10 Tips for Selecting the Right House Plan

Buying a house is an exhilarating time in many people’s’ lives, but it is also a very daunting task to those who aren’t particularly real estate savvy. Where to settle down, the culture of the surrounding area, the quality of the schools and even the social scene—these factors among many others influence home buyers before they even get to start thinking about building a new home. A house is more than just its square footage and the breakdown of its rooms. You must consider your budget and the lifestyle of your family when deciding on the layout of your new home plan. Check out these tips to get you started on this exciting journey.

A great way to start searching for your dream  house plan is to browse Direct from the Designers’ collection of New House Plans. This brand new craftsman ranch home plan features lots of flexible features.

1. Know your budget

If you have found your perfect dream home plan, do your homework by purchasing a cost estimator (companies like The House Designers offer an accurate cost estimator for only $24.95 for all of their house plans) or obtaining bids from regional builders. Starting with a realistic home building budget before shopping for a house plan will make your search much more enjoyable and successful

2. Decide on specific space requirements and how that space should be divided

Knowing the square footage you and your family need is the first step in finding the perfect house. The cost of your home construction will rely heavily on the size of your home, as well as the complexity of the design. Start the search for the perfect dream home by deciding on a reasonable size and an idea of how you would like to see it used.

Look for a floor plan that has a lot flexible living spaces so you can assure that the needs of your family are covered, not just for today but the future. House Plan 9020 offers plenty of optional spaces as well as a second story bonus floor plans.

3. Determine how you want to use and experience your space

If hosting gatherings is something you enjoy, odds are you have your eyes on a more open house plan that can provide a comfortable area for a group. Conversely, people who prefer defined zones—home office, studio, reading room—in their abodes will probably appreciate a compartmentalized blueprint that imposes structure on the space. Be honest about how you intend to live in your home, and suitable floor plans will be easier to find.

4. Consider energy-saving designs suited to the climate

Improved insulation materials and techniques for walls and windows have made it more affordable to heat and cool homes with the changing seasons, but there are also house plans that can help optimize comfort in the home while lessening the blow to your wallet. Look for ENERGY STAR/Green house plans offered by companies like The House Designers to ensure you build the most energy-efficient home for your location. Choosing a design with a number of well-placed windows that can be used to create cooling cross ventilation will reduce the need for air conditioning in warmer locales, while a compact plan that minimizes the external surface area to volume ratio—think saltbox rather than sprawling ranch—will conserve heat during harsh winters. A little planning at the beginning can go a long way toward reducing bills in the future.

A key ingredient to any great home design is the kitchen layout. Be sure that it has everything you will need to enjoy this space. Shown is a beautiful gourmet kitchen from this luxury craftsman house plan.

5. Choose a style appropriate for the location

Most people with home ownership dreams imagine a single-family dwelling in the suburbs. This situation allows for a number of perks, like a yard and the exterior space in which to build an addition, if necessary. However, things are a little different for people who choose to reside in an urban environment, where a typical single-family house just wouldn’t fit in on a crowded block. When room is at a premium, the only way to expand and maximize living space is upward. A multi-floor, brownstone-type plan can provide the same square footage in a vertical arrangement for those to wish to maintain a city lifestyle, but are ready to put apartments behind them. And while this arrangement does not include a personal little patch of the outdoors, chances are there are parks nearby.

6. Take any irreplaceable household property into account

If your grandmother’s antique corner hutch absolutely has to be included in your new home, be prepared to measure it and find a place where it can be properly displayed. Decorating a house with furniture that you already own can both make the new property already feel like home and save a good amount of money, but it does require careful planning. Some beautiful floor plans will be swallowed up when paired with clashing finishes, which diminishes the charm of the structure and its contents together. You can be more flexible by going into the process with fresh design ideas and the willingness to search for pieces that fit the space and style of the house, but you should always bring a tape measure and notepad to ensure that everything fits together the way you imagined it would.

7. Consider modifications to suit your needs

It might be in your best interest to modify a property rather than continue looking for one that fits your needs precisely. While an additional bathroom can result in a price tag difference of many thousands of dollars when looking between two houses, the cost of adding one in an existing closet is not as drastic and could help you stay within budget as you make sure you get everything you need. Ask an expert for help when maximizing the potential of a house, and you probably won’t need to shop around as much.

8. Focus on the blueprint

Sometimes we get caught up in the smaller details of a home and forget that we can easily make tweaks. It’s the layout of the structure that should have your attention. The arrangement of walls and rooms defines a house, not what fixtures it contains. Once you’re sure the space is what you want, the matter of interior design allows you to truly customize the home.

