America's Best House Plans -

Why choose a house plan with a loft?

When you think of lofts, you might imagine a hipster living in a big city, painting in their large, one room loft. There are still many people that live in exactly those kinds of homes but there is also another way to look at these unique areas.


In a single family home, a loft is usually an open concept area on the second floor that overlooks the downstairs living areas. Instead of a closed bedroom, the space is wide open. Lofts are essentially viewed as flex space and can be used for a variety of purposes.

Mountain Plan 341-00168

By building your own home, you are able to customize the space according to your needs and wants. Some house plans come with a loft space and if you choose to keep that area open, there are countless ways you can use that space.

  • An office
  • A play area
  • Crafting space
  • Music room
  • Library
  • Lounge
  • TV space
  • Homework station
  • Gaming room
  • Sitting area

Loft areas also increase the open concept feeling of a home, giving you an airy space instead of yet another closed off room. These spaces also allow homeowners to truly express their personality by creating an area that shows their style as well as emphasizes the unique uses of that space. For example, if you or your children happen to be artistic, your loft area could become a big art studio that not only shows off your creativity but also develops a one-of-a-kind space and feel in your home. Lofts also create a more open look from the first floor. Instead of seeing a door, you’ll see the open space and that’s very appealing to today’s homeowners.  

Craftsman Plan 8504-00079

While in the past, more bedrooms meant more opportunity for resale, the demands of modern families have changed and the need for a more general area that can be an office or a TV room has grown in popularity. As always, it’s important to set the loft up to fit your long-term needs so it can remain useful for years to come.

We have over 1,900 house plans with lofts so start searching today for your perfect home!

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The Open Concept House Plan

It’s rare in today’s world to find families NOT searching for an open floor plan. Whether it’s a generational preference or more for convenience, open floor plans are highly popular with today’s homeowners and those families searching for the perfect house plan.

European Plan 2559-00144


Having large, expansive areas connected without the use of dividing walls is the essence of the open concept. It’s essentially joining the kitchen, dining room, and living room by eliminating walls, thus creating multiple areas in one large space.


Before the 1990s, the open concept was only popular with the more wealthy, who frequently entertained large groups and could afford to upgrade their homes to eliminate walls. As the years progressed and needs changed, the open floor plan became increasingly appealing for a variety of reasons, with the most obvious being the aesthetic love of the wide open spaces that make rooms look grander and much bigger than the actual square footage.

Traditional Plan 2559-00137

Other popular reasons to choose an open floor plan include:

  • Increased usable living space by having fewer walls
  • More socializing and better entertainment by having one big area
  • Safer for children because they can be seen from anywhere in the large space
  • More natural light creating an airy feeling
  • Can add resale value
  • Creates a modern, flowing layout
  • If your home is a small square footage, an open floor plan can make the space seem much bigger


Traditional Plan 098-00201


There are, of course, some negatives to creating these open concepts. Not having more of a segmented concept eliminates a great deal of privacy and the protection from traveling sound that comes with more walls and doors. Large, open spaces require more engineering than a standard home because of the use of heavy duty beams used to carry the weight of the floors above. Despite these negatives, open floor plans create a look and feel that many families prefer. As these formats increase in popularity, more house plans become available with this lovely layout. You can search our over 4,300 house plans with open floor plans to find the right plan for your family.


So which do you prefer – the traditional closed, sectional layout or the more connected concept of the open floor plan?

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The Pros and Cons of Garage Styles

As you search for your favorite house plan, you might notice the multitude of options for garages. From front entry to detached, there are many different ways to customize your garage and while the size and layout of your lot influence your garage options, thankfully, all of our house plans can be modified to fit your specific needs and wants.
Like house plans, garages come in all shapes, sizes, and locations. Most options are determined by the location of the entrance to the garage. The majority of house plans include a front entry garage, which is a cheaper option that requires less driveway and a smaller lot. To some people, front entry garages create a less appealing exterior but a more convenient garage set up.

Craftsman 041-00161

The next most popular option – the side entry – moves the garage to the side of the house and thus opens up the exterior to include more windows and eliminates the sometimes unsightly garage doors. Side entry garages do require longer driveways and are more difficult to maneuver with larger vehicles but they also give a bit more privacy.

