Does or has anyone used online house plans in Florida?

18 Replies

I’m just wondering if there are any reliable places to get house plans online, that take into consideration the Florida building code. I’m looking to get house plans, of different designs, that I can then take to my architect and ask them to “edit” and stamp them.

I’m hoping that this would save me a little bit of money and also a lot of back-and-forth with the architect over the design.

Don’t waste your money on online plans.  It’s more expensive to get it changed than it worth.  If you just want to get ideas houseplans.com but don’t buy the plans they don’t pass code.

Originally posted by @Tim Johnson :

Don’t waste your money on online plans.  It’s more expensive to get it changed than it worth.  If you just want to get ideas houseplans.com but don’t buy the plans they don’t pass code.

 Thank you! I thought as much. 

@Jermaine Chad Ingram

First define “plans”

If you’re simply talking about a layout I would just take a screenshot and tell your architect that you want something like this. By the way this goes for exterior elevations as well. I honestly wouldn’t even bother paying and do a general google or Pinterest search.

Now if you’re talking about fully developed planing with details and notes (construction documents) in my opinion that’s a very dangerous game you’re playing and here’s why. It may seem like you’re saving money but any good architect wouldn’t and shouldn’t stamp drawings they themselves were not directly involved with creating. If you find someone who would do that...I wouldn’t really trust them.

Since you mentioned getting your architect to edit, you should also consider the file format that the website will give you and the time it might take an architect to redraw everything in the event it is not a file type they can work with.

Originally posted by @Jermaine Chad Ingram :

I’m just wondering if there are any reliable places to get house plans online, that take into consideration the Florida building code. I’m looking to get house plans, of different designs, that I can then take to my architect and ask them to “edit” and stamp them.

I’m hoping that this would save me a little bit of money and also a lot of back-and-forth with the architect over the design.

I will echo what others have said. The only way online plans end up being cheaper than a custom designed home from an architect is to literally change NOTHING about it. Even then its not guaranteed that something wont have to change to meet local codes. Especially in todays market most firms are not going to waste their time with online house plans. There just isnt enough room for profit and even then the profit is very small. To make it worth it they have to raise the price that its just about the same price to do a custom home.

Now what you could do to get a cheaper house plan is go to a firm and ask if they have any plans that they alrady have done and are willing to "sell" to you as is. Highly customized houses usually arent for "sale" but track homes that they designed for builder or designs that are older could be. It all depends on the firm. Just call them and ask...explain that you'd rather do that than buy plan online and they will appreciate that more and might be more willing to fit you in. 

 

Originally posted by @Jermaine Chad Ingram :

@Edgar Martinez Edgar have you ever traded architectural drawings for equity in a project.

I personally have not. I am not currently licensed nor has the opportunity been presented to me. But it is an interesting model.

When I was in school, one of my professors was friends with an elderly architect who did that for a movie theater company (I think?) when he was starting out and he did very well for himself. I'm sure there are some newer solo practitioners or licensed architects wanting to go out on their own that would find this type of model enticing.

But it should be treated as an investment. One must ask themselves things like do the numbers make sense? How much equity is it worth? Is the sponsor worth it taking the risk on? What kind of recourse will I, as the architect, have if things go wrong? Will the "delayed" payment be worth the time and effort? Is this a one time thing or is this sponsor looking to make a business out of it? Etc. So if you're thinking of asking someone to do work for equity, make sure you can answer all these questions and more.

@Jermaine Chad Ingram , @Edgar Martinez makes some good points. I am currently working with two separate investors on their own investment projects as an architect however I do not have any equity stake in the project. I am part of their team and we work as partners but I will not gain anything from the sale/rent. I am okay with this for these projects though. The deal has to be right and opportunity looked at by all parties. The biggest downside to trading your architectural services for equity is when will it be paid out? As an Architect, we are front loading the project and if problems arise or a deal needs to be backed out of, our services have already been provided. How would we be compensated?  

In the above I bolded "services". As a licensed architect, I do not ever sell my drawings. They remain an instrument of service and owned solely by me. The client/owner/partners only have use of said drawings for that particular project, after-which their use is restricted unless I deem it acceptable for another project. This gets into contract language, legalities and best practices for practicing architecture but I figured best to touch on it.  

Originally posted by @Jermaine Chad Ingram :

@Edgar Martinez Edgar have you ever traded architectural drawings for equity in a project.

