Home > Blog > Home Design & Floor Plans > Step-by-Step House Plan Search

Step-by-Step House Plan Search

Here's the Best Way to Find Your Dream Home


When you're ready to build your dream home, a pre-drawn stock house plan is a good, economical alternative to a custom plan created by a local architect or house designer. We have thousands of home plans available to suit every budget, lifestyle, terrain, and aesthetic – and finding the perfect one doesn't have to be overwhelming.

To help you along the way, we've put together this step-by-step guide so you can find the best plan for your family as quickly and effectively as possible. 

Modern Farmhouse style home with vertical and horizontal white siding and dark standing seam metal roof

Finding a dream house that you can build – like this 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath Modern Farmhouse style home – can be quite a challenge when you have to sift through more than 20,000 plans on a website. Our primer on searching for a house plan will streamline the process and make it more enjoyable.


Step 1: Check Out Our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

To get the lay of the land on our website – or if you have basic starting questions about pre-drawn house plans in general – you should look at our FAQ page to see if any of your questions are answered there. 

We've also found through feedback from clients that even if you don't have any current questions, you may benefit from reading through FAQ because you might find the answer to a question you didn't even know you had!

You will find the answers to things such as

  • How is square footage calculated?

  • What is a CAD file?

  • If I find the same design for less, will you match the price?

Small spoiler alert on that last one: the answer is yes, we will.


Step 2: Create an Account  – Or Not!

Before you get started searching through our collection of house plans, you should consider creating a free account with us. Creating an account, or registering, only takes a moment and comes with many benefits: you will be able to save your favorite house plans for later review, receive special offers from us via email, track your order status once a plan is selected, and more. To create an account, please click here. But you don't have to register with us to search for house plans, navigate the site, or even order plans.

Form for registering a user account with The Plan Collection

We've included this sample registration form above. The required fields are marked with a red asterisk, and you'll need to check the "I'm not a robot" box to be able to continue. If you're a professional builder, checking "yes" will identify you as such, and you'll be able to participate in our Preferred House Builder Program for, among other things, discounts on plan purchases.


Step 3: Consider the Kind of Home You Might Like

Before setting off to find your perfect house plan, it's best to have a list of what exactly it is that you're looking for. While you can always modify a floor plan, it's likely that the perfect one for you already exists. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind while searching The Plan Collection.


What is Your Lifestyle?

Your lifestyle will impact nearly every aspect of the home you plan to build. For example, whether you are building this home as your family home or as your retirement oasis will impact the square footage needed. 

Additionally, if you have any accessibility needs, it might steer you towards a home with fewer stairs or a more open floor plan. 


What Are Your Family's Needs?

This is another important consideration. Will this home comfortably accommodate the children you have (or plan to have) as they grow? Do you like to entertain and might need a house with a great outdoor space?


What are Your Design Preferences? 

If a couple is planning to build a home together, it's imperative to be on the same page about this one. While things like placement of the storage closest are easy to negotiate, the overall style of the home is not.


What is Your Budget for a Purchasing a Plan?

This is likely one of the most important considerations, and luckily all of our stock home plans are competitively priced. 

For more information on the steps to take before searching for your house plan, please click here.


Step 4: Do a Quick Search

The easiest and fastest way to get started on a search is doing a quick search, in which you can search using just a few criteria: number of bedrooms, number of baths, number of stories, and square footage. The quick search tool is found on the home page as a box labeled, you got it, Quick Search. The box has a large red arrow next to labeled "Start Here" so you can't miss it.

Quick Search box on The Plan Collection home page

The quick search box on the home page of The Plan Collection's website is on the right of this screenshot, with "Start Here" in red on the upper left corner of the box. You can also search for a plan number by clicking "Or Enter a Plan Number" at the bottom of the box.

Step 5: Know How To Save Your Favorite House Plans

Once you start finding house plans that you like, how do you save them for later?

While you could add the plan URL tabs to the "Favorites" bar on your browser – or make a spreadsheet with the links – the quickest and easiest way to save house plans that you like for later is by making sure you are signed in to your The Plan Collection Account.

