In addition to the floor plans you order, you may also need a site plan that shows where the home is going to be located on the property. You might also need beams sized to accommodate roof loads specific to your region. Your contractor can usually help you with this. You may also need a septic design unless your lot is served by a sanitary sewer system. In some cases, certain areas of the country also have area-specific energy codes that also need to be followed. This normally involves filling out a simple form providing documentation that your floor plan is in compliance.

In some regions, there is a second step you will need to take to insure your floor plans are in compliance with local codes. Some areas of North America have very strict engineering requirements. Examples of this would be earthquake-prone areas of California and the Pacific Coast, hurricane risk areas of the Florida, Gulf & Carolina Coasts. New York, New Jersey, Nevada, and parts of Illinois require review by a local professional as well. If you are building in these areas, it is most likely you will need to hire a state licensed structural engineer to analyze the design and provide additional drawings and calculations required by your building department. If you aren't sure, building departments typically have a handout they will give you listing all of the items they require to submit for and obtain a building permit.

Additionally, stock floor plans do not have a professional stamp attached. If your building department requires one, they may only accept a stamp from a professional licensed in the state where you plan to build. In this case, you will need to take your floor plans to a local engineer or architect for review and stamping. In addition, floor plans which are used to construct homes, in certain states, are required to be drawn by a licensed architect in that state.

Just remember that, many times, minor changes and material substitutions can be made, onsite, by a professional builder without the need for floor plan revisions. However, if you think that you will be making significant changes, its probably a good idea to select a "Reproducible", "PDF File", or "CAD File" floor plan package and seek the services of a local design professional.

Finally, it is always a good idea to check with your local city, municipality, and state building authorities to ensure that your home construction will meet all applicable building codes.

Hopefully, the above information will provide you with a good basis for evaluating your particular floor plan situation.

If you would like to learn about more of the most frequently-asked floor plan questions, visit us online at:

http://www.houseplangallery.com/index_files/house-plans-faq.php

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