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It’s unfortunate, but this happens occasionally. It may be you discover that building a home from the plans ordered exceeds your budget. Or the home is too wide for the building lot you’ve fallen in love with. Or perhaps that the home doesn’t meet the restrictive covenants for the neighborhood…

Care should be exercised when ordering online home plans. Most people establish a budget that works for their new home investment and can use a general “rule of thumb” cost-per-square-foot calculation to know if the plan they are interested in likely would fit their budget. A quick online examination of new construction homes offered in your area should provide a ballpark number. Simply divide the home’s cost by its square footage. Assuming you find new homes in your area are averaging roughly $200 per finished square foot and you have a $400,000 budget, you should probably look at home designs 2,000 square feet and less. Understand, garages and outdoor living spaces generally aren’t included in square footage, but a 4-car garage and huge rear patio or deck certainly would affect your home’s cost, another reason to be wary of the cost-per-square-foot.

If you already own your building lot or have identified the lot you want, you need to know the required front, rear, and side yard “setbacks” to ensure your home would fit on that lot. That’s fairly straightforward with rectangular home sites, but more difficult with irregular- and pie-shaped lots. You may want to have a plot plan done before ordering your home plan to ensure that plan fits on that lot. And if you’re building in a subdivision, there may be square footage minimums and architectural guidelines which must be met for your home to be approved for construction in that neighborhood.

Plans from Design Basics can initially be ordered as “Study Sets” at a discounted price. While essentially the full set of construction drawings, Study sets are stamped “For Estimating Only” and illegal to build from. With Study Sets, you can get all of your bids for labor and materials and have confidence that a home built from that plan works with your budget. You can also easily verify the home meets the architectural requirements for your neighborhood. And the amount you pay for your Study Set is applied to ordering that home plan for construction. We can also prepare a plot plan if you can provide the digital files for your lot.

You may find Design Basics BudgetWiseSM Bundle (or Builder-CentricSM program for building pros) a great option for minimizing your risk. With these programs, up to five different Study Sets can be ordered within 12 months for just $100 each. So, if the initial plan you are interested in doesn’t work, your loss is minimal. While both of the programs have a $249 fee, the 10% discount on the plan you order to build and free plan upgrade plus other benefits usually more than offsets the program fee while having significantly reduced your risk. 

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    Design Basics BudgetWise Bundle or Builder-Centric program offers Study Sets for just $100 each, minimizing your risk.

      Finally, Design Basics offers a one-time exchange of a home plan you order directly from Design Basics for another plan, within 6 months of ordering that plan. If the plan you subsequently select is higher-priced, you will be asked to pay the difference. Note: the exchange policy applies to Design Basics, Carmichael & Dame Designs, Plan Pros, and Scholz Design home plans only.

      The bottom line: Taking the time to investigate upfront any lot-specific issues which could affect your home’s design minimizes the risk of ordering a home plan that won’t work. And using cost-per-square- foot is albeit a crude ballpark price estimate, it can help you narrow down your home design considerations to plans which reasonably would work with your budget. Similarly, ordering a Study Set minimizes your plan investment risk.

      Again, good design, immediate delivery, and low price are the bases for the popularity of online home plans. Knowing what to look for and what your building department requires means you’re making an informed decision because when you find a home plan and design firm design that works for you, ordering readily available home plans can be an excellent choice!

      For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

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