Plan Sense: The most important tool in the tool box.
My motivation for writing this article is to address one of the largest concerns I have as a professional custom home designer and master builder with close to 30 years in the residential construction industry. Anyone thinking about or preparing to build a new home should fully understand the concept of “A good house plan doesn’t cost you money, it saves you money” They need to completely understand the difference between a cheap house plan, a stock house plan and a professional custom designed house plan. I see cheap poorly done house plans all the time or outdated old stock home plans that are so inadequate they are nothing more than a plan to build a disaster, not a plan to build a good quality home. Some of the plans that I do are for people that already purchased a cheap plan or older outdated stock plan only to have a builder or permit official throw them back and tell them to go get a better detailed, code compliant set of plans. My concern is that if a person is about to build their dream home or any project why would they want to start the process with a cheap plan. As your home is one of the largest investments you make in life why would you accept anything less than a detailed, professionally created set of plans prepared by a dedicated experienced service and designer?
I recently spent several hours over four days working on a proposal for a couple seeking a custom designed plan to build their final nest, their dream home for over 20 years. They provided me some rough sketches and a half page of typed text and a few sample images and layouts they had found on the internet. A roughly 2,800 square foot, typical wood framed, 3 bedroom 3.5 bath home on a full unfinished basement with a two car garage. To be built on a lot they have owned for 15 years in North Metro Atlanta, Georgia. Right down the middle of the average home demographics for that area of Atlanta. A very pleasant couple to work with, serious about building the house, ready to start as soon as possible and highly educated professional empty nesters. In that area the average cost to build will run around $110.00 per square foot, with average middle of the road specifications. That is average current numbers for a total estimated cost for construction of $310,000.00 hard cost using a local reputable licensed general contractor.
After the initial phone consultation I determined that this would need to be a fairly detailed plans packages with a number of additional add on details to meet local permitting requirements. As I am heading into the slowest season of the year for my business and because the project was less than 100 miles from my office I cut the price down a little and added in a couple of freebies to make for a very nice highly detailed set of plans. The bottom line for the entire design package based on the information provided I estimated a final cost of $1,400.00 or $0.50 per square foot. This type of plan will be approximately 10 pages 24” by 36” Arch D Sheets at ¼” scale.