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DETAILED COMPARISON: PRE-MADE PLANS V/S CUSTOMIZED PLANS

So you have decided to build a tiny house and found the perfect lot. How thrilling! The most important thing to do now is develop your floor plan. The big dilemma…Custom Vs Pre-made plans. What is the best option for your dream home? When busy, creating a plan from scratch can be daunting and overwhelming. You will thus be left with the hard decision of choosing a good plan for your tiny home.

So what’s a
Pre-Made Plan: Any stock plan that you buy online and get it delivered instantly. These are fairly cheaper and designed for a general audience.
Customized Plan: This is the kind of plan that is designed exactly for you by a professional team of Architects and Engineers that matches exactly your needs. They take about 2-4 weeks to be completed.

It is somehow true that buying Pre-made plans would be easier. But this is not the whole truth! Below are things you should know before choosing custom-design or pre-made plans.

FULFILLS YOUR NEEDS

Your tiny house plan will determine how your actual tiny house will turn out to be. You need to be aware about your needs regarding tiny house. Whenever you intend to get a tiny house plan make sure you have all your needs and wants written on a piece of paper so that you can objectively decide and make an informed decision.
PRE-MADE PLANS

NOT COMPLETELY SATISFIED

You must be expecting this, no pre-made tiny house will satisfy your needs 100% because it is not supposed to do so. Pre-made plans are stock plans that are designed for an audience in general. One size cannot fit all and this stands true in the case of tiny house plans too.

You need a tiny house with a small porch, or maybe a rooftop garden, or a balcony, or a special workstation since your a work from home mother. These things are difficult to obtain in a tiny house plan that’s made for a general audience.

CUSTOMIZED PLANS

100% SATISFACTION

To get a customized plan designed for yourself you’ll be contacting a design firm that specializes in tiny house designs. When you have explained them all the necessary info on how you need your tiny house to be, the design firm is obliged to give you what you have demanded.

It may happen that you’re asking for something that’s downright dangerous or illegal, say, for instance, you demand you tiny house on wheels to have balcony that overhangs 6′ or say a 4 bedroom tiny house, these kinds of things are generally not possible given the limitations in structural design and codes.

PRICE

Your tiny house plan will determine how your actual tiny house will turn out to be. You need to be aware about your needs regarding tiny house. Whenever you intend to get a tiny house plan make sure you have all your needs and wants written on a piece of paper so that you can objectively decide and make an informed decision.
PRE-MADE PLANS

$100 - $300

Like I said pre-made plans are sold in stock and are generally designed for a general audience. Normally one single tiny house plan gets sold more than 30 times. This makes it profitable for the design firm to sell it in the price range of $100 – $300

CUSTOMIZED PLANS

$1000 - $4000

Look at it as designer clothes, when you have something designed especially for you which none other than you has it, it is bound to be expensive. Also, to design a custom plan for a client it takes more than 50 hours of hard work. It is quite expecting of a client to shell out more than $2000 for a customized plan.

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If you were to ask somebody living in a tiny house about the most crucial aspect of building a tiny, without a hitch the answer would be the Design & Plan. If it's not perfect, stay assured that your money is going down the drain. Well I'm here for you and won't let that happen to you.

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CUSTOMIZED TINY HOUSE PLAN

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DESIGNED FOR SENIOR CITIZENS

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MY PLANS HELP YOU TO BUILD TINY HOUSE UNDER $30,000

NEED FOR MODIFICATIONS

PRE-MADE PLANS

REQUIRED

Not every pre-made plan will meet your definition of a perfect designed plan. Actually, you will only get a plan that is close to what you have been looking for.  Therefore, you should do some modifications to tweak it to be right for you. This will mean removing things you might not need and replacing them with important ones. Even though it might take some time, it is still worth the wait in the long run.

Now, in order to make modifications, you’ll either contact the Architect whose plans you purchased or you’ll get it modified some other Architect or DIY it. The fee you end up paying is about $100/hour.

The modifications alone would cost you about $700 – $1200 + The Sale Price of Tiny House Plan. Final cost comes to around $1000 – $1500

You know what’s better and cheaper? Get a customized tiny house plan. I myself charge only $1299 per tiny house design (all that you’ll need). This makes it way affordable than purchasing  a pre-made plan and then modifying it.

CUSTOMIZED PLANS

NOT REQUIRED

With custom plans, you will think about the needs of your family and future life. For instance, you can include a bedroom for your baby if you are planning to have a family. Unlike pre-made plans, you have the freedom of including anything you wish. You are thus sure of coming up with the perfect fit house that meets all your needs.

