Category Archives: House plans

Getting the most house for your money is not as impossible as it sounds.

A limited construction budget is a design constraint that can truly enhance the result and, in many cases, can make for a more enjoyable and creative process. Instead of looking at a tight budget as a sacrifice, see it as a fundamental condition of building. You get to choose your priorities and discard the elements that don’t make the cut.

Data from the National Association of Home Builders tells us that the average price of constructing a single-family residence is roughly $289,415 — or $103 per square foot. However, the “average” figure doesn’t tell us much because home building and affordability vary vastly across the United States. This is why building a house as cheaply as possible requires a lot of research, ingenuity, planning, and careful project management throughout all phases.

Can you do it? Absolutely. Will you have fun? Most definitely. But does it call for a serious commitment of time, money, and resources? Without a doubt.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a House Right Now?

When you’re trying to understand the difference between buying a pre-built new home and a custom home, you should know that there’s a range that the “average” figure simply doesn’t reflect.

Factors like location (both state and city/town), lot size, materials used, land and zoning permits, waterfront construction, proximity from schools, amenities, and cultural centers will also affect your total cost to build a new home. Think of new home custom construction costs as lying on a spectrum of low, average, and high.

In some states, the range between these three discrete points can vary vastly. In California, for example, the cheapest average cost of a custom home starts at $152,000, but it can go all the way to about $1.5 million. In Pennsylvania, however, the variance between the two ends is much more stable, starting at $345,000 and going up to approximately $450,000.

Major Home Construction Costs Before You Begin

The idea goes that building a custom home from scratch is usually more expensive — but that doesn’t always have to be the case. There are plenty of factors or “levers” you can modify without compromising quality, safety, or livability. However, a few fundamentals are non-negotiable.

1) Plot or Parcel of Land

The plot or parcel of land you buy to build your home on will vary in cost based on location and permits involved. Despite the variation, the average cost of a plot of land is $3,040 per acre. The lot itself might need some work before its construction-worthy, so you may have to factor this cost in as well.

2) Excavation and Foundation Work

Excavating and digging the foundation presents a significant cost, and it’s doubly complicated if you buy a sloped lot, a hillside property, or an in-fill property. It involves excavating, pouring, and backfilling your foundation. However, these types of properties are also priced to sell quickly.

If you’re ready to get a bargain, there’s an easy workaround. Choose a floor plan designed for a sloping lot and then work with an architect to modify the plan based on the land you’re working with. Keep in mind that you may need retaining walls and additional landscaping for flood prevention. Prepare to shell out anywhere from $4,000 to $12,000.

3) Mechanical and Plumbing

Another area of home construction you simply cannot skimp on is major systems installations. These include wiring and electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. If you know you want to improve on sustainability and energy efficiency, this might also involve learning how to set up and install solar panels. A good electrical and plumbing team will run you $30,000 to $50,000 for an entire home build project.

Five Ways to Build a House As Cheaply As Possible

Now that you know the rough numbers around the “must-haves” are, you can shave valuable dollars off your budget using the following seven tips to build a house as cheaply as possible.

1) Be Your Own Contractor

If you know you want to build a house from a custom floor plan, you’ll need to commit to the upfront research required to be your own contractor. The good news is that there’s no dearth of information or resources available out there. Take your time and learn in phases, based on where you are in the building process. For example, during the starting phases your own general contractor, consider the following:

  • Getting permits
  • Installing insulation
  • General site clean-up
  • Sourcing and purchasing all materials
  • Scheduling inspections
  • Shingling the roof

You can then offload any tasks you’re not too fond of or well-versed with to local subcontractors. These should be specialists like carpenters, foundation specialists, concrete specialists, plumbers, and electricians.

2) Choose Floor Plans Strategically

If you kept costs low by purchasing a smaller lot, now is your chance to choose a floor plan strategically. Smaller lots are cheaper, so they’re a great way to save some money. However, if you know you want a large front and backyard, choose a home with multiple stories rather than a bungalow or a one-leveled floor plan.

You can also save money by centralizing your plumbing. For this, find a floor plan that has the kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms in close proximity to each other. These are the rooms that usually take the most wiring and plumbing installations.

3) Phase the Finishes

You don’t need to finish everything at once. Instead, plan to finish your basement two to three years after you officially move in. You can also roll your upgraders and interiors out in phases, based on a rolling budget.

4) Allocate 10 Percent of your Budget to the Pros

Consult with an architect and landscape architect because they’ll be able to guide you and help avoid costly (and dangerous) building errors. You may also need to allocate to architects, designers, or builders and land surveyors. If you opt to include these experts, each of their going rates will factor into the cost of your home. Fees for each professional will depend on the rate within your area. A few example rates are as follows:

  • Architects: $60 – $125/hour
  • Engineers: $100 – $150/hour
  • Surveyors: $300 – $700/hour
  • Designers: Five to 15 percent of your construction costs

5) Get Smart About Your Materials
There is a lot to be said about starting at salvage yards and recycled lumber yards. Not only are the costs for materials lower, but you can also find related high-quality construction materials with your salvaged wood. You can also find home kits at many reclaimed lumber yards. These kits come with useful pieces like wood flooring, brick, and more that you can use to get your project started.

As you carve out your budget for a custom home, the first place to start is with a plan. Using Monster House Plans’ wide database of floor plans, you can narrow down your search based on features of a home, home style, additional inclusions, foundation type, and so much more. As part of your pre-building research, you can use Monster House Plans to gain detailed insight into cost and materials.

Opt for our signature 3D Intelligent House Plan and work with expert architects and designers to create custom additions for your home. You can design your dream home on a lot that works for you using floor plans from Monster House Plans. Browse our extensive selection today!

A typical American home’s “average” square footage isn’t all that average.

