Saving on design costs
Buying readymade architectural plans online is becoming popular, saving both homeowners and developers time and money, writes Antonella Dési
INCREASINGLY more and more homeowners looking to build their dream home are opting to buy their house plans off the internet, instead of paying an architect to draw them up.
Dries Verbeek, founder and director of locally-based online house plan vendor, inhouseplans.com, explains that since the company launched to the local market in 2002, it has been met with keen enthusiasm by consumers and developers alike: “It has been a huge success so far, and sales have grown phenomenally over the last eight years.”
Today, prospective homeowners planning on building a house can now quickly and easily purchase architecturally designed building plans online at a very affordable price. Explains Verbeek: “The cost for the drawings that we supply is very competitive when compared to what it would cost you to get them designed and drawn up by a qualified architect. For example, a complete set of plans for a 140m² home, plus supporting documentation, will only set you back R1 450.”
When asked whether, like the majority of the local building industry, his company was affected adversely by the recent economic downturn, Verbeek said:
Verbeek notes that there is a huge potential in the market for affordable, architect-designed house plans in both SA, as well as the rest of Africa, where there aren’t many practicing architects.
“We have sold plans to very happy clients as far as Mauritius and Zambia for example. Although it is common practice in the US to buy your house plans online and pay for them with your credit card, for the local market, it is still a relatively new concept and as such, we are only targeting approximately 10% of the local house building market.”
He notes he has found that, although many people still prefer to do things the traditional way by appointing an architect to custom-design a house to their specific needs, since this is a very time-consuming and costly endeavour, he believes the demand for ready-drawn online house plans will no doubt grow.
“The custom design of your home can take months to be completed and is extremely expensive, often up to 10 times the cost of predawn or stock house plans. Using custom drawn plans can delay the construction of your home by many weeks. If however, you find the plans of the home of your dreams online, you can have them within a week and start building as soon as they have been passed.”
Dries explains how the process of buying plans online works: “After ordering the plans online, the full set of plans will be delivered to you by courier within five working days. The plans will comprises a colour-coded set, as required by the South African Building Regulations, as well as a monochrome (black and white) set of copies, which are ready to be submitted to your local council. Other documentation that will be included free of charge are a pro forma tender document, an agenda for site meetings and a proposed payment schedule. If required, a standard building contract, as well as a list of materials and quantities of every plan can also be ordered through the website.”
The plans on offer on the website have all been designed by various architects, all of whom are registered with the South African Council for Architects, and who have designed the homes in a manner that is relevant to our local South African conditions, weather and lifestyle.
“We offer a choice of over 250 designs, in various different styles, such as Bali, contemporary, Tuscan, colonial, thatch roof, and so on. House plans are available in a wide selection of sizes, ranging from 45m² to 600m², therefore catering for all tastes and budgets.”
He says that there are even plans available for lodges and holiday homes, and that the company’s customers are by no means limited to homeowners: “We have more and more property developers using our platform and letting their clients select house plans from our website.”
He says that inhouseplans.com offers a full turnkey service — apart from the house plans on offer, customers will also have access to a host of information, services and tips on house building on the company’s website.
A comprehensive directory of products and services for the industry is also made available to clients free of charge, explains Verbeek: “This directory is not only for homeowners, but also useful to property developers, building contractors, sub-contractors and architects.”
Verbeek notes that the only conceivable downside to buying your house plans online is that you forego an element of individuality and uniqueness by selecting a standard plan that has and will be resold. Should the homeowner wish to, it is possible to customise and modify these designs down the line.
The second publication, SA House Plans 2, was launched in February this year featuring the latest plans at inhouseplans.com in a catalogue style.