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The Pros and Cons of Purchasing Stock House Plans


"Stock Plans" are building plans which you can order from a magazine, catalog or website. Some builders offer such pre-designed plans. Although not custom designed for you, homes built from these types of plans can be nice and quite appealing.

However, given the time and expense of building a home (which is a custom process by its nature) many would never consider anything but custom plans designed for exclusively for them or by them. However, stock plans can certainly be enticing and have definite value.

Here are some of the pros and cons of purchasing stock house plans:


  • Stock plans can be less expensive. Prices for a set of plans can be a thousand bucks – or less. The plans are listed like a menu and the prices for the plans are clearly posted. Once you've decided on a plan it is an easy process of clicking and buying. You choose the form of the drawing and the quantity.
  • Stock plans can save time in selecting a home. Since the designs are done and there for review, if you can select quickly you can save time. Usually the plans are displayed as floor plans and exterior views. Depending on the catalog you may get just a front view, and sometimes even a few views to help you understand the design. It's a mail-order solution. Mail-order items have been part of our culture for a long time – from mail-order brides, to mail order kit-houses from Sears.
  • These predesigned plans are usually collections from a variety of viewpoints. This can be stimulating as you browse through the plans and views. You'll find "new" ideas that you probably have not considered before.
  • Stock plans catalogs can to kick-start your imagination. They can get the creative juices flowing. Stock plans can be a valuable launching point to explore new ideas.


  • Stock plans are rarely ready for permitting. If submitted for permits without additional actions they will likely be rejected.
  • Engineer's or Architect's professional seal (looks like the old notary seal) is required on the plans in many locales (you should check with your local building department). Getting a professional stamp is not as easy as it sounds. Many professionals will require re-draw or, as a minimum, multiple revisions and additions to bring the plans up to local Codes and worthy of their seal. The fees for this can range from many hundreds to several thousands of dollars and will take several weeks to do depending on the project and the professional's time.
  • Some revisions are inevitable. Because the plans are not customized for you it is rare that you will not see things you want to change. This can be expensive because most of the stock plan companies are not set up for individualized attention.
  • Stock-Plans are reused plans which have been built numerous times before. To some, this can be a negative factor.
  • Plans from the internet or catalog are designed for mass-appeal similar to cars and other consumer goods. This is beneficial for factory created items because it keeps the prices down. But since since home building is always custom, some consider a home designed for mass-market appealing to be a waste of opportunity. It would be custom building a car and ending up with a Ford Taurus. What's the point?
  • Stock plans are designed to be built in numerous locations. Areas of the country have basements, snow, hurricanes, cool temperatures, warm temperatures, and many other factors that are unique to each area. Certain types of building systems are common in certain areas – and generic plans can not cover all the possibilities. Additionally, local tradesmen will spot the Stock Home and will mark them as such – not always positively.

Predesigned plans by a local builder, however, can side step many of these problems. They will generally be ready for permits, will be recognized locally and, if the builder has made provisions for changes, these can be a very good value.

In summary, stock plans are valuable for study and education and are a fertile source of ideas. They, however, will likely turn out not as inexpensive as you first think, or as quick, and certainly will not be something designed exclusively for you.

Having a professional working for and with you to develop a custom design based upon your ideas, your notions, and various ideas you have collected from many sources, as well has his or her experienced creativity will allow you to take full advantage the truly custom nature Of building a home.

Remember, home building is the only industry which remains truly custom in nature – the designs should be as well.

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