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Shopping for House Plans? Review Commonly Asked Questions and Answers


Building your dream home is one of the coolest things anyone can do. That said, if you’re not already familiar with house plans and home building, you probably have questions. Below are answers to several commonly asked questions regarding how to select a floor plan, home plan customizations, cost to build estimates, and much more. If you still have questions after reviewing the list below, please call 1-800-447-0027 or submit your question using the form on this page.

Starting Your Home Plan Search


My Blueprints Purchase


House Plan Customization


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How do I find a specific plan to meet my criteria?

It’s easy! Just start your search here and use the filters to narrow your plan options down by style, size, features, and more. Not seeing exactly what you’re looking for? Any house plan can be customized for a fee, so if you cannot locate that “perfect plan” we can work with you to fine-tune it or you can order a modifiable plan and work out your changes locally. We want to help, so just call us any time at 1-800-447-0027 for help with your plan search.
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How is the square footage calculated?

Like realtors and appraisers, we calculate the square footage of the “conditioned spaces” only, meaning the areas of the home that are heated. Some areas that are not included in our square footage calculation include porches, patios, sunrooms, screened porches, bonus rooms, garages, and foundations. Some basements may be considered in the square footage if they are finished with rooms (living space).
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Will the plans meet my county's building codes?

Each city, state, province and subdivision may have their own set of codes and regulations that have been determined to work best for the area. Our plans are designed to meet the national building code standards from the time and place where the plan was designed, but plans are not generally updated for any specific region. Many areas require additional steps once you have purchased your plans, including site plans, structural engineering, MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) plans, energy code compliance, and local code updates, so be sure to budget for what is needed in your location. You should consult with your local building official before starting your project. You can also call us at 1-800-447-0027 to check on any specific plan codes.
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What do I need to know about local building and zoning requirements?

Your plans may need to be modified to comply with local requirements regarding snow loads, energy codes, soil and seismic conditions, as well as a variety of other location-specific planning factors. Prior to ordering plans, we strongly advise that you seek advice from a homebuilder or engineer to discuss local planning requirements. You may also want to consult with your local building official before applying for any permit or beginning construction.

We authorize the use of our plans with the express condition that you comply with all local building codes, zoning requirements and other applicable laws, regulations, ordinances and conditions set forth by your planning commission. Modifiable plan options are available to help with any local requirements.


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What do I need to know about architectural and engineering seals?

Some cities and states require that a state-licensed architect or engineer review and "seal" a blueprint to unofficially approve it prior to construction after a compliance review is done. Prior to application for a building permit or the start of construction, we strongly advise that you consult your contractor and local building department to see if such a review is required. Areas that have heavy rain and snow, earthquakes, coastal conditions, floods and high wind will usually require additional engineering to plans.


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Is there a way to know if a plan has been purchased and/or built in my area?

To protect the privacy of our customers, we do not disclose personal building information of people who have purchased plans from us. View our Privacy Policy here.
We understand that you want to get a good idea of how the home will look when you build it. That’s why we regularly reach out to builders and homeowners to see if photographs are available after a plan has been sold. If we receive good photos, we make sure to share them on the website. Keep in mind that if you hire an architect and start from scratch they may not even have a floor plan to share with you before asking for a deposit.
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What is a walkout basement?

A walkout basement has an exit door or doors that open to the outside, usually on the rear or one side of the house. Walkout basements are ideal for houses that will be built on a sloping lot. Due to shifting soils we recommend any plans needing a walkout basement be reviewed by a local engineer to calculate any bracing that may be needed.
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Can I view more photos of a particular plan?

We often request photographs from our customers and plan designers, and we do upload many new photos every week. If the plan you like does not have photos displayed, it is likely we have not been able to get photographs yet. Please contact one of our Plan Advisors at 1-800-447-0027 and we will attempt to obtain additional photos for you.
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Do you offer a low-price guarantee?

Yes! If you are shopping around and find a matching plan on a competitor’s website, we will beat their regularly published price by 5%. The Low-Price Guarantee applies to house plans, not ancillary products or services, nor will it apply to special offers or discounted plans. Please call one of our Plan Advisors at 1-800-447-0027 if you find a plan that qualifies for the Low-Price Guarantee.
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How much will this house cost to build?