Across the country, homeowners have traded up in both home size and expectations. Size does matter in this case, and that’s because it’s all relative.

The average square footage of a 1,000 square foot home is not the same thing to a family of four as it is to a single individual. However, if you end up buying a house that’s too big for your family, you’ll also have a higher mortgage and a significantly larger out-of-pocket cost when it comes to home furnishings.

How much square footage is right for you is entirely a personal choice. However, with the right design choices and a smart, customized floor plan, even a 1,000 square feet can feel like a mansion.

What is the Average Square Footage of a Home in the U.S.?

Today, the average square footage area of a home in the U.S. is up almost 1,000 sq. ft., compared to just 67 years ago. Living space per person has nearly doubled since 1973. Most new home builds come in at a generous 2,300 to 2,700.

This begs the question of whether our families are actually bigger (they’re not), or our needs have actually increased (they haven’t).

Indeed, living is a lot more expensive now, but the categories are the same: food, running, cleaning water for drinking, transportation, health insurance, child care, and housing.

As it turns out, we just have a lot more stuff. So we may just need extra space for all that extra stuff. Rises in movements like minimalism or the Konmari Method show that we could all do with a good purge — or four.

There’s also another interesting aspect of the picture here: Our homes are much more energy-efficient than they once were. We can actually afford to come with bigger, better, and more spacious bathrooms, closets, garages, well-equipped home appliances. What in the 1970s was a feature of creature comfort — central air conditioning — 93% of new homes now include this as a baseline.

The improvements in factors like increased number of “luxury” features seen as standard, or the increase in average square footage comes with a cost — quite literally.

Besides contributing to unnecessary urban sprawl, the bid to continuously trade up in square footage leads to larger and often unmanageable debt loads. The cost of new home construction is also skyrocketing, telling us at these costs are trickling down.

How Much Square Footage is Right for Your Family?

Many families plan on downsizing by purchasing or building a tiny home floor plan. However, the key is not necessarily to scale down — it’s to scale right.

When considering how much square footage is right for your family — or yourself — you should be asking a few guiding questions. Make your decisions about square footage based on factors like:

  • The bedroom-to-living room space ratio: The builder’s or designer’s rule of thumb is that for every bedroom the house floor plan includes, you will need commensurate square footage for two people in a living or dining room. The number of bedrooms in a floor plan is actually the primary driver of the total square footage, as well as the spatial way it’s arranged. Knowing these facts, you might look for a floorplan that has fewer bedrooms and more diverse space (such as a den and an office, along with all the regular rooms) on the main floor.
  • How much you want to splurge on creature comforts: Often, homeowners will go for homes with more area because these are also the floor plans that include master ensuites, expansive, country kitchens, or walk-in closets. But you can still have all those creature comforts with a more compact floor plan. It will all depend on how much you want to spend on these specific creature comforts, how much overall space you have to play with, and what you’re willing to forgo. It will also depend on functional furniture and creative uses of space.
  • The current orientation of your home’s floor plan: Sometimes, space is just poorly planned. There are unnecessary divisions in a floorplan, nooks that no one is going to use, or connections between the rooms that don’t make sense. Look for a floor plan that maximizes every inch of your allocated square footage, and you can make 1,200 square feet feel double that.
  • How much time you plan to spend in each room: Just because a floor plan includes a mudroom, doesn’t mean you need to use it as such. Similarly, an office or den may not be useful to a family that doesn’t work from home. So you may turn it into a space for exercise, a movie room, or a guest bedroom. Map out your functional needs and determine how much time you plan to spend using that room. If it’s negligible, reappropriate the room’s use or look for a house floor plan that features the living spaces you actually need.

How to Make the Most of Your Home’s Square Footage

To make the most of your home’s square footage, you want to include popular features, but also inclusions that align with your use of space.

Unlike many other creative uses of space recommendations, this is not about making your home feel or look bigger or more spacious. Instead, it’s about enjoying every space for what it is and making additions based on the preferences for the use you’re going to have within that space.

1) Hardworking Storage Space

It’s not just about the novelty of having your bed frame double as a chest of drawers. Having these kinds of storage solutions are smart and resourceful.

However, becoming more strategic with your storage space will encourage you to cut down on physical belongings, making you more intentional with your purchases. You may opt for items that have a long shelf life, are high-quality, and which you know are going to last.

Storage space such as shelving also frees up clutter on the floor because, suddenly, you may not need those wicker baskets or that bookcase.

2) Open-Concept Floor Plans

Opting for an open-concept floor plan is one of the best ways to spatially “free up” light in your home. It provides excellent cross-ventilation, and it makes your living, dining, and kitchen spaces feel more expansive, even on a tighter square footage budget.

3) Decide On What You Want From the Room

There may be a room that has no obvious function to you — until you think about the activities that are a priority in your life.

So, forget about cluttering rooms up with furniture. Instead, decide on the function of the space — how do you intend it to be used?

It may be a meditation room. It could be your kids’ designated crafts room. If you have aging parents, it may be their reading-and-rest sanctuary.

4) Work the Corners

People often stick plants or random, decorative sculptures in corners. They’re nice to look at, but, beyond modest decorative purposes, have no actual use.

It’s true that not every addition or design choice needs to have obvious utility, but corners shouldn’t be wasted. If you add a comfortable mattress and a few plush cushions, for example, an odd corner could become a post-dinner relaxation spot or your personal book nook.

5) Go for the Gold

Speaking of decorative, if you are into design elements for their own sake, opt for pieces that have gold accents or metallic tipping on them. These decorative inclusions give a space an instantly luxurious feel, so your 1,500 square-foot home is still a space of opulence to visitors. They just won’t know that it’s also easier for you to clean and maintain.