9. Accept that there are benefits and drawbacks to every house plan

It is impossible to find a house that has everything you want and nothing you don’t, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still be happy. All you need to do is prioritize by picking the features that are most important to you and accepting that even something you love might have its negative flipside. For instance, those numerous windows that let in enough sunlight to reduce your electricity bill will increase your home heating costs come wintertime, and loudness in any part of an open floor plan can be heard throughout the house because there aren’t enough interior walls to dampen the noise. Decide what is nonnegotiable, keep an open mind for the rest, and weigh the advantages against the drawbacks of each house plan. There will be something that works for you.

10. Trust your gut

At the end of the day, there are just some designs that click and others that seem great in the abstract but fail to measure up to our expectations. When you are comfortable after experiencing a certain layout, that should mean a lot more to you than specifications on paper. The best way for space to be utilized varies greatly based on the circumstances of individuals and families, and even if we can’t put those aspects of the perfect house plan into words, we know it when we see it. Trust those instincts.

Tips for Selecting the Perfect House Plan

If you’re planning on building a new home, the first step in this exciting project is to find the perfect house plan that fits your family’s lifestyle, budget, personal taste and lot. Stock house plans from companies like Direct from the Designers, allow homeowners the opportunity to build and customize their dream home at a fraction of the cost of commissioning a local architect and designer to draw your plans from scratch.

House Plan 9167 was inspired by Direct from the Designers’ best-selling luxury craftsman House Plan 2297 to create a more affordable floor plan. Plan packages start at $995 for this 2,905 square foot home.

Free modification estimates are available on all of the house plans on DFDHouseplans.com. After purchase, consumers and builders are set up with the designer, architect or modification team for a one-on-one phone consultation to review the changes and costs. During the modification process, clients will be emailed PDF drawings of their changes to review before the final blueprints are drawn.

Before you begin shopping online for house plans, start with these helpful tips to ensure that the home you choose requires minimal changes:

Find your land. Finding your land first is key in selecting a home plan that will fit your lot and require minimal changes. Ask about property setbacks and other limitations to ensure you select the right garage placement and foundation. For example, if you have a sloping lot, you will most likely need a walkout or daylight basement. Depending on where you live and extent of the slope you may be able to utilize a crawlspace.

Think about the future. Carefully consider functionality. You want to choose a floor plan that accommodates your families needs and lifestyle, not just for today but years down the road. Choosing an open floor plan with options to expand is a definite plus. Take note of the location of bedrooms. Having all the bedrooms grouped together when the children are small may sound like a good idea until they are teenagers and you wished you selected a home with split bedrooms (meaning the master is separate from the additional bedrooms).

This stylish ranch House Plan 4937 features a spacious interior with volume ceilings. The large kitchen can be made even larger by grabbing some space from the breakfast room. Like all house plans from Direct from the Designers, you can customize these design for an additional fee. The estimate however is free.

Write a “Wish List.” Put together a “wish list” of all the features and amenities you would like so when you’re looking through house plans you can see if they’re already included. Little touches like re-designing the kitchen or master bath or adding more built-ins and windows are easy changes that can be facilitated on-site by your builder.

Have a budget. It’s always a good idea to find out what your home building budget is by utilizing a free mortgage calculator and getting pre-approved for a construction loan. Another helpful tool when searching house plans is using a cost estimator that is based on the house plan and your building zip code. Research some local builders to see what they are currently charging per square footage for new home construction.

Find out local building requirements. Before you purchase your house plans obtain a list of required items from your local building department. Some areas like Florida, California, North and South Carolina and Nevada require an engineer seal where a local licensed engineer will analyze the design and provide additional structural detailing required by your local building department. Stock house plans do not come with a professional engineer stamp. CAD packages are available for most stock house plans which make it quicker and more affordable to have them engineered. They are also great for major modifications.

Start searching house plans. As you start to browse for house plans, look for companies that offer advanced search options, high quality renderings and floor plans so you can quickly find and review house plans that fit your criteria. Make sure you create a free account so you can save your favorite house plans.

Consult with a builder. It’s a good idea to consult with a few builders in your area about the current cost to build. Once you’ve selected a house plan, have a builder review the home prior to purchasing to ensure you order the right plan and options, that it will fit on your lot and meet your local building requirements.

Purchasing house plans. You can expect to pay from $750 to $1,200 for a full set of constructions drawings. The price can vary depending on the size of the home, additional plan options selected and the plan package. If you’re not sure what plan package you need, ask a home plan advisor. You cannot make copies of printed sets so be sure you have enough sets – packages are typically available in 5 or 8 sets. Other options include a PDF Plan Package, reproducibles and CAD files.

If you need help finding a house plan, please call 877-895-5299 or email Direct from the Designers and a home plan specialist will be happy to assist you.

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Fall Decorating Ideas & Tips from Direct from the Designers House Plans

Decorating your home for the fall months can be both an enjoyable time spent with family and relatively inexpensive. There are plenty of great things about this particular time of year like the return of cooler temperatures (gather round the fireplace), fall colors and nature changing before our eyes (take in the gorgeous foliage).

