What's included in the plans?
- A: Four elevations, floor plans, foundation, at least two sections, framing, notes and details. istockhouseplans.com does not include electrical or engineering. Engineering is too variable from state to state and county to county. If you are building in Oregon, inquire about the prescriptive path bracing option. We do not include electrical plans because we couldn't possibly begin to guess what your electrician's package options are. We feel that the electrical locations and luminaire types should be left up to the personal choice of the builder or owner as they customize the home. We are not fond of canned and fluorescent light fixtures, but you may be.
Can I make copies of the plans?
- A: Certainly. Keep in mind, however, that paper plans will have a watermark with the site address on them, and can only be built one time. If you purchase the Vellum set or CAD file, you will need at least 4 copies for permits. You are still only permitted to build the house one time per your contract. See also our legal page for a full description.
Why do you need a site address?
- A: The price you pay for the plans is a one-time use fee. Of course we trust you, but your plans might be stolen and the watermarked site address protects your plans from being built elsewhere.
What is a site address?
- A: A site address can be in several different forms: You can use the street address, if you've been issued one (e.g. 123 Fake St, Springfield, NT). This is our preferred form. If you are building in a brand new subdivision and have not been issued addresses yet, you can use the lot number (e.g. Lot 14, Block 2, Evergreen Terrace, Springfield, NT). You may or may not have a block number. Finally, you can use a taxlot number (e.g. T1N, R1E, 14AA, 00732, Springfield, NT). Some states (esp. East Coast) may not use this system. We cannot release plans without a site address. If you don't want to give a site address consider purchasing the CAD file.
The plans don't fit my lot, can I return them?
- A: We're sorry your plans don't work for your lot. istockhouseplans.com has a no-return all sales final policy. You should either purchase a study set (refundable when you buy the full set within 90 days) or use the dimensions we state on each plans' page to verify fit before purchasing. Of course, you can always ask for assistance, too.
- A: Well we weren't going to get into it, but since you asked... There are unscrupulous folks in every trade, and just like any business, we need to protect ourselves. We have friends in the business who have had clients return plans multiple times, only to find out that the client ran copies of the plans and built the house each time. The same concept applies to music and software CDs.
- I would never do that!
- A: We know you wouldn't and that's why we like you. But your framing subcontractor is trying to start his own business on the cheap and is thinking about 'borrowing' a set of your plans. Or maybe the recorder at the county has a brother in the building trade and uses his position to slip his brother heavily discounted plans. Besides, we think the way we do our watermark looks much more professional than "Don't steal these plans!"
- Your plans are expensive! No wonder people try to steal them!
- A: Compared to a loaf of bread, yes, they are a little steep. But consider how much money is put into hard wood floors, cherry cabinets, concrete, and the land itself. When you buy a set of $600 plans and spend $150,000 to build, you're spending less than 1/2 of 1% of your investment. We consider that fairly cheap!
- But it's just paper!
- A: Try telling that to your newspaper carrier, magazine publisher, bookseller, artist, or the US mint. You're paying for a unique design and service, not the media it comes on. How much does your real estate agent charge, by the way?
I can't open the CAD file, what's wrong?
- A: Please check your version of CAD before you purchase. istockhouseplans.com sends out all plans in AutoCAD 2000 format. Since all sales are final (see previous diatribe), we won't be able to help if you bought and then realized you have release 9. We encourage you to find a local qualified professional who can assist, or purchase AutoCAD 2000 for future ease.
I printed your plans and they look terrible!
- A: Please make sure you use the ctb file that we sent with your CAD file. If you can't find the ctb file, email us and we'll send a copy to you.
Your plans are awesome! I need some to be reversed though.
- A: Not a problem! Just let us know before you order if you would like a reversed version of the plan. Our reverses are true reverse, not mirror reverse. We take the time to change all the text to right-reading so that there are no difficulties building. If you have already bought sets of plans or a vellum and decide after that you need a reverse, you have several options: Take a set to your local copy center and have them mirror copy it; order another single set from us in true reverse (a $25 charge will apply); use your stellar wit and hold the copy backwards to the sun. If you have purchased the CAD file and need a reverse, you can do it on your own with the file you already have.
What criteria do you design your plans under?
