Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some of the most common questions about house plans and building your dream home.
Plan Details & Options
How can I get a plan modified?
Questions about modifying plans are very common — luckily you do have options for making changes to plans. We have a whole page dedicated to the topic, which provides instructions on how to request modifications and answers common modification questions you might have. View the Plan Modification Page.
How is the total finished square footage calculated?
We calculate the living or finished square footage of our garage apartments and carriage house plans by determining the total heated area contained within the exterior walls, including the wall thickness. This does not include the thickness of brick veneer if the exterior finish of structure requires brick. It also does not include unfinished spaces such as garages and porches.
Are floor plan dimensions exact?
The room dimensions given in each room are rounded to the nearest inch. As you will see on some of the designs with open floor plans it is difficult to give exact room dimensions because there may not be natural starting and stopping points. An example of this may be a two-car garage that opens to a storage space on the side. Exact dimensions are only given on the actual construction drawings.
What is a stem wall slab foundation?
A stem wall slab is a term to describe a foundation type where there is a footing, a short foundation wall is formed and poured on top of that and then the garage slab is poured within the perimeter of the foundation walls.
Ordering Garage Plans
Do these plans include everything I need to obtain a building permit?
These plans include almost everything you need to obtain a building permit. Your general contractor will be able to assist you with the additional material that needs to be gathered and submitted for permits. If you are serving as your own general contractor we suggest you contact the Department of Public Works in the city or county in which you wish to build. They will be able to provide you with a list of what they require in addition to the architectural drawings (blueprints).
Examples of other items necessary for a permit application would be a site plan, septic system design (unless on city sewer), pre-engineered roof truss diagrams, mechanical layout for heating and cooling system and installation instructions from manufacturer for a pre-fabricated fireplace if applicable. There may be additional items necessary. Again, consult with your Department of Public Works.
Can I have the plans emailed to me?
Yes, we are able to email CAD files and PDF files to you. The benefits of these files are; the timeliness in which you will receive them, the savings because there are no shipping charges and the ability to modify the plans as needed just to name a few. If you are one of our Canadian customers, these files are not subject to custom’s fees and/or duties/taxes at customs. The sale of these files is absolutely final.
What are the advantages of the PDF files?
Often times you may not know how many sets of prints your will need to complete your project. Having the PDF files gives you the flexibility to run additional sets of prints as you need them.
The plans are drawn on either 18″x24″ or 24″x36″ sheets of paper. Depending on the sheet size and number of sheets in a set of drawings, printing averages about $12.00 – $15.00 per set. Office supply centers and shipping outlets typically have large format printers and can run these prints. Dedicated print shops typically have lower printing rates.
The files can be enlarged or reduced to fit on various sheet sizes. If the original drawings are on 24″x36″ sheets, they can be reduced to fit on smaller sheets for convenience. Some text can become difficult to read if the plans are reduced too far.
Subcontractors and building officials may ask for PDF copies for bidding purposes or record keeping.
The PDF files can be emailed to you often within one business day of placing your order. This saves time and shipping expenses.
As a friendly reminder, purchasing the PDF files only allows you to build the home or garage once. The accompanying license agreement states as much and does not allow for the transfer of the license to any other party.
What is a reproducible master?
A reproducible master is a complete set of construction drawings typically printed on erasable paper such as mylar, sepia or vellum. They are offered for those who would like to make simple changes to their plans. This option allows you to work with your builder or a local residential designer to make the necessary changes to your blueprints without investing great amounts of time and money to redraw the entire plan. Once your changes are completed, you can make all the necessary copies you will need for the construction of your new home or garage. Not all designers offer this option, so check for availability.
A copyright release is included with a reproducible master giving you permission to legally make changes to the copyrighted construction drawing and then make the copies you will need for building. You will need to take the copyright release with you when you take the blueprints to a copy shop. The copyright release does not give you the right to build the home more than once with the same set of construction drawings. (Note: Some designers print reproducible masters on bond paper, and it is necessary to use White Out to make changes. The house plans will come with a copyright release.)
How many sets of plans will I need to build?
Depending on the scope of the project and the number of people/tradesmen working on it, you will need a minimum of three sets of blueprints. Ask your local building department how many sets of plans are required to obtain a building permit. To that, add one set for each contractor or subcontractor working on your shed or garage. If you are getting a loan for your project, also check with your lender to find out how many sets of plans, if any, they require. Also, it is a good idea to have your own set of plans to serve as a reference during construction. Additional sets of blueprints can be ordered if needed (for one project) if ordered within 90 days of the original order.
Can I return the plans?
Unfortunately, the plans cannot be returned once they have been purchased. The reason for this is that with today’s technology the plans can be easily copied, which is illegal. Please be certain of your selection before purchasing the plans.
What is a PDF file?
