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How to customize a standard plan home

Becoming your own Home Designer

The plans offered by CountryPlans (and our sister site are stock or "standard plan" homes designed to be modified and customized by the owners. We not only give you reprint rights to the plans we send you, but allow you to make modifications and adjustments on the plan sheets themselves and then recopy these for your customized project plans. (You are taking responsibility for these changes, of course and we ask that you build only one house for each set of purchased plans.)

Almost everyone makes some changes to the plans, either before or as they build. This is as it should be since your combination of site, climate and space needs are unique and your house will be more alive, efficient and comfortable if it responds. We think you are better off starting out with a set of plans that allow you to make these changes and will even help you with suggestions for those customizations (see the Plans Support Forum).

Many of our plans have no internal load bearing walls and the interiors can be redesigned and spaces relocated as needed. Moving windows, doors and non-structural partitions can be visualized and floor plan drawings produced with a simple computer floor plan software program like 3d Home Architect (get version 3, NOT a later version) or Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer (ver 6 or later). These programs  allow you to reprint the modified floor plans, electrical plans and elevations to scale so they can be pasted into the paper plans. Sorry, we cannot provide technical support for these programs and we DO NOT do customized modifications to our plans. 

The PlanHelp membership site is setup to allow you to download template files into these home design programs and make these modifications. Read this article to understand how you can do this and before you order software. PlanHelp also has a library of scaled drawings for special elements and tools that can add bonus features to your house. These are in PDF format and do not require special software. See examples HERE.

In addition, you can combine your own notes and drawings and put them into your plans. Here is an article on how to add additional information to the printouts produced by the software programs above. Open this PDF for more information.

Note that simple things like moving a window or door can often by hand note drawn right on the paper plans. Builders do this at the permit counter all the time. Just "X" out what you eliminate and draw in what is new. Put in dimensions as needed or change a dimension and put "NTS" (not to scale) when you move something without reprinting the whole floor plan.

If you don't want to mess with learning a new computer program - or for larger modifications, additions and structural changes - the help of a local home designer, architect or engineer may be needed. But, you can certainly start working on your own plans, sketch in some modificaitons on tracing paper, and get a feel for what you want to change.

Many of the homes in the Owner-Builder Gallery have used our plans and then modified them for their building site and to get the best house layout for their specific needs. 

Local issues:

Some owner/builders may be required to meet local codes that don't allow some options shown in our plans (a pier and beam foundation or a cathederal roof for instance). Such codes are unique to the area where you are building and are always changing. In these cases you may have to do revisions or have engineering calaculations done by an engineer registered in your jurisdiction. These are local matters and we can not insure the our plans will meet your local requirements. 

In some more restrictive areas, there is really no option to a full custom home design done by a registered local architect or engineer. In such cases you can take any of our stock floor plans and print and mark them up as a starter layout to give guidence to you custom designer. You can do this for free by printing anything found on this site, or you may choose to buy a set of our scaled blueprints and do tracing paper overlay sketches to more accurately change a floorplan or look. While new plans may need to be done, this may give you a head start and save money over starting from scratch when you meet with your designer.

John Raabe, CountryPlans LLC, 2015

See the PlanHelp template files *  CountryPlans HOME * Our Standard Blueprint Plans