Purchasing a House Plan Online vs. Creating a Custom One

By Alisha Thomas
Updated November 2, 2023

When building your dream home, one of the first decisions you’ll encounter is whether to purchase an online house plan or create a custom one. This choice will influence every aspect of your home building journey. It’s essential to carefully consider several factors.

The Allure of Online House Plans

Online house plans offer convenience, affordability, and a wide selection. With an existing plan, you can view the completed design upfront, avoiding unwanted surprises down the line. Plus, they’re typically more budget-friendly than custom designs.

exterior of a white farmhouse

The Appeal of Custom House Plans

Custom house plans, on the other hand, offer a unique appeal. You’ll have the chance to incorporate your personal style, specific needs, and preferences into the design. This flexibility allows you to create a home that perfectly suits your lifestyle and aesthetic.

Comparing Costs

Cost is a significant factor in this decision. Online plans tend to be cheaper initially but may incur additional expenses for modifications. Often these plans art not designed for local codes and may require a local Architect or Engineer to review and sign off, which may add cost. Custom designs usually come with a higher upfront cost, but they can save you from costly changes or regrets later on.

two people with laptops in front of them and writing on paper

Assessing Time

 Consider the time factor too. Online plans are readily available, cutting down on planning time. However, custom designs, despite requiring more time to create, offer the benefit of a home that meets all your needs from the outset. 

Aesthetic and Design Preferences

Your aesthetic preferences matter greatly. If you lean towards traditional or widely loved designs, online house plans may suffice. But, if you desire a unique or unconventional layout, a custom house plan would be your best bet.

Site Considerations

It’s essential to consider the conditions and constraints of your building site. While online plans may not accommodate specific site features, a custom plan allows for necessary adaptations to terrain, views, sun exposure, and more.

Flexibility for Modifications

Another factor to weigh in is the flexibility for modifications. Online plans, while being economical and quick, often restrict you to a set design. Alterations can sometimes be made, but they often come at an additional cost and can be limited due to the initial design constraints.

On the other hand, a custom plan offers an inherent flexibility. From the get-go, every inch of the house can be molded to your liking, leaving room for creativity and last-minute changes that reflect your evolving needs.

Future Needs and Lifestyle Changes

Your future needs and possible lifestyle changes should also influence your decision. While online plans may cater to your current needs, a custom house plan is more adaptable to future changes, such as family expansion or aging in place.

Sustainability and Energy Efficiency

With growing interest in sustainable living, you might want to incorporate energy-efficient features in your home. Some online or stock plans may be able to be designed with these features or upgraded through modification.  Custom designs provide greater flexibility in integrating such elements, although some online plans may offer similar provisions. 

two people with blueprints, calculator, pencil, and a ruler

Professional Guidance and Personal Involvement

Finally, let’s look at the level of professional guidance and personal involvement. With online house plans, you are essentially buying a ready product with minimal input from design professionals. This allows you to focus on finished and construction almost immediately.  While this can be time-efficient, it might also mean that you have to compromise on certain features or quality aspects.

In contrast, custom house plans involve working closely with a team of design professionals. This approach allows for expert advice, higher quality assurance, and a more hands-on experience during the design process. Despite being more time-consuming, the result is a home that truly encapsulates your vision and meets high-quality standards.


In sum, the decision between purchasing an online house plan or creating a custom one hinges on various factors. These include cost, time, aesthetic preferences, site considerations, future needs, and sustainability goals. Ultimately, it’s about finding the right balance between your dreams, budget, and practicality.

At Passion Home Design, we’re here to help you navigate these decisions and ensure your home-building journey is a rewarding one. Contact us today, and let’s start designing the home of your dreams!