6) Extend the Kitchen Cabinets

Here’s a good rule-of-thumb if you’re ever stuck with a floor plan that includes all your dream features, but has a kitchen that could use some work: Extend the cabinets past the kitchen, and use the walls adjoining the kitchen (as long as it’s not a support beam). This will open up the kitchen.

However, don’t make the mistake of placing cabinets to the ceiling. This is a faux-pas that many homeowners commit, and it simply leads to making the space feel cramped and squashed. Instead, opt for open shelving on the upper parts of your kitchen walls.

7) Create Movable Walls

The latest trend in farmhouse DIY renovations, Scandinavian-style movable walls are one of the most innovative ways to add more functional divisions between otherwise open-concept spaces. Movable walls run on an installed track so that you can gain some instant privacy in a room made for two people or even two adults, two kids, and a cat.

8) Create a Space for a Foyer – Even in a Modest Space

Creating a foyer division subconsciously signals to the individual entering that each area in this space has an obvious and purposeful function. Using racks, decorative pieces, and even smart seating that double as storage, you can easily create the sense of a welcome area, and this will instantly open up the perception of your space.

9) Use Skylights to Improve Headroom (Especially On Staircases)

If you have an open-concept floor plan, you don’t need a skylight in the living room. This doesn’t add anything to a space that is already airy and lit. Instead, consider adding a skylight to what would otherwise be a cramped or darker space — corridors and staircases, especially at the mid-landing point, opens up a smaller square footage interior.

10) Opt for Dual (or Multi!) Purpose Rooms

If someone has convinced you that, to live sanely, you need a separate craft room, mudroom, library, and laundry room, they’re wrong. Of course, you can have all these things be separate spaces. However, if you’d like to go for more economical square footage, then you can just as easily combine the functions of a room. For example, there’s no reason why you can’t use shelving, cabinets, roll-away storage, and hooks to design a laundry room that also acts as a mudroom.


Even today’s average home of 2,700 square feet can feel like a home closer to 3,500 if you know how to use the space in a way that actually aligns and suits your lifestyle.

And, the opposite is true as well. If you know you’d like to downsize to a 1,200 or a 1,500 square foot home, for example, you can use these ideas and functional tips to maintain your “larger” living standards in a spatially-compact way.

At Monster House Plans, we believe that no homeowner considering their dream home should be constrained by the features of a fixed floor plan. When you browse our vast selection of multi-styled homes, you can look for floor plans that suit your specific needs, searching by the most granular details and inclusions.

Many of our over thousands of home floor plans come with multiple elevations, and you can speak directly to the architect and designer for modifications.

Start with Monster House Plans today, and let’s make your dream home a reality!

Did you know that 33% of potential buyers are less likely to enquire about a property when it doesn’t have an available floor plan? Although photos are helpful, actually seeing the space from a bird’s eye view is easier to understand.

Drawing a floor plan for your own home is also beneficial. This way, you can see elements of your design before anything becomes permanent—and all professionals will require one before construction begins anyway.

So, whether you’re renovating a part of your home or building from the ground up, you’ll need a floor plan to get the ball rolling.

What Is a Floor Plan?

A floor plan is a two-dimensional birdseye drawing of a room or floor of a building. They can be done by hand with engineering paper, or online with planning software.

Floor plans are different from blueprints, which are more technical and intended for engineering teams. Floor plans usually only show the interior spaces and include examples of where furniture would be placed.

Benefits of a Floor Plan

“Floor plans are more of a neutral backdrop for them to see what’s in the apartment and how the rooms relate to one another,” says realty marketing director Gerald Makowski.

Drawing out a floor plan before planning the space is not only helpful to you, but also to the architect and designer. A floor plan helps your professional team maximize the use of the land, plumbing, electricity, and overall design with a single sketch of the floor. Some other major benefits include:

  • Help your professional team layout your ideas
  • Allows for adjustments
  • Displays measurements for features and furniture
  • Creates a better relationship between buyer and seller

Unfortunately, floor plans don’t magically appear—so if you’d like to take a hand at drawing your own, here are some of the most important tips to draw your own floor plan.

Tips to Draw Your Own Floor Plan

Sketching is the easy part, but doing it right is a whole other process. By considering essential tips like measuring correctly, window directions, adding architectural details, and furniture placement, you’re more likely to have an accurate draft.

Tip #1: Essential Measuring Tips

First, begin by gathering measurements of each room in the floor plan. Measure side to side across the base of the wall and then floor to ceiling. When you take the numbers to the drawing board, use each box to represent one foot and round your measurements to the closest ¼ inch.

When mapping out your furniture ideas, keep in mind that the walkway between a piece of furniture and a wall should be 30 to 36 inches in residential spaces and 36 to 42 inches in commercial areas, which can help you determine the size of rooms, furniture, and hallways.

Tip #2: Always Map Out the Windows

Window arrangement might not be high on your priority list, but it should be! Where your windows sit will determine furniture placement, heating and cooling costs, and the types of window treatments you might opt to do.

North-facing windows receive the most sunlight year-round while east and west receive the most during summer. South-facing windows receive little at all, so unless you live in a hot climate, you might want to avoid putting important rooms on this side.

Furniture Placement

It’s always best to place furniture that faces the windows. You’ll also want to point screens away from them to prevent an unwanted glare. So, for example, your living room TV might sit on the same wall as the window while the couch is parallel.

Cooling and Heating Costs

Where your windows are can help determine your home’s cooling and heating costs. Up to 30% of heat gets lost through inefficient windows, so choosing a window treatment for your climate can help reduce high prices in extreme temperatures.

Tip #3: Don’t Forget Architectural Features

One of the worst things to do when you’re in the final stages of your floor plan is realizing you forgot to include architectural features.

Architectural features are parts of the space that won’t be removable, like built-in shelves, staircases, fireplaces, doorways, windows, and sometimes plumbing and electrical details.

