The property owner can seek a variance to exceed the "building envelope," the allowable area that a home can occupy on a lot. However, the process is often lengthy and there's no guarantee that permission will be granted. Local zoning boards and community organizations often require a house be set back a certain distance from the street. Before purchasing a corner lot, find out if front-yard setback regulations apply to the lot's front and side-street boundaries. This could substantially reduce the area available for a home's footprint. Easements as well as natural features, like rock outcroppings and mature trees, may also influence where the house can be located.
Drawing a good set of custom home plans involves integrating many different concepts and ideas into a solid and usable working plan. Many designers are able to come up with a unique or interesting preliminary design, but fail to deliver when its time to detail the house structure. They draw a pretty picture but have little or no understanding of how to translate that nice design into a working plan which the builder can understand.
If you find a house plan that you love, but want to make minor changes, most companies can have their designers do that for you, at an additional fee. It is also possible to have your plans reversed, for instance, if your breakfast nook faces west but the view from the north side of your lot is more attractive, you can reverse it. Many of the sites selling house plans will allow you to see a reversed view, of houses you might want to build.
Having been in the business for more than 30 years, we have seen a large number of house plans which looked good at first glance. However, upon closer examination, many of these plans were found to be lacking large amounts of needed information. If a house plan is not easy to navigate or is not thoroughly detailed, then the builder is left to guess at the designer's intentions. This often means that he will "pad" his bid to make sure that he covers any unknown construction costs that may arise.
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