- A: We use the International Residential Code and assume the following when designing our plans and determining beams: Seismic D1; Wind gust 110 mph; 1500 psf soil load; 25# snow roof load; 17# roof dead load; 40# floor live load; 12-15# floor dead load. This criteria is adequate or more so for most of the country. If you are living in Southern California or the Gulf Coast you will need a local engineer to look over the plans and call out extra bracing or specifications. If you are living in Nevada, you must have a registered engineer design and draw your plans. That means our plans are not legal for building in Nevada. If you are from Nevada and buying our plans, we hope you are building next door. Keep in mind that regardless of where you are building you may need to have an engineer further review the plans.
I'm building the house myself, can you help me?
- A: Congratulations on taking on this task yourself! You get our highest kudos. However, we are a design firm, not a framing or contracting firm. Our experience at framing peaked at the 8x8' foot shed that sits slightly lopsided in the backyard. We spec out our plans based on experience of standards. We know the theory, but not the practice. We suggest you befriend a local experienced contractor, volunteer a few Saturdays for Habitat for Humanity, buy a copy of your local building code, and/or patronize your local library. There are many good books about building, especially the Graphic Guide to Frame Construction by Rob Thallon published by Taunton Press (anything by Taunton is excellent). Purchase the book on eBay's Half.com, and buy more for less. Check out as many other construction books as you can.
I don't understand your notes, can you help?
- A: Certainly! For a list of terms and definitions we use on our plans, please refer to our Decoding Guide.
Your plans are flawed, can I get a refund?
- A: We are only human after all. First off, we need to know what plan number or name you are referring to. Second, please tell us where the flaw is. Most of the time, the flaw would be happy fingers going too fast. If it's a minor flaw such as a misspelling, we're pretty sure the plans will still be buildable, and thanks for pointing it out. Go ahead and redline the plans and we'll make the correction on our end. If it's a major flaw, such as calling out a foundation made of Jello, we will send a replacement sheet at no cost and give you $20 off your next order. Minor vs. major flaw is at the sole discretion of istockhouseplans.com.
How much does istockhouseplans.com charge for shipping?
- A: We don't! And we didn't even jack up the price of the plans to make up for it. Shipping is 3-6 day ground through whichever carrier is most convenient at the time. Most of the time we use the United States Postal Service. Canadian customers should expect 6-12 days. We don't offer expedited shipping at this time.
Can't I get the plans any faster? I need to submit them to the city tomorrow!
- A: Quite frankly, we think that's pushing it for time. However, if you absolutely need the plans tomorrow, we can help. Find a reprographics shop that is convenient for you (search Google or try the Yellow Pages under reprographics or printing services). Get their name, website, email address and phone number and send it to us along with how many copies you would like. If you don't specify a number of copies, we will have them print our standard 8 copies for bond paper or one copy for vellum. Once you've made your purchase, we can send the CAD file directly to them for printing. You will have to pay them for printing fees which will be somewhere around $6 per copy ($30 for the single vellum set plus any extra copies you would like). At the latest, your plans should be ready for pick up the next day.
I purchased a study set last week. I like the plan so much I bought 6 copies to build 6 times. How do I get my refund?
- A: When placing your order, please let us know your previous invoice number and we'll refund it to you in 1-3 days. If you're really nice, you might get it sooner. If you're not, well, we might conveniently go on vacation for a week or two.
If I buy multiple plans, will istockhouseplans.com give me a discount?
- A: Sure thing. You can buy either two or more of the same plan, or at least three different plan sets and we'll give you a discount. Contact us first with your desires and we'll give you a quote, then create a Buy Now button on the page made especially for you. We also run coupon specials often. See our blog for current offerings.
I purchased a study set for the Belmont and now want to buy the Belmont B. Do I get a refund?
- A: Sorry, no.
I hate computers, can I get an old fashioned paper plan book?
- A: After cost evaluation, we decided that we are going to wait on the plan books. If you must have a paper copy, feel free to print from our website.
I can't find your phone number and I have a question. Can I call you?
- A: Okay you found us out, we're not a real company. Just kidding. We all work day jobs and aren't available to answer the phone from 8a to 5p, and we certainly don't want to talk during our dinner. When istockhouseplans.com becomes big enough to support us, then we will quit the rat race and open a small office with a phone and everything. Until that time, please make the best out of the email communications. Thanks. Oh, and buying more plans will get us into that office sooner so you can call us.
I think I saw some of your plans on someone else's website. Do you know about this?
- A: Yes, we have chosen to sell our plans through a national vendor as well as through our own website. This gives us more exposure and hopefully more sales. While the plans are the exact same on either side, you will pay less and get quicker service if you purchase through us directly. If you would like, let us know the site and plan number you found. If it turns out to be illegitimate or illegal re-selling of our plans, we will give you credit towards one free plan package.