New home construction costs vary widely, depending on where the house is built, the level of finish (tile, trim, window quality, etc...) and the construction site. We can provide a “cost to build” estimate using the same software that many insurance companies and home appraisers use.
Notes about the Cost to Build service:

  • When you have a specific plan selected, click on the “Get Cost-to-Build Report” button to get an estimate for that plan.
  • Our Cost to Build reports are prepared using up-to-date data supplied by Xactware, Inc., an industry leader in estimating solutions and building cost information that has provided cost data and services since 1986.
  • Many lenders will accept a plan set with a “cost to build” report to initiate a construction loan.
Click here to read more about our Cost-to-Build reports.
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What is included in your plans?

All of our plans contain the basic necessary drawings to be used for the construction of a house. However, the exact contents of each plan may vary, as every designer includes different levels of detail. Each plan detail page will list what that plan specifically includes, so be sure to check. You can call 1-800-447-0027 or submit a request for clarification directly from the plan page.
At minimum, your plans will be drawn at ¼” scale or larger and will include:

  • Foundation Plan: Drawn to 1/4" scale, this page shows all necessary notations and dimensions including support columns, walls and excavated and unexcavated areas.
  • Exterior Elevations: A blueprint picture of all four sides showing exterior materials and measurements.
  • Floor Plan(s): Detailed plans, drawn to 1/4" scale for each level showing room dimensions, wall partitions, windows, etc. as well as the location of electrical outlets and switches.
  • Cross Section: A vertical cutaway view of the house from roof to foundation showing details of framing, construction, flooring and roofing.

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What is the Reproducible print or PDF option?

The Reproducible set is one master copy of the plans, shipped to you with a license allowing you to make your own copies locally. This helps if you have many people involved in the construction process or if you want to make minor changes to the plans. A more popular “reproducible” plan in today’s market is the digital PDF, which you can save to your hard drive and not worry about running out of copies, or risk the plans getting torn or damaged. You can print to scale from the digital PDF. Since the PDF order is a digital plan, you can also receive it much faster than ordering a printed Reproducible set.
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Why do I need to purchase a PDF, Reproducible Master, or CAD set in order to customize my house plan?

When you purchase a PDF, Reproducible Master, or CAD set, you get a limited copyright release with your plans. This gives you the legal rights to copy the original design, have adjustments made, or work with a local architect and engineer to seal the plans (if required). You can print directly onto large-format sheets (to scale) from either of these options.
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Do you offer study plans?

Many plans have a Study Plan or Single Set option to be used for preliminary planning and obtaining bids. These plans will be stamped “Not for Construction” and are not usable for actual construction. If you purchase a Study Plan or Single Set, we will apply a 90% upgrade credit to you when you are ready for the licensed construction plans. Example: If you spend $500.00 on a Study Plan, we will discount your plan upgrade by $450.00. If the regular price of the upgraded plan is $1,000.00 then it will cost you $550.00 to upgrade. Please call 1-800-447-0027 or send us a message if you need clarification, or to see if a Study Plan is available for your favorite design.
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How many blueprints do I need?

The average builder will need 5 to 8 copies of the plan, depending on how many people are involved in the permitting and construction process. We regularly ship plans in bundles of 5 or 8 copies for this reason. Remember, if you order a PDF, Reproducible Master, or CAD set you can print copies locally for your municipality, builder and subcontractors. ↑ top of page 



Can I make copies of the plans?

The plans are copyrighted and not reproducible. Copies can only be made if you order the reproducible print.
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What is a reverse blueprint?

There are two types of reverse options available for most plans. They are called Mirror Reverse and Right-Reading Reverse.
Option 1) "Mirror Reverse" - This is when we reverse the plan layout without changing any of the text or dimensions to read 'normally'. The plans are reversed but all the writing is backwards.
Option 2) Right-Reading Reverse – This is when we reverse the plan but physically change all the wording, dimensions and text to read legibly. Also called a 'true reverse,' the service usually costs a little more but it eliminates costly mistakes that your builder and subcontractors may make trying to read mirror reverse plans.
Feel free to call 1-800-447-0027 for further clarification.
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What is a Material List?

