Streets and topography may be the main determinates of a house's orientation, but it's also a good idea to consider sun exposures when possible. A homeowner might reorganize a floor plan to take advantage of morning and afternoon light. Martin says that covered porches that face a southern exposure can help block out heat and sunlight.
Remember that plans are not necessarily "as is." Builders can use a reverse set of plans (sometimes called a mirror image) to better site a house. It's also possible to hire an architect or modification service to personalize a plan. Ask if reproducible prints or electronic CADD files are available for the selected plan. Either will make the alteration process quicker and easier.
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.
Square one : The real estate agent's mantra "location, location, location" rings true even when you're building from scratch. From privacy to orientation, your lot is likely to influence which plan you choose. "Theoretically, it's best to start by finding a lot because then you'll have a clear idea of what square footage will and will not fit on the property," says Robert Martin, Architecture Editor at Southern Living. "It's a dangerous proposition to try to gooseneck a house into a lot that's really not ideal for that plan."