Tip #4: Furniture Placement Is Essential

After you’ve added the essential parts of your floor plan, you can add sketches of what furniture pieces could fit. Keep in mind that furniture usually sits between two and three inches from the wall.

If you’re adding furniture that you already own, then take careful measurements of each item. If you plan on buying new pieces, then you have some creative freedom on what kinds of pieces to add to your plan.

Characteristics of a Well-Flowed Room

“When you do one room, you have to think about everything that touches it, all of the spaces that connect,” says designer Stephanie Henley on the importance of room flow.

A room’s flow refers to the natural route and relationship between doors, windows, and furniture. Think of it this way: when you walk into a room, the last thing you want is to bump into a desk or couch.

Some examples of a well-flowed room might refer to feng shui, which is the harmonization of elements. The rules of feng shui translate well to traditional Western design, including:

  • Avoiding clutter
  • Keeping a clear path to the entry door
  • Maximizing natural light
  • Using furniture that fits the space

By utilizing the room’s natural flow, you’ll be able to maximize your furniture and space.

Tip #5: Functioning in Small Spaces
If you’re designing a small or cramped space, then consider the essential aspects of your design. There are several things you can incorporate into your floor plan and design to make use of every inch of space, like:

  • Mirrors
  • Pocket doors
  • Recessed shelving
  • Allowing maximum sunlight by drawing that face north, east, or west
  • Integrating appliances into cabinet space
  • Glass doors in bathrooms

When possible, doubling these pieces’ functions works best. “If you ensure that every piece of furniture in a room has a purpose, it becomes the most used room in the house,” says designer Cari Giannoulias.

When it comes to designing a floor plan, there are several factors you have to take into account, like design, functionality, and practicality. But most importantly, you have convey these critical elements into your floor plan.

So if you plan on drawing your own floor plan, always be sure to:

  • Measure everything
  • Map out the windows
  • Add architectural features
  • Consider furniture placement
  • Maximize small spaces

After you’ve finished, you might wonder what’s next. The good news is that the team at Monster House Plans has architects and designers whose expertise is finalizing floor plans. By consulting with one of our building and designing professionals, you’re one step closer to bringing your floor plan to life.

Contact Monster House Plans today to get started!

The face of suburban living is changing. The days of residential developments from new home builders are slowly, but steadily, replaced by custom home builds.

Part of the reason for this shift is a change in the buyer profile – millennials are now at prime buying age, and they’re quickly becoming the face of new homeowners across the country.

The other aspect of the shift is their changing priorities: More individuals than ever before are prioritizing convenience and quality over size and status. New home buyers are looking for sturdy and high-quality upgrades that will last for decades.

These priorities are not limited to a millennial’s ideal home preferences. If any of these show up on your personal preferences for a home, then a custom home could be an affordable and highly creative pathway to home ownership. However, like any worthy undertaking, there is a process behind the project.

Here are 9 questions you need to have answered when building a house:

  1. Can You Afford The Construction and the Contingencies?
  2. What Type Of Custom Home Will Have the Best Resale Value?
  3. What Are Your Must-Haves and Nice-To-Haves?
  4. Do You Need An Architect And A Contractor/Builder?
  5. Do You Need a Kitchen?
  6. What Do You Know About Your Chosen Lot?
  7. Is Your Current Lifestyle Stable?
  8. What Is and Isn’t Included In the Costs?
  9. Is There a Process For Communicating Through the Building Phase?

Money Questions
Building a custom home is a significant investment of both time and money. The National Association of Home Builders says that the average completion time of a custom build is around seven months, but if your home is larger it may take closer to two years. You have to count the months ahead of the process when the actual decision-making and applications for permits occur.

It’s hard to price out a custom home build because all the major decisions are in your hand. The quality of builder you will use, the number of crewmen and project managers, the designers, the materials for exterior construction, and upgrades for the interiors are all examples of factors that could change the final price tag. A custom build may work out to between $100 to $400 per square foot.

Every decision you make on a custom build affects this bottom line. There are so many small and large choices you’ll need to make, so don’t overwhelm yourself at this stage. Ask yourself two basic, foundational questions.

1) Can You Afford The Construction and the Contingencies?

The construction of your home includes several considerations including the cost of labor, the cost of materials, your contractor’s fees, installation, the crew, your floorplan, municipal zoning, and building permits.

Keep in mind the contingencies. These are special and often unexpected circumstances that may crop up and delay your build schedule. Sometimes, if a build gets delayed, this could increase the overall costs. Be prepared to respond to these situations as they come up.

Many homeowners will look at the price tag of all the materials and resources that a custom home will cost and consider this part of the “money question.” However, the total cost for all construction, materials, and labor, call for something even more important: a steady cash flow.

If you don’t pay your contractor and their team, your work could stall and only pick up again once you’re back in the green. Worse yet, your contractor team may not be available when you’re ready to resume. Cashflow is the most important thing to consider when you first plan out your custom home build. If you can sustain the project through allocated finances week to week, your home will finish on schedule and at cost.

2) What Type Of Custom Home Will Have the Best Resale Value?

While some homeowners are looking to design their “forever” home, others will choose a custom home that has a good resale value. Resale value depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • The location
  • The upgrades included in the home
  • The decorative elements
  • The exterior’s materials and design
  • The home’s floor plan

For example, some areas are far more popular for their choice in colonial-style homes than ranch-style homes. If you build a home that reflects this preference, it’s far likelier to sell quickly.

If you know that you may consider moving or selling your home in about a decade after its construction, then you may want to stay away from more unconventional floor plans such as an A-Frame.

Design Questions
The design of your home is closely related to the materials and cost of your home. Once you know what your budget is, you’ll be able to pinpoint which features you’re looking for and which rooms your dream home must have.

