Frequently Asked Questions

Common Questions During the Home Plan Process

Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers to assist in your house plan search. Click on your question to view the answer. You can also learn more by visiting our Terms & Definitions page or by contacting us.

  • What do I receive when I purchase a plan package?

    Every licensed plan package purchase (5 or 8 Copy Construction Sets, PDF Reproducible, Reproducible Set and AutoCAD) includes:
    • A one-time license to build.
    • Construction drawings, which include:
    • Front rendering
    • Foundation plan
    • Detailed floor plans
    • Exterior and interior elevations
    • Roof plan
    • Door and window schedules
    • Necessary wall sections/details
    • Structural plan
    • One specifications outline
    Heating/air conditioning layouts, plumbing, and electrical details are not included. Consult a local mechanical contractor for systems suitable for local climate conditions. The plans conformed to the CABO One and Two Family Dwelling Code or the International Residential Code in the year the plan was created.
  • What is a Reproducible Set (AKA Reproducible Vellum)?

    Reproducible Sets, or Reproducible Vellums, allow qualified architects and engineers to make simple modifications to the design without having to completely redraw the plans. A copyright release letter is included with the purchase to allow the plans to be copied as many times as needed to build the home ONE time. (We recommend you consult the professional making changes before purchasing.)
  • What are AutoCAD Drawings?

    AutoCAD (Computer Aided Design) Drawings are electronic files that make up a complete set of construction drawings for the home design of your choice. This electronic version of your plan set can be modified by a CAD professional with AutoCAD compatible software. We recommend you consult the professional making changes and ensure that you have CAD compatible software before purchasing.
  • How many construction copies do I need?

    The number of copies you will need can vary depending on your specific situation. Besides a set for yourself, you will probably need sets for your builder, mortgage lender, local building department, and any subcontractors who need one.
  • Can I make copies of my plans?

    It depends on what type of Plan Package you purchase. All construction drawings are protected under copyright law. You may not make any photocopies and/or computer generated copies of 5 or 8 Copy Construction Sets or Review Sets for any purpose. If you purchase reproducible sets, PDF reproducible files or AutoCAD files you may make as many copies as needed to build the home ONE time. Recent changes in US copyright laws allow for statutory penalties of up to $150,000 per incident for copyright infringement and the law can be confusing. For your own protection, take the time to understand what you cannot do when it comes to copyrighted home plans.
  • Can I review a set of plans before I purchase a licensed plan package?

    We offer a Review Set, which is one set of plans stamped "Not For Construction" on each sheet. Purchasing a Review Set and a Materials List for your builder to study is a great way to estimate the cost of building your home. You are not granted a license to build using this Review Set. You have to purchase a 5 or 8 Copy Construction Set, PDF Reproducible, Reproducible Set or AutoCAD package in order to receive a limited license to legally build the house.
  • Once I have purchased my Plan Package, how many times may I build the plan?

    If you have purchased any licensed Plan Package (5 or 8 Copy Construction Sets, PDF Reproducible, Printed Reproducible Set or AutoCAD), as the registered user of the plan, you are licensed to build the plan ONE time. Plans are licensed to the registered user only. Reselling or transferring plans is prohibited and subject to license violation fines. Review Sets are stamped "not for construction" and you may not build from a review set.
  • Can I return the plans?

    Because plans are printed especially for you at the time you place your order, returns and refunds are not acceptable. If for some reason you find that the plan you purchased does not meet your needs, then you may exchange non-reproducible printed copies within 90 days of the date of purchase. At the time of exchange, you will be charged a processing fee of 20 percent of the total amount of the original order plus the difference in price between the plans (if applicable) and shipping costs for the new plan. All original sets must be returned to us and authorization given before an exchange can take place. Reproducible sets (printed and PDF) and AutoCAD files cannot be exchanged. Please double-check your selection before ordering. We encourage you to learn the building codes for your area. If you have a builder in mind, show him the plan and determine what he will need to build the home and meet local building codes. Feel free to contact us to discuss any concerns you may have before ordering.
  • How do I read my House Plans?

