Custom Home Plans are unique. That’s what makes them custom. The difference between a custom home plan and a stock floor plan is that a custom home plan must be drawn from scratch or modified to suit. Check out some of our favorite custom home plans and how they were designed for unique situations such as lot, views, sun orientation, wind, and of course the family and their needs.
Custom Home Plans and Examples
This custom home plan was designed for a homesite that had plenty of flat acreage to use for this 3,800 SF one-story home. Lots like these are rare in Austin and Central Texas. Even large acreage sites typically have just a few building spots. So when we find one like this, it is a pleasure to look for unique ways to capture views and bring the beautiful outdoors into the architecture.
Designed for the retiring family on a hill country lot with plenty of privacy, the only issue was how to create unique spaces both indoor and out. This custom home plan creates unique spaces with its massing and understates the elegant architecture to be found inside.
The next custom home plan was designed on a tiny lot, what we consider to be constricted. In the City of Austin, there are often restrictions on how much of the land can be used based on impervious cover guidelines. So, it makes designing a custom home on it a bit like solving a puzzle. This is an example of that.
A farmhouse style home, the footprint of the home needed to by tiny. The two-story vaulted ceilings in the main living and kitchen area made this just a bit more challenging.
The impervious cover restrictions also affect the driveway and parking. So much of that had to be dual purpose with the family’s basketball and outdoor play areas. Even the privacy wall in front was strategic to the family’s goals of maximum sunlight with maximum privacy from neighbors.
This custom home plan was designed for a unique lot. Space wasn’t the issue here, the issue was the view. There wasn’t one. In fact, the back of the home looked right over a busy street. Not ideal. So our team designed this custom home plan to create a U-shape that incorporates the outdoor living off the side of the home. A little unorthodox, the front door, is at right with stairs leading up to it. The back has a small yard primarily for pets.
This plan features a separate guest casita with small kitchenette and full bath with its own private entrance. In the main home are three bedrooms and three and a half baths.
Custom Home Plans in the Floodplain
Some custom home plans have special requirements, such as the flood plain. A home which is within the 100-year flood plain must be higher than the flood plain elevation, meaning the house has to be elevated. So there are unique ways to get the home up high enough to compensate for that. One of them is shown below.
From this, you can see how the front of the home meets the natural elevation. The back of the home is elevated, though, to keep the home out of the floodplain. A custom home plan will take into consideration the natural grade as well as views and privacy from neighbors.
This view really tells the story of why a custom home plan is so important, especially when there are unique features. Here in the Texas Hill Country, most if not all lots have some slope or topography.
The architects must consider both the elevation of the home and how many steps will be required to access various spots within the house. In this plan, there are no steps involved, remarkably, to get from the garage to the main living area. This is because of the long bridge that connects the parking to the home. The glass along every exterior the wall facing the lake helps capitalize on the amazing views of Lake Travis.
The upstairs is really the downstairs because you must go down to get to it. That’s where the guest bedrooms and media room are located. In this plan, stairs don’t play a major role, and that is by design. For a home to have longevity, it has to serve the needs of the family for years to come. That means that even when climbing stairs becomes a little harder, this home will still be functional.
Custom Home Plans – when do I need them?
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There are many places across the nation where a custom home plan isn’t required. Houston and Dallas come to mind due to their nice flat topography. Many beautiful floor plans function well for those areas. A custom home plan becomes necessary in a couple of situations:
- The lot is sloped. Sloped lots or lots with topography require a custom home plan simply because of the high cost of concrete. A concrete slab can easily cost as much as a custom home plan! So most people will opt for the custom home plan in lieu of the big chunk of concrete under their home.
- The lot features its best views in an unusual place (not off the back). A special or unique lot requires a custom home plan in order to capitalize on it.
- There is a desire to capture prevailing winds or block West-facing sun. If the outdoors is important and fresh air is your “thing”, the best option is a custom home plan.
- The homeowners would like green features or energy-saving features. The false assumption is that products are the best way to attain an energy efficient home. Much more can be saved by good architectural design than by any other single system within the household. Upgrading the HVAC system cannot compare to good design.
- The size of the lot itself or restrictions by the prevailing authorities make it necessary to have a plan drawn.
- The lot or portions of it is in the 100-year flood plain.
- Any home over 5,000 SF. A large home is likely to be an expensive one. Usually, these homes have unique spaces and oversized rooms requiring custom home plans.
- The family has unique wants or needs, such as a wine room, a pet room, or an in-law suite.
- The family’s goals for the project require something unique. Some families have young children and some of them have grown children. Some are second homes and some are primary homes. The way the family plans to use the home and live in it will impact the design. When the family creates the design (alongside the architect), the greatest shapes emerge. The world-renowned Architect, Eero Saarinen, even went so far as to say that these are the shapes that the ‘creators’ best relate to and thrive in.
Should I Search for a Custom Home Plan?
So is it best to start with a stock floor plan or is it best to start from scratch with a custom home plan? That depends entirely on you. Some people feel better about starting with a floorplan, and that works totally fine. In full disclosure, though, an architect will almost always see ways to improve upon that plan, and those ideas are likely to be fairly significant to the stock floor plan. Next, most people will fall in love with the architect’s ideas as soon as they hear them. After all, a good architect sees architecture in a completely different light than the rest of us. So they see potential and beauty in every single home site. Let’s face it, the stock plan was being drawn without the benefit of being able to see that beauty and potential. That’s why when someone brings us a concept stock plan, it almost never ends up the way it started. The architect sees each project as a puzzle, with variables and challenges and beauty in each. Very rarely is a stock plan tailored to solve that puzzle.
Although a plan can be tailored to suit, incremental changes to completed construction drawings are very costly. This is just due to the way architectural design works. Design is intended to build upon itself, not work backward. So it can often be more costly to tailor a plan than to start from scratch.