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Frequently Asked Questions

Our Frequently Asked Questions page in broken down into 7 sections. While the topic of building a home can generate a lot of questions, we have tried to gather the most asked questions and organize them here.

Each section below has the most asked question in that category. If you do not see the question you need the answer to, please phone or email us your question. If enough people have the same question, we will expand this section. And remember no question is too small, we deal with home plans all day so what might be obvious to us could be a total mystery to someone building a home for the first time.

Building a Home (8)

With which codes do the plans comply?

Plans are designed to specifications published by the International Residential Code (IRC) or the International Code Congress (ICC). Our plans are designed to meet or exceed the national building standards. Because of the great differences in geography and climate throughout the US and Canada, each state, country, county and municipality has its own building codes, zone requirements, ordinances and building regulations. Your plans may need to comply with the local requirements regarding snow loads, energy codes, soil and seismic conditions and a wide range of other matter. Therefore we always recommend that you have the plans reviewed by a local structural/truss engineer.

How many times may I build this plan?

As a registered purchaser of a plan, you are licensed to build only one structure from the plans, regardless of the number of plan sets you purchased. If you intend to build a plan more than once, contact our Customer Service Department at (800) 718-7526 for more information.

How much will this plan cost to build?

The best way to determine the actual plan cost to build is to consult a local builder in your area that typically builds homes like the one you are interested in. This quote, based on expert knowledge in your specific area, will provide you with the most accurate quote possible. The materials lists we offer will help them in determining the cost. Even then, costs will vary widely based on the finishes you will choose to complete your home such as lighting fixtures, cabinetry and flooring.

Where can I go to see a particular home built?

Many people want to see a particular home that has been built. Our house plans are sold throughout the United States and Internationally, however we have a privacy agreement with our clients and therefore we cannot divulge this information.

How is the square footage calculated?

Square footage calculations are made from outside the exterior frame wall and do not include decks, porches, garages, basements, attics, fireplaces, lanais, etc.

What are your specialty ceilings?

There are a variety of specialty ceilings available…some are listed below.

Tray Ceiling – An inverted indentation with sloped sides and a flat top.

Stepped Ceiling – An inverted indentation with stair-stepped sides and a flat top.

Coffered Ceiling – A ceiling with beams laid out in an intersecting grid pattern with regular intervals.

Pyramid Vault – A vaulted ceiling working gradually to a central point.

Groin Vault – The intersection of two barrel vaults in opposite directions.

Cove Lighting – Concealed lighting used in a recess.

Does Sater Design Collection recommend builders?

Sater Design Collection can recommend builders near your area. We provide you with resources to make an informed decision about the right builder for your project. On our site, you will find a listing of builders which may include some in your area, as well as an article to help guide your search for a reputable, quality builder.

Are your homes available in ICF?

Yes, we can convert homes to ICF through our Plan Modification services.

Buyers Guide (9)

Lot first, or plan first?

If you are shopping for home plans, it is important to consider if you will buy your lot or your plan first. 
One important consideration that may help you determine this is the local set-back requirements. Each municipality has its own rules about how far your new home must be from the edges of your lot and the middle of your street. Specific neighborhoods may have their own requirements as well.

If you are set on a specific neighborhood or a specific home plan, you have probably made up your mind on what will come first for you. However, if you are still flexible, check out some home plans you like in your size range and the average lot requirements of your building area. Compare that to the specific lots for sale, and see where this leads you. 
Lastly, if you have your dream home plan and your dream lot and they are not a perfect match, consider having our modifications department handle the changes needed to make them work together. We have often done slight size changes to fit lot restrictions with minimal impact on the overall interior spaces.

What style of home is right for me?

The style of  home will likely be dictated to some extent by the area and neighborhood in which you plan to build. However, there are other considerations when evaluating the style of home for you.

What is the size and age of your family? For example, if you and your spouse are planning to retire in this home, consider one with a first floor master or elevator option to improve your satisfaction in years to come. Families with growing children may appreciate a plan with a computer loft or bonus room as extra “hang out” space for the kids.

What special features are important to your family? Based on hobbies and interests, you may want to consider workbench space in the garage, a special media room or just a spacious outdoor kitchen for eating outdoors. Does a member of your family work out of your home part-time or full-time? Consider the types of office space you would like to have.