A Material List is a detailed breakdown of all the components needed to construct your home from the plan. Once you have a Material List you can start obtaining pricing from your local material providers and supply companies. If you do not see a Material List option for the plan you like, call us at 1-800-447-0027 for pricing on a Material List.
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What is a Construction Engineering Guide?

The Construction Engineering Guide is a useful PDF of basic construction elements, from foundation to wall assemblies, exterior finishing and more. Ideal for “Do-it-Yourselfers” the Construction Engineering Guide will help you understand basic construction methodology.
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What is a Home Furniture Planner?

The Home Furniture Planner is a fun way to start planning how you want to furnish the rooms in your new home. Each kit comes with a scaled general floor plan grid and static-cling furniture pieces that you can place on the board and move around.
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What is the Specification Outline?

Our Specification Outline is a 16-page document that lists 166 stages or items involved in the building process. It provides a comprehensive review of the construction process and helps in making choices of materials.
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What do the abbreviations on the floor plans stand for?

Some common abbreviations that appear on the floor plans are:

  • K.S.- Knee Space
  • Pan.- Pantry
  • W.I.C. - Walk in Closet
  • FPL - Fireplace
  • W. D.- Washer/Dryer
  • Surf. Unit - Surface Unit
  • D.W.- Dishwasher
  • Ref.- Refrigerator
  • VLT- Vaulted Ceiling
  • Pdr.- Powder Room

Please call us at 1-800-447-0027 for clarification on any abbreviations you would like clarified.
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Can I make changes to my plan?

This is the most common question we receive and the answer is yes! You can work with our skilled team of plan designers to customize any plan. Rates vary depending on the size of the plan and complexity of changes, but even if you decide to make a whole bunch of changes to the plan, it’s still much cheaper than hiring a designer or architect to start from scratch! You can request an estimate for plan modifications from any plan detail page. A few of our designers require a small consultation fee to price out your changes, so be sure to check on the plan you are inquiring about. You can reach us during normal business hours at 1-800-447-0027. Local changes can also be made using the PDF or Reproducible Master (for minor changes) or the modifiable CAD plans (for moderate to major changes). These options come with a special license allowing you to have your plans customized locally.
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What modifications can I make through Hanley Wood's customization service?

Whether you want to move a door or window or completely redesign the entire plan, we are able to assist you. Some common plan modifications are foundation changes, adding a bonus room, widening a room or adding garage stalls. Rates for plan changes vary, so please submit your request for modifications directly from the plan page or call us at 1-800-447-0027. We are happy to provide an estimated cost and timeframe.
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Is it possible to customize my plan for different types of foundations like slab, crawlspace, and pier?

Absolutely. Foundation changes are the most common requested plan modifications and can be done through our design service, your builder, or your local engineer. Every lot has different foundation requirements, and all our plans can be adjusted to accommodate your needs. Some plans have multiple foundation options so be sure to look for the foundation you need. If you do not see your foundation preference listed, you are welcome to request pricing for the plan modifications.
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Can a plan be converted to Metric?

We recommend ordering the modifiable CAD plans if you are looking to have a Metric conversion done, so you can work with a local professional on the changes. Most plans are designed using Imperial measurements (feet and inches) as we are based in North America.
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Can a plan be made smaller?

Yes; however, we cannot “shrink” the whole plan down. Since areas like doorways, hallways, window sizes, etc. need to stay at a fixed size, they cannot be reduced. We need to look at each section of the house in order to determine where adjustments can be made. Please call one of our Plan Advisors at 1-800-447-0027 to clarify any specific plan modifications.
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Can the customization team make the plan wheelchair accessible?

Yes, common areas that will need to be adjusted are doorways, hallways, kitchen and bath configurations and closets. In order to be wheelchair-accessible it is important to have the width needed to maneuver and turn around within the home.
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I would like to make changes to the kitchen; can I receive a quote to only make changes to the kitchen from the customization team?

Yes, although it is more common to work out kitchen and bath changes with your builder and/or interior designer once you have received your plans.
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Can the roof pitch be changed?

