This is one of the biggest questions clients ask our office. Most of our clients have never built a home before and the thought of hiring an architect and starting with a blank sheet of paper feels daunting. Wouldn't buying a set of plans online be easier, faster and cheaper?
The answer to that question is.... maybe.
Creating a set of custom home plans can be really fun. You are able to take full advantage of your site and fully incorporate your wishes and maximize how you spend your construction budget. Is your lot sloped? This is your chance to create a walk-out basement. Got a sneak peak of water views from a certain corner? Make sure you design so that your main living areas grab that view. Tight budget? Don't waste your money on lots of hallways or complicated roof lines.
On the flip side, we often recommend clients check out our ready-to-go home plans catalog before they decide to go the custom route. If one of the plans fits their lot, wish list and budget, it's a home run. Many people find that one of our plans hits about 80% or 90% of their needs and we can easily modify them to make those last tweaks to make it perfect. Even better, using one of these ready-to-go plans gets you to the building - and moving in - stage faster than the custom route.
Another big factor is budget. A custom home plan takes more time to create, which means a bigger percentage of your time and money is spent designing the home. A stock plan takes less time and money to finalize. Typically, the architectural and engineering costs for a custom home translates to 5% of the total construction cost (not included land). For a stock plan, that drops to around 2-3%. It doesn't sound like much, but those percentages can make a big difference when it comes to how much of your budget you allocate to planning a home versus building it. Keep in mind that architectural and engineering costs are up-front costs and not included in a typical construction loan.
Either way, I recommend talking to an architect before making any home plan purchase. We are happy to talk you through your situation and suggest plan options that reflect your lot, needs and budget.