    Once you receive your new house plans, you might be a little confused as to how these 24" x 36" pages will contain all the information to build a home. Essentially, house plans are a map of the home building process including drawings, symbol legends and elevations. Just like with a map, once you understand how to read a set of plans, you will see how a home comes together in those few pages. House plans, or construction drawings, are the sets of detailed architectural drawings used by a homebuilder and contractors to construct a house. These construction sets, along with the specifications outline provided with your house plans package, are typically included as part of the contract documents between the homeowner and the builder to build the house plan. These documents specify dimensions, materials, locations, construction, finishes, etc. that are to be followed to construct the house plan. Originally, architectural drawings were reproduced by a technique that resulted in pages with white lines on blue paper, hence the name "blueprints." Technology has advanced and today most drawings are done on a computer AutoCAD system and printed out as black lines on white paper. The term "blueprints" is still used by some to describe a set of construction drawings. Each set of Don Gardner home plans will contain a Cover Sheet with the front rendering, a Foundation Plan, Detailed Floor Plans, Interior Elevations, Roof Plans, Exterior Elevations, (the left and right side, as well as the rear), Cross-Sections and Wall Section Details, and Structural Plans.
  • Do your plans meet codes in my area?

    At the time of creation, our house plans are designed to conform to the CABO One and Two Family Dwelling Code or the International Residential Code, but do not meet local climatic and geographical design criteria. National and local building codes vary with location and change from time to time. Consequently, it may be necessary for you to meet with a local builder, architect or other construction professional to review your local building codes and make any changes to the house plan these codes may require.
  • Do you make modifications to your plans to meet local codes?

    We cannot make changes to meet your local building codes. At the time of creation, our plans are designed to conform to the CABO One and Two Family Dwelling Code or the International Residential Code, but do not meet local climatic and geographical design criteria. National and local building codes vary with location and change from time to time. Consequently, it may be necessary for you to meet with a local builder, architect or other construction professional to review your local building codes and make any changes to the plan these codes may require.
  • Do you offer modification services for your house plans? What is the process?

    Yes! Our in-house designers will be glad to discuss your changes with you and provide an estimate. Please consult the Design Modification Services page of this website for additional information about the house plans modification process and associated fees. Click Here for more information on our modification services.
  • What if I need the home plan flipped or reversed to suit my lot?

    Reversing a house plan to meet your needs is a common request! Most plans have a Full Reverse option readily available, which is a mirror image of the plan with right-reading text. In some cases, the plan must be redrawn in reverse, which will delay your plan shipment while we complete your request. The typical time frame for the Full Reverse product to be completed is up to 14 days, and we will contact you immediately if your shipment will be delayed.
  • Do you offer custom house plan design services?

    We do not offer custom design services. However, if you have found a house plan that is almost the perfect plan, our in-house modification services department will be happy to assist you in making the changes to make it the perfect house plan.
  • How do I make changes to a reproducible set?

    In some cases, depending on your building department's policies, you may be able to modify the plans simply by adding notes on the drawings describing the changes or substitutions to be made. Doing this on the reproducible set of PDF saves time, as opposed to marking up multiple sets, and guarantees that all your copies are the same. For more extensive changes, a "cut and paste" method is usually a better approach, using an "intermediate" print in the process. For instance, if an area is to be substantially redrawn, you might tape a piece of white paper over it, or use white correction fluid, and have a new set of drawings created from that, providing a blank area with a fresh drafting surface. Or, you may be able to draw the changes on a separate opaque sheet, tape it over the affected area, and run your final set of drawings from that. In some cases, to make a "stretch," it might make sense to literally cut the plan apart and move one part by the desired amount, taping it to a backup sheet, then connect the lines and create the final set of drawings. The approach that works best will depend on the nature of the change to be made.
  • Do you offer basement versions, 2x6 options, or full reverse for your house plans?

    We offer various modification options for our plans. Most of our plans comes with a standard crawlspace foundation, but you may purchase alternate foundations such as basements or slabs. We design most of our plans with 2x4s on a 16" center, however, most plans are also available with 2x6 exterior walls. Reversing a house plan to meet your needs is also a popular modification. Most plans are available in "full reverse" (mirror images with right-reading text). *Standard Basement Foundations are in-ground and unfinished. Note: Walkout basement foundations are a custom modification and priced per plan. Click Here for more information on our modification services. Please note: when converting to 2x6 framing, plans will typically retain the same exterior dimensions as 2 x 4 framing. This means that you will lose 2 inches of interior space in the rooms with exterior walls. Some plans may increase in square footage to accommodate 2x6 framing. For questions or concerns regarding a specific plan please call technical support at 864-288-7580 before ordering.
  • What if the plan does not come with the foundation I need

    Most of our plans are designed with a crawl space foundation. However, standard in-ground, unfinished basement foundations and slab foundations are also available for most plans. Please call 1-800-388-7580 for more information on the foundation and plan you are interested in. Please note: Walkout basement foundations are treated as a modification and priced per plan. Click Here for more information on our modification services.
  • How do I estimate building costs?