Keep in mind that design is not just aesthetic or decorative. The design of a home has a lot to do with how long its materials will last. Smart design choices can also help increase energy efficiency and keep your home well-insulated or ventilated. The design of a custom home is not just how things look but how those elements work for you.

3) What Are Your Must-Haves and Nice-To-Haves?

Every homeowner embarking on a custom home project should create two lists of priorities. These are negotiables and non-negotiables. To decide on your design priorities, ask yourself a set of guiding questions such as:

  • Do we entertain a lot?
  • Does our home need to accommodate multi-generations?/Aging-in-home options?
  • Exterior and interior style choices? (farmhouse, A-frame, cottage-style, etc.)
  • Sustainability and energy efficiency?
  • Do we want low-maintenance exteriors?
  • Is space the most important factor for our family?

The answers to these questions can help you make general and granular decisions. For example, if you know you need extra square footage, you’ll need to choose a larger floor plan. If you decide that your parents will move in and age in-home, then you may choose lighting, staircase fixtures, bathroom additions, and even raised countertops with their safety and accessibility in mind.

4) Do You Need An Architect And A Contractor/Builder?

Questions about design can get confusing and very specific. You may also come across particulars about a lot’s elevation that may require more specialized knowledge. Any changes, alterations, or additions you may want to make to a chosen floor plan call for an architect/designer, or even a structural and/or civil engineer. These specialists can help ensure that your structure is sound and built to last.

While the skeleton structure of your home may require an architect, the interior may call for an interior designer. If you have the room in your budget for an interior designer, you can hire this individual right at the outset of your custom home build, or toward the end. If you’re hiring them later in the build process, they will have to work with the room configurations you already have.

5) Do You Need a Kitchen?

As a home’s most social and lived-in area, the kitchen is a significant space that sets the tone for several other rooms. The dining room, living room, and great room may all be physically separated, for example. However, their use and configuration can depend on the choices you make in your kitchen.

Custom kitchens are becoming increasingly popular because the skill levels and priorities of families are changing. Some homeowners love cooking and need to have a country kitchen, complete with the latest appliances. Others want a minimalistic aesthetic and prefer that their countertops double as a cutting board.

These preferences affect your home’s floor plan and design. You’ll need to decide how long you plan to spend in your kitchen and what you want to be doing when you’re there. You also need to make sure to choose a floor plan that is spacious enough to incorporate everything you want in your dream kitchen.

Lifestyle Questions
These are the “big picture” considerations that you should be asking yourself before your project ever gets off the ground. The answers to these questions will reveal to you just how committed you are – and need to be – to see your custom home to the finish line.

6) What Do You Know About Your Chosen Lot?

Specific details about your chosen land will tell you what kind of foundation you can lay, what kind of beams the soil can support, and whether you can have a basement area or cellar in your floor plan.

If your home sits on a slope or a hill, your architect or certified contractor can help you plan your construction. A home built on a slope, for example, could be prone to soil erosion, flooding, and disruption to its exterior structures like decks and driveways.

7) Is Your Current Lifestyle Stable?

It’s not the most obvious question but it’s one of the most important considerations. You’re building a custom home, and a large part of your decision should be about your happiness. To make sure that a custom home is the right choice for you, consider the following questions:

  • Will we be moving a lot, or can we see ourselves living here for more than a year after the build?
  • Can we commit to the timelines (which will likely go over) for construction?
  • Are our relationships strong enough to bear the pressures of a longer-term construction period and process? Do we have a solid foundation of trust between us and a method to communicate when conflict arises?

There are so many unexpected issues that come up during a custom build that you will need patience, persistence, and commitment to make it through successfully. If you can’t see yourself living here long-term, for example, then you may have to question whether all the work is worth it.

Construction Questions
Even if you choose your own floor plan, it’s important to vet your builder or contractor thoroughly. Judge their quality based on details like past client testimonials, previous custom build projects, warranties provided, and project management best practices. You may even want to ask for proof of certification and licensing.

8) What Is and Isn’t Included In the Costs?

Cost inclusions affect your cash flow. If you can’t forecast items that are going to be included (and excluded) in the build process, you can’t budget for them. When unexpected additional costs come up, you need to know how to respond and how to allocate money for these purposes.

Your contractor should be able to give you a very detailed timeline, list of materials and resources, and built-in check-ins or meetings to communicate progress. This shows that your contract also has a project manager on the team or is skilled enough to understand the management aspect to a custom build.

9) Is There a Process For Communicating Through the Building Phase?

You could liaise with a construction project coordinator, a project manager, or be in direct communication with your contractor or builder. Regardless of whom you’re working with, custom builds are complicated processes that need to have a consistent communication process. Find out who your point of contact will be, what the contact methods are for regular and emergency issues, and how frequently you can expect updates on the build.

You should also be very clear on what your role is, what your contractor or builder expects from you, and by when.

None of these questions should deter you from your dream home. Instead, they should help you get clear on the commitment, time, and financial resources you will need to make your dream home a reality. Custom home builds are a wonderfully creative process, and the end result can feel very rewarding.

The key to making a custom build both affordable and seamless is to plan, prepare, and then plan some more. Start by keeping your costs low and allocating your money towards your list of non-negotiables.

When you begin with a house plan from Monster House Plans, you’ll have access to thousands of house plans. From here, you can narrow your search using our Advanced Search feature and choose a plan that meets your design requirements and cost budget. Make your custom dream home happen this year with a plan that starts you off on the right foot. Browse Monster House Plans today!

In the past year alone, “how to build a house” was the second-most popular home improvement-related search on Google. It’s safe to say that more than ever, Americans are hooked on the idea of designing their own homes.

There’s just something so satisfying about having a place to truly call your own. After all, you get to have a say on all of the critical parts. You can choose the perfect location, the right floor plan, customized design elements, and enjoy the home for years to come.

