Some information on house plan sites can cause unnecessary confusion

Believe it or not, some information provided on house plans websites can actually cause problems for shoppers! Let’s say the list of attributes of a particular house states that it has 2×4 exterior walls. This might be fine in many areas of the US, but in colder climates it is too thin for proper insulation.

The problem this can cause – since the vast majority of shoppers don’t know much about home construction – is the rejection of a house that in all other respects was perfect. The fact of the matter is, a house designed for 2×4 stud walls can be constructed with 2×6 studs, and vice versa. If you ask the builder to use 2×6 exterior walls on a house whose plans call for 2×4’s, the only difference is a loss of 2” to rooms along the exterior walls.

Another good example of information possibly causing harm is the “snow load” of a house. If you plan to build in an area that requires a roof with an 80 pound snow load, and the attributes state that the house as designed has a 40 pound snow load, you would probably reject what once again might have been the perfect house.

But as long as the pitch of the roof is sufficiently steep, the snow load can be adjusted to suit your needs. If the roof employs trusses, the truss manufacturer – on the advice of the contractor – will design them to fit your regulations. This might involve a change of materials and/or a change of spacing, but it will be done before they arrive at the job site. The same would be true with a stick-built roof, although in this case they will not be manufactured elsewhere.

The fact of the matter is that some of the information you get from a website can be misleading. In fact, even photos can cause a problem! We tend to believe that what we see online must match what the built home will look like. But if you were to replace a brick exterior with board-and-batten or shingles, it would look like a totally different house. This can be true for all the materials and finishes you choose, inside and out. You can’t turn a Craftsman into a Victorian, but you can have a significant influence on the look of your new home.

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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.