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4 Great Websites for Finding Starter Home Plans

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Is there any life goal more daunting than home ownership?

It’s the biggest purchase most people ever make, and that’s if they’re lucky enough to even find themselves in a financial position where it’s possible.

Half of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Considering the fact that the median home price is just south of $200,000, and the typical down payment is 10% to 20% of the final sale price, that means a prospective home buyer has to come up with $20,000 to $40,000 on average just to get a mortgage, in addition to 30 years of mortgage payments.

If you’re going to fork over that much money, you should get what you want, right? The problem is, it’s hard finding a home that fits your needs perfectly. You can search for years and never quite find the right house.

However, there’s a way around this problem: You can find starter home plans online and do it yourself.

Sure, being a home builder means spending a sizable amount of money on materials, land, architect, and contractors, and perhaps construction management software, but in the long run it may be easier to recoup your investment, and you’ll be able to get the exact house you want.

Also, you get more square footage for less money, even if the initial cost to build your own home is higher than buying an existing home. And there are tons of starter home plans online that can be had for pretty cheap, at least in comparison to the overall cost of a home.

Here, we’re looking at some of the most interesting and useful websites for house plans based on the various features they offer visitors—whether that be a convenient way to browse house plans for purchase or a tutorial to DIY. We’ve listed them below in alphabetical order.

1. Builder House Plans

Screenshot of Builder House Plans (Source: builderhouseplans.com)

Builder House Plans has a lot of sister sites you’re likely to see in a Google search, including ePlans, Dream Home Source, HousePlans.com, and HomePlans.com, but they’re all basically the same—and operated by the same company—so we’re just focusing on a couple of them here.

 What you’ll find on the site

The site has a starter house plans section that allows you to choose your criteria, including number of bedrooms, bathrooms, half-bathrooms, stories, and garage bays.

“You’ll find open layouts that maximize space, kitchens with room for families to hang out, and master suites that owners will love,” the site states. “Many of these homes also feature bonus spaces that can be finished later.”

 Pricing

All of the house plans have their own pictures so you can see what they look like. They generally cost in the neighborhood of $800-$1,000 each.

 Other things to consider

HousePlans.com, a sister site, operates similarly, but has a few differences in terms of navigation, including making it easier to narrow your search down by architectural style. So, if you want to be able to filter it down to just bungalows or a adobe-style homes, it might be a little easier to find your dream starter home on that site.

2. Cool House Plans

Screenshot of Cool House Plans (Source: coolhouseplans.com)

Cool House Plans is similar to the above sites in that it offers a listing of blueprints and house plans for a number of different house designs, which you can purchase for a flat fee.

 What you’ll find on the site

Cool House Plans offers a listing of house plans that are accompanied by a picture of the house itself, and the ability to customize your search to include whatever number of bathrooms, bedrooms, and other features suit you.

You can specify the width and depth of the house plan itself, or how much square footage needs to be heated, or even what exterior wall type you want.

 Pricing

You can buy one set of blueprints for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,277-square-foot house from Cool House Plans for $400, and you can get multiple sets of blueprints for the same house for just a little bit extra. Cool House Plans also sells a materials list for their houses for $60.

 Other things to consider

If you’re finding the price of starter house plans on other websites to be a little steeper than you’d like, Cool House Plans offers to beat its competitors’ prices by 5% of the total price.

3. The House Plans Guide

Screenshot of The House Plans Guide (Source: the-house-plans-guide.com)

Don’t feel like paying for a blueprint, or just want total control of the design? You can create your own blueprint at The House Plans Guide, which offers tutorials for going through the detailed steps of drawing up home designs.

 What you’ll find on the site

This simple online tutorial helps you analyze your property, plan your indoor and outdoor spaces based on your needs, and then learn the basic residential structural principles. It all culminates in the creation of a full set of floor plans and construction drawings that will allow you to get started on construction.

 Pricing

The tutorial is 100% free, so it’s perfect for the penny-pinching home builder.

 Other things to consider

The House Plans Guide is not for the faint of heart. What you save in money, you will reinvest with sweat equity and time. It will be a long learning process and will require a huge commitment on your part. Of course, if you’re in the market to build your own home, you probably already knew that.

4. The WikiHouse

Screenshot of The WikiHouse (Source: wikihouse.cc)

Just about everything can be found on open source these days, so why not houses? The WikiHouse was conceived by an English designer in response to the global housing shortage.

 What you’ll find on the site

Basically, you can design, download, adapt, and even “print” a house that is tailored to your needs based on the open-source designs posted on this website. You won’t need any special parts, and designs can be put together with pieces of timber that work almost like legos. And it won’t require much labor, as it can be assembled within a day.

Alistair Parvin, the designer behind the concept, tells CNN that his hope is to “radically democratize the production of architecture.”

A similar project, “Irish Vernacular,” describes the construction of a home for just $33,200.

 Pricing

The project is free and open source.

 Other things to consider

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, but you don’t want to spend a lot of time creating your own designs, these are good options for finding a sound construction concept without having to spend a dime on plans.

Of course, you sacrifice some ability to customize your home by going with publicly available designs created by other people (although there are some customization options).

Have you found great starter house plans elsewhere?

Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’m sure there are other great websites out there. Have you been able to find solid house plans on other websites? Or have you purchased starter home plans before and think there’s something people should know about such an ambitious project? Maybe there’s some home builder software that really helped you out? Please, let us known in the comments below.

Looking for Construction Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Construction Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Dan Taylor

Dan is a content writer at Capterra, specializing in hotel management, construction and real estate. Outside the office, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, catching up with the latest offering from HBO or paying a visit to a new place.

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