A PDF file is a complete set of construction drawings in an electronic format that allows you to print enough copies to build the house or garage once. This file will be emailed to you, usually within one business day, and eliminates all shipping expenses. This is extremely useful when time is of the essence and/or when shipping out of the country. Since this is an electronic transaction, there are no plans to get tied up in customs and be subjected to additional fees. When a PDF file is ordered, the designer will email their license agreement to you first. Once you reply to that email, the designer will email the PDF file.
What is a material list and what does it include?
Our material lists are intended to be a guide for you during the construction of your new garage, shed or other building. We are confident in the accuracy and completeness of our material lists, however due to variations in building practices and differing code requirements found throughout the country, exact material quantities cannot be guaranteed. Our material lists include the wall framing, roof system, exterior doors and windows, exterior finish and trim, electrical and guttering. For designs with finished living space like our carriage houses, they also include the floor framing system, drywall, insulation, bath cabinets and accessories, bath fixtures, interior doors, hardware and trim, kitchen cabinets and accessories, flooring, fireplaces and interior wall finish when applicable. Our material lists do not include rough plumbing, heating and air conditioning, foundation materials and appliances.
What is included with a set of plans?
Each set of drawings includes enough information to construct the shed or garage. The drawings typically include a foundation plan, floor plan(s), exterior elevations, roof plan, electrical plan, wall sections and other related details pertinent to a particular design. For garage plans with lofts or finished space, construction drawings may also include cabinet elevations, cross sections and a typical stair detail when applicable.
Each designer represented has a different level of detail for their plans and present the plans and details in their own style.
These plans are not designed to provide “step-by-step” building directions. There is a certain assumption the work will be done by those with construction knowledge, experience and blueprint reading ability.
How long will it take to receive my blueprints?
We offer a variety of shipping options for our blueprints to accommodate your needs. Orders placed before 11:00 a.m. Central Standard Time (CST) typically ship that day. If your order is placed after 11:00 a.m. CST, it may not ship until the next business day.
Our shipping schedule is as follows:
Priority Shipping: 3-5 business days
Ground Shipping: 8-10 business days
Canada Ground Shipping: 10-12 business days
PDF files and CAD files can typically be emailed to you within one day of placing your order. You will be able to print the drawings locally with these files.
If your order must be shipped outside the United States and Canada, please order the PDF files or CAD files so they can be emailed to you.
Using Your Garage Plans
Are these plans copyright protected?
These plans are copyright protected and cannot be legally copied without the expressed written consent of the designer. Remember, making illegal copies of any blueprint is considered copyright infringement, punishable by law in the form of a fine. We make every effort to keep our costs as low as possible. Please be respectful of our livelihood.
Is the license transferable?
The license to these plans cannot be transferred to anyone.
Will the blueprints meet my local building codes?
At the time blueprints are drawn, each designer puts great care into ensuring the construction drawings conform to national building codes. However, this does not mean they will meet all local building codes. Each city, county, municipality, etc. has its own set of building codes consisting of zoning requirements and other regulations that are best suited for that particular area. Be sure to check with your local building official to determine what is required for the area where you plan to build.
It may be necessary to work with your builder, a local residential designer or another design professional to modify the blueprints for code compliance in your specific area. Some areas of North America have very strict engineering codes such as the Northern areas with snow load requirements, hurricane-prone areas of the Golf Coast and parts of California that are in a high-risk zone for earthquakes. If you are building in these areas, it will be advantageous to hire a local engineer to review your plans and provide any additional drawings or calculations required by your building department.
Along with the blueprints, your local building official may require a site plan, septic system design (if your property is not served by a county sewer system) and energy codes. If you are not sure if you will need to hire an engineer or supply the other items along with your construction drawings, contact your local building department. They can provide a list of all the required items needed to obtain a building permit.
How many times can I build this garage, carport, or other building?
You are only allowed to build one structure from these plans. In some cases, a multi-use and/or unlimited-use license may be available for purchase. Please contact us for details.
Are the plans sealed by an architect or engineer?
The drawings will not be sealed by an architect or engineer. In some instances, building officials require the drawings to be reviewed and sealed by an architect or engineer licensed in the state in which the structure is to be built. In this case you would need to take the drawings to somebody locally for this service. A copyright release is available for such instances.
Other Common Questions
Can I afford to build this garage, carport, or other building?
Ordering at least one set of plans and a material list, if available, is really the best way to get a handle on the true cost of the project. Another way is to interview local general contractors to see what the average cost per square foot is to build a given design. Keep in mind they will only be able to provide approximate costs without fully analyzing the construction drawings.
Since there are so many variables in the construction of a building (labor rates, material selections, fluctuating material costs, etc…) we are unable to provide estimated building or material costs.
Where has this garage or other structure been built?
We respect and protect the privacy of each of our customers. We are unable to provide any building locations so you can go by and see a particular building for your self. We do everything we can to provide pictures of completed projects in our photo gallery. Please help us with our photo gallery if you construct a building with our plans by sending us a photo.