CUSTOM HOMES FAQ
The Stock Plan House
Stock plans are a set of completed designs that are sold by certain types of designers or a stock plan service. You can even find large bound books containing hundreds of house plans of varying quality, sizes and tyles. These designs can be sold a multitude of times to different clients and tend to be generic in nature.
Basically a one size fits all approach. Most of them do not take into account the site that you have. They are all predesigned. In many cases, relevant building codes or zoning/ planning requirements have not been addressed. How could they? They are just plans drawn up by draftsmen to fill up the qouta needed for such a stock plan book.
The selling point of these stock plans, is that you can buy and use them on the cheap. Many stock plan publishers will offer to alter the designs to suit for a price. There are even firms that will sell you a look alike of a famous house like "Fallingwater", the Kaufmann House, etc.
For us at GLA, stock plans go against the grain of a design solution tailored to fit a clients specific needs and desires. The designs we come up with for our clients are unique to them and they will never have to worry about driving down a street and seeing a exact replica of their home in another neighborhood.
Stock plans maybe cost effective solutions for certain clients who may not want to use the services of an architect. However they should ensure that the plans still meet local ordinances and building codes. In addition most stock plans will have to be modified to fit a particular site, especially if the site has steep slopes or are on tight lots. While technically not remodels, modifying stock plans to suit a particular site may end up costing more than if a comparable design was custom created for the site.
Weight all your options and choose the one that best meets your needs.
In general if you make changes to an existing home or design a new house expect the local jurisdictions to require a design or planning department review. Zoning, planning, design review and plan review should be factored into your schedule and budget. A rule of thumb is; if it affects structure, plumbing or mechanical (HVAC -heating ventilation airconditioning), it will probably need a permit and the associated fees.
You can find out by checking a city's requirements on the web, or calling the planning/ building department. The architect can research the requirements for clients who would prefer not to have to do it themselves. It's probably a good idea to at least talk to a building official before too much work is done. Based on their comments, the architect may have to change scope, materials, design elements etc. The adage that "forewarned is forearmed", has a lot of bearing.