How Much Do House Plans Cost

How Much Do House Plans Cost

So you’re thinking of building a new home? Awesome! 🏡 Before you can start digging foundations or picking paint colors, the first step is getting the house plans drawn up. But how much should you expect to pay for these? What factors affect the cost? And who should you even hire to create them in the first place?

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the cost of house plans, from budget-friendly DIY options to full custom architectural designs. By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to get your dream home’s blueprint at a price you can afford. Let’s dive in!

Who Can Create House Plans?

When it comes to having plans drawn for your new abode, you’ve got a few options:


Architects are the professionals most qualified to design homes from the ground up. With 7-9 years of specialized education and training, they have expert knowledge of architecture principles, building methods, codes/regulations, and software like CAD. They can handle complex or custom designs. But their services come at a higher cost.

Draftsmen/CAD Designers

For more routine homes without intricate details, a draftsman or CAD designer can be a more budget-friendly choice over an architect. They have the technical skills to take your vision and turn it into detailed plans using CAD software. Many specialize in residential work.

Building Designers

Similar to draftsmen, building designers don’t have the same level of licensing as architects. But they focus on the aesthetic design side more than just technical drawings. They’re a good middle ground option.

Structural Engineers

For complex homes or unique designs, a structural engineer may be brought in to assess structural integrity and consult on specialized elements like trusses or load-bearing walls. This adds to the cost but ensures safety.

DIY Plans

If you’re really limited on budget, you can find pre-made plans online and adapt them yourself. But be aware – most municipalities require professionally certified plans for permitting. Make sure to check your local codes first before going the DIY route!

Typical Costs for House Plans

So what can you expect to pay? House plan costs can vary wildly based on the factors below:

DIY Pre-Made Plans

$0 – $600

The cheapest option is finding basic plans online that you customize yourself. Many sites sell pre-drawn PDF floor plans for modest homes in the $0-$600 range. But you usually need modifications for permitting.

Draftsman/CAD Designer Plans

$1,500 – $3,500

For a professional draftsman to turn your ideas into CAD plans, expect to pay $1,500 – $3,500 depending on home size and details required. Complex multi-story homes cost more.

Architect Plans

$3,000 – $15,000+

At the top end, a full custom home design from an architect often ranges from $3,000 into the $15,000+ zone. High-end custom homes with engineering needs can exceed $20,000.

Cost Per Square Foot

$0.50 – $7.50 per sq.ft.

Another way to estimate is by the home’s square footage. On average, expect to pay $3.50 – $5 per sq.ft. for a draftsman’s plans up to $5-$7.50 per sq.ft. for intricate architectural plans.

Other Cost Factors:

  • Number of floors/levels
  • Complexity of design
  • Level of detailing needed
  • Degree of customization
  • Changes/modifications required
  • Local permitting requirements

Bottom line – simpler is cheaper when it comes to house plans!

The House Plan Design Process

Creating a successful set of house plans takes skill, time and collaboration between you and the design professional. Here’s an overview of the typical design process:

Initial Consultation

This kickoff meeting is crucial for the designer to understand your vision, needs, budget and project scope. Be ready to share inspiration photos, desired features, lot survey, and rough ideas.

Conceptual Design Phase

Here’s where initial layout ideas are explored to find the best configuration for rooms,traffic flow, aesthetics, etc. Expect lots of iterations and options.

Schematic Design Phase

The chosen design is refined into basic plans indicating sizes, shapes, and relationships between spaces. The skeleton comes together!

Design Development Phase

Plans become more detailed about structure,materials, mechanical systems, lighting, fixtures, and exterior look.

Construction Documents Phase

In the final stretch, super-specific drawings are created so contractors can accurately price and build the home. These are what get submitted for the all-important permits!

Throughout the process, a good designer will listen to your preferences while lending their expertise on layout, elevations, foundations, and structural integrity to create a home you’ll love that meets codes.

Getting Building Permits

Before you can break ground, your house plans need the stamp of approval via building permits. Here’s what to expect:

  • Development permits involve zoning laws, environmental impact, utilities access, etc.
  • Construction permits focus on the safety and technical aspects of your plans.

You’ll need to submit:

  • Completed house plans
  • Survey of the property
  • Wastewater/septic system design
  • Completed energy compliance forms

Permit approval can take 30-100 days depending on your municipality. Brace yourself for patience! Typical building permit fees range from $800-$4000+ based on where you live and home size.

But don’t worry – your architect or draftsman will walk you through the process.

Modifying and Updating Plans

What if you need to tweak your plans after they’ve been created? Some common reasons include:

  • Design changes down the road
  • Budget constraints
  • Switching builders
  • Building code updates

While possible, plan changes add time and costs. Expect to pay $300-$1000 per modification depending on scope. Significant changes may require going back to the initial design phase in the process. Be sure about your plans before finalizing them!

Questions to Ask Your House Plan Provider

Finding the right blueprint pro for your project is key. Here are some good questions to ask potential candidates:

  • What’s your specialty/background? Look for relevant residential experience.
  • How do you structure fees? Get quotes from 2-3 providers.
  • Is the permit process included? Ideally, yes!
  • Do you offer project management services? Helpful for coordination.
  • How long will this take? Get an estimated timeline.
  • Can I see examples of your past work? Ask for a portfolio.

A good designer will listen to your needs, communicate well, and instill confidence that they can deliver house plans that match your vision!

Finding the Right Plan Provider

Where do you start the search for the perfect house plan partner? Here are some tips:

  • Clearly define your project – Know the size, style, budget, timeline, and must-have features.
  • Check reviews and referrals – Online reviews and word-of-mouth referrals go a long way.
  • Interview 2-3 candidates – Have initial video consultations before deciding.
  • Compare portfolios – Ask to see examples of their past residential projects.
  • Understand their expertise – Make sure they have depth in the type of home you want.
  • Get quotes – Compare pricing structures from multiple professionals.
  • Trust your gut – The best person will listen, communicate well, and “get” your vision.
  • Use online platforms – Sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Thumbtack can help find candidates.

The right house plan designer will save you time, money, and headaches in building your dream home. So do your homework to find the perfect fit!


Creating the blueprint for your future abode is an exciting first step! Now you know that house plans can cost anywhere from $0 for basic DIY plans up to $15,000+ for full-fledged architectural designs.

Factors like size, complexity, and customization impact the price. Working with a qualified draftsman or architect ensures you get permitting approval and plans that transform your vision into reality.

With a little research, budgeting, and collaboration with the right pro, you’ll be well on your way to turning that real estate into your dream address. The home of your dreams awaits – now let’s get those plans drawn!