Just like when you are searching for a pre-built home for sale, set forth your must-have features and then search for the plans that have as many of your additional features as possible. Keep in mind that our in-house modifications department can help you make the close, but not quite perfect, house better meet your list of wants.

You’ve got your plan, Now What?

You have your plans, now what? There are multiple steps you need to take before submitting your plans to your local planning commission.

Your local plumbing contractor needs to draw in the plumbing lines based on your lot, the positioning of your home on your lot and the location of the water supply. They will use that information, along with the location of the plumbing fixtures shown in the plans to create your plumbing plan.

Additionally, your local HVAC contractor will draw in the duct lines for your home. Since energy calculations are different throughout the country (and world), it is important to have lines drawn to support the equipment your HVAC contractor has determined will best suit the size and climate of your new home.

We strongly recommend you have your plans reviewed by a local structural and truss engineer to ensure your plans will fully satisfy local building codes and be expediently approved. Different locations have different conditions, such as hurricanes or earthquakes that homes need to be able to withstand. A local expert familiar with your specific locale is best prepared to ensure your plans meet the requirements of your area.

Please remember to verify if your municipality requires a licensed Architect to stamp and seal the plans. You will need to arrange this if it is required in your area.

How do I select a builder?

Selecting a builder for your new home is as critical, if not more critical than, the selection of your new home’s plans. The success of the build and your satisfaction with the final product are absolutely contingent upon securing a quality, reputable builder to work on your new home.

Start by developing a pool of potential builder candidates. Ask for suggestions from your family, friends and work associates. Also, if you are building in a new neighborhood, consider asking your new neighbors if they would recommend their builders. An additional source could be attending a Parade of Homes or similar event in the area you are planning to build. You will be able to see the work of multiple builders first-hand.

Once you have located a few builders you are interested in working with, narrow down your choices by meeting with them. Confirm that they have built properties that are similar to what you are trying to achieve in terms of size, style and budget. Inquire about their schedule and the potential timeline they could offer for your build. If you have already selected your plan, ask each builder to bid on your specific home plan.

Ask to see sample timelines, invoices and other similar information from previous bids, to see how they work and the manner in which they report progress to you during the build. This will help you see how organized they are. Ask about specific crew experience, how they select subs, and similar questions.

Verify the reputation of the builders you have selected and contact the state licensing board to ensure your candidates all have up-to-date licenses and current insurance. Ask each builder for references of homes they have built. Contact these homeowners and ask about their work. Also, consider driving by some of the houses the builder has built and some of the sites they currently have under construction to see how tidy, organized and productive they are in working.

In the end, weigh the overall bids you have received with the references and overall rapport you have forged with different builders, as well as your gut instinct to make the best overall builder decision.

Should I be my own contractor?

Instead of hiring a builder to manage the building of your home, there is the option of being your own contractor. Proceed with caution if you are thinking about going this route.

First, being your own contractor is taking on the job another person would be doing full-time. The hours you will need to be on your property will be very early and you will need to visit the property very often. You and your spouse will already have dozens, if not hundreds, of finishes to select from exterior colors to doorknobs and cabinetry. Do you have the time needed to do the job successfully?

Second, it requires specialized knowledge. Will you be able to recognize things that are going wrong as quickly as an expert? How well can you read plans? Are you confident in your ability to trouble-shoot if you should have to resolve issues while building?

Finally, how will you locate reputable sub-contractors? A builder has an established set of subs they work with that they trust. Finding qualified and insured professionals will take time and effort and you may still encounter pitfalls along the way.

Financing Basics

Financing the construction of a new home is more challenging than obtaining financing for a conventional home purchase. Particularly in the current financing market, begin to search for financing early. Work with a mortgage broker that specializes in, or is at least familiar with, the unique loan products that cover home construction lending.

Convertible Loans

These loans cover your construction and then convert into a permanent mortgage without a second closing. This is a special product called a CTP, or construction to permanent, loan designed particularly for the needs of individuals building homes. As you build your home, it serves as a credit line, from which you write checks for your lot and construction costs. You will typically make interest-only payments during the construction phase.

Separate Loans

Some individuals find that two separate loans work better for their situation. Explore your options with a mortgage professional to ensure you are getting the best possible product for you specific needs.

