Let’s start with the way the plans were created. The vast majority of “stock” plans were created for the express purpose of having them marketed on websites and in magazines. There was no client or piece of property when the process started – they were simply drawn up by designers sitting in their offices. And not just some plans, but tens of thousands of plans! If you were able to compare side-by-side a sizable number of plans from a single designer, you’d see that one simple design can become 40 or 50 different plans by simply making tiny changes here and there, and giving each version its own “name”.
But for a set of plans to be offered on our site, the following must be true – a client (whether it be an individual, a family, or a builder) hired a licensed architect or designer to draw up plans for a one-of-a-kind custom home; together they went through a design process that lasted anywhere from six months to a year; the finished drawings then went through the permitting process and were approved; and the house was then built on their property. This helps explain why we can show you photographs of more than 80 percent of our homes, while stock plans sites are closer to 2 or 3 percent.
Architectural plans are the product of countless hours of conversation, interpretation, drawing and design. A family with specific real-life needs works with the architect, who then translates those needs into a beautiful and functional home design. A design is created from scratch to fulfill that family’s requirements as well as their dreams. However, people’s dreams are often larger than their bank accounts, so an important part of the architectural design process involves highly efficient use of space and resources, to help clients stay within their budgets. The FAQ question titled Why are space, energy and material efficiencies so important? provides a more detailed explanation of how this works.
Our plans are not only better in terms of the time, thought, and professional training brought to the process – they also contain much more information! Architects typically charge around 10 percent of the total cost to build for their services, and sometimes more, so when homeowners spend that kind of money they expect to have a very detailed and complete set of plans to hand to their builder. For a complete explanation of what’s included in our plans, please click on the What’s Included link located at the top of every page of our website.
Most importantly, there’s a huge difference in the way a well-designed house looks, feels, and functions. Architects often refer to their drawings as the “artwork”, and the homes created from them are often as much sculptural as structural. Architects go through extensive training to be able to think and design in three dimensions, creating spaces that are balanced in scale and proportion, “feel” right when you enter them, suited to the way we actually live, and provide great views and lots of natural light. There is nothing generic about architect-designed homes. Each is unique, and each has character.
And finally, there’s a huge difference in value should you decide to sell the house in the future.