Custom tiny house plan will also need modifications, usually when you hire an Architectural firm, they soak your requirements and create a draft plan based on the info, you get to review the draft and suggest changes that you need. Again a revamped draft is produced which is again reviewed by you and then a final draft is produced which when passed by you is then finally produced into final construction document.

A customized tiny house plan is (in my opinion) an overall affordable option when it comes to tiny house plans. Sure the pre-made plans are on sale for $100 – $200 but the overall costs after modifications is equal to or slightly lesser than the cost of customized tiny house plan.

QUALITY OF PLAN

Quality of you build plan is very important since your plan will determine how strong and ergonomic will your tiny house turn out to be
PRE-MADE PLANS

QUESTIONABLE

Pre-made plans are sold only over internet and internet is a vast place and you can’t be sure of every other website. Now, these tiny house plans could have been designed by interns, inexperienced Architects, or just any other random person.

A lot of my clients have first purchased pre-made plans and once they couldn’t make out any of it, they came to me to get corrections in those plans. It’s an unnecessary drama for both the client and agencies like us.

CUSTOMIZED PLANS

USUALLY PERFECT

A tiny house design firm will ask a lot of questions to get a clear idea of how you picture the tiny house in your mind. That’s before they actually make their first draft. After having received all the desired info they’ll curate a plan for you. You can ask for modifications wherever you want (isn’t that the sole reason to hire them?) You practically get unlimited number of revisions (or at least that’s how I & my team work) till your satisfaction.

BUILDING CODES SUITABILITY

Building codes are there for a reason, for a very good reason and that is to help you live safely and comfortably. When you're planning to live in a THOF you'll need to adhere to the local building codes. The norms (or absence thereof) for THOW are rather liberal and need not follow much of the building code except for weather part, where your THOW needs to be designed for your local weather conditions
PRE-MADE PLANS

FOLLOWS IRC

Since pre-made plans are designed for general audience, it is designed per IRC (International Residential Code). This code is general code for the whole Nation (applies to other countries as well) and will need some tweaking before it can suit your local code. To tweak it, you’ll need a local engineer or Architect to suit it to your needs (which costs another $800 – $1500).

Suppose you live in Florida, a pre-made plan is designed per IRC and won’t suit the needs and requirements of Florida (you know hurricanes. don’t you?) likewise for Alaska or New York.

CUSTOMIZED PLANS

FOLLOWS YOUR LOCAL CODE

A customized tiny house plan will be suited for your local code when you hire a local firm in your area. However if you wish to get your tiny house designed from somewhere else you can obtain a copy of your local code and send it to the design firm. They’ll then make sure that your house is designed exactly per your needs and county codes (that’s how we work)

To get a copy of your local code you gotta talk to your local zoning or building planning department, they are usually happy to comply.

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ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS

As mentioned above, your tiny house on wheels (or foundation) should at least follow the design for local weather conditions. Here we'll see which is a better deal for you. to go with Pre-made plans or Customized plans.
PRE-MADE PLANS

NON COMPLIANT TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Pre-made plans follow International Residential Code and don’t specifically cater to your local weather conditions.

CUSTOMIZED PLANS

COMPLIANT TO LOCAL WEATHER CONDITIONS

Customized plans are drawn as per local zoning and building codes and therefore are compliant with local weather conditions and code.

SAFETY OF YOUR TINY HOUSE

You don't want to lose your home to a thief. Yes there have been cases where tiny house has been stolen off leaving the owner homeless and hapless. Make sure this doesn't happen with you.
PRE-MADE PLANS

USUALLY NO PROVISIONS

Mostly pre-made plans don’t have any anti-theft measures designed to keep your house safe nor do they provide any helpful tips to keep your tiny house safe (not that I’ve heard of).

CUSTOMIZED PLANS

SCOPE FOR ANTI-THEFT DESIGN

There are provisions which can be installed or designed in a tiny house which when installed can ensure safety of your tiny house. There have been quite a few cases that has shown us how vulnerable a tiny house can be.
I’ve written an article just about how to protect your tiny house from getting stolen and we incorporate the same ideas into our design even if the client doesn’t need it now, with the hope that they’ll need it later and will thank us for the smartness and farsightedness.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pre-made plans are readily available and easy to purchase. However, there can be many hidden costs both in functionality and financially. Creating a custom design is time consuming because of the process. The good thing is that you will get what you need for your tiny living.

Whether you go custom or pre-designed, you can successfully build your dream home. It is simply a matter of your personal preference and what you want. Remember to learn the principals of house building regardless of the option you choose. When in doubt, feel free to seek help form a professional.

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