The roof pitch can be raised or lowered, for the most part, though roof pitch changes may not be feasible for plans with complex rooflines and multiple pitches. Check with one of our Plan Advisors (1-800-447-0027) to see if the roof pitch can be adjusted on your favorite plan.
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Can I request physical copies of blueprints rather than the PDF or CAD once my changes are complete – and will I still receive my copyright release letter?

Yes, your final plans will be sent in a digital PDF or CAD format, depending on which option you selected with your Plan Advisor. We can also print and ship full-sized plans for $50.00 per set, plus $25.00 shipping and handling.
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How do I get started customizing my plan with Hanley Wood's customization service?

The first step is to submit your plan modification request through the website or by calling one of our Plan Advisors at 1-800-447-0027. We will review your modification request and present an estimate. Once you approve the estimate, we will send you a contract for review. After we receive payment and your signed agreement, a Project Manager will be assigned to guide you through the plan modification service. Plan modifications typically take 4-6 weeks, though some designers’ timeframes vary. Be sure to call 1-800-447-0027 and check with your Plan Advisor to make sure we can meet your deadline.
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Can I use your customization service to modify my plans to meet local building code requirements?

In some cases, yes, but we typically design to meet the national building code standards. Since every area has different requirements, be sure to find a good home builder who can guide you through the local permit process. Once you submit your plans, we can work with you to make additional changes for an hourly fee.
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How much does it cost to customize my plan?

Plan modification pricing varies depending on the size of your house and the complexity of the design. It also depends on how many plan sheets need to be redesigned. Minor changes can usually be handled by your builder, or for about $500-$1,000 (plus plan purchase). Moderate-to-major revisions can cost anywhere from $1,000-$2,500 or more, depending on the factors stated above. If that sounds like a lot, remember that you’re essentially receiving a custom house for much less than a designer or architect will typically charge.
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How do I proceed once I've received the cost estimate for Customization?

Once you have approved the estimate sent by your Plan Advisor, they will prepare an invoice or Scope of Work Agreement and email it to you. After you sign and return the agreement and purchase the plans and customization service we will get your project onto the schedule and start working with you. You can call us any time at 1-800-447-0027 to discuss our Customization Service.
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What is the turn-around time for Dreamhomesource.com’s customization services?

Plan modifications normally take about 4 weeks to complete, but some projects can be turned around faster. Larger plans or plans with complex modifications may take longer – up to 8 weeks in many cases. This is still usually faster than having a custom plan designed locally.
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Can you complete custom designs from scratch?

We do offer this service for anywhere between $2.00 and $3.00 per square foot. If you have an idea for a custom plan design, we are happy to take a look and provide an estimate to you. Call 1-800-447-0027 to discuss your custom plan ideas with one of our Plan Advisors.
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What is the exchange policy?

All sales are final on copyrighted house plans, and no refunds or exchanges will be granted once you have received your plans. If you decide you cannot build the house for which you ordered plans, we may be able to offer a discount on a replacement plan. Be sure to do all your research prior to ordering plans so that you end up with a house plan (and home) that you love.
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What are your shipping options?

We offer free ground shipping in the continental United States. Priority and express shipping options are also available (check with one of our Plan Advisors at 1-800-528-8070 for current pricing). Plans shipped to Canada may have higher fees due to customs and available delivery resources.
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Is there a time limit for using my house plan?

There is no time limit for building. We do advise that you store your plans and your copyright letter in a safe place, so that you have access to it when you do decide to start the construction process.
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Can I trade my plans for a different set?

We are not able to offer any returns or exchanges, though we may be able to discount your new plan. Call 1-800-447-0027 and one of our Plan Advisors can talk with you about it.
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What methods of payment do you accept?

We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. We can also accept check by phone as a form of payment for most plans.
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What if I ordered a 5 or 8 set of plans but now I need the Repro, CAD or PDF?

If, within 90 days, you determine that you need to upgrade your plans or order additional copies, please call 1-800-447-0027 for pricing. In most cases we can upgrade you from a 5 or 8-copy set to a digital plan option by applying a 90% upgrade credit and adding a small processing fee. To upgrade from PDF to CAD, we can also usually apply a 90% upgrade credit for you.
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Questions?
Questions?
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