What's included in the plans?
Can I make copies of 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.
Why do you need a site address?
- 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.
What is 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.
The plans don't fit my lot, can I return them?
- 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.
I can't open the CAD file, what's wrong?
- A: We're sorry your plans don't work for your lot.
istockhouseplans.com has a no-return all sales final policy. You should 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
- 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, granite countertops, and the land itself. When you buy a set of $600 plans and
spend $200,000 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 printed your plans and they look terrible!
- 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 will do what we can to get it to work for you. Otherwise we encourage you to
find a local qualified professional who can assist, or purchase AutoCAD
2000 or later for future ease.
Your plans are awesome! I need some to be reversed though.
- 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.
What criteria do you design your plans under?
- 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 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.
I'm building the house myself, can you help me?
- 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 don't understand your notes, can you help?
- 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.
Your plans are flawed, can I get a refund?
- A: Certainly! For a list of terms and definitions we use on our plans, please refer to our Decoding Guide.
How much does istockhouseplans.com charge for shipping?
- 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
Can't I get the plans any faster? I need to submit them to the city tomorrow!
- 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.
If I buy multiple plans, will istockhouseplans.com give me a discount?
- 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 5
copies for bond paper or one copy for vellum. After you've purchased the pdf set we will send the files directly to them for printing. You
will have to pay them for printing fees which will be somewhere around
$6 per copy (plus any extra copies you
would like). At the latest, your plans should be ready for pick up the
- 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 send an invoice made especially for you. We also run coupon
specials often. See our blog for current offerings.
I'd like to get a study set, where can I do that?
I hate computers, can I get an old fashioned paper plan book?
- Just ask! We no longer offer study sets for sale on paper. Given the costs of printing paper and transporting goods (both economically and environmentally) we are happy to send you pdfs of elevations and floor plans at no charge. These will normally be at 1/8" scale on 11x17 paper should you prefer to print them yourself. You are free to forward the pdfs to your subs for bids, your banker for loan approval, or whoever else may need to see them.
I think I saw some of your plans on someone else's website. Do you know about this?
- 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 the images from
- A: Yes, we have chosen to sell our plans through national vendors
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.