If you’re one of the many Americans looking to design from scratch, then you’re not alone. But before you get started, there are a few things you have to consider before you attempt to build your own home.

1. Find the Perfect House Plan

When you picture your perfect home, what do you see?

According to most homebuyers, open concept living is at the top of the list, closely followed by timeless designs like hardwood flooring and plenty of storage. Whatever it is you envision, there’s a floor plan out there with your name on it.

With thousands of floor plans available online, it’s easy to find the one that is just right for you. Best of all, you can customize your search by important features like bedrooms, bathrooms, basements, or even wine cellars! Most companies also offer custom floor planning, where an architect will speak with you about some of your must-have features.

2. It’s All About Location, Location, Location

You might have heard the saying “location, location, location” a few times before. Coined by real estate tycoon Lord Harold Samuel in 1926, the famous expression holds true that homes can be higher in value solely based on its location — a staggering 91 percent of people said location is the most important factor when buying a home!

The right location often includes important features like safe neighborhoods, friendly neighbors, and good schools. Beyond that, though, are some of the other most-wanted factors in an ideal neighborhood:

  1. Low home value to income ratio
  2. Good public school ratings
  3. Fair median monthly housing cost
  4. Reasonable cost of living grade
  5. Residents with a college education

And sometimes if you’re lucky, you’ll find the right piece of land in the perfect neighborhood. At this point, you should consult with a professional who can survey the land. They will be able to tell you whether it is accessible to the city, if it is leveled, the right size for your floor plan and if it’s without any zoning restrictions.

3. The Direction Your Home Will Face

The property you choose will also impact the direction of your home.

The direction a house faces might not be the first thing that comes to anybody’s mind — but it should be high on your list. The direction in which your home faces will directly impact how much sunlight you get, and therefore your heating and cooling costs. Homes that were oriented to face the sun had a 10 to 20 percent increase in savings on heating costs.

But the question is: which way is best? If you’re unsure which direction to face the home, then it might help to know more about where you can expect the sun and shade. The United States is in the Northern Hemisphere, which means that the sun offers the most light in the south, and is shadier in the north.

Since the sun shines year-round on the south, many builders recommend orienting the home this way so that the main rooms can get enough natural light. The south side of the house is also where patios and pools should be constructed. Bedrooms are generally on the northern or western end of a home where there is more shade.

4. Choose a Simple and Timeless Design

Remember that at one point, your grandmother’s ivy wallpaper and popcorn ceiling was popular! But as styles evolve, it’s crucial to pick the right elements without getting dated too quickly.

Even those with an eye for interior design might feel overwhelmed when choosing how to style their home. After all, there are so many trends and ideas to try out — and they’re everchanging. But the key to the right design is to choose something timeless or easy to update as the years go on.

“Interior design is like a three-dimensional game of chess: You have to think about space both vertically and horizontally,” says interior designer John Saladino. “You have to break down these rooms and create spaces with a human scale.”

With that said, it’s important to take advantage of each inch of space in your new home. Be sure to optimize space by adding plenty of closets, built-in cabinetry, and a basement or garage.

5. Always Consider the Cost

The million-dollar question is: How much does it cost to build your own home? Unfortunately, there is no set number on how much it costs to develop and design your own home.

But there are general estimations that offer a good starting point. For example, the average house size is about 2,400 square feet. With the average price per square foot at $100, you can expect to pay $240,000 including labor and material costs. This does not include builder profit and overhead if you are planning to hire a professional builder.

To get a true estimation, you’ll have to do some homework by researching local contractors. The good news is with Monster House Plan’s cost-to-build tool, you can easily get an estimate of how much your favorite floor plan will cost to build in your specific area within +/- 10%.

However, be sure to put aside enough money in case something unexpected happens. So, try to avoid spending every last penny on your dream home and set aside at least 10 percent of your budget as an emergency contingency.


When it comes to building and designing your own home, you’re sure to run into some trial and error scenarios. But as long as you carefully consider the five important rules before you build your home, you’ll be on the right path.

But for most, the fun part is finding the perfect floor plan — and with thousands of floor plans available, it’s never been easier to find your perfect home. Monster House Plans has a plethora of exterior and interior floor plans in dozens of design styles, ranging from contemporary to cottage, and everything in between.

What are you waiting for? Find your perfect house plan today!

The average cost of building a house on your own from scratch can range between $100,000 to more than $350,000.

When you picture your dream home, what do you see? Maybe it’s a pool in the backyard or perhaps it’s an in-home movie theater. Whatever your favorite characteristics are, there are eleven key features that the majority of homeowners want in their perfect home:

  • Central air conditioning
  • New kitchen appliances
  • Walk-in closets in the master bedroom
  • Granite countertops
  • Hardwood floors
  • Ensuite master bath
  • Kitchen island
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • A house that is less than five years old
  • Eat-in kitchen
  • One or more fireplaces

However, it’s nearly impossible to check everything on lists like this when it comes to searching for your perfect home. That’s why thousands of people each year decide to build their own home.

3 Reasons Why People Build Their Own Homes

Building your own home might sound intimidating. After all, there are extra costs and a lot of work that goes into the construction of a new home. But nearly 51,000 Americans decide to build their own homes every year based on three main reasons.

Reason #1: It’s Cheaper (In The Long Run)

Upfront, a new home can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But with a newly-built house, you can expect to pay less for many things, like utility bills by opting for energy-efficient options.

Reason #2: It’s Exactly What You Want

Buying prebuilt is definitely an easier option, but that means you’re compromising on upgrades and necessities you might want. Many people prefer things like big kitchens, tons of storage space, and heating and cooling at the touch of a button. These features weren’t standard a few years ago, which means they’re hard to find in homes today.

