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Homes

This is the most complex type of structure, obviously, so the plans will be the most complicated. Additionally, the customizations that you may need or want are going to be more extensive and varied, which can add to the costs substantially. 

If your builder offers pre-made plans, it is typically in the context of a pre-planned community. This means that the builder will have several floor plans that you can choose from, each with its own set of customization options. In this case, your options are limited to what the builder offers. This also locks in the price, meaning that you don’t have to worry about overages due to unforeseen complications with the plans. 

If you’re working with an independent builder who is assisting you with modifying existing plans, you’ll need to vet your builder heavily before working with them. They’ll need to have experience with this type of work, as not all builders are capable of the drafting work that this requires. Once you have made sure that your builder can handle the work, spend some time talking the plans over with them so that you know you have a common language when talking about design choices. You’ll have final say over the overall style of the project, and since it’s the home you have to live in, you’ll need to be able to communicate those design choices effectively. ​

Lastly, if you have a homeowner’s association, make sure that any decisions you make with regard to the appearance of your home are in line with their requirements. Any changes in plans mid-stream will be much more costly than having your plans squared away and pre-approved before starting construction. 

Garages

Unattached garages are easy to think of as huge sheds for cars. A lot of the same design and building principles govern both of them, so make sure to read through to the shed section if this is what you’re building. Attached garages, though, have their own set of specifications and needs. Even if the attached garage is not connected to the air-conditioning system of the main house, some fumes from stored chemicals will make their way inside, if they’re not stored properly. If you plan to keep paint, varnish, gasoline, or other volatile chemicals in your garage, you’ll want to spend some time researching the proper storage methods for your circumstances and make sure your new garage is equipped correctly. ​

From a design standpoint, an attached garage is one of the trickiest secondary structures to successfully integrate into a pre-existing home. You’ll need to consider the time period of your house, the building materials that were used in its construction, and the scale of the main mass of the house in relation to the size of the garage. The garage should never be bigger than the main visual mass of your home, and usually looks best if kept to the size of the largest secondary mass or smaller. If you’re having trouble finding plans that fit these requirements, you may need to enlist the help of an architect or draftsman to help you make them suit your home better. 

Sheds

The most basic type of shed is a lean-to used simply for storage, while the most complex sheds approach the level of a greenhouse in terms of complexity and utility. You can find plans for any of the sizes on the spectrum between these two, which means simply choosing is the most complicated part. To help you do this, we’ve split the shed types into two categories, Organization and Storage. Organization sheds include tool sheds and potting sheds, or any other kind of structure that you expect to spend a good deal of time in working on whatever project or hobby the shed is used for. Storage sheds are used to store a wide variety of things, from small vehicles to holiday decorations. 

Once you know which category of shed you need, take some measurements of the things that will need to go inside it. For storage, you might be able to calculate volume of the boxes that you’d like to move out of the attic. If not, use a shipping calculator to get an idea of the square footage that your stuff takes up. In an organizational shed you’ll also need to calculate work space. If possible, spend some time in similar structures in order to get an idea of how much space you’ll need. 

Outside of these categories are many other structures, such as a Garden Office, which is a shed that’s been converted into something more comfortable that can be used as a work or recreation space. The customization of these plans is endless, as they involve a good deal of interior decorating as well. It can be useful to hire a professional to look over your plans here, as well. A consultation with a decorator isn’t usually expensive and can save you a good deal of money in the long run because you increase your chances of getting the space right the first time. 

If you’re still unsure about what pre-made plan is going to be right for you, consider looking for a local builder who will look at the land available and help you choose on a consulting basis. This will eliminate unsuitable plans, and it might even be how you find your builder!