Landscaping Basics

Designing outdoor living spaces is the fun part of building a home. The easiest way to choose a landscape and pool designer is to pick a professional whose signature style you like; someone who is fun to work with and has a sense of adventure. A good landscape designer will have specialized knowledge of the specific area in which you are building in order to make the most educated plans based on what plants thrive in your hardiness zone. Additionally, landscape architects often possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree in this field.

In order to design appropriate landscaping and hardscaping that will complement the home, the designer will meet the owners to learn more about their lifestyle preferences and budget, as well as to find out how the pool will be used. It is important that the homeowners try to define what they are looking for, which could be as simple as tearing out pictures of what they like and do not like from magazines.

Once hired, the homeowners should trust the landscape architect to use his or her expertise in designing a cohesive pool and landscape plan. A good landscape architect listens to the homeowner and is able to visualize what they want and translate those visions into a reality.

A landscape designer will learn about the orientation of the home and work to maximize views toward and away from the house. When done correctly, landscaping will define the scale and proportion of the home.

 

Selecting Exterior Colors

Selecting the exterior color for your home may just be one of the most difficult decisions to make in building your house. After the plan, the exterior color may make the next biggest impact on the overall outcome.

You want your home to look like it really belongs in your neighborhood, that it contributes to the cohesive look of your street. You also want to ensure the exterior colors are appropriate for the style of the home. Even if you are planning on this house being “it”, the very last forever home for your family, try to pick exterior colors that have universal appeal, just in case you change your minds and eventually want to sell.

Look at our books and magazines for ideas. Even if we do not have photographs of your exact plan, look at the color schemes used on similar home styles that you like. Drive around your new neighborhood, and see what color schemes other people are using to make sure your idea will blend well.

Selecting Interior Finishes

You are about to face hundreds of choices on interior finishes. You will be picking out every faucet, cabinet, countertop, tile, paint shade and doorknob for the whole house.

You can either do this on your own or with the assistance of an interior designer. Even if you do not employ the designer to complete the rooms with furnishings and accessories, many designers like to work at this finish level.

You can find ideas in our books and magazines or even visit some model homes or a Parade of Homes event. One popular method for developing a cohesive look is to start an idea binder with brochures, paint swatches, magazine clippings and other items that you would like to include. Seeing all of these in one place can help you make cohesive decisions. This is how interior designers tend to make decisions, gathering the materials they are considering in one place, like on a mood board, to help guide decisions.

One consideration to make is that you do not want to select finishes that are out of an appropriate price range for your neighborhood. You do not want to pick things that are too cheap and would be things most future owners would like to replace, but you also do not want to invest in finishes that are so lavish you would not recoup their cost. Make the exception for luxuries you simply cannot live without, like that steam shower, but try to keep most finishes on par for your neighborhood.

Also, consider the style of your home. For example, selecting Mediterranean finishes for a beach cottage might be quite unusual. Or the opposite, cottage finishes in a Mediterranean-style home.

Customer Service (7)

Shipping & Delivery

We use UPS to ship all our packages. UPS will not ship to a Post Office Box address. If an order is received by noon (12:00PM EST) on a business day, your order will usually ship the next business day. This does not include plans purchased with “Options”. Some plan options require extra time and will delay the shipping of the order.

Privacy & Security

Sater Design Collection, Inc. is very concerned about our customers security. For more details visit our Privacy and Security page.

Return Policy

Sater Design Collection, Inc. maintains a NO RETURN / NO EXCHANGE policy. Because our plans are copyrighted and registered to the purchaser, we cannot allow refunds or exchanges. Only upgrades to the same plan are allowed. Please be sure of your selection before ordering, and feel free to contact our office at (800) 718-7526 (Monday through Friday 9:00AM to 5:00PM EST) to discuss any concerns you may have before ordering. Replacements due to loss, damage or stolen plans are on a case by case basis.

 

Ordering

We have worked very hard to make the on-line ordering process as simple and easy to use as possible. But if you have any questions, concerns or difficulty, feel free to contact our office at (800) 718-7526 (Monday through Friday 9:00AM to 5:00PM EST) and we will do our best to help.

Payment, Pricing & Promotions

Pricing is subject to change at any time without notice. We currently accept most major credit cards, you can also call us to arrange payment using a cashier’s check, feel free to contact our office at (800) 718-7526 (Monday through Friday 9:00AM to 5:00PM EST) for more information.

Viewing Orders

Viewing orders is easy and quick. You can view your order’s details and status by logging into the Sater Design Collection website and from your “Dashboard” look in “Recent Orders” and then click the “Details” link to view the details of that order.

