Building Codes & Permitting

What do I need to obtain a building permit?

Building your dream home is an exciting process, but it's important to ensure that your plans meet local building codes and requirements. Before purchasing a set of plans, we highly recommend consulting with your local building department to understand their specific requirements.

Every location has unique building codes and regulations. While we provide detailed architectural plans designed with the latest International Residential Building Code requirements for single-family dwellings in mind, it's important to note that you may need additional documentation or alterations to comply with zoning restrictions, extreme weather conditions, or other unique local requirements.

Our team is here to assist you in obtaining the necessary documentation to get your building permit, so you can focus on building the perfect home and enjoying your investment. Contact us for assistance with any questions or additional documentation you may need.

What is the difference between an architect and a structural engineer and why are they separate?

An architect is a professional who designs buildings and structures while considering the aesthetics, function, safety, and sustainability of the project. They are responsible for creating the overall vision and design concept of a building, including its layout, appearance, and functionality.

On the other hand, a structural engineer is responsible for the design and analysis of the structural components and systems that make up a building or structure. They ensure that the building or structure can withstand the intended loads and stresses, and that it meets safety and building code requirements.

Although architects and structural engineers have different areas of expertise, they work closely together on building projects to ensure that the final product is both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. The reason why they are separate professions is because they require different skill sets, education, and training.

Architects typically have a degree in architecture and focus on design, spatial planning, and aesthetics. Structural engineers, on the other hand, have an engineering degree and focus on the science of materials, physics, and mechanics. They use their expertise to analyze and design the structural components of a building or structure, such as columns, beams, and foundations.

Overall, architects and structural engineers work collaboratively to bring a building project to fruition, with each profession bringing their own unique skills and expertise to the table.

What is the difference between an architectural site plan and a civil site plan?

An architectural site plan and a civil site plan are two types of plans that are used in the construction of buildings and structures. While they may have some similarities, there are also some key differences.

An architectural site plan is a plan that shows the layout and design of the building itself, as well as its relationship to the surrounding site. It typically includes information about the building's footprint, orientation, and landscaping, as well as any site improvements, such as driveways or parking areas. An architectural site plan is used to help guide the design of the building and ensure that it is integrated into the surrounding environment in a functional and aesthetically pleasing way.

A civil site plan, on the other hand, is a plan that shows the layout and design of the infrastructure and utilities that support the building or structure. It includes information about the location of utilities, such as water lines, sewer lines, and electrical lines, as well as grading, drainage, and other civil engineering features. A civil site plan is used to ensure that the building is connected to necessary utilities and infrastructure and that it is built on a stable foundation.

In summary, while an architectural site plan focuses on the design and layout of the building itself, a civil site plan focuses on the infrastructure and utilities that support the building. Both plans are critical in ensuring that a building is constructed in compliance with applicable codes and regulations and that it meets the needs of its occupants.

Design & Modifications

What options are available for customizing the design of my home?

Our expert in-house design team can perfectly tailor any plan to your exact vision and desires. Please see our customization services page for more details.

What options are available for customizing the design of my home?

Our expert in-house design team can perfectly tailor any plan to your exact vision and desires. Please see our customization services page for more details.

Does Planiva create custom designs from scratch?

Yes. We specialize in crafting unique and fully custom architectural designs tailored to your individual needs and preferences. To learn more about how we can help bring your vision to life, we invite you to schedule a design consultation. Please visit our customization services page for details.

What are some of the latest trends or styles in luxury home design that I should consider when looking for architectural plans?

  • Modern Minimalism: Some high-end homes today are characterized by sleek, minimalist designs that prioritize clean lines, simple shapes, and open spaces. This design style often incorporates high-quality materials and finishes, such as polished concrete, natural stone, or sustainable wood.

  • Smart Home Technology: Many luxury homes are now integrating smart home technology that allows for seamless automation of lighting, heating and cooling, security systems, and more. This technology can not only add convenience and efficiency to your daily life, but also increase the resale value of your home.

  • Outdoor Living Spaces: With an increased focus on health and wellness, modern homes are incorporating outdoor living spaces that allow for relaxation, entertainment, and connection with nature. This can include features such as swimming pools, outdoor kitchens, and spacious decks or patios.

  • Sustainable Design: Many homes are incorporating sustainable design elements that prioritize environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. This can include features such as solar panels, green roofs, and rainwater harvesting systems.

  • Personalization: Elevated home design is all about personalization and customization to meet your unique needs and preferences. This can include everything from custom-built furniture and fixtures to personalized artwork and decor.

These are just a few of the latest trends and styles in high-end home design that are worth considering when searching for architectural plans. By working with a trusted architectural firm or designer, you can incorporate these trends into a personalized design that is tailored to your individual tastes and lifestyle.