Mountain 048-00226
The next option for garages is a courtyard entry which creates a wider, larger driveway and allows for a more open concrete area in front of the garage. This does eliminate part of the grassy lawn and may require a larger lot but courtyard entry garages create a unique exterior that many homeowners love.

Modern Farmhouse 963-00152


Drive under garages are an interesting option that usually open to the basement or a large den area. These garages allow homeowners to renovate later in life and turn those garages into useful bedrooms or offices. Drive under garages do make it more difficult to bring things from the garage to the main parts of the house, i.e. groceries because of the need to go upstairs.

Northwest 341-00237


Detached garages can be attached horizontally creating a wider home or they can be built in the back of the house for a more narrow lot. These separate areas can also include space above the garage like a patio, deck or even a separate room. Unfortunately, when the weather is bad, these kinds of garages make it more difficult to get from your home to your car.

Ranch 5633-00213
Some homes, usually those with narrow lots, have a rear entry garage. This option gives the most privacy but also requires the longest driveway and eliminates a good amount of your backyard.

Narrow Lot 7922–00063


Having a carport garage is a completely different way to view a garage. You eliminate the cost of building a garage and give yourself more living space inside the home. However, a carport garage doesn’t fully protect your cars from weather and doesn’t give you a protected space for storage or a workshop.

Country 034-00991


Ultimately, the size and shape of your lot determines your garage options but no matter which choice you pick – front entry, side entry, courtyard, drive under, rear entry or detached – a garage is a necessary and highly useful area of any home, even if you don’t park your cars in them.


To explore house plans with various garage options, click the MORE button next to the SEARCH feature on our website and you can filter your results using the garage types.

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What is the difference between a Farmhouse and a Modern Farmhouse home?

Farmhouse style homes have been around for decades and thanks to the growing desire to get back to the basics of life, the farmhouse style is now considered one of the most popular styles of houses and decor. There is also an emerging popular style that combines the unique design details and conveniences of contemporary homes with the familiarity and simplicity of a vintage farmhouse. The Modern Farmhouse style is a fairly new house design that is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Bringing a touch of class and uniqueness, this style is a lovely combination of striking and comforting. These two styles of homes have many similarities and unique differences.
Farmhouse Homes
Known for their simplicity, practicality, and functionality, Farmhouse homes are very similar to the country house style. Built to last, these homes indulge our sense of comradery by offering large gathering rooms and plenty of outdoor space for the ultimate in family get-togethers and entertaining friends.

Farmhouse House Plan 286-00011
Common characteristics of Farmhouse and Modern Farmhouse homes include:


  • Simple, rectangular or square floor plans with one or two stories
  • Rural or suburban locations
  • Light colored exteriors
  • Large or wrap around porches
  • Overhead dormers
  • Exterior chimneys
  • Formal front rooms with common rooms and a large kitchen at the rear of the home
  • Large kitchens
  • Neutral colors 
  • Natural textures and materials


Farmhouse House Plan 4848-00183
Modern Farmhouses
A delicate combination of comfort and style, Modern Farmhouses intertwine luxurious conveniences along with the familiarity and natural elements of the farmhouse style. One of the biggest differences between a Farmhouse home and a Modern Farmhouse is location. Modern Farmhouses can be found anywhere from the country to the city while Farmhouse homes are usually found in rural or suburban areas.

Modern Farmhouse House Plan 963-00153
Common characteristics of Modern Farmhouses include:


    • Light colored exterior, usually white
    • Black trim on exterior
    • Sleek lines
    • Open floor plans
    • Rectangular in shape
    • Large windows
    • More 2 stories than 1
    • Large square footage
    • Porches and/or decks
    • Pitched gable roof, often with dormers
    • Bold, clean design details like metal lights


Modern Farmhouse House Plan 041-00169 
While Farmhouse and Modern Farmhouse homes have lots of similarities, these two styles create a very different look and feel, giving comfort and simplicity to some and a bolder, more unique feel for others. If these styles speak to you, explore our Farmhouse homes and Modern Farmhouse house plans on our website to find the perfect home for you.

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How to Customize a Ranch Style Home

A one-story home may seem limiting but in reality, a ranch-style house has countless possibilities for customization. The benefits and conveniences of a 1-story home are numerous. To learn the pros and cons of a ranch house, read our previous blog post where we discuss these popular style homes in more detail.


If you’ve settled on a one-story home and you’re looking to make the space better for your specific needs, there are many ways you can customize this limited style to create a more cohesive home for your family.