Updating Account Information

You can log into you account by using your email address and the password you have setup. If you have forgotten your password just click the “Forgot your Password?” link and a new password will be emailed to you. Once you are logged into your “Dashboard” you can view and change any or all of your account information. You can change the billing and shipping addresses, and you can setup multiple shipping addresses. You can also signup for our Newsletters.

Ordering a Plan (8)

What is the difference between print licenses?

A print license is conveyed to the purchaser as either a PDF file or a printed vellum. The PDF file cannot be modified and can only be printed. The vellum is erasable and allows for very minor changes and /or notes to be added. An electronic license allows for the client or the client’s consultants to make more elaborate modifications to plans (i.e.: widen a bedroom, add a fireplace, or add a window, etc.).

What is an electronic PDF plan?

When you order a plan in PDF format we will email you one set of plans in PDF file format. We also ship a DVD with the PDF files on it. Along with the DVD we ship your license agreement and valuable materials from our corporate partners that will help you build your home. This format allows you to receive the plan the fastest, usually within the same business day (by email) and allows you to take it to your local blue print shop to print copies as needed. See the Plan Licensing Information for specific information on the number of copies you can make.

What is a Print Vellum plan?

When you order a plan in Print Vellum format we ship one set of plans printed on Vellum paper. We also ship your license agreement forms, and valuable materials from our corporate partners that will help you build your home. Vellum paper is a special erasable paper. This type of paper makes small changes possible.

What is a Electronic CAD plan?

When you order a plan in electronic CAD format you get one set of plans saved as AutoCAD 2010 DWG files on a DVD. We ship you the DVD, your license agreement forms, and valuable materials from our corporate partners that will help you build your home. This format will allow you to take the AutoCAD files to your builder or local draftsman and they will be able to make changes to the plan. See the Plan Licensing Information for specific information on the number of copies you can make.

Do you have photography for the house I am interested in?

Our website is rapidly updated when we acquire new photography of plans. If you do not see photography for the plan on the website, we unfortunately do not yet have photography to share with you.

I have specific criteria, can you help me find a plan?

Definitely! Please feel free to call our Customer Service department about your specific criteria at 800-718-7526 to receive free plan assistance.

Photographs don’t match the home plan exactly?

The reason the photographs don’t match the home plan exactly is because different people have different needs. So sometimes a plan may have been modified to better serve the owners. The home plan is the most accurate representation of what the final home will look like.

I haven’t received my order yet. What should I do?

Each plan is prepared when ordered and shipped based on the shipping option you selected during the purchase process. If your order is late in arriving, please feel free to contact our Customer Service department at 800-718-7526 to track your plan status.

Plan Modification (3)

I have some changes to make, how should I proceed?

If you are making changes beyond bringing the plans up to your local codes, we recommend that you make use of our Plan Modification services. If you are intending to simply bring the plans up to the building codes in your area, to satisfy the requirements of most building departments, you will need to purchase the reproducible Vellum or CAD version of the plan you are interested in. Plans must be purchased on Reproducible Vellum or CAD for the modifications and revisions to be permitted due to Copyright Law.

Do you offer custom home designs?

Yes, we do offer custom home designs. You can find out more information through our custom division. Learn more at The Sater Group, Inc.

What is the difference between print licenses?

A print license is conveyed to the purchaser as either a PDF file or a printed vellum. The PDF file cannot be modified and can only be printed. The vellum is erasable and allows for very minor changes and /or notes to be added. An electronic license allows for the client or the client’s consultants to make more elaborate modifications to plans (i.e.: widen a bedroom, add a fireplace, or add a window, etc.).

Plan Options (11)

What is a Unfinished Walkout Basement?

An unfinished walkout basement is designed for a sloping lot which falls away to the rear of the property.  Access to a rear patio on the basement level is provided via French and sliding glass doors. With this option we provide, in addition to the standard plans, a basement foundation plan, a first floor framing plan, and revised typical wall sections.

What is a Unfinished Basement?