When you build your own home, you can add anything you want to a blueprint, like bonus rooms, garages, or even an elevator!

Reason #3: It’s Personal

Lastly, many Americans build their own home because it’s got that personal touch. A home customized to you will reflect all the time and effort that was put into building it, serving as a place where you raise your family for generations to come.

How Much Does It Cost To Build a House?

The most important thing to know before building your own home is that the cost ultimately depends on the size of the house and what you want to do with it.

Although these numbers can vary greatly, here’s a general breakdown of how much you can expect to split the budget between the necessities:

  • 25% for material
  • 25% for labor
  • 25% for land cost
  • 25% for builder profit and overhead

To put it in perspective, a typical single-family home is about 2,500 square feet. With the national average at $150 per square foot, you can expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $150,000 to $400,000 for just the square footage.

  • Small (around or less than 1,000 square feet): $150,000 to $180,000
  • Medium (around 2,500 square feet): $250,000 to $380,000
  • Large (over 3,000 square feet with accessories like windows, porches, and several roofs): $415,000 or more

These estimations don’t include labor, construction, or design costs. That’s why it’s essential to become familiar with what to expect when building your own home.

Before You Build

Creating a budget is one of the first things you have to do before the building begins.

But since the market changes all the time, it’s wise to double-check your area so you can get an idea of how much it might cost to build your home. You can use our Cost to Build reports to get an estimate of the costs you can expect, broken down by labor and material, eliminating guesswork.

After you’ve created a budget, you’re free to move onto the next vital steps in the process:

  1. Purchase the property, which averages $3,020 per acre
  2. Develop house plans and designs
  3. Obtain a building permit, which averages $1,043 nationally
  4. Get construction insurance
  5. Begin building!

Quick tip: When construction begins, you will want to set aside about $4,000 for contingency. This stash is for when anything unforeseen, like delayed construction, issues with the building, or an unexpected cost of materials.

Here are where the high costs come in: you’ll spend the majority of your budget on the foundation, framing, installation, labor costs, and interior design.

Foundation: $4,000 to $12,000

Although it would be great to begin building as soon as you purchase the land, it’s likely that the land needs to be prepared for construction. This might include excavating or flattening out the area.

If the land is ready for construction, then it will have to begin with the foundation process, where the workers will pour concrete to serve as your home’s base. Depending on the size and whether or not there is a basement, you can expect to pay between $4,000 and $12,000.

Framing: $1,500 to $6,500

The bare bones of the house completely depend on the sizes and locations of each room in your home. Larger homes with more rooms will err on the more expensive side, whereas smaller single-family homes will only cost a couple of thousand dollars to frame.

Major Systems Installation: $30,000 to $40,000

Major systems include electrical, plumbing, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and cooling).

Let’s break it down:

  • Septic tank: $5,500
  • Ductwork: $10,000 to $14,000
  • Plumbing: $11,000
  • Electricity: $10,000

These are essential to the functionality of your house, which means that a good chunk of your budget will go towards it.

Interior Finishes: $65,000 to $85,000

It’s finally time for the fun part! Once the major systems, insulation, and the framing are all complete, you will begin to see the final touches of your home come together.

Here’s a breakdown of the interior costs:

  • Cabinets and Countertops: $12,000
  • Doors, Trims and Mirrors: $11,000
  • Flooring: $10,000
  • Painting: $7,000
  • Appliances: $4,000
  • Plumbing Fixtures: $3,000
  • Lighting: $3,000

Since kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms in a home, it’s easy to spend a little extra. However, it’s important to keep your interior designs to about 30 percent of the entire budget. To be sure, you should discuss and enforce your budget with your designer to avoid going overboard.

Final Touches: $15,000 to $20,000

Although the home looks complete on the inside, the outside is far from finished. It will be time to clean up the construction mess and tend to the landscaping design. At this point, driveways and decks will be added if part of the plan.

  • Landscaping: $6,000
  • Driveway installation: $5,000
  • Porches or balconies: $3,000
  • Final cleanup: $2,500


Building a home is no easy task, but it’s become desirable to many people around the world. The idea of customization, saving money, and having something to call your own is plenty of incentive to build from the ground-up.

However, the idea seems daunting since many people aren’t sure whether or not they can afford it. It’s important to understand that depending on the size of the home and quality of materials, you can expect to spend between $200,000 and $500,000 on labor costs, permits, major systems, construction, interior finishes, and final touches.

If you’re considering joining the growing trend, there’s only one place to start: pick out some of your favorite floor plans to envision what your dream home could be!

Almost every home you see has a garage attached, usually tacked on to the front of the house. And as our cars get bigger, so too does the standard size of a garage. Spaces for three cars is not uncommon, and use of extra space for seasonal storage. Who could do without such space when building their dram home? A home seems almost bereft without the addition of a garage. Where else are we to park our cars, tuck away yard tools, and set up wood shop work benches? Providing an informal entrance to the home, often via a mud room or utility room, the garage is a frequently used, necessary part of many homes. But garages can be unsightly, awkward, or simply in the way of a carefully designed dream home exterior. Despite its many functions, the garage is arguably the least attractive part of your home’s exterior.

Solutions abound for this particular problem. Garages can be tucked around the side of the home, be situated at the rear, or be built as part of the lower level of the house, completely removing the necessity of a separate garage. Yet other house plans hide the garage in plain site, including such design features as bay windows, small covered porches, and cottage-style landscaping features.

There are many house plans that offer solutions such as these. Clever garage designs abound in the library, and by selecting both the style of home you are looking for and the rear-entry garage selection you will access a tailored search filter with hundreds of house plans with out-of-sight garages. Remember also, that any house plan design can be customized to your specifications with the help of licensed architects.