99.99999% of architects wont do this. Not only is it not the norm and very risky but its very hard to front the costs and overhead for your firm, especially when the ROI is YEARS out. There are firms that do this equity for services model but they are very very few and far between. I know of one in Boston and one in the LA area....but I'm sure theres more scattered through-out that I'm just not aware of. I'm only aware of those because of podcasts. BUT most those firms do in-house projects...not projects from other investors. So they are the owner and architect and usually fund the project with their own money...sometimes bringing in some outside money if they have the right connections.



This is a model I eventually want to follow for my personal investing and future architecture practice but even then its not a model that works for every project. It will be interesting to learn how to setup a business model of that type but I'm getting off topic here. 

Originally posted by @Jared W Smith :

@Jermaine Chad Ingram, @Edgar Martinez makes some good points. I am currently working with two separate investors on their own investment projects as an architect however I do not have any equity stake in the project. I am part of their team and we work as partners but I will not gain anything from the sale/rent. I am okay with this for these projects though. The deal has to be right and opportunity looked at by all parties. The biggest downside to trading your architectural services for equity is when will it be paid out? As an Architect, we are front loading the project and if problems arise or a deal needs to be backed out of, our services have already been provided. How would we be compensated?  

In the above I bolded "services". As a licensed architect, I do not ever sell my drawings. They remain an instrument of service and owned solely by me. The client/owner/partners only have use of said drawings for that particular project, after-which their use is restricted unless I deem it acceptable for another project. This gets into contract language, legalities and best practices for practicing architecture but I figured best to touch on it.  

 I am so grateful that you guys have answered here and I appreciate all of your input. Let me explain my situation. Have a good friend who owns a design firm with an in house architect. She has been helping me piece together the look and style of house that I want to build and she has also laid out the floor plan for a dogtrot style house. This is an uncommon style of house in the area but it is very southern and it would serve my purposes of incorporating an outdoor livable space that is protected from the elements and also helps to create a Thermodynamic breezeway removing heat from the house which is very important here in Florida.  We would use the house to implement a co-living model so that residents  can have a shared community as well as their own private spaces. She has offered to draw out my permit package 

I am wondering what would be an appropriate offer to her of equity if I plan on building 10 to 15 of these houses using those same plans.

I would be willing to be as liberal as possible keeping in mind that I am also going to be raising money and the people that I raise money from might not feel the same way about the value of said equity

 As far as the contract is concerned I would allow her to guide the way as far as when payments will be made. I am expecting that she would be able to receive regular disbursements just like any other equityholder 

 

These images are of a floor plan from corner stone tiny homes in Florida these are not my plans just to be clear I will need to give credit where credit is due. It’s just a depiction of a dog trot style house

Originally posted by @Nik Moushon :
Originally posted by @Jermaine Chad Ingram:

@Edgar Martinez Edgar have you ever traded architectural drawings for equity in a project.

99.99999% of architects wont do this. Not only is it not the norm and very risky but its very hard to front the costs and overhead for your firm, especially when the ROI is YEARS out. There are firms that do this equity for services model but they are very very few and far between. I know of one in Boston and one in the LA area....but I'm sure theres more scattered through-out that I'm just not aware of. I'm only aware of those because of podcasts. BUT most those firms do in-house projects...not projects from other investors. So they are the owner and architect and usually fund the project with their own money...sometimes bringing in some outside money if they have the right connections.



This is a model I eventually want to follow for my personal investing and future architecture practice but even then its not a model that works for every project. It will be interesting to learn how to setup a business model of that type but I'm getting off topic here. 

Thanks for your feedback  

 

Originally posted by @Jermaine Chad Ingram :
Originally posted by @Jared W Smith:

@Jermaine Chad Ingram, @Edgar Martinez makes some good points. I am currently working with two separate investors on their own investment projects as an architect however I do not have any equity stake in the project. I am part of their team and we work as partners but I will not gain anything from the sale/rent. I am okay with this for these projects though. The deal has to be right and opportunity looked at by all parties. The biggest downside to trading your architectural services for equity is when will it be paid out? As an Architect, we are front loading the project and if problems arise or a deal needs to be backed out of, our services have already been provided. How would we be compensated?  

In the above I bolded "services". As a licensed architect, I do not ever sell my drawings. They remain an instrument of service and owned solely by me. The client/owner/partners only have use of said drawings for that particular project, after-which their use is restricted unless I deem it acceptable for another project. This gets into contract language, legalities and best practices for practicing architecture but I figured best to touch on it.  

