a stupid question from a first-timer to building

hairmetal4everAugust 1, 2014

OK - the discussion of buying a lot and building a home has come up at our house.

Dumb question - when you buy a "house plan" - does it have any specs for things like cabinets, floor coverings, walls, woodwork/baseboards/trim, etc?

I really like the more modern trend of wider wood floors and some of the more prominent (larger) baseboards and trim that I see lately in new builds, at least around here.

Is that something that you add on later after buying plans? How does all that work?

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A plan does not specify those things. You would choose the exact finishes you want. Some builders have specific groupings of products to choose from, normally when you are building in a subdivision where one builder is doing all the building. But if u r buying land and planning a custom(ish) home from a plan the choices for cabinets trim flooring etc are 100% yours. That's what I chose to of as I'm very particular about what I want

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:46AM
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This is not a "dumb" question; there are no dumb questions!

Consumers should look carefully at the descriptions of stock plans to see what is and isn't included.

Stock plans, purchased from a "plan factory" or some other source, vary as to what is included and what is not. Thus, consumers have to do their due diligence to see what they are getting for their money.

In many cases, these stock plans do not include "specifications" in a true architectural sense, and may not include structural details or finish details (as you describe).

It's also important to know that many stock plans may not be sufficient to obtain a building permit (if one is legally required in one's area), and they may not meet local building code and regulations for special areas such as seismic, high wind, etc. Stock plans seldom include plans for structural, electrical, lighting, plumbing, HVAC systems. They also will certainly not reflect local site conditions such as sloping lots, orientation for views, energy efficiency, etc.

Stock plans are simply...well, stock! Usually included are floor plans for each habitable level, a roof plan (perhaps), and four exterior elevations, unless specifically noted otherwise.

To get all of the necessary and desirable details and specifications to fully understand what will be bid and built in a residential project, one must use an architect or experienced (unlicensed) designer. Many experienced builders may have their own plans and limited specifications, but they are often incomplete and do not furnish full information for consumers to see what they will get for their money. Builders do this because they have built the plans before and know in their own minds what they will do (and not do). Consumers, however, will not have everything illustrated and specified, and thus will have to trust the builder to do what the consumer desires.

Incomplete sets of drawings and specifications are frequently accompanied by including "allowances" for items not included in the construction documents. Allowances can be a "money trap" if they do not realistically allow for the quantity and quality of the desired items, such as cabinets, lighting and plumbing fixtures, finishes such as flooring and trim, etc.

The best advice for consumers who are building custom homes is to be sure construction documents are full and complete before bidding and construction.

Good luck with your project!

This post was edited by virgilcarter on Fri, Aug 1, 14 at 11:33

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:49AM
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In addition to the wise advice above, details like the width of your hardwood floors and baseboard height are so trivial in the case of an overall build. They are also extremely dependent on personal tastes and cyclical fashion.

I don't think it's feasible to include them in a stock plan, because by the time you build this house, you may not like that look. Or maybe you do, but the person across the country who's building the same plan doesn't. It doesn't even help with getting a general idea of what the house will cost to build. Because while 6" wide flooring is more expensive than 2 1/4", it's not going to add a noticeable difference when you add in all the other pieces of building a house.

Even on my architect designed, finished plans, submitted for building permit, the architect has not specified trim level. Maybe it's there, but we're building ourselves and paying as we go. So I'll pick the trim when we get to that point.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 4:05PM
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Some pre-designed house sites offer a materials list for an additional that should include most if not all of the choices you mentioned. Some provide structural drawings for some of their plans. So, no one can answer general questions; you need to find a site and then look for more detailed information about what they offer in a particular house design package. You might also need to call the company. Some offer additional services but they are usually not cheap and often provided by independent contractors who know little about designing and building houses.

The terms "plan" and "build" are contractor jargon often adopted by homeowners on the internet. In my experience, if you want to get accurate, detailed information when talking to strangers in different parts of the country, it is best to use terms that better describe your project and the services you need.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 11:25AM
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What about timing/weather? Is it safe to do finish work (if the house is "closed in") once winter sets in in the Mid Atlantic?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 1:48PM
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I'm in Canada, and we build year round here. You would want to have the heat on before you start doing flooring and cabinetry.

And there's exterior work that will cost extra in winter months. But electricians and plumbers work in the winter once the shell is done.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:56PM
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