If extra space is what you seek, there are multiple ways to add more room to your ranch style house plan.


  • Add a bonus area above the garage: It could be an extra bedroom, playroom, even a loft area.


Plan 699-00050 


  • Add an in-law suite: If there’s a possibility of elderly and/or handicapped relatives living with you, an in-law suite is a helpful and private area specifically for them. Learn more about house plans with in-law suites here.


  • Create an outdoor area: Build a large patio, screened in porch, or even a lanai to give your family an outdoor oasis.


  • Add a basement: If possible, add a basement, which can include another bedroom and bathroom or just a large usable space for your family to use however they wish.


Plan 4195-00019


    • Build in your favorite style: A ranch style home can be any style you want from Farmhouse to Contemporary.


    • Create personality with unique landscape: Because ranch style homes are usually linear and straight, create curves and other shapes using landscape.


Plan 5633-00172


  • Go with a raised ranch: Creating steps leading up to the front door creates the illusion of a taller home.


  • Open the indoors to the outdoors: Add french doors or a sliding glass door to create a more open feel between the indoors and outdoors.

Plan 9401-00096

Searching for the perfect ranch home can be a daunting task but personalizing your 1 story home shouldn’t be. We have over 2,600 different ranch style house plans for you to choose from and by using the More button next to Search, you can filter the results to find the exact home you want. And remember, you can always modify your house plan to make it uniquely yours.

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Could you go tiny?

Southwestern Plan 2559-00

Bigger isn’t always better, according to the tiny house craze sweeping the country. From farmhouse to modern to craftsman, tiny homes come in all shapes, sizes, and styles and have become highly popular with environmentally-friendly millennials. Most of these smaller homes are 1,000 sq. ft. or less and are either mobile or permanent residences. Whether you love this idea or hate it, the tiny house movement definitely comes with some pros and cons.

Some of the pros about going tiny are:


  • Save Money!
  • Less Commitment
  • Lots of Customization
  • Use of higher quality materials
  • Mobility
  • Less to clean and maintain
  • More environmentally friendly
  • Energy efficient – Can easily use solar power
  • Easy to heat and cool
  • Embraces the minimalist and “back to basics” lifestyle
  • Convenience
  • Ability to live off the grid


And some of the cons of shrinking down:


  • Limited Space
  • Have to have land
  • Hard on relationships
  • Legal regulations change state by state
  • The possibility of needing a large truck to town the home
  • Lack of privacy
  • Less storage means more trips to the store
  • No room for visiting guests
  • Less room for hobbies and exercise
  • Zoning issues for non-permanent structures


At America’s Best House Plans, we have hundreds of house plans under 1,000 sq. ft. Explore some of our more popular small house plans to find your favorite tiny house:


Below 400 sq. ft.:

Small House Plan 034-00174


Below 600 sq. ft.:

Vacation Plan 034-00178


Under 800 sq. ft.:

Country 5633-00322


Under 1,000 sq. ft.:

Bungalow 009-00121


You can search our smaller house plans under 1,000 sq. ft. here:  Start Searching!

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How To Modify Your Favorite House Plan

Did you know you can modify ALL of our house plans? If you fall in love with a home but would love to change a few things, we can modify the plan to fit your exact wants and needs. Modifications can be small like changing locations of doors and windows or large such as altering the ceiling heights throughout the house. Even your dream home might need some customization to fit all of your family’s needs and wants.


Thankfully, we make the modification process easy!


Once you find the plan you love, explore every detail of the floorplans and determine which elements you want modified. Some common modifications include:


  • Reversing the entire floor plan
  • Changing the front entry garage to a side entry
  • Extending ceiling heights
  • Altering the exterior framing
  • Adding/Removing windows
  • Moving interior non-bearing walls


When you’ve created your list of modifications, visit the house plan on our website and click the Modify This Plan button, as seen below.


Clicking ‘Modify This Plan’ will display detailed instructions and a form for uploading your modification information. You can either submit the changes via this form or you can contact us at 1-888-501-PLAN (7526) to speak to one of our customer service representatives

If you want to visually show your modifications, you can use this free online tool to mark up the floor plan to represent the changes you want made: JPG/PDF Editor.


