In addition, good stock plans come with a detailed inventory, which you can use while you're developing out your dream house. This is important for two reasons: you can look at the materials used to build your house and determine whether your budget will stretch to accommodate them, and you can get a very good idea of where to upgrade and downgrade materials.
When you decide on a house plan, you're also choosing a way of life. Do you host dinner parties often, or do you only step inside the dining room on holidays? Today, many families forego a dedicated formal dining room. Instead, a casual eating nook connected to the kitchen accommodates week-night meals, Little League pizza parties and all their entertaining needs. If you work from home or have school-aged children, an office or study may be a necessity. Think about the rooms and how you and your family will use them.
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.
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.
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