As a custom home builder, I’m frequently asked: “How long does it take to build a new home?” My answer usually surprises people: “Generally speaking, somewhere between 6 and 8 months, depending on the size of the home, and what time of year we start the project”. And while my response is often met by a “Wow, that’s shorter than I would have thought,” there’s a follow-up question that needs to be asked as well. That question is: “How long does it take to PLAN a new custom home?” The answer to that is, by and large, a whole lot longer than most folks figure. Let’s briefly look at the two primary ways you can develop a set of plans and put your custom home project into motion, and what the corresponding timetables are.
Option #1: Custom Home Floor Plans
Advantages Of Using Custom Floor Plans
The most common way of developing your plans is working with a local architect and starting with a blank sheet of paper. A good architect will be taking into account a huge number of factors as he or she designs your home: the topography of your lot, view corridors, sun exposure for driveways, decks, and outdoor living areas, your preferences for a floor plan, number of bedrooms, your lifestyle, and so on. This is a great process that serves the client very well, and the result is a home that reflects the homeowner’s design choices at every level and through every step of the process.
Disadvantages Of Using Custom Floor Plans
Of course, the process outlined above is also a very time-consuming process. It takes a tremendous amount of time for the architect, the client(s), the builder, and all of the related supported personnel (engineers, truss designers, etc.) to make it all come together. In today’s bustling construction industry, this is easily a six-month process, as each phase of plan development is scrutinized by architect, client(s), and builder, and adjustments are made accordingly. If a client is going to be using this method of plan development (which is absolutely a great process, by the way), I tell them that we need to get that process underway a full year before the intended start date. While this might sound excessive, it’s better to have a bit of extra time to make sure those plans are EXACTLY the way you want them to be, and not be pressed for time at the eleventh hour. Over the years, many clients have expressed to me how surprised they were at how many changes they ended up making to the various plan versions when given the opportunity to do so—even folks that consider themselves to be easy going and quick decision makers!
Option #2: Buying Online Floor Plans
A second method of developing your plans, and one that seems to be gaining in popularity, is to purchase a set of plans from a website such as Floorplans.com, ePlans, or another source, and then make minor changes to those plans. This method has two major advantages to it and a few small disadvantages.
Advantages of Using Online Floor Plans
The first advantage is that for those folks who don’t work well with abstract concepts (which is a majority of folks, in my opinion), this allows them a huge variety of floor plans to choose from, that they can see, immediately visualize, then identify the one or two plans that are the best for their needs and tastes.
The second advantage is that the design process time is cut down dramatically; a set of online plans can be permit-ready within six to twelve weeks, depending on a few factors.
Disadvantages of Using Online Floor Plans
The first disadvantage with an online set of floor plans is that the plans inevitably require a lot of tweaking and fine-tuning; I find they’re usually only 90% complete, and as you’d imagine, the devil is in the details. Buttoning up that last 10% requires scrutiny by an experienced builder, and a big chunk of time by a draftsman to make those changes and additions.
It is a common perception (okay, let’s call it a “myth”) that purchasing an online set of plans will save the homeowner a lot of money. The reality is that it might save a little bit of money (but certainly not a lot), so the small financial savings should not be the reason a client chooses an online set of floor plans; the value is in the condensed time frame that can be achieved.
The second disadvantage is that an online set of plans cannot be personalized in the same way an experienced and local architect can personalize a custom design. An online set of plans can either fit, or be made to fit, at least some of the variables I mentioned earlier, but inevitably, an existing set of plans cannot replace a truly custom set of home plans.
Which Is The Right Choice?
Hopefully, you can see that there’s no “right answer” — you should decide which approach is right for you based on what your goals are. Do you want a home that is designed specifically for you, with your fingerprints all over the entire process? You’re a good candidate for a fully-custom set of plans. Are you interested in building a home quickly, and happy enough to leaf through a few dozen floor plans and pick one “off the shelf”? You’re a good candidate for an online set of plans.
Bottom line: Paramount Homes is happy to work with folks either way. You let us know what you want, and we will be happy to build it for you. Just contact me, and I’ll be happy to help you determine the right choice for you. Best of luck to you as you make your decisions!
Mike Rice is a custom home builder in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As the president of Paramount Homes, he has over 30 years of experience in construction. Originally from California, he moved to Colorado with his wife and three sons to seek out the natural beauty and high quality of life we enjoy here. Mike is licensed as a builder in El Paso, Teller, and Douglas Counties and would love to build your dream home. Contact him today at (719) 331-4116 to learn more.