Podcast 32: House Plans Online

With Jarret Magbee, President and CEO,
of Family Home Plans and Cool House Plans

Porch Ideas Network Podcast Logo family home plans.com logo Ordering house plans online is a means of obtaining high quality house building plans less expensively than using other avenues.

With detailed drawings that may need only minor modifications to meet local building codes, online plan companies offer many design ideas.

Mary and I spoke with Jarret Magbee, President and CEO of Family Home Plans and Cool House Plans. Jarret shares his years of experience in the online building plans business and offers unique insight into not only what is available online but also addresses the most sought after plans and popular features.

Listen to Our Audio Program: 00:27:02

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Podcast Highlights: House Plans Online

Large home with expansive front porch plan from familyhomeplans.com 87525
FamilyHomePlans #87525

Large home floor plan from familyhomeplans.com 87525
Floor Plan of FamilyHomePlans #87525

We were pleased to have Jarret visit us on our porch and talk about the advantages of ordering house plans online.

His insight addresses any concerns one might have purchasing home building plans from on online company and acquaints us with what products you actually receive.
  • They meet national IRC code (International Residential Code)
  • The plans may not include absolutely "everything" needed because it depends on all the way down to the county where you live where there are special requirements
  • Typical customers of online home plans are usually people building their 2nd or 3rd home. Most are families.
  • Average home size that people are ordering is between 1800 and 2200 square ft home
  • The hot designs these days are craftsman style homes (not to be confused with bungalows), dark wood, earthy tones, Tuscan flavor (stonework)

Samples of Online House Plans with Porches

The Ever Popular Arts and Crafts Style Home Building Plans

charming bungalow house plans 75137 from familyhomeplans.com
Arts And Crafts Bungalow Family Home Plans # 75137

Country Style House Building Plans

country farmhouse plans 86162 from familyhomeplans.com
Country Farmhouse Family Home Plans # 86162

Ranch Style House Building Plans

ranch home plans 59940 from familyhomeplans.com
Ranch Home Family Home Plans # 59940

ranch home floor plan from  59940 familyhomeplans.com
Ranch Home Floor Plan - Family Home Plans # 59940



Program Excerpts: House Plans Online

Podcast 32 tips for buying house plans online

Jarret Magbee discusses the following on our podcast.

What's Popular in Housing

The craftsman homes have porches on the back with outdoor kitchens, pools, outdoor living spaces on the back of the house. A lot of these houses are not built in traditional neighborhoods where you would see front porches.

Also popular are ranch homes and country style homes.

The McMansion homes are not so much in vogue anymore but larger more luxurious plans are having a bit of a comeback as the economy gets better

Popular features people are wanting: open concept floor plan, computer niches, computer rooms, drop zones for keys, bigger laundry areas, nice bathrooms, outdoor living spaces, extra bedroom for an office, formal dining rooms, flex spaces (bonus rooms, media rooms, play rooms)

Modifying House Plans

A stock plan can be modified. Family Home Plans offer modification services and customers can get free estimates.

Sometimes a stock floor plan can be red-lined (like adding a window or making a door wider) that the builder can do themselves

More major modifications like moving a wall or adding a bedroom can be done by their modification department. There is a cost for this depending upon the modification.

Jarret says they have been seeing an uptick in modification requests from customers whereas 10 years ago people would build the plan "as is".

Jarret's Advice to Customers Before Choosing a Plan

  • Potential customers should know their budget before ordering a plan online.
  • They offer a service for $14.95 where a customer can pick out a house plan and the estimate will give them a cost breakdown based upon their zip code.
  • Customers should find out what the going square foot cost is for your area to build a home. That will give you a good range to go by.
  • So, for example, if it is $100 per square foot, a 2,000 square foot house would cost approximately $200,000 to build give or take based upon upgrades and such.


  • $600 - $900 for a five to six copy of a house plan
  • Modifications could run from $300 and up
  • To contrast, if you go to a local designer it would cost $1.50 to $2.00 per square foot for under-roof space (rates in South Carolina) so a 2,000 sf house would cost around $4000
  • To go to a local architect would cost even more
  • To buy a plan online with modifications you could get it for around half the cost of a local designer or you could save thousands from hiring an architect


A contractor can be a good resource to answer local questions. Good to get one involved early in the process, although not mandatory.

Contractors usually have a connection to a local engineer who can help you get your stock plans stamped through your local building department. Nothing beats local advice.

Popular Project Plans

In addition to home plans, you can also get project plans online most of which you would receive a PDF upon purchasing the plan from the website. No waiting.
Popular are garden sheds, play house plans and trellises.

See our extensive house plans (with porches) section to find your dream home!

If you make a purchase through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a commission, but the cost is the same to you. Here is our full disclosure about affiliate marketing.

Listen to Our Audio Program: 00:27:02

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