    Thank you for your interest in Donald A. Gardner house plans. Due to the many factors that can affect the cost of building a home, we do not offer cost-to-build estimates for our home plans. As a residential design firm, we recognize that our clients want to be as certain as possible that the home they choose will work within their budget. Donald A. Gardner Architects strongly recommends that you consult a reliable home builder in your area to obtain an estimate for cost to build. To assist in this, we offer Materials Lists and Review Sets so that you may obtain pricing information from local builders and suppliers in your area, as prices will vary from region to region. If you are interested in several house plans and would like a "guesstimate" on construction costs, you may wish to try an online estimating service or an "off the shelf" estimating software package. Donald A. Gardner Architects does not endorse any online estimating services or estimating software in any way. Estimates may not reflect the actual cost to build in your area. Donald A. Gardner Architects cannot guarantee that estimates received from online tools or software packages will be true and/or accurate. Again, we strongly recommend that you consult a reliable home builder for an accurate cost estimate. Actual new home construction costs are affected by many factors, including but not limited to:
    • The size of the house
    • Land costs in your area
    • Interior upgrades such as fixtures, cabinetry, flooring, etc.
    • Site preparation or special site conditions, including tree or rock removal, sloping lots, or other conditions
    • Contractor and subcontractor availability in your area
    • Changes in economic conditions, including interest rates and inflation
  • What is included in a Materials List?

    A Materials List provides details on the types and quantities of materials needed to build a home as it is drawn. It is a quantitative take-off estimate of the materials required to build the home. The materials lists will not reflect the changes made to plans that include "add on" plan options (e.g. different foundation options). This list does not include finished materials (i.e. paint, carpet, etc.), electrical, mechanical or plumbing materials, as these items are customer specific.
  • Can I purchase a materials list without purchasing the house plans?

    Yes! Materials lists are available for most of our home plans and can help you estimate the cost of building the plan. A Materials List is a quantitative take-off estimate of the materials required to build the home. This list does not include finished materials (i.e. paint, carpet, etc.), electrical, mechanical or plumbing materials, as these items are customer specific.
  • Are side elevations available without a house plan purchase?

    Yes! Up to three sets of side elevations are available via PDF download for free by simply signing up for a myDAG account. Once in your account, click on "Plan Preview-PDF." Click here to sign up or log in!
  • What is the exterior wall construction (2x4 or 2x6)?

    Aside from a select few home plans, we design all of the exterior walls for our plans with 2x4s on a 16" center. Please note: when converting to 2x6 framing, plans will typically retain the same exterior dimensions as 2x4 framing. This means that you will lose 2 inches of interior space in the rooms that have exterior walls. For questions or concerns regarding a specific plan, please call technical support at 864-288-7580 before ordering.
  • The framing design is based on what loading conditions?

    The framing design is based on the following loading conditions:
    • Roof and Floor Dead Loads- 15 P.S.F. (25 P.S.F. Roof Dead Load on tile and flat roofs)
    • Roof Live Loads- 20 P.S.F. (30 P.S.F. on some plans)
    • Floor Live Loads- 40 P.S.F.
    • Maximum Wind Speed- 80 M.P.H. (90 M.P.H. 3 second gust on Plans #1013 and up; 110 M.P.H. on some coastal designs)
  • Why aren't HVAC, plumbing and electrical details included in the plans?

    Because local HVAC codes, climatic requirements and commonly used systems vary dramatically throughout the country, we do not include these details on our plans. Likewise, we do not know which direction the water flow will enter your house or where the electrical feed will enter. Your local HVAC contractor, plumber and electrician can determine the best layout for your new home.
  • Where are the water heater and furnace shown on the house plans?

    Because local codes, climatic requirements and commonly used systems vary dramatically throughout the country, we do not include these details on our plans. Your local contractor, plumber and electrician can determine the best layout for your new home.
  • How is the total living square footage determined?

    All square footage is calculated from outside face of stud to outside face of stud. For brick, it is calculated to the outside face of the brick. Total living square footage includes only the heated area of the house and does not include the garage, porches, unfinished storage areas or bonus room.
  • What is the overall height of a plan?

    The height of each plan varies. Please contact our Customer Sales & Support department for information about a specific plan. (The dimension provided is from the first floor subfloor to the highest peak of the roof.)
  • What are the ceiling heights in your house plans?

    The ceiling heights for each house plan are available on the House Plan Details page for each plan. You can find the ceiling type (tray, cathedral, etc.) and height in the center column under the heading "Room Information."
  • What are the dimensions of each room in your floor plans?

