Small house plans are normally defined as houses with less than 1800 square feet, excluding a basement. These house are also space efficient and less expensive to build on a small plot of land.
There are a few aspects that you must finalize in your mind, before looking at the different online designs. You need to visualize the structure of the house with respect to whether there should be a basement, how many storeys you would like to have, the number of garages that you want, whether you wish to have any outside water pond, the size of the house, the sizes of the different bedrooms, kitchen, living area, etc., and the amenities that you want like bathroom tubs, sinks, and fireplace.
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.
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.