What is a green roof and why should I consider one?

A green roof, also known as a living roof, is a roof system that incorporates a layer of vegetation and growing medium (such as soil) over a waterproofing membrane on the roof surface. There are two main types of green roofs: extensive and intensive. Extensive green roofs are shallow and require less maintenance, while intensive green roofs are deeper and can support a wider variety of plants but require more maintenance.

Green roofs offer several benefits, both environmental and practical. Here are a few reasons to consider a green roof:

  • Energy efficiency: Green roofs can help reduce energy consumption by providing insulation to the building, which can help reduce heating and cooling costs.
  • Stormwater management: Green roofs can absorb rainwater and reduce runoff, which can help reduce the burden on stormwater systems and improve water quality.
  • Air quality: Green roofs can help improve air quality by absorbing pollutants and producing oxygen.
  • Urban heat island mitigation: Green roofs can help reduce the urban heat island effect by providing shade and evaporative cooling.
  • Biodiversity: Green roofs can provide habitat for plants and animals, which can help promote biodiversity in urban areas.
  • Aesthetics: Green roofs can provide an attractive and unique aesthetic for a building, and can help improve the overall appearance of a property.

Can I add solar capabilities to my design?

Absolutely! Several of our designs may lend themselves well to solar installations on the low slope roof sections. These sections can provide a concealed or out of sight placement for solar panels, which can be unsightly when placed on other parts of the roof. While we can certainly help coordinate with your solar installer, we recommend consulting with a solar expert to determine the exact specifications required for installation. With the right design and expert installation, you can enjoy the benefits of solar power while maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your home.

How long will it take to design and build my home?

The timeline for designing and building your home can vary based on a number of factors, including the size and complexity of the home, the level of customization and personalization. That being said, the typical timeline for designing and building a home can range anywhere from 12 to 24 months, depending on the specifics of your project. It's important to work with a trusted team of experts who can help you navigate the process and ensure that your project stays on track and within your desired timeline.


Is structural engineering included in the plans?

Although our plans are designed to be adaptable to a wide range of locations and codes, we do not include structural engineering in our standard drawing sets.

If you require a structural design from a licensed engineer in your area, we can help. Please see our engineering services page for details.

How is square footage of a plan calculated?

Our area calculations are listed in itemized format under the specifications section of each product page.

The breakdown shows the following:

1. Conditioned space.
2. Unconditioned space.
3. Grand total.

Conditioned space includes:

  • Finished floor space (includes areas under kitchen cabinetry and vanities). These areas are measured from the interior faces of walls.

Conditioned space excludes:

  • Floor space underneath interior walls and partitions.
  • Floor space underneath exterior walls.
  • Floor space under built-in architectural features (e.g. chases or fireplaces).

Unconditioned space includes:

  • Garages.
  • Unfinished attic space.
  • Mechanical rooms.

Unconditioned space excludes:

  • Patios.
  • Covered porches.
  • All other exterior spaces.

The grand total is the sum of both the conditioned and unconditioned space.

What is the difference between PDF and CAD plans and how do I use them?

Our standard plan includes a PDF file that is ready for printing at your local print shop. This file includes the drawings for your design (as listed), and the title of the file indicates the correct paper size for printing. Most print shops, including FedEx and UPS, are familiar with printing blueprints. Please note that some permitting offices may only accept electronic applications, so the PDF file is also suitable for electronic submittals.

If you require further customization, our complete plan includes both PDF and DWG formats. DWG is a standard file format used in the architecture and engineering industries, and allows for any desired changes to be made by a design professional such as an architect or engineer. These CAD files are commonly used for structural engineering purposes.

Please see our how it works section to learn more about our drawings.

Do Planiva plans specify kitchen cabinetry and appliances?

Yes, all of our plans include detailed kitchen designs featuring standard cabinetry easily found in stores like Ikea and The Home Depot. Your design will tell you exact sizes, quantity, and how to arrange the layout. The detailing includes specific information about integrated architectural features like built-in seating, bookshelves, and recesses. Plumbing fixtures and appliances are also indicated. Our goal is to help you simplify the planning and purchasing process as much as possible

If I purchase a Standard Plan now and need the Complete Plan later, will my first purchase count towards the final cost?

Yes. If you have previously purchased a Standard Plan, you will receive a credit towards your Complete Plan purchase. Please contact us for details.


What is your return policy?

We take great pride in our high-quality products and the accuracy of their descriptions. Our architectural plans feature detailed images, floor plans, and other essential specifications to help you determine whether or not a plan is right for you. We understand that purchasing a plan is a significant investment, which is why we stand behind our products 100%. While all sales are final due to the nature of the product, if you have any questions or need assistance, please don't hesitate tocontact us.Our team is always here to help you with any concerns you may have.

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