    Room dimensions are typically underneath the name of the room on the floor plan. These are not exact and are an estimate of the measurements of the space. In order to provide a clearer view of the floor plan, dimensions for closets and most bathrooms are not included, but are available upon request. For detailed room dimensions, we suggest ordering a review set of the house plan you are interested in. This set is not to be used for construction, however, it can provide the information to meet your needs. Our Customer Sales & Support representatives are available to answer questions about specific room dimensions. Contact Us.
  • Are your plans structurally designed?

    Yes. We hire a Structural Engineer to design the house structure to meet or exceed the Design loads indicated on the drawings.
  • Are your home plans stamped or sealed?

    Donald A. Gardner home plans are not stamped or sealed. At the time of creation, our house plans are designed to conform to the CABO One and Two Family Dwelling Code or the International Residential Code. National and local building codes vary with location and change from time to time. Consequently,it may be necessary for you to meet with a local builder, architect or other construction professional to review your local building codes and make any changes to the house plan these codes may require. If you are building in North Carolina or South Carolina, we offer additional sets of home plans (must purchase at least a five set package) with an engineering stamp on the structural pages. Please contact our Customer Sales & Support team at 800.388.7580 or info@dongardner.com for more details.
  • Are your house plans trussed?

    Because Donald A. Gardner house plans are sold throughout the world, the plans have been designed with the most common construction practices in mind. However, most of our house plans can be converted to truss construction by a qualified truss expert.
  • Are your house plans available with ICF construction?

    Because Donald A. Gardner house plans are sold throughout the world, the plans have been designed with the most common construction practices in mind. However, our plans can be converted to ICF construction by a qualified ICF expert.
  • Are your house plans available with SIP (structural insulated panels) construction?

    Because Donald A. Gardner house plans are sold throughout the world, the plans have been designed with the most common construction practices in mind. Our home plans can be converted to SIP (structural insulated panels) construction by a qualified SIP expert.
  • Do you think I could build this house myself without hiring a licensed builder?

    We recommend hiring a licensed builder to construct your home. Most states require a licensed builder for any residential or commercial project over a specific value. Check out www.contractors-license.org to find out the license requirements for your state or to find out if a builder is licensed in your state. To find your local Homebuilders Association and other helpful resources, visit www.nahb.org. To find out if there have been any complaints registered against your builder, call your local Better Business Bureau or visit www.bbb.org. Lastly, make sure you always ask for and check his/her references, along with seeing examples of his/her work.
  • Can you recommend a builder in my area?

    We do not recommend or endorse builders in any area. However, we offer the "Find a Builder" tool for locating builders in your area who have informed us that they have built a Donald A. Gardner plan. Please consult our Plan Map to find out if there are builders listed in your area.
  • Do you have any builders in my area?

    If you would like to find a builder who has experience building Donald A. Gardner house plans, check out " Find a Builder". Search your state to find a builder in your area. The companies listed in "Find a Builder" have voluntarily posted their contact information and are not endorsed by Donald A. Gardner Architects, Inc. In the interest of protecting the privacy of our customers, Donald A. Gardner Architects cannot provide contact information for builders not listed here.
  • Do you know if this house has been built in my area?

    We respect our customers' privacy. Therefore, we do not release information on where homes have been built by our customers.
  • Are there any model homes that I can walk through?

    We respect our customers' privacy. Therefore, we do not release information on where homes have been built by our customers. Due to the high volume of Don Gardner house plans that are sold, we are unable to track each home plan that is built. If you would like to contact a builder who has built a particular plan, visit the House Plan Details page and scroll down to "Find a Builder."
  • Can I see photos of the home I am interested in?

    We are constantly updating our website with new photography. While we do have photography for many Donald A. Gardner house plans, we do not have photos for every plan. To find out if photography is available, go to the House Plan Gallery found on our home page and enter the home plan you are interested in. If there is photography available for that floor plan, it will be posted here.
  • Have the floor plans of photographed homes been modified?

    Some of the home plans on our website that have been photographed have been modified from the original plans. These modifications are typically made to reflect homeowner preferences or lot requirements. Please refer to rendering and floor plan images for the most accurate house plan depiction.
  • Can I get the colors or products used in the photos of a particular home?

    The majority of our home photos are sent in by our customers, and we rarely have information on the products or colors used. You are welcome to show our home photography to paint and materials suppliers to try to find a match.
  • How often do you release new plans?

    We are continuously generating new plans in order to meet the demands of our customers. As these new plans are created, they are posted to our website. We also make our Conceptual Plans available for your viewing and comments by placing them on the "House Plans on the Drawing Board" section of our website. We invite you to visit this page by clicking here!
  • I need help finding a home plan with the following criteria...

