Michelle Plotnik, Architect | Should I Build or Should I Buy?
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Should I Build or Should I Buy?

As much as I hate to say it, for most people, buying is the way to go.  Right now, in my region, you can almost always buy something for less than it would cost to build exactly the same thing.  There are many reasons for that situation including increasingly high labor and material costs (not to mention a shortage of builders), changes in the code and zoning requirements, higher utility connections and impact fees and the natural inclination to include many upgrades in your new dream house.  I always recommend that people look at everything available for sale in their desired location before undertaking a new home design or massive remodel just to make sure something else isn’t out there that would work for you.

Of course, you are visiting an architect’s website so it’s likely that you haven’t found what you want or you’ve found or already own a house with  “potential” or one that needs upgrading.  Or maybe you own a beautiful piece of property and have been waiting to build.  If your needs or property are unique, you have the budget, and you have the enthusiasm for a custom home design or major remodel, it can be a great experience.  Having a home designed or remodeled just for you allows you to tailor your home to your own tastes, lifestyle, and property.

There are two basic approaches to starting a new building project.  Some folks aren’t really looking for something that is truly custom but want something that is semi-custom, maybe a standard design that is tweaked to work better for the property or owner’s lifestyle.  Those folks often scour the magazines and internet for a house that will work for them and then take that design to a draftsperson or designer to have the permit documents created along with any minor changes.  I encourage anyone who is thinking of this approach to consider hiring an architect or designer to review the design and placement on the property before moving forward with the permit documents.  An experienced architect or designer will likely notice things that could become challenges later or opportunities to improve the way the design works that are not immediately apparent.  This consultation should only take a couple of hours, with a possible followup if further sketches are required.  The cost will be minor in comparison to the improvements you’ll enjoy for years.

I’ll address the most common things to look out for when evaluating a stock plan in a future post but here are a few sites with a wide variety of designs that you may enjoy in the meantime:


Please remember that these designs are owned and copyrighted by their creators, you’ll want to purchase anything you intend to use as the basis for your plans.  Of course, using them for inspiration is completely free.

So you really do want to work with an architect on a custom design for your family and property.  What can I say?  Start collecting images that speak to you and creating lists of the features or activities you’d like to see accommodated in your home.  Gather any information you have about your property and any restrictions such as easements or community design guidelines and then give me a call, I’d love to talk to you about your new home and maybe we’ll even end up working together.  There’s nothing more satisfying for me than working with people to create the perfect home for them with every detail and fixture selected with their family and taste in mind.  It’s never too early to get the process started as a new home design or design of a major remodel can take many months to design, develop construction documents and permit.