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What's Included In Our House Plans

Years ago house plans were delivered as a set of blueprints that were pages with white lines and lettering on a dark blue background due to the printing process of that era.
Understanding Your House Plans

Today, house plans are often still referred to as blueprints but are printed on large format, digital printers, usually on bond paper offered mostly in five or eight set packages depending on how many plan sets are needed. The city or county may require two sets of plans, one for their files and one to have on the jobsite. If a mortgage is needed, the bank may require a set of plans. The home builder needs a couple of copies to share with subcontractors, and the homeowner will need a set of plans.

The most popular plan package is the PDF digital format plan allowing plans to be quickly delivered by email for general contractor bidding, product estimations and more. A CAD plan is used for plans that need major changes and modifications

It's important to remember that stock house plans are designed to meet the current IRC building code but, due to regional differences in local codes, building practices and snow and wind loads, modifications may be needed to the plan. Some changes can be handled by your builder or a local designer, and other plans may need additional engineering details depending on local building codes. Our seasoned house plan experts are available to provide more information on your local code requirements.

What you can expect in house plans from The House Designers:

  1. Exterior Elevations — These are the drawings of the exterior of the home and will mostly be drawn at ¼" = 1'-0" scale. Sometimes the sides and rear are at 1/8" = 1'-0" scale. This is where the windows, doors and exterior trim details are illustrated as well as the wall heights, roof pitches and ridge heights are usually dimensioned.
  2. Floor Plans — These drawings, usually one sheet for each floor, unless it's a small home, are really the most important drawings in your set of plans. They are drawn to ¼" = 1'-0" scale and include most of the critical dimensions and specs needed to build the home. They act as a road map of your home, showing how the different spaces relate to each other. Some plans will include the electrical elements like lights, plugs and switches but sometimes these will be on a separate sheet or left for your electrical subcontractor to customize for your specific needs. Similarly, the structural details like the floor joists may also be included on the floor plans if they may be on separate framing plans. An aerial view of cabinets, plumbing and appliances would be shown here as well.
  3. Foundation/Basement Plans — This drawing will detail and illustrate the foundation dimension. If a basement is purchased, it will also show the stairs and bearing walls and basement windows if applicable. Each plan page shows the available foundations and if a particular foundation isn't listed, email or call our house plan specialists at 866-214-2242 to get information on obtaining the foundation you need.
  4. Building Sections and Details — This is the drawing that illustrates how the different levels and areas of a home relate to each other. A Large scale wall section that details the construction of the home is usually located here or on the foundation plan.
  5. Roof Plan — This drawing, usually at ¼" = 1'-0" scale, is a bird's eye view of the home from above. It shows the ridges, hips and valleys and sometimes shows each rafter or truss.
  6. General Notes — Usually a separate sheet is provided with standard notes and details that are required to comply with IRC building codes.

Some of our home plans will include an electrical layout showing a suggested location for fixtures and outlets. Keep in mind that this is primarily used as a reference only, useful for bidding and obtaining quantities. It's common practice to meet with your builder and the electrician before the electrical work starts to go over the plan, sometimes with a walk-through of the home to fine tune the fixture and switch locations to your preference. During the rough-in construction process, cables and outlets for internet can also be specified. Careful planning at this stage is important.

Cabinet elevations are also usually provided with your plans and, like the electrical plan, this is mainly a guide for estimating purposes. Cabinets are an easy item to customize and your builder, or their cabinet maker, will work with you early on in the process to ensure that the correct cabinets are specified. Make sure you customize your cabinetry in all rooms to your personal preference.

Where do you go from here?

Assuming that you have your building site and house plans in hand, you're now ready to interview builders and begin to assemble the additional items needed to get a building permit. Your builder may be able to help you with a site plan which is a drawing that shows the building site and locates your home plan, building setbacks, utilities and, if needed, a septic plan and permit.

To help you understand the different architectural styles, see our information on How to Chose the Right House Plan and Architectural Floor Plan Styles.

For any questions or help in your home plan search, please email or call our experienced team of home plan search specialists who will be happy to help you at 866-214-2242.