    We understand that searching our portfolio of hundreds of house plans can be a bit overwhelming. Our Advanced House Plan search allows you to enter specific information about the plan features you are looking for, such as the number of bedrooms, exterior style, or even master bedroom dimensions! If you still need assistance choosing a house plan that suits your needs, we offer free plan selection assistance. Let the professionals who know our portfolio best provide you with a selection of home plans to choose from! For more information about free plan selection assistance, contact our Customer Sales & Support department at info@dongardner.com or call 1.800.388.7580.
  • Do you have any multi-family home plans?

    We offer a small selection of multi-family home plans. These plans can be found by clicking here.
  • Do you offer any pool house plans or cabana house plans?

    At this time, we do not offer pool house or cabana house plans, however, we are always adding to our portfolio of house plans and we may add them in the future. For notifications or updates on the Donald A. Gardner portfolio, sign up for eDAG, our monthly newsletter or our Plan of the Week emails!
  • Do you have "green" house plans available?

    Because a set of house plans can be built an infinite number of ways, for example, value-engineered for cost-efficiency or "green" for energy efficiency, any of our house plans can be built "green". Many people consider a home plan to be "green" if it has a small footprint on the land, however, others depend on guidelines from various sources to define what is "green." The materials that you use and placement on the lot determines how "green" a home can be. For more information about green building, check out our House Plans Blog for articles about green building.
  • Why don't you offer certified "green" home plans?

    More and more builders and homeowners are choosing to build green, and as a company Donald Gardner Architects is fully in support of building homes to be as energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly as possible. The answer to this question is a bit of a conundrum, because while we don't offer an official "green" design option, ALL of our plans can be green depending on how you build them. We encourage you to work with your builder to investigate the various programs with third-party green certification, such as Energy Star, Earth Craft House, the National Association of Home Builder's Green Certification Program, LEED, and others. There are several reasons we cannot offer green certified plans. They are:
    • Our plans are generic and able to be constructed anywhere in the country. The variety of climates across the continent make it impossible to create one energy-efficient standard that can work everywhere.
    • If a home buyer wants to meet the requirements of Energy Star or similar programs, it is up to the builder to follow the guidelines set forth by that program to get the home in compliance. Specifying it on the plan does not guarantee builder compliance.
    • There are many variables within these different programs that can be combined to meet requirements – many affecting final costs. We do not want to list specifics that may limit our customers' choices; instead we recommend working with your builder to select items that satisfy the program yet are still within your budget.
    • Information on the various programs is available from each program; clients can easily find the requirements online.
    • All of these programs are constantly evolving and improving. Therefore, what meets requirements this year may change by next year. We do not want to lock in to "old methods" by specifying on the plans themselves.
    You can visit links to various green building programs and choose one that is right for you by following this link.
  • Are Don Gardner house plans printed on recycled paper?

    Yes! Donald A. Gardner Architects, Inc. house plans are printed on the highest quality bond paper made from post-consumer waste. The 20lb. paper also requires 60% less energy to create than non-recycled paper.
  • Do you offer marketing materials?

    Yes! We offer a variety of marketing pieces including web-quality digital renderings (FREE with plan purchase and available upon request), print-quality renderings and floor plans, job site signs, plan pages and pre-sell packages. For more information about Donald A. Gardner marketing products, click here.
  • I have not received my order yet. Can you tell me why?

    Each house plan package is printed when your order is processed, and is shipped to you based on the shipping option you chose when you purchased your plan. If your order has not arrived as scheduled, please contact our Customer Sales & Support department at 800.388.7580 or email us at info@dongardner.com. PDF and AutoCAD plan packages ordered before noon Eastern Standard Time, Monday-Friday, will be emailed the same day. Orders placed after noon Eastern Standard Time will be emailed the next business day. If you have requested an alternate foundation or wall construction, full reverse option or other modifications to your plan, consult a Customer Sales & Support representative for more information about the status of your order.
  • Can I come into your office and view plans?

    Yes! You may visit our office to view plans and speak with a Customer Sales & Support consultant without an appointment (M-F, 8AM-4:00PM, EST). If you have questions regarding a particular plan, you may schedule an appointment to speak with a designer about the plans. There is no charge for the first 30 minutes of your consultation. For each 30 minutes thereafter, there is a $50 fee, payable by credit card. If you would like to speak with someone regarding modifications to your plan, please submit a Modification Estimate Request. Once the request has been reviewed by a member of our Modification Services department and an initial estimate is completed, you may schedule an appointment to discuss your modification needs. Click here for our location, hours, and directions.