Adding fall touches of décor to the interior and exterior of home will help you transition into a new and exciting season of holidays and family traditions.

Here are some great ideas and tips to decorate your home for the fall from the leading designers and architects of American’s most popular house plans:

Dress Up Your Porch

You can easily give your front porch and entry fall inspiration by wrapping corn stalks, raffia or straw around your columns and railings. You can easily add rich colors to this theme by adding thick ribbons and placing mums on your front steps. If you have children, don’t forget the pumpkins.


Pumpkins not only symbolize Halloween but fall harvest. The best thing about using pumpkins to decorate your porch or entryway is that you can turn them into Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween night, while snacking on homemade pumpkin seeds.

Light Up Your Home’s Exterior

Luminaries are not just for the winter holiday season, they are perfect for fall too as the sun starts to set earlier in the afternoon. Try some harvest string lights in fall colors, Maple leaf garland string lights and of course there’s a wide selection of Halloween themed lights. Battery powered candles placed inside paper bags with sand in the bottom, makes perfect luminaries for your walkway and front stairs.

Nature-inspired Door Wreath

Welcome visitors with a beautiful autumn wreath at your front entry door. You can use simple grapevine wreaths, which are gorgeous on their own. If you prefer more adornment consider adding pinecones, leaves, berries and corn husks to your wreath. If you have a lot of windows that face the front of your home, consider hanging similar wreaths from these windows as well.

Roll Out the Welcome Mat

Accent your front entry with a fall themed doormat. Whether you’re searching for a harvest, football, school or any other fall theme, there’s a bounty of options to choose from. To help with visitors tracking in the elements, you should consider both an outdoor doormat and an indoor entrance mat.

Use Your Fireplace Mantel to Showcase Seasonal Décor

Your fireplace mantel is a great place to showcase your seasonal décor. Simply by taking a walk in the woods or your own backyard you can find a treasure chest of pinecones, dried leaves, cattails and red berries to create a simple decoration.

Adding small pumpkins, gourds, dried arrangements and rich colored candles will add appeal to your mantel. Candles will not only provide ambiance, but also bring the aroma of fall into your home with the scents of apple, cinnamon and pumpkin.

Create cozy sitting areas

As the cooler temperatures begin, you’ll want to bring out the colorful throw blankets and cozy pillows so you can cuddle up with a good book or movie. There are so many variations in pillow and throw sizes, styles, prints and textures that you can give your living room a whole new look for the fall.

Which of these fall decorating ideas will you be implementing in your home?

Let us know in the comments below.

Benjamin Moore Announces 2014 Color of the Year

Want a relaxing getaway with your new beach house plan? Consider incorporating Benjamin Moore’s® 2014 Color of the Year.  An ethereal Blue called “Breath of Fresh Air” is being hailed as a “new neutral” for the New Year.

This beautiful blue from Benjamin Moore® is perfect for a beach house plan or an open floor plan.
This beautiful blue from Benjamin Moore® is perfect for a beach house plan or an open floor plan.

“We chose Breath of Fresh Air because we were seeing it across several different environments—it is our new neutral,” said Ellen O’Neill, Benjamin Moore’s® newly appointed Creative Director in a press release. “Our Color of the Year and Color Trends 2014 palette is a direct result of the fresh color cues and pastel trends we have seen throughout the home furnishing, fashion and even pop culture landscape.”

Benjamin Moore’s® 2014 Color Trends Collection breaks away from the pack. Not only is it packed with rich and enduring colors, but it is liveable for everyday homeowners and resonates with many different styles.

“As color rarely exists in isolation, Benjamin Moore® designed a palette of 23 colors that not only stand each on their own but also work well in harmony allowing the transitions of spaces and colors to flow seamlessly,” says the Benjamin Moore® press release.

Color of the Year
Adding Breath of Fresh Air to an airy open layout like this one is sure to add an open beach-y quality to your house plan. House plans like this one are ideal for sloped lots and its ample windows means this house plan provides great panoramic views of the surrounding area.

The 23 carefully selected shades of Benjamin Moore® paint hues harmonize with each other to create the perfect interior design for any household, whether you are building a beach house plan or a cozy cottage house plan.

“We know that color is the ultimate form of personal expression, so we curated this collection to help consumers create beautiful spaces with confidence,” says O’Neill.

Color of the Year
A beautiful open floor plan is the perfect place to showcase A Breath of Fresh air and this house plan has the perfect modern interior can take this new neutral. This house plan also features three bedrooms and two baths. The perfect small house plan for a new family or someone looking to downsize.

We love this ethereal blue and think that it is the perfect choice for a new house plan.  Incorporate it in a beach house plan or for a simple bathroom retreat. Take a look through the house plan collections from Direct from the Designers and find the perfect place for your Breath of Fresh Air.