Here is an example of a mocked-up modification request:
A customer bought Plan 009-00069, a 2,465 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathroom home. However, he needed a few modifications done to the house plan in order for it to fit his family’s needs. 

The 1st-floor modifications included: 


  • Extending the garage area
  • Creating a one bay garage entrance, instead of two
  • Extending the deck area
  • Adding sliding glass doors from breakfast nook to deck
  • Extending the pantry
  • Adding a mudroom
  • Creating a bump out of the front garage
  • Extending the porch to create a wrap around


 Plan 009-00069

The 2nd story modifications included:


  • Extending the bonus room to match the garage expansion
  • Enlarging and rearranged the master bathroom
  • Extending the roof line to match the wrap around porch

Once we receive your modification information, one of our customer service representatives will contact the designer of that specific house plan and determine the price and time frame associated with those changes. Within 3 business days, our customer service rep will contact you with a custom quote which includes the price of the modifications as well as when you will receive your updated house plan. Modified house plans take around 3-6 weeks depending on how many and how complex your modifications are.


House plan modifications aren’t covered by a flat rate. The designer dictates the price depending on how intricate and difficult your changes may be. We do, however, have a breakdown of the possible cost of your modifications so you have a round about idea.


Minor Modifications – range from $200 – $500 – include moving doors, windows, interior walls, etc.


Average Modifications – range from $450-850 – include foundation changes, changing garage entry and the majority of exterior changes


Substantial Modifications – range from $850+ – include moving exterior walls, increasing or decreasing square footage, or needing a long list of modifications.


If you accept the modifications quote, you simply need to approve and submit payment.


Half way through the modification process, we will contact you with the preliminary updated house plan for your review. This will help determine if we’re on the right path and if you’re seeing the exact changes you requested.


Once all modifications are completed, we will send you the new updated house plan!


Simple and worry-free, we make modifying your favorite house plan easy. Just follow the steps above and you’ll have the perfect house plan before you know it!

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One story or two: That is always the question!

one story house two story house

One Story Vs. Two Story

     As you search for the perfect house plan, the long-lasting debate about one or two story homes always come up. There is a wide range of functional and aesthetic reasons why some people prefer a single story over a two story. Whether your opinion is shaped by the house you grew up in or by the stage your life is currently in, most people have a definite love for either 1 or 2-story homes.
     There are unique advantages and disadvantages to both styles so it’s best to learn which home would work best for your lifestyle. If you’re on the fence, use these pros and cons to make the decision a little easier.

Craftsman Home

Craftsman House Plan 5445-00067

1-Story pros:


  • Safer for families with young children and for the elderly or mobility challenged folks
  • More options for ceiling heights and skylights
  • Save up to 100 sq. ft. with no stairs so larger square footage
  • Fewer bathrooms needed
  • Easier to access and clean gutters, roof, and outside walls
  • Easier to escape a fire
  • Less expensive to add on to the structure
  • Easier to resell because it’s more popular?

Why do you love a single story house?

Ranch Home

Ranch House Plan 5633-00213

1 story cons:


  • The yard may be smaller because a 1-story home takes up more of a lot than a 2 story
  • Not as much privacy between bedrooms
  • Fewer layout options
  • No views
  • Costs more to build because of the larger roof
Ranch House

Ranch House Plan 041-00117


Bungalow House

Bungalow House Plan 5631-00023

2 story pros:

  • Less foundation and roof structure: The rooms on the first floor don’t require a roof and the rooms on the second floor don’t require a foundation. 
  • Save on plumbing and electrical wiring because rooms are so close together
  • Small footprint so more lot and floor plan options
  • Better for families with teens because there’s more separation between rooms
  • Smaller roof to maintain
  • More expansive views from the second floor
  • Costs less per square foot because of a small foundation, roof structure, plumbing and electrical
  • Built-in exercise
  • More privacy


Southern House Plan

Southern House Plan 009-00089-5

2 story cons:

  • Sound travels through levels
  • Stairs can be dangerous, inconvenient and eat up sq. footage
  • 2 HVAC units
  • Ceiling and attic heights are typically lower
  • Harder to control the temperature
  • Having to go upstairs if you forgot something downstairs


Why do you prefer a 2-story house?

Modern House

Modern House Plan 207-00036


After surveying over 100 people on Facebook, we found that while 2-story homes were more popular with our followers, the margin between the two is minimal. So the debate still stands…which do you prefer?


