- Stock plans can save time in selecting a home. Since the designs are done and there for your review, you can select quickly and save time. Usually the plans are displayed as floor plans and exterior views. Depending on the catalog you may get just one front view, and sometimes you'll be able to see a few other views to help you understand the design. It's a mail-order solution. Mail-order items ha If you are considering purchasing stock plans from an internet site or from a book, make sure you are aware of what you are getting and its value to your project. "Stock Plans" are construction plans which you can order from magazines, catalogs or the internet. Some builders also offer stock plans. These kinds of plans are not custom but can still be an excellent way to start off your construction project. Stock plans can certainly be a great way to obtain construction plans. However, to many, the custom nature of building a home demands nothing less than a fully custom home design. Many would never consider using a predesigned set of plans. Stock plans have their pros and cons. Let's take a look at each: Pros: - Stock plans can be less expensive. Prices for a set of plans can be a thousand bucks - or less. The plans are listed like a menu and the prices for the plans are clearly posted. Once you've decided on a plan it is an easy process of clicking and buying. You choose the form of the drawing and the quantity. ve been part of our culture for a long time - from mail-order brides, to mail order kit-houses from Sears. - Stock plans are usually collections from a variety of viewpoints. This can be stimulating as you browse through the plans and views. You'll find "new" ideas that you likely have not considered before. - Stock plans catalogs can kick-start your imagination. They can get the creative juices flowing. Stock plans can truly be a valuable launching point to explore new ideas. Cons: - Stock plans are usually not ready for permitting. If submitted for permits without additional actions they will likely be rejected. - It is quite common today that building departments will require that the plans be sealed by an Engineer or Architect. It is a good idea that you check with your local building department to see what the requirements are. The process of getting plans stamped is not an easy one. Professional Engineers and Registered Architects go through years of college, internships and testing to acquire their licenses and are expected to take responsibility for the plans being up to Code and sufficient. Many, if not most, will require a re-draw or, at a minimum, several revisions and additions to bring the plans up to standards. Their fees will depend upon what they do for you, but it can run quite a bit more than the original plans. This will also add time to the process thus reducing the time advantage of stock plans. - Some revisions are inevitable. Because the plans are not customized for you it is rare that you will not see things you want to change. This can be expensive because most of the stock plan companies are not set up for individualized attention. - Stock-Plans are considered by some to be reused plans. This might or might not be important - but if you are looking for a home that is as unique as you and as customized as the building process is itself, stock plans might not be the best way. - Stock plans are designed for mass-appeal, like cars and other consumer goods. This is beneficial for factory created goods because its the only way there can be duplication of efforts which save us money. But home building is quite different from manufacturing in a factory. Home building is done stick by stick in the field. It is always custom. Some would consider using a mass market home plan for a custom building job would be like custom building car and ending up with a Ford Taurus. What's the point? - Homes in our country have a wide variety of needs specific to the area. Stock plans try to adapt themselves to all these area. Areas of the country have snow requirements, basements, high winds, earthquakes, cold and hot temperatures as well as many other factors that are unique to each. Also certain types of building systems will be prominent in certain areas. Generic plans can't cover all the possibilities. You will also find that the local tradesmen can easily identify the stock plans and sometimes ready themselves for problems - though increasing their prices. Local builders' stock plans will usually side step many of these problems. They will generally be ready for permits and will be recognized locally. You combine this with the builder's ability to have the plans modified for you and this can work quite well. They may not be entirely custom, but still be an excellent way to begin. In summary, stock plans are valuable for study and education and are fertile source of ideas. They, however, will likely turn out not as inexpensive as you first think, or as quick, and certainly will not be something designed exclusively for you. Having a professional working for and with you to develop a custom design based upon your ideas, your notions, and various ideas you have collected from many sources, as well as his or her experienced creativity will allow you to take full advantage the truly custom nature of building a home. Remember, home Building is the only industry which remains truly custom in nature - the designs should be as well.
Imagine, it's been a long day. You are tired and laying in bed thinking of the day's activities. Sleep does not come easily because you are excited. You look around the new room - your room; so vivid in your recent dreams but now so real in fact. The coffered ceilings, the perfect built-in video area that your spouse designed; the smells; more exciting than the "new car" smells that you have experienced. Everything about the home is perfect. The bathroom, patterned after that resort where you spent your honeymoon, the window with the view; the parlor just like grandma's home in Michigan. You always loved that space - and its associations. The kitchen is the best you have ever had; designed and built based upon your study of the experts, your own experiences as well those of Aunt Betty's. Every nook, every cranny, every detail is just as you and your loved ones wanted. No compromises, not this time. It's exactly what you want. Four times I have had this experience. I must say that to say these were fulfilling would be an understatement. I could even liken it to the birth of my kids. Not in the exact same category but the similarity is quite real. And like all hard-won goals, these have been pinnacles of my life. The truth is that many experience this feeling - many have. You may have as well - and if you have you know of what I speak. I am certain that many wonder how difficult this is to achieve. Some may wonder if it is even possible. Please trust me when I say that it is absolutely obtainable. It is well within many, many people's means to be able to achieve a custom built home; a habitat which is their own space - created for them or by themselves alone. Today may be one of the best times to do this. So What is a Custom Building? Custom building is the action of designing and constructing a home precisely and uniquely to one's own taste. It is one of the last industries where the creation of such uniquely individualized products is economically feasible. Other industries, today, rely upon duplicity of effort, in the form of mass production, to keep prices of various items to a level of affordability. Few could afford a car or computer or radio or any of the myriad of items available if each item was custom designed and built for the user. Actually mass manufacturing is a key to our material success in this society but it, inherently, must be guided by mass appeal. A custom designed home, however, is a unique kind of product. even though it is designed and built entirely to the specs of an individual it can be actually achieved, quite realistically, for a cost quite similar to that of the existing, mass-appeal units. Why? It is simply because most homes are built in the same way; regardless if they are designed for mass appeal or alone for an individual. And, since homes tend not to depreciate too much, newer homes can commonly be built for cost very similar to purchasing those already built. Isn't that interesting? It turns out that building can commonly be of similar cost. Yet it would likely have much greater value - at least to the first owner. Since the owner is attempting to recover his costs to build, when he sells an upscale, custom home, he will usually choose costs similar to the cost if you actually had it built it yourself. And that is not to mention the savings if you did your own contracting. Now, pay attention here. You will find model homes or predesigned floor plans can and are modified in limited ways. These are commonly called custom homes but this is a misnomer. Actually, these are "customized" homes or models. This could be considered a form of "custom" it is more similar to getting to choose the color of your car or if you want leather or cloth seats. This would not really be custom, as defined here. Homes where you have a few limited choices of modifications are "customized" homes. Custom homes, as defined here, are homes uniquely designed and built. These are not homes from stock plan companies. These are homes that are designed for you. This is an experience and something that is quite within reach of many, however there is much to know if you want to avoid the pitfalls. It is advised that before you venture into this adventure of a lifetime, make sure you obtain a good understanding of the process so that you will not fall into some of the traps that can exist. It is something you may well think you deserve. If so, you should go for it. Happy Building!
Well – it has happened. The lead paint that we used in building, so many years ago, has now come back to haunt us. It has been the subject of the EPA’s attention for a long time, but now new laws are in place that need to be known and followed by any who are in the renovation or repair business – and this includes owners of such properties.

Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP)

Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to adults and children. On March 31, 2008, EPA issued a new rule aimed at protecting children from lead-based paint hazards (79 pp, 847K). The rule requires contractors and construction professionals that work in pre-1978 housing or child-occupied facilities to follow lead-safe work practice standards to reduce potential exposure to dangerous levels of lead for children in places they frequent. To protect against this risk, on April 22, 2008, EPA issued a rule requiring the use of lead-safe practices and other actions aimed at preventing lead poisoning. Under the rule, beginning April 22, 2010, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

This also affects Property Owners

Property owners who engage in renovating, repairing, or preparing surfaces for painting in pre-1978 rental housing or in space rented by child-care facilities must, before beginning work, provide tenants with a copy of EPA's lead hazard information pamphlet Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools (PDF) (11 pp, 1.1MB). en español (PDF) (20 pp, 3.2MB). It is the responsibility of the owners of rental properties to document compliance with this requirement; here is a sample of EPA's  pre-renovation disclosure form (PDF) (1 pp, 53K) which can be used to fulfill this requirement. More importantly, after April 22, 2010 (THAT IS NOW FOLKS!) property owners who are going to perform any of the aforementioned actions in any rental housing built before 1978 rental housing or in any space rented by child-care facilities must be certified and must follow the lead-safe work practices required by EPA's Renovation, Repair and Remodeling (RRP) rule. So this does not only apply the Contractors. If you are an owner, doing your own work, you need to be aware of an comply with these fules. As I understand it, a property owner can become certified using the application for firm certification (PDF) (9 pp, 642K) plus (of course) a fee payment to EPA. The Agency has up to 90 days after receiving a complete request for certification to approve or disapprove the application. Property owners who perform renovation, repairs, and painting jobs themselves (and in today’s economy more and more owners are doing their own repairs) should also consider:
  • doing some training on how to work with lead paint safely.
  • Maintain records of what you are doing (to cover yourselves). You want to show that you and your helpers have been properly trained and are doing what you need to do. Here is a  sample recordkeeping checklist (PDF) that might help. It was developed for the contractors but is great for owners as well.
  • And ready a few other guides (Read about how to comply with EPA's rules  Guide 1 and Guide 2
Of course when you get your training you will become familiar with all the important issues. Bottom line, this is might important to know. Ignoring the new rules can lead to fines of up to $37,500 per day!!! I am facing, as are all Certified Contractors, my continuing education requirements in the upcoming month or two. I need to do this one. Though as the Engineer Designer I don’t need to worry about this (even when I design for older buildings), I want to make sure my contractors and owners know about it. I also have a Daycare center (an older building) and I need to make sure that our managers know about this Oh my gosh – I just remembered that I was the contractor for the renovation of a pre-1950’s in Central Florida within the last couple of years. I better get cracking. Hope this article helps.