It doesn't usually happen that way, or not for most of us anyway. If your budget is unlimited, that is one thing, but for the most of us, yes, Virginia, we do have to work within our budget.
Square footage is probably the first thing to look at. No need in looking at house plans with 4,000 sq ft if it's not in your budget. It's like looking at beauty magazines.....you just wish more.
The builder advised us to find the floor plan we liked first.....then look at the outside. That the outside could be changed as needed. But this is right bass-ackwards to what comes normal. I still looked at the outside first.....and I looked at a lot.
An internet search really will turn up a lot of results and we got familiar with a lot of sites. Once we browsed through several (hundreds I'm sure), we tended to like the French Country, Acadian or European styles. This made searching much easier.
We viewed plans from several different clearing house type businesses. They would have plans from designers from all over. Sometimes you could tell the plans belonged to certain designers, like Don Gardner for instance. We could only tell this because we would see a house plan we liked on the Don Gardner site....then see it again or several other websites...all selling plans.
No house plan is perfect, unless you're working directly with an architect and they're able to work in your every wish. But we did narrow things down to about 3-4 plans and focused on those. Personally, I wanted more square footage, but the hubby kept saying that's too big....and I knew I might as well look at something smaller or I was never going to hear the end of it.
The neighborhood has a building covenant, so that takes care of the minimum square ft which was 2,200. The plans we looked at ranged from 2,200 to 2,400 or so. Here's what we finally settled on.
We purchased the plan from Architectural Designs knowing full well that Architectural Designs did not design this plan, they are just a site that sell plans. They were very nice about answering questions though and were quick to respond via email.
I had hoped to be able to find the actual designer's website so I could at least price check. Plans are expensive! We ordered 5 sets. The company will send you a pdf file that you can print, but that sounded like it might not work for us since we live in a small town and I had no idea who might be able to print oversized blue prints.
Well, sure enough, just as quick as the order and payment went through, I got an email and on it was Madden. That's who the designer was and when I visited that site.....could have saved $100 bucks on the plans. Another live and learn opportunity. So, if you find your plans on a site like we did, keep looking for the actual designer. Plans might be the same price, but might not.
The plan we chose will need tweaking just a bit. We wanted a side entry into the kitchen/living area so guest would not have to go through the garage or through the laundry room. I don't know how it is where you live, but around here......no one uses the front door. We also wanted a third garage for storing the lawn mower and/or tractor. My hubby has a John Deere tractor that is his pride and joy. I don't know if I'm going to get him to let go of it or not.....
Seems like ordering the plans really makes it for real now! Even more so than just purchasing the lot. Yes, I'm already checking on the tracking number...lol