Sav­ing on de­sign costs

Buy­ing ready­made ar­chi­tec­tural plans on­line is be­com­ing pop­u­lar, sav­ing both home­own­ers and de­vel­op­ers time and money, writes An­tonella Dési

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT -

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, in­house­, 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 in­house­ 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 in­house­ in a cat­a­logue style.­house­

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