Thanks to all for the response. The house is my sisters and she would not
care if a copy of her house existed several miles away. There is actually
more than one copy in her own neighborhood - nature of tract housing I
To address the issue of just finding a similarly laid out plan and buy the
blueprints, I probably could eventually. I've just been looking for a
couple of weeks and every plan I see seems to be almost-but-not-quite as
good as her plan.
Another reason I liked the idea of building from the original blueprints is
that I'll be building it myself (with a little help from my friends as they
say) and as a novice builder, I like the idea of being able to have a
completed "model" of the house for reference.
Cripes! You are contemplating hiring your own personal architect to
draw you up custom blueprints so you can build your own custom home
yourself, but you want the end result to be a carbon copy of a tract
house with dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of copies within just a
few miles of your house.
What's wrong with you?
Build something unique, something you like, something with character.
If your dream house reall is a tract house, just buy one from the
developper -- you can't possibly beat the price, and its your dream
house afterall so that is the best of both for you.
The real issue comes up when you submit the plans to plan review at
your building department. They are looking for the engineering stamps.
I doubt you will save a dime if your new architect does the
engineering he deems necessary to put his stamp on someone else's
plan. You are really paying for that stamp.
There is nothing magic about the floor plan itself, it is the
engineering on the plan you pay for.
BTW if you are buildiong in a place that doesn't have plan review,
permits etc, I doubt anyone would ever know you had McMansion Inc's
plan. Just be sure you have the redlined version with all the errors
Tract house builders don't always have plans that are right.
On Thu, 22 Dec 2005 22:33:49 -0600, Richard J Kinch
The document they are printed on is though.
I got into this when I builkt my pool. I had all of the standard
engineering documents from a commercial pool company but since their
name was not on the permit I could not submit their copyrighted plan.
They would let me hand copy the plan and submit that as a homeowner
drawn plan if I paid a few extra bucks for engineering review . I just
had to be sure to faithfully cite all the ASTM references, building
code sections and such in my note panels. You also have to be sure you
get all the details of the engineered parts of the drawing.
They don't give a rats ass about cosmetic details. They only care that
the code issues are dealt with.
In a McMansion mastered house plan, the interior details and actual
floor llan may not even look like the house you build. "Plan review"
is only looking at the structural, mechanical and electrical
engineering. They may have some <permit> money issues with details
(extra money per outlet or something) but one mastered plan will cover
a lot of houses with a lot of options.
On Thu, 22 Dec 2005 22:33:49 -0600, Richard J Kinch
But the plans are. So you could sketch the layout, photograph
the details tha appeal to you, and take the result to an architect
and say "I want something like this:", and probably be ok.
But if you copy the actual blueprints, that's likely illegal.
One who designs and supervises the construction of buildings or other
the same guy who designs your house saves you money with his expertise
in its construction.
or build for your sister a new house from a blueprint she now wants and
just buy her old house.
or design and build a more interesting energy efficient home with a
solar moon deck or whatever you like.
You cannot claim to have a different plan by moving a light 1 inch. Read the
plan that you want to copy, it doesn't have lights indicated by
measurements, unless it has a special fit with other items such as cabinets.
Most electrical items are just approximate locations where the electrician
will install it in the general area depending on where the framing supports
OK, I'm not going to contribute to the ongoing flamewar. I do, however,
have a suggestion:
You've already got an architect on the payroll--why not hire a designer?
It's not like you're going to save *that* much money if you're going to
build a new house. If you have to, forego something you can add
later--crown molding, fancy lighting or bathroom fixtures, etc. Spend the
money on things you can't add later like design.
My wife and I had a general design in mind (what rooms adjacent to each
other and on what floors), but we found it worthwhile to have someone with
the experience and background to work out the gory details. Our builder
charged us $1,600 to custom-design a ~2,000SF Cape Cod, and it was worth
Thanks for your response TM, that makes sense. I was recently thinking
along those lines. Get the house designed and built with the sf and layout
that I want, and live without a few finishing items for the time being.
It makes sense if you are going to complete them. Friends of our built
their house about 18 years ago. Some closets still don't have doors. other
rooms still missing trim. I guess the viability of it has much to do with
your personality or the nagging ability of your wife.
Here's something interesting I ran accross today. This is from the website
of a house designer:
A Word About Copyright
Occassionally I receive a request to copy ideas from a plan that someone
else designed. This would be very dangerous for you and me. Recent laws
allow a designer to win lawsuits for theft of intellectual property. They
may sue for all of the profit on the project(s) and damages.
Changing a certain percentage of the plan is no longer a protection. They
can sue for copying one single idea from their plan. This also includes
unauthorized use of plans. The law states that the purchase of a set of
plans is for a one time use. Both the right to use them again and the design
ideas in the plans remain the intellectual property of the designer. This
would also apply to someone trying to build using preliminary plans, without
paying for the complete plans, and without having the permission of the
On very rare occasions a dishonest client has attempted to avoid final
payment and use the preliminary plans for construction. This is a very
dangerous idea, as a law suit would cost far more than the plans. I
encourage good, honest design practices. By far the majority of my clients
want this. To get the best home for the least cost, I design for your unique
needs, your property, and your budget. A good designer does not need to copy
others' ideas to achieve this. A wise client would not want to cut the cost
of plans by copying ideas from a plan that would risk a law suit, cost far
more to build, and be less satisfactory.
Richard C. MacCrea
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