10 Questions To Ask Your Designer Before Buying A House Plan
Guest author, Joe Ahmann, owner of Ahmann Design Inc, has kindly written this article to help you in your house plan search.
So you’ve bought your home lot and you’re ready to by the perfect house plan, but you don’t know where to start. There are important questions that you should ask your designer before buying that house plan, and I can help. I have been designing custom home plans and stock house plans for 20 years, and I have compiled a list of questions you should ask your home designer before buying.
1. How long have you been designing house plans? The more experience your home plan designer has, the more detailed his or her plans are likely to be. Stock house plans experience is also important because with all of the competition for online house plan exposure, there are plenty of home designers out there with little or no experience.
2. Do you design custom house plans? You think you’ve found the perfect house plan, but you want to make a few "tweaks", and before you know it, your revision bill is 2-3 times the cost of the original home plan. A good designer will recognize the fine line between designing a custom home plan for you and spending too much time on revising a stock house plan.
3. Can I return my house plan if I decide not to build it? Most stock plan brokers online have an "all sales are final" policy, so make sure you check it out BEFORE you click the "buy" button. But there are some house plan companies and home plan designers WILL allow you to return your house plan with a minimal restocking fee, so be sure to ask.
4. Why can’t I return my house plan? Because there are so many house plans sold online to different parts of the world, it is hard to police theft. Bottom line is that there are many people out there buying a house plan and building it more than one time, which is a copyright infringement unless agreed to by the house plan owner. Home designers have limited resources to check to see if you are telling the truth or not, so most have adopted the "no returns" policy.
5. Will I need to have my house plan reviewed by a local architect? House plans sold through the large brokers online are required to be 2006 IRC compliant at a minimum, but some areas of the country require special additions to the plan that are specific to that area. It’s best to check with your local building official before buying a house plan.
6. Do you have references I can talk with? Most home plan designers will not have a problem giving you names of past clients, and if they do, reconsider using them!
7. What is your timeframe for completing my house plan? If you are hiring a home plan designer to draw a custom home, or modify an existing stock house plan, ask up front how long it will take so there are no surprises later. Many home designers who sell their house plans online are a "one man shop" and may require more time to complete the work.
8. Do you have photos of the house plan I like? Many times the house plan designer will have photos of a stock plan that’s already been built, so it’ always good to ask.
9. Who owns my house plan when it’s finished and paid for? The original designer is the owner of the copyright of your house plan, even if you’ve made changes to a stock plan.
What are your payment terms? Some home plan designers will require an up-front deposit to begin the project, and it’s always a good idea to find out ahead of time how payment will be handled.