When buying house plans, it is best to purchase them in PDF format

While house plan providers used to sell printed plans, on white bond paper or vellum, we have all switched to electronic files – PDF or CAD – that are emailed to the customer.

Unless you plan to make extensive changes to your plans, or intend to change the exterior wall system – each of which may necessitate buying the plans in CAD format – the best choice is nearly always to purchase plans in PDF format.

There are so many advantages in doing so:
• They are sent electronically, via email, so you might receive the plans minutes after you place your order
• There is no shipping fee
• You can email the plans to your builder, or several builders, for bids
• Your builders can forward them to their sub-contractors, dramatically speeding up the bid process

* They can also be emailed to an engineer or a truss manufacturer, if necessary
• Since all of our plans come with a Copyright Release allowing you to have plans printed locally, you can have as many copies printed as you need, whenever you need them, by just emailing the electronic files to a local printer

Also, PDF files can now be modified with simple software, and

And you can always upgrade to the CAD version by simply paying the difference in cost.

About half of our plans are available in CAD format, but over the years I’ve talked about 75% of our customers who planned to order the files in this format out of doing so. They ask about CAD files because their builder asked them if they can get the plans in that format. But in most cases they are an unnecessary extra expense, because the changes being made are so simple. Add this to the list of questions to ask before ordering plans: what is best for me, and why?

By the way, selling plans in CAD format normally adds between $700 and $1,200 to the cost of buying plans, so talking all these customers out of buying CAD files has cost me many thousands of dollars over the years. But I sleep well every night knowing I’ve done the right thing…

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We highly recommend that you click on two boxes – the number of bedrooms you know you need, and one less bedroom. For example, if you need 4 bedrooms, click on the boxes next to 4 and next to 3. Otherwise you will not see homes where existing rooms on the lower, main, or upper levels might work perfectly well as a bedroom instead of as an office, study, etc.