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."
Why do this, since even stock plans cost you at least a couple of hundred dollars each? Because the right stock plans can save you tons of time and money if you have a talented architect. Most plans are at least partly modular these days, and often you can even order prefabricated sections pegged to a specific house plan.
There are dozens of other house plan style categories, such as A-Frames, Mission, Contemporary, Southwest, and Tudor to name just a few. A web search for house plans yields a mind blowing number of searchable sites. Most of these allow you to search for house plans, by style, number of bedrooms, baths, with or without a garage, or by sq. ft. of living space.
The field of drawing custom house plans is a crowded and competitive one. There are many architectural and design firms out there vying for a "piece of the pie." However, if you look closely at examples of their finished product, you will find huge differences among them. The better ones offer quality designs and highly detailed plans.