May 14, 2015
There is a lot to know about a Plan Set. Over the past 10 Blog posts we have tried to take the mystery out of what you get in a set of home plans. When you first look at a Plan Set you can easily become overwhelmed. If you know a few key things and have a basic understanding of the permitting and building process the mystery will quickly dissipate.
It is important to know that a set of house plans can not be used straight out of the box. You will always need to have your builder, local engineer, and roof truss company go over the plans before you can get permits. As long as you understand that each location is different and stock plans can never cover every possibility you will be fine. Think of it like a very expensive suit or wedding dress. You never just take the suit or dress off the rack and wear it to a function, you have it altered to perfectly fit you. The same goes for a home plan, once you have found the right home plan it just needs to be tailored for your lot and location.
The other thing to remember is that home plan sets will vary depending on the home design. Because the drawings are done to scale some plan sets will be 10 sheets long and others may be 20 sheets. It depends on the size of the home and the complexity of the design. In our series we showed that a Ceiling Detail and Electrical Layout can be on the same sheet. Things like that are not unusual.
The last important point to talk about is the plan format. Meaning, when you order a plan set what is the best way to get it? The choices are typically Vellum, PDF and CAD. Which format you choose will depend on how you plan on proceeding. Generally we recommend the PDF file format, we will explain why.
CAD is short for Computer Aided Design. You would purchase a plan set in the CAD format if you or your builder plan on making alterations. The CAD format is editable as long as you have a copy of the CAD software and know how to use it. Normally we sell plan sets in CAD only to builders. Besides being editable the CAD files can be easily saved to a computer or thumb drive. Having the CAD files means you can alter and print out the number of sets you require.
Vellum simply means paper. When you order a plan set in vellum you will get one printed set of plans. This was the typical format home plans were sold in, but that was before computers and the internet entered our lives. Vellum sets require shipping which adds cost and time for delivery. They are not editable. You will need numerous sets of a home plan to supply one (or more) to the county, builder, engineer, trades, etc.. Each time you need copies you will need to bring that full set to a copy shop. The sheets of paper are typically 24 inches wide by 36 inches tall. When you have a plan set that is 15 pages long that is a lot of paper to haul around and store.
The PDF file format is the most convenient. When you buy a plan in PDF format you will be able to download your files, You will get them quicker than a Vellum set. Once you have downloaded the plan set you can open it on your computer and look at them right away. When it comes time to supply your builder or engineer with the plans you can easily email them the files. Some counties are no longer accepting home plans in printed format. In order to save space and make storage, sorting, and organization better they are requiring all plans be submitted in PDF format. When it comes to getting printed copies (if needed) you can simply copy the PDF to a USB Thumb Drive, drop it in your pocket and head to the printer and better yet email it to the printer from home. The PDF file plan set format is the most versatile and economical of the three and that is why we recommend it.
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