The Williamsburg Collection is a Perfect Match for Colonial House Plans

There is no denying the appeal of classic and historical houses. With the help of Benjamin Moore® you can construct a new home with authentic historical colors from their Williamsburg Collection. A set of 144 paints based on the original pigments that were developed over 250 years ago. This rich palette of American colors is available in a variety of finishes, from rich, velvety flats to the highest gloss. These are versatile enough to be incorporated into any house style but would be perfect in any colonial home to create a historical look that is also rich and contemporary.

This foyer looks modern and classic. It achieves this by using four colors from Benjamin Moore’s® Williamsburg Collection to create a dynamic mix. This technique may be used in any home but is especially complimentary to the colonial collection from Direct from the Designers. This particular design uses Ewing Blue, Chesapeake Blue, Hardwood Putty, and Market Square Shell.

When talking about American Colonial architecture, we often refer to the original thirteen colonies. The building styles of these original colonies were influenced by styles from England and traditions brought by the settlers from other parts of Europe. The buildings typically feature steep roofs, small leaded glass casement windows, rich ornamentation and a central chimney. The traditional orientation of these buildings was southeast in order to maximize light in the northern parts of the States. Similarly, houses in southern colonies generally faced northeast to minimize heating by the sun.

An elegant country porch style home is just a click away. This colonial house plan is both classic and contemporary with an inviting screened-in porch and deck. Inside, homebuilders will find dramatic spaces with true flexibility. With a generous amount of living area and lots of multi-purpose rooms with exciting features in an affordable 1,992 square feet, this house plan has everything to offer including the possibility for future expansion.

One of the areas where historical colonial houses and modern colonial house plans differ is in the interior floor plan. A large portion of the house plans offered are direct reproductions from the American Colonial period, but the interior has been modified with desired amenities. When looking at these homes you will see similar style in the symmetry, columns, gables and dormers. Passersby might be fooled by a new home so closely inspired by the colonial period. Exteriors of colonial house plans could be fashioned of brick, lap siding, or stone but visitors will see that your home does not replicate the boxy interior designs of the 17th and 18th centuries. Instead, a modern colonial house plan is likely to have an open and up-to-date floor plan.

Regardless of whether you live in a colonial house that needs a new paint job or you really want a classic American look, Direct from the Designers colonial house plans and Benjamin Moore’s® Williamsburg Collection are a match made in heaven that will give the history buff in you something to smile about and keep your newly built house looking fresh and modern.

Save Your Pennies and Make a Floor of Money

When it comes to flooring, there are your standard materials: carpet, hardwood and tile. In Garfield, Pennsylvania, however a woman decided to use a different building material, pennies.

artisan tattoo gallery
This newly opened artisan tattoo gallery and coffee shop in Garfield, Pennsylvania now has a shiny copper floor made of pennies.

Yes, that’s right, copper pennies. ABC News reported that Mel Angst, who runs a Pittsburgh-area tattoo parlor with her husband was looking for a unique way to tile her parlor, called Artisan Tattoo Shop. She picked up the pennies from a local bank and traded her services as a tattoo artist for manpower.  The task took 300 hours and over three weeks to complete. The results was approximately 800 square feet in Lincoln profiles.

“My floor is made out of about 250,000 pennies,” Angst told ABC Pittsburgh affiliate WTAE. “Amazingly enough, it’s a lot cheaper to glue money to your floor than to actually buy tile. It’s about $3 a square foot.”

After the floor was laid down, Artisan had a gallery show where patrons could view the new floor, and anyone who logged 30 hours or more of penny tiling, would be promised a free penny tattoo.

What”s even more interesting is that this is apparently not the first time someone had the brilliant idea to use pennies to tile a floor. At New York”s Standard Hotel restaurant The Standard Grill the floor is literally tiled in thousands of copper pennies, adding a unique vibe to the interior decor.

Domino magazine
This image, featured in Domino magazine, features cork penny rounds being used in a breakfast nook. They complete the space, calling attention to the chairs while everything else around it is square.

Picking up a quarter million pennies might be as easy as going to your local bank, but if you aren’t  interested in metallic, but like the look of rounded tiles there are a number of places that sell what are known as “penny rounds.” They are tiles, measuring about three quarters of an inch in diameter shaped like tiny circles.  In short, they are about the size of a penny.

Your next question might be, where you should use these tiles.  Tile flooring is common in kitchens and bathrooms, and pennyrounds can be used for either. Like other tiles, penny rounds can also be used for flooring or walls, even as accents over a countertop.

large kitchen with a breakfast nook
This house plan features a large kitchen with a breakfast nook as well as 2.5 bathrooms, all perfect spaces to make use of some penny rounds.

If you are enamored by the concept of rounded tiles then make sure to check out our collection of Fabulous Kitchen House Plans.