Before You Buy

Licensing a house plan is a significant step toward building a home or even a neighborhood. We want to make sure that you can make the most of your purchase. With that in mind, please review this checklist before you order.

▢ Do you know what's included?

When you place an order for a house plan, you're not buying an object outright. You are buying a one-time limited license to build a design. That license gives you access to construction drawings in the form of a downloadable PDF. Those drawings are the instructions from which you build.

There are limitations to what you can do with those PDFs. Please read "What's Included" to be sure that you can accomplish your goals within the limitations of what's allowed.

▢ Do you have land on which to build?

When you purchase a license to build a house plan, we issue the license for a specific physical location. It can be a postal address or a parcel number and building ID. 

One reason we do that is to protect customers from disappointment. Your order is non-refundable and non-transferable after shipment, which means that you could wind up with a plan you can’t use if you license a plan first and then don’t find appropriate land for it.

Instead, ask us for a PDF Summary Sheet that you can hold on to while you find the right land for your project. It’s free, and it will come in handy as you proceed.

▢ Can you build this design on the land you own?

Your municipality, county, and state might have a say in what can go on your land. Consult your local building officials and/or a qualified architect about whether the design you like will be allowed “as of right” under your site’s current zoning or if a variance or rezoning will be required.

To assist in those conversations, ask us for a PDF Summary Sheet that you can share with the professionals you consult. Our summary sheets include simplified floor plans, basic dimensions, and square footage to support conversations about your project.

▢ Have you assembled the team you will need for a successful project?

Depending on where your land is located, you might have to apply for permission to build. Applications for building permits may require site plans, soil tests, foundation plans or other work prepared by a licensed engineer, architect, or other professional. 

Some states and municipalities also require that architectural designs be “stamped” by a state-licensed architect or engineer before building — particularly if your project is larger than a single-family home or duplex. 

There is also a shortage of qualified contractors in many areas of the USA.

It takes time to line up the professionals you need and determine the requirements of your project. We recommend holding off on licensing plans until you have your team in place.

▢ Have you estimated the cost to build?

Before you license a house plan, you’ll want a rough idea of whether you can afford to build that design. Ask a contractor you trust to give you a ballpark estimate. We offer PDF Summary Sheets with basic dimensions to help facilitate that conversation.

Keep in mind that costs change over time, and the actual cost of construction may increase before your project breaks ground. The ballpark estimate won’t eliminate risk, but it will help you avoid choosing a design that falls outside of your budget.

▢ Is your financing lined up on the runway?

Banks view new construction and existing real estate as different objects and serve them with different types of loans. The different expectations can trip a person up who isn’t experienced with new construction.

If you plan to finance your project’s construction with a loan, talk with local banks to understand the requirements. Do it before you license your design. It will help you delay the cost until you’re sure that new construction is right for you.

Is it odd that we encourage you to delay your purchase? Perhaps. But we're not here to empty your wallet; we're here to help you make your vision real. For a purpose like that, we can wait.

Need further information? Get in touch.