Next, you can click on the "heart" icon to save the plan. The heart will then turn red. Clicking on a red heart icon will remove the plan from your favorites.

This way, all of your favorite plans are in one easy place to share with family, colleagues, or your contractors for their opinions.

Plan information box with "favorite" heart that turns red when clicked


Step 6: Search Home Plans by Style

Plenty of our clients have been browsing house plans for years and have a pretty good idea of the style of home they are after. However, just as many might not have given the difference between a farmhouse and a cottage much thought at all. 

No matter which category you might fall into, The Plan Collection is here to help. 

As there are so many different styles of homes, deciding on your favorite can make the rest of the process so much easier, as from there, you can further narrow down your search for things like the number of bedrooms, total square footage, etc. 

To get you started, we have a page where all of our home plans are organized by architectural style. We have nearly every style imaginable, and each kind has hundreds of visual examples available, so you can start saving the ones that jump out at you. 

Architectural Styles landing page in The Plan Collection website

So whether you find yourself falling in love with the symmetrical efficiency of a Colonial Home or the environmental influence of one of our Southwest House Plans, it's easy to find precisely what you want.

If you need some more inspiration, you'll also find options to see some of our most popular searches as well as regional picks on the page


Step 7: Search Home Plans by Collection

Perhaps you don't want to place as big of an emphasis on style when searching for a suitable house plan but rather a particular feature.

For this reason, our curators have worked tirelessly with both architects and home designers to organize thousands of our house plans into easily accessible collections for you to browse.

For example, the topography of your lot (flat, sloping, etc.) will influence the type of plan that you pick, as well as whether you need a mother-in-law suite or not.

To that end, we hope that you can use these collections as the starting point of your search while taking advantage of our advanced search features (below) to further refine your home plan selections.

To find the collections, simply hover your mouse over the collections tab at the top of your screen. From the dropdown menu, you can get a general idea of the types of collections available.

Mouse hover results for "Collections" in navigation bar

To see more, simply click "view all collections." From there, you will be taken to this page, where you can see there are other options for you to play with – popular searches and regional options – and you'll be able to see the complete list of each collection by clicking the dark gray buttons on the left or the orange "view all" button in each collection box.

House Plan Collections landing page on The Plan Collection's website


Step 8: Use the Advanced Search Feature 

This is one of the best features on our site and perfect to drill down into exactly what you want. To get started, just click the "Search" button on the far left of the navigation bar that appears on every website page of The Pan Collection.

Do you need at least a three-bedroom home, prefer the Colonial and Cape Cod Styles, but have a narrow lot to build on? No worries! You can enter your exact preferences into the tool, and just in this instance, you have less than 125 results to choose from.

If you would like to start simple, you can just fill out the top part of the form, as it only has a few search preferences:

• Number of bedrooms

• Number of bathrooms

• Stories

• Garages

• Square feet

• House width

• House depth.

Advanced Search form on The Plan Collection's website

However, when you are ready, the bottom half is where you can get as specific as you'd like. This way, you can really find what you are looking for, including almost any particular feature or amenity yous like, such as a mudroom, game room, walk-in kitchen pantry, garage type (detached, rear entry, etc.), and even roof pitch. The list goes on...


Quick Tip for Using the Tool

If you find yourself frustrated by the tool not giving you the results you asked for, it's likely you ticked a box you didn't mean to. Instead of searching high and low for it, you can always just use the clear form button to start fresh.

Tabs for clearing the advanced search for and view new results on The Plan Collection's website

These buttons appear in the Advanced Search form and are a convenient way to start and stop searches. If you have checked too many or incorrect boxes, just click "Celar form and the choices will disappear. When you're ready to commence a new search, click "view search results."

So, as you can see, finding the perfect plan for your dream home doesn't have to be difficult! Although we have thousands of options to choose from, our plans are organized in such a way to make finding the perfect one for you as easy as can be.



VIEWS: 6775