Plan Modification - Making your Home Fit Your Lifestyle
Most homeowners know exactly what they want when looking for their dream home. Whether a first-floor master bedroom or a three-car garage tops their list, they spend hours searching stock plans and often almost find their dream plan. It has the first-floor master and the three-car garage, but the layout isn’t exactly what they hoped, or the master bedroom seems just a little too small. If only they could stretch it a few feet or add a powder room, then it would be perfect.
Believe it or not, these changes are quite possible. Stock plans can be modified, and who better than to turn to than the original designer of the plan? Most design and architect firms have built-in modification departments, including those in this magazine. These departments work directly with the customer to rearrange the plan to their liking, and are often still cheaper and easier than hiring a custom architect to draw a plan from scratch.
“It’s so much easier and cheaper to take a plan that is already done and modify it than to start from scratch,” Bill Apelian said. “Find a plan you like with the overall features you need most, and talk to your architect and builder about modifying,” he added. Bill built the Donald A. Gardner plan, the Hartford, and made significant changes to the interior, yet it still resembles the original rendering.
A modification is a change to the structure of the plan and can include knocking down walls in the interior, exterior material changes, or even changing the very foundation the home is built upon.
Mike and Patti Bacon are building the Donald A. Gardner plan the Lujack. Looking to downsize, they originally sought a brick plan that would meet their neighborhood’s requirements, and wanted a one-story home with a large bonus room upstairs. While the Lujack was almost perfect, Mike and Patti decided they wanted a bathroom upstairs and more space in the master bedroom. By modifying the plan, the Bacons were able to extended the master bedroom walls a few feet and add a bathroom in the bonus room. Their biggest modification is actually one of the most common: changing the garage from front-entry to a side entry.
“We wanted the exterior to have a consistent look and not be interrupted with the garage doors,” Mike Bacon said. So they chose to change their garage entry and add a few extra feet to the garage. This in turn, created more square footage in the bonus room upstairs and thusly, the overall size of the home.
While those are fairly significant changes, some homeowners only make small changes, such as Scott and Vanessa Sanders, builders of the Frank Betz plan the Greywell.
“We loved our plan but wanted a bigger shower, so we removed the linen closet in the master bedroom to enlarge the shower and make it a walk-in shower,” Scott Sanders said.
While it may seem complicated to make so many changes, that is the beauty of stock plan modifications. If a plan is modified enough times, the architect will often re-design the plan with the changes and offer it as a new plan. Architects and designers love learning what families want, through research and direct contact with the consumer. When someone makes a change to the plan, the designers use those changes to consider what might work better when designing the next plan.
Many times, a design firm will take a best-selling plan and tweak it to reflect common modifications made or requested by customers. This can be as easy as adding a family room to give families one extra living space or as complex as re-configuring the kitchen layout or master bath.
Perhaps you and your neighbor love the same floor plan, but don’t want the same exterior. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the same interior with a different façade? No problem says Tricia Hummel. As senior designer for the Donald A. Gardner modification team, Tricia’s team often designs parallel plans with several different exteriors. Examples of this include the Donald A. Gardner homes the Churchdown and the Jerivale. The Churchdown is a slightly larger plan, however looking at the plans one would think they are identical. But viewing the exterior they are two completely different homes.
The modification team at Frank Betz Associates also performs similar requests.
“Currently, our most popular requests include designing alternate front elevations for our existing plans,” said Heidi Reed of Frank Betz Associates.
“One example of this is our Culbertson plan. We’ve now designed the plan, the Saddleridge which has a totally different exterior yet the same plan as the Culbertson,” Reed said.
The Emerson and Rosedale, designed by Visbeen Associates, are another example. These two homes are completely different looking on the exterior yet have identical interior layouts.
After deciding on a plan and choosing what modifications you want to make, it is best advised to work directly with the design firm from whom you originally bought your plans. While some consumers will work with their builder, they often forget that the builder is not nearly as familiar with the plans as the designers will be. Moreover, the builders might picture one thing, while the homeowner has something else in mind.
“Clients need to remember that their plans become part of the contract between them and their builder. A set of modified plans from us clearly communicates to the builder what the client wants and eliminates any confusion,” Reed said.
While most modifications are designed to increase space or open up rooms, sometimes a homeowner actually wants to decrease the size of the home and must turn to a designer to keep the key features of the plan the same, but help reduce the dimensions.
Kristen Lavelle found a lot she loved in a beach community and wanted to build a Dan Sater home upon the lot. After touring a model of the home, she fell in love with it and began talking it over with her family, the architects and builders. Because of her lot’s dimensions, her dream home would not quite fit on her dream lot. Not wanting to give up either, Lavelle had the home modified to fit within the lot’s dimensions.
“Due to lot restrictions we had to shorten the width of the original plan by about four feet,” Kristen said. Decreasing the home’s overall size is not uncommon for the modification team at Sater Design Collection.
“More than a few potential clients have chosen a specific home design that meets all of their needs but exceeds their desired or allowable square footage. Their request becomes ‘can you downsize our chosen house plan for us?’ In most cases, reasonable downsizing has been effectively accomplished while maintaining the original design concept of the home and with tremendous satisfaction to the homeowner,” Jim Postupack said. As a designer and Sater Design Collection Projects Manager, Jim works with clients to modify their home and keep the overall look of the plan similar to the original rendering.
As the examples above show, modifying a plan does not mean having to completely lose the essence of the stock plan you loved to begin with. Modifiations are designed to help you create the custom details you want in a plan, without having to spend the money for a custom-designed floor plan. Stock plans offer homeowners the assured knowledge that a plan will work, as it has been bought and built several times before. But it is the modifications that allow you, the homeowner, the ability to make it your own.
HOME PLANS CAN BE MODIFIED BY THE ORIGINAL DESIGN FIRM TO SUIT YOUR NEEDS.
DONALD A. GARDNER ARCHITECTS, INC.
FRANK BETZ ASSOCIATES, INC
1-888-717-3003 (ask for Melissa Seignious)
SATER DESIGN COLLECTION, INC.
GARRELL ASSOCIATES, INC.
1-877-215-1455 (ask for Sales)
VISBEEN ASSOCIATES, INC.
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