That’s a great question! Blueprints, house plans, floor plans, home designs, and construction documents are all terms that can all be used interchangeably when referring to the set of drawings used to construct your home. Are you willing to begin with an existing plan and make modifications, or are you hoping to design a custom home to meet very specific design requirements?
If you answered 'yes' to starting from a predesigned set of floor plans, your costs could come from online/ magazine-order plan houses, local design firms, and design/build contractors. With information at your fingertips, you can easily begin your search on the web or pick up the latest home design magazine at the checkout aisle. Southern Living, ePlans.com, and many others offer various prices for their designs. Prices can start as low as a few hundred dollars for a single non-reproducible ‘study’ set, which would give you enough detail to get a construction estimate, and up to $1500-$3000 for a set that can be reproduced and customized multiple times to meet your needs for construction. Customization is usually offered as an additional service. If you prefer, you can start with local designers. Madden Home Design offers home designs for $600-$1000 for a set that cannot be modified. Or you can go to a homebuilder that offers in-house design services, some with varying degrees of customization. Manuel Builders charges nothing for a full set of construction drawings and allows you to make as many custom changes as you want.
If you answered 'yes' to the custom home, you are going to look for an architect or designer who can best listen to your needs and bring your ideas to life. There are many quality local design firms, and each can charge differently for their services. The most popular method is based from construction square footage. You can expect to pay as little as $0.50/sf to an architecture student doing business on the side to well over $2/sf to an established design firm. Michael Campbell Design offers custom plan services starting at $1.95/ square foot on the total area under roof (not just living area). A 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bath house could easily cost more than $5,000. Again, some homebuilders charge nothing for floor plans, even custom ones. Before investing in design services, it is a good idea to consult your builder first to see what options they offer.
Regardless of whom you get the drawings from, remember that the design is the copyright of the creator of the floor plan. Intellectual property laws protect house plans, so work with your builder to make sure you are following copyright guidelines.
And remember, what appears on paper today will become your lived-in reality in a few months. I hope you consider all the options and choose the best blueprint to achieve the home of your dreams!