Whether you choose the convenience of a 1-story home or the flexibility of 2-stories, your next home should reflect all of you and your family’s wants and needs. Thankfully, we make searching for the perfect house plan easy! Explore the Collections section of our website to view our 1 story and 2 story homes.


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Top 3 Most Popular House Styles:

     From modern to country to bungalows, the wide variety of house styles can be quite overwhelming. Whether you prefer lots of character or clean, simple lines, the numerous categories of house plans can make it difficult to find the perfect home for you and your family. Educating yourself about the different kinds of homes can make the choice much easier. Despite the ever-growing number of options, there are a few home styles that have rose to the top of the charts as today’s most popular choices.


Can you guess which house styles are the most sought after?


Craftsman Style Homes:


Craftsman Home

Craftsman 9401-00001


     After hitting the height of popularity the early 1900s, Craftsman style houses (also called Arts and Crafts homes) are once again the most popular style in America and can be found throughout the country. The Arts and Crafts style homes were created because of society’s desire for simpler, more natural aspects that displayed the growing number of skilled craftsmen. With their amazing wood details, large front porches, and stone details, Craftsman style homes are welcoming, comfortable, and full of character.


The most notable characteristics of Craftsman style homes focus on the exterior.

  • low-pitched, gable roof
  • tapered columns
  • exposed rafters and beams
  • single dormers
  • deep roof eaves
  • knee braces
  • multi paned windows


Craftsman House

Craftsman House Plan 348-00169


     Combined with a large covered front porch, earth toned colors, stone details, and a partially paned front door, Craftsman houses are one-of-a-kind. This style involves the use of wood, stucco, shingles, stone and bricks creating a unique balance of a multitude of materials and textures.  These charming details continue inside with custom built in cabinetry, large fireplaces, open layouts, and intricate woodwork that create a cozy, inviting atmosphere.


Visit our website to explore our Craftsman style house plans.



Farmhouse/Modern Farmhouse:

Farmhouse Home

Farmhouse House Plan 9401-00008


     The Farmhouse home style is more popular than ever! In the 1700s, farmhouses were literally homes built on flat farmland but nowadays, these comfortable houses have popped up in rural and suburban areas throughout the United States. Since these homes vary around the country, the term Farmhouse is used more often to describe the function and the style of the home. People are increasingly drawn to the natural, simple elements of these practical and comfortable homes.


Characteristics of Farmhouse homes include:


  • Rural location
  • Large, covered porches
  • Formal areas in front of homes
  • Informal areas in the back
  • Extensive woodwork
  • White or wood exterior
  • Exposed wood beams
  • Simple, gabled roofs
  • Wide, plank floors
Farmhouse Design

Farmhouse House Plan 7922-00020


     The layout of these homes is unique in that the front of the house is usually reserved for the more formal areas like the dining and living rooms while informal areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms are in the back. Because the kitchen is the heart of a Farmhouse home, special attention is put on creating a large but practical kitchen with cozy elements like large, wide sinks, white kitchen cabinets, bead board, painted wood plank walls, and wide planked wood floors. Reminiscent of a long ago era, the Farmhouse style invokes a love of nature with the use of natural wood, calming colors and wide, welcoming porches. Typically built on large plots of land, Farmhouses are truly meant for rural locations.

Farmhouse House Plan

Farmhouse House Plan 9401-00094

The newer Modern Farmhouse style is very similar to the original but with a more contemporary twist. This new variation combines the natural and simplistic characteristics of the Farmhouse design with the sleek, contemporary aspects of modern style homes. The Modern Farmhouse style expertly mixes the love of clean, sleek lines and the enjoyment of natural elements creating the best of both worlds.


Some Modern Farmhouse characteristics are:

  • White exterior
  • Gray or black roof
  • Lots of windows
  • Metal, concrete and granite elements
  • Sleek lighting
  • Hints of bright colors
Modern Farmhouse

Modern Farmhouse House Plan 963-00154

Visit our website to explore our Farmhouse and Modern Farmhouse house plans.




Ranch Homes

Ranch House Plan 041-00091


     The simple, no frills Ranch style homes are a timeless classic that have continued to be one of the most popular house styles in America. Developing in the west in the mid to late 20th century, the ranch style homes were created due to the shift from farming communities to the suburbs. Homeowners wanted their houses to reflect their simple, informