Why does it matter to know what a house plan is not? If you understand what a house plan is NOT, you will have a better understanding of the house building process. Consequently, you will have a better appreciation for a good builder.
In SAT terms, a house plan is like a map is to a road. While a map will tell you where a road goes, or will go, it doesn’t contain any information on how to build the road. The same is true, to a certain extent, for house plans.
The majority of a house plan is dedicated to what the house should be and not how to build it. That doesn’t include things like the Typical Details & Notes sheet. While this sheet does show “typical details” of construction, it is not detailed instructions on how to build a house. Because local codes can vary so widely, it would be impossible to create a sheet that covered all possible configurations.
All house plans are changed at some point. This is because of the messy nature of the real world. No matter how hard we work and plan for everything, stuff happens. This can be because of features of the house lot or local building codes. Or it can be the availability of specific building materials. And can even be the taste of the owner.
Changes and adjustments made in the field by builders is very common. A well designed house plan will help to minimize these things. It is not uncommon for builders to call the designer to ask for assistance with an issue. Some times, on rare occasions, the changes made in the field during construction will actually cause updates to be made to the stock plan.
These adjustments are actually a benefit to the people buying a stock house plan. House plans that have been built many times can be just a bit easier to build than a fully custom house plan.
While there are many talented builders and craftsman out there, not many of them can design a house. A residential home designer will, over the course of his career, build many more homes than any typical builder. At any given point in time a designer can have dozens of homes under construction. This compressed building experience gives the designer opportunities builders and craftsman just don’t get.
A house plan is an essential guide for a talented builder. Used correctly, and followed faithfully, a good house plan can speed construction and result in a safe and beautiful home. When searching for the perfect house plan for you and your family, remember, a quality plan will need a quality builder to properly execute it.