An unfinished basement is a popular foundation due to the added functionality it brings to a home. The basement can be used as storage space, finished off for living areas (depending on location), or both. The basement foundation combines elements of both a slab and crawlspace foundation. The floor in a basement is basically a concrete slab, and the engineered floor truss system is basically the same that a crawlspace uses. The foundational wall system is built as either an 8” concrete block or poured in place concrete. Please refer to your contractor and/or local building official to determine the best solution for your site and the governing building codes. Basement foundations can be found all over the country, but areas with high water tables or unsettled soil may preclude you from building a basement due to potential flooding or cracking in the foundation walls.

What is a Crawl Space?

A crawl space foundation is designed with an engineered floor truss system supported by an elevated stem wall. Crawl spaces are typically used in areas with colder climates and/or high moisture, where excessive water can build up. Supporting the home off of the ground keeps it away from moisture that could cause damage. A crawl space will also allow easy access to piping and utility areas underneath the home for both hookups and any necessary repairs.

What is a Slab/Stem Wall Foundation?

A Slab/Stem Wall Foundation is where the finished house floor is required to be raised above grade more than 12” without adversely impacting the surrounding grade, due to zoning or flooding requirements. This requires a block stem wall at the perimeter of the home to contain the fill required for achieving the desired house floor elevation. The garage floor is usually exempt from this requirement and is located closer to finish grade.

What is a Full Reverse?

Full reverse plans are redrawn with all the plans including elevations fully reversed. Additionally, all text and dimensioning notes are right read, rather than mirrored, which are simply plans printed backwards.

What is a Rendering Print?

A Rendering Print option is a full color print, on a 20 x 12 sheet of semi gloss paper, of the front rendering of the plan you are purchasing. It is the same front rendering that is currently shown on the website.

What does Exterior Wall 8″ Block mean?

Our optional 8″ Block for the exterior wall typically encompasses the first floor only on Two Story Plans, and the basement/ground floor and first main living level for Basement and Island Basement Plans. The second floor living levels are typically drawn as frame construction even with an 8” block construction option. If you wish the plan to be 8″ block on all stories of the home we can convert it, but it must be done through our Plan Modification process. It is industry standard that a plan that comes with a basement, of any type, the exterior walls will be either 8″ block or poured concrete.

What does Exterior Wall 2×6 Wood mean?

Our Frame Exterior Wall Option includes all exterior walls, excluding foundational stemwall or basement walls, which are typically either 8” concrete block or poured concrete. Other wall construction methods are available through our Plan Modification process.

What is a ICF Wall?

First, ICF stands for “Insulating or Insulated Concrete Forms”. Basically, these are insulated foam panels used as forms to contain steel reinforced poured concrete. These forms may consist of an open center, which many times houses metal reinforcement used to stabilize and strengthen the concrete that will eventually be poured into it. You can apply any interior or exterior finish to ICF homes. ICF systems are most often used for exterior walls only. The benefits of an ICF wall system to the consumer would be improved energy efficiency, greater strength and durability, better sound resistance, superior fire and pest resistance as well as a more environmentally friendly construction method.

What is involved in converting a plan to Metric?

This plan option is to convert the plan dimensionally from feet and inches to the metric equivalent .

 

 

What is the difference between print licenses?

A print license is conveyed to the purchaser as either a PDF file or a printed vellum. The PDF file cannot be modified and can only be printed. The vellum is erasable and allows for very minor changes and /or notes to be added. An electronic license allows for the client or the client’s consultants to make more elaborate modifications to plans (i.e.: widen a bedroom, add a fireplace, or add a window, etc.).

Whats Included (4)

Do plans come with a Materials List?

Many of our plans come with a Materials List as a benefit when you order a plan.  Materials Lists can be ordered for those plans that do not have a Materials List for a small fee.

What is included in the Material List?

Our material list is a quantitative take-off of the materials required to build a specific plan. This list does not include finished materials (i.e., paint, carpet, etc.) electrical, mechanical, or plumbing materials, as these items are customer specific.

Do you include trusses on your home plans?

Because local codes and conditions would dictate different trusses designs in different areas we do not include them on the plans. We recommend having your plan converted to truss construction by a qualified expert.

Why don’t the plans include HVAC and plumbing?

Our plans are sold around the country, and without knowledge of your local code and climate, it isn’t possible for us to appropriately design a system to handle your heating and cooling needs. Similarly, without knowledge of which direction water will enter your home, we are unable to draw the plumbing lines. Your contractors are best able to assess and plan accordingly for your specific situation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Custom Home Design

If you are looking for information on getting a custom home plan designed, please visit Sater Group, Inc.