Whether your dream home is lined with a Southern style wrap-around porch, a New England row of columns, or the handcrafted touches of a Craftsman home, a discreet garage enhances the curb appeal of any house.

The cost of building a new home can seem daunting at the outset, but there are a number of clever ways to keep costs down without cutting any corners. Use of salvaged building materials is becoming a popular money-saving trick many builders and contractors are offering.

Building materials and fixtures salvaged from old buildings first go through an evaluation process to ensure their quality remains intact. This deconstruction process can be quite lengthy but it often worth it in the long run when considering the reduced cost of materials. It is also a way to collect valuable old materials such as old growth timbers that are no longer available in other venues.

In addition to the cost benefit, there is an environmental benefit as well, as using materials already designed for construction save in terms of both the time is takes to generate new materials and the time it takes to process them as waste.

Salvaged building materials like beams, stairs, and framing supplies can save lots of money on home construction.

Salvaged building materials like beams, stairs, and framing supplies can save lots of money on home construction.

More than just wood timbers are used in salvage projects. Fixtures such as door knobs, sinks, bath tubs, and hinges are frequently resold for use in new home construction, as are actual building materials like bricks, concrete blocks, insulation, roofing tiles, wall paneling, molding, and baseboards. Considering the vast array of building materials that can be purchased from salvage yards and resellers, much of the new home you seek to build can be constructed with these repurposed items.

By using a combination of salvaged building materials and new, state of the art supplies, your dream home can be as unique as your family and be accomplished on a reasonable budget as well. Especially when considering the materials for low-visibility projects, look into salvage yards for low cost alternatives to brand new materials. It is important to work with a reputable contractor when purchasing refurbished building materials, or to buy from a credible retail location to ensure you are getting the highest quality.

Contact us today to find a house plan you’ll love!

Walkout basement homes are widely popular all across the country for the extra space and adaptability they offer. Although many imagine a perfectly flat, expansive lot on which to build a dream home, most lots present some degree of elevation that must be taken into account. Where possible, a walkout basement home provides a way to situate your home on such a lot without sacrificing any interior space.

For many busy families, having living space on a lower level provides a necessary separation between active gathering spaces on lower levels and quiet, more formal rooms for mature entertaining upstairs. Floor plans with walkout basement foundations often include rec rooms, home theaters and gyms, and expansive finished storage space with built-in features to maximize space-saving habits.  Guest suites are also common features of a lower level walkout basement house plan, providing a separate entrance and oftentimes a private patio or porch area for your guests to enjoy during their stay.

Maximizing square footage without enlarging the footprint of the house is perhaps the most beneficial feature of a walkout basement floor plan.  A single story home can still have a fully finished lower level, visible only from the back of the house and providing covered deck space below.

Walkout basement house plan exterior view

These types of plans are often the perfect choice to enjoy a rear-facing view, or when the home is situated on a lot so as to create an expansive backyard area. For the ultimate in home amenities, consider an elevator connecting the two floors or a lower level summer kitchen and BBQ porch to ensure seamless connection between separated floors and outside gathering spaces for the whole family to enjoy.

walkout basement floor plan

While the curbside view of a walkout basement home shows perhaps a modest single-story house, the rear of the home reveals two levels or more, with inside spaces connecting with outside spaces through skilled use of windows, porches, and patios.

Click here to see our wide variety of house plans!

Inverted floor plans have a long history of providing functional protection. Recent construction innovations and clever design trends have brought this practice back to the forefront of home floor plans in a variety of settings.

Perhaps the oldest examples of inverted floor plans are the castles of ancient Europe. A design of concentric circles- the outer moat, the stone wall surrounding the grounds, and stacked structures ending with the Castle Keep, offered several layers of protection from invading enemies. This innermost tower, the castle keep, was typically where the family slept. It also provided, one supposed, the best and most expansive views of the kingdom.

Castles were some of the first inverted floor plans, with sleeping quarters on upper floors for safety and warmth.

Castles were some of the first inverted floor plans, with sleeping quarters on upper floors for safety and warmth.

Fast forward to a more modern view of the world, in which single family homes dominate the landscape. Early examples of this show homes built around a single multi-purpose room, used for sleeping, cooking, and as a gathering space for the family. Families that could afford a slightly larger home would often position a loft above this main room to use as sleeping quarters, where the rising heat from the central fire would maintain warmth through the cold nights.

In today’s world, this natural vertical progression has lead most home plan designers to place bedrooms on the upper floors, and living areas on the main floor. And while there are some stylistic deviations, such as a first-floor master bedroom, many styles of house plans accept this template.

And it works for many families. Regional construction, however, has kept the inverted floor plan alive and well. In coastal areas, the low country lots, and areas where rising river levels threaten the foundation, inverted floor plans make the best use of space. A view-driven plan will often feature main living areas on the highest levels of the home, in order to see above a neighbor’s house or over the tree line. In hot and humid places, these upper floor are uniquely able to capture breezes while discouraging pesky insects who tend to congregate at lower altitudes.

Rooftop in an inverted floor plan home.

Roof decks make the most of seasonal weather.

It is no surprise then that most of the inverted floor plan models you see are either Coastal floor plans, Beach floor plans, Florida plans, European floor plans, and Modern or Contemporary floor plans. But an inverted floor plan is for more than just coastal properties. Even the more traditional house plans can make use of this design, as many of them draw from European design concepts.

Modern designs are beginning to make use of this feature as a way to make the absolute most out of available space, including outside areas like roof decks and balconies. And with modern amenities like elevators and dumb waiters, the logistics of spending most of your time on the upper floors are simply settled.

There are a number of factors that make an inverted floor plan the preferred choice for many families and builders. Whether its intent is to access sweeping views, to capture cool breezes, or to elevate the main gathering spaces for maximum light and openness, the inverted floor plan has evolved into one of the most efficient use of space available.