What are stock plans? A Way to Save Time and Money

Off-the-Shelf

Smiling man holding tubes of architectural drawings
Blueprints by the Tube. Photo by Sam Edwards / OJO Images / Getty Images

Stock plans are pre-drawn building plans that you can order from a catalog, magazine, or website. Most builders and developers offer a number of house plans "in stock" from which you may choose.

Stock plans ordered through the mail or downloaded from a website may include floor plans, foundation plans, structural framing plans, electrical and plumbing plans, cross-section drawings, and elevation drawings.

If you are not sure about your selection, you can usually obtain an inexpensive floor plan to review. However, you will need to buy the full set of plans before you can apply for a building permit and begin construction.

Examples of Stock House Plans:

Stock plans don't have to be from Sears, Roebuck and Company, although bungalows by mail were popular at the turn of the 20th century. Pre-drawn plans don't have to be manufactured built or prefab homes. These days, architects may make custom plans for a client and then put those plans on the market as stock plans.  Houseplans.com is one avenue for these architects:

Stock plans are associated with production home builders, but anyone can buy stock plans and build on a plot of land.

Planned and gated communities usually limit the available house styles, which are stock plans for that community. One example is the house styles of Celebration, Florida.

Why Use Stock Plans?

Using stock plans can save you time and money, but the costs will escalate if you ask for changes.

Many stock plans began as customized building plans for an architect's client.

If this is the case, the stock plan you buy "off-the-shelf"  has already gone through a series of changes and redesigns to make it a better product.

Other Names for Stock Plans:

  • catalog plans
  • stock building plans
  • stock house plans
  • mail order plans
  • pattern book houses

Customized Stock Plans or Custom Plans?

Your builder or a draftsman can customize stock plans, changing details to meet your needs. However, a customized stock plan is not actually a custom home. As you drive through your neighborhood, you may notice many variations on the same essential plan. Although they are not unique, houses built from stock plans can be quite lovely. Catalog houses from Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward built decades ago are still popular today.

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Craven, Jackie. "What are stock plans? A Way to Save Time and Money." ThoughtCo, Dec. 1, 2017, thoughtco.com/stock-plans-save-time-and-money-175923. Craven, Jackie. (2017, December 1). What are stock plans? A Way to Save Time and Money. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/stock-plans-save-time-and-money-175923 Craven, Jackie. "What are stock plans? A Way to Save Time and Money." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/stock-plans-save-time-and-money-175923 (accessed December 15, 2017).