 I am so grateful that you guys have answered here and I appreciate all of your input. Let me explain my situation. Have a good friend who owns a design firm with an in house architect. She has been helping me piece together the look and style of house that I want to build and she has also laid out the floor plan for a dogtrot style house. This is an uncommon style of house in the area but it is very southern and it would serve my purposes of incorporating an outdoor livable space that is protected from the elements and also helps to create a Thermodynamic breezeway removing heat from the house which is very important here in Florida.  We would use the house to implement a co-living model so that residents  can have a shared community as well as their own private spaces. She has offered to draw out my permit package 

I am wondering what would be an appropriate offer to her of equity if I plan on building 10 to 15 of these houses using those same plans.

I would be willing to be as liberal as possible keeping in mind that I am also going to be raising money and the people that I raise money from might not feel the same way about the value of said equity

 As far as the contract is concerned I would allow her to guide the way as far as when payments will be made. I am expecting that she would be able to receive regular disbursements just like any other equityholder 

 

Let begin with the assumption that she will even consider doing this. First you need to find out what she is going to charge you because you have to beat that. Usually for smaller projects like a SFH that cost for plans are going to be about 5-10% of construction cost. Then if you are going to do this multiple times, even if its the same house plan that does change, there are going to be changes and work required for each building site and the permit process. Most firms will charge another $2-5k per site to re-use a house plan...or charge a premium at the front for "X" number of uses or unlimited uses. So add up all those costs and then tack on 10-15% probably more. Then you have to figure out how to pay her. More than likely its going to be a portion of the profits of per house sold. So go back to what you added up and divide that per the number of houses you are going to build. Then add in the time frame from start to finish of each house. Are you doing 1 a year or 5? Is the contract going to guarantee her a minimum amount or is it purely off units sold? It all goes back to how much more money will she make in the end and how long will it take to get to the end? Whats your experience level building? Where are you getting the funds? Do you have any funds yet? Are you hiring a GC or are you going to be the GC. This is all information you will need to have figured out and ready to present to her to day you talk about it. Try to think about the questions she is going to have and have answers for all of them.

Now I will share why, as an architect and investor, the reason I would not want to be an equity partner in your development. Its not based on your inexperience  doing developments or lack of funding. Its really the house style that you have chosen. You yourself said they are not commonly built even though they are a "good design" for the Florida weather. So why would I choose to risk money in an uncommon building type that only makes money when its sold? Do you have a good amount of new build comps for this house type? I don't know the Florida market so I can't argue either way but the trends in housing types do not match this style of house. Especially, when you are spec building a house. This style is VERY VERY site and location specific. Technology today has made this style obsolete and even those that are still built like this don't use it the way its design which makes it even more obsolete. This style really only gets built when a single client is asking for it for their primary residence because they like the look not because it helps cool their house or out-door living space more.  99.99% of people today do not want their house split like this. Those that have a house split like this have done it as more of a way to connect a guest house to a main house and not separating sleeping spaces from living spaces so help with cooling. Now there are people that do build houses that separate rooms like this (I remember seeing one on a Netflix show) but they are all built because the owner like that unique design. And its strictly a design intent and not a thermodynamic breezeway. If you are truly interested in more passive and natural ways to cool a house or an out door space there are much better design types than this. If you really want to try and get an architect to do work for equity profits in a development then you need to do a design that will sell fast and for top dollar.

 

@Jermaine Chad Ingram - This is a unique situation and unless she wants equity in the 10-15 properties, she may ask for an initial fee for the first one and then a fee for each other one that will be built. This is typical and allows for her to be paid at the front end and not after the asset has started making a return. As @Nik Moushon said, it's risky and ultimately falls on what he/she wants as the architect. It would be years before you completed even the first 5. In this circumstance she may not want equity, she may not believe in your plan. What ever the case, you're better off asking her about what she wants out of the deal and put a fee per house AND an equity stake on the table and see where she steers. 

Personally, I'd take an initial fee and then a fee for each of the others. 

Lastly, it's a very unique design. Make sure you have a market for this type / style of house. Not many people want to have to come out of their house to get to their kitchen. Unless it is an in-law suit type. I am not sure.  

Do you have an idea of the style of home that you want with square footage and amounts of beds/baths?  You can call companies (lots in PA) that build pre-fab homes and ask if they can send you sketches that match your wants.