Once you’ve found a home plan that meets your family’s biggest needs, modifying it to fit your biggest wants is easier than you might think.
The benefits of pre-designed house plans are numerous. Not only do you gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing the design is tried and true, it is also far less expensive compared to hiring an architect to design a custom plan.
Most people have a list of requirements that they want and need from their new home before they go shopping for a plan—general size, number of bedrooms, etc. Sometimes homeowners find a pre-designed home plan that they really like but then toss it aside because it doesn’t contain one or two features that they might want. A plan might meet their basic needs of three bedrooms and two and a half baths, but because it is only a two-car garage and they want a three-car garage, or the exterior is siding but they want brick they eliminate that plan from consideration.
If the plan meets most of your needs, don’t be so quick to take it off your list. It’s much easier and less costly to start with an existing plan and modify it than it is to create a whole new plan from scratch, and most design firms have in-house modification departments who work directly with clients to rearrange plans to fit their needs.
It’s important to make a distinction between a true modification and simple customization of a plan. Colors, materials, and finishes—wood vs. tile flooring, light vs. dark cabinetry, granite counters vs. laminate—will all affect the final look and style of your home. Pre-designed plans include a rendering of what the designer intended the exterior of the home to look like, but simple substitutions—stone instead of brick, shakes instead of siding—are considered customization rather than a modification. Similarly, kitchen layouts are often highly customized by the homeowners, especially those who work with a professional kitchen designer or cabinet maker. Rearranging the cabinet layout or changing the location of the appliances is also considered customization. The general rule of thumb is that if the change does not affect the structural aspects of the plan—no walls have moved, the roofline is not affected, etc. Then it is a customization.
In contrast, modifications change the structure or footprint of the plan, and the changes need to be made on the drawings before construction begins. The designer’s modifications team can add that third garage bay, flip the entire footprint, add another room or make any other changes you might desire. By working with the designer who created the original plan you are assured that the modifications will be structurally sound and minimize the chance of complications or unsatisfactory results that you might encounter if your builder simply “wings it” in the field. While adding a porch or changing the garage door location may seem like simple changes, in reality they will affect the integrity of the structure of the plan and if not done properly they can cause problems down the line. That’s why it’s best if you want to modify a plan to consult with the designer of the plan you’ve chosen. Because you’re dealing with the original designer, you can be sure the modifications will preserve the integrity of the original design while allowing you to incorporate everything you want in your home.
MOST COMMON MODIFICATIONS
House plans can be modified all sorts of ways, ranging from simple changes to very complex re-engineering of the plans. Here are the most commonly requested modifications, in no particular order:
Add a third garage bay
Change location of garage doors (from front entry to side entry, etc.)
Adjust width/depth of plan to fit specific lot size
Expand the plan all sorts of ways: this could be either adding a room or simply enlarging all the rooms proportionally to make the entire house bigger
Add a screen porch
Convert a screen porch to a sunroom
Add a walk-out basement foundation
Reverse the plan
Add a dedicated media room
Replace sliding doors or retreating glass walls with a wall of windows
Reconfigure spaces to meet special family needs
Everyone has different tastes and personal preferences for how their dream home should look, and curb appeal is very important both for making the owner feel at home and for ensuring that the home is appealing should you decide to sell. Regional differences also influence preferred styles; for example, an Adobe-style house would be right at home in the Southwest but would look out of place in the mountains of Tennessee, just as a rustic log cabin that would be right at home in those mountains would look equally out of place in the desert.
To address both regional variation and personal preference, designers often take their popular floor plans and create different exterior elevations for it. Some designers are even selling some of their plans with multiple elevation options packaged together for one price. These package deals are especially appealing to builders and developers. Keep in mind that designers are always able to create a new exterior treatment through their modification programs.
If you find a plan you like and are curious about other elevation options, you can always contact the designer’s office and find out what is available by calling 1-888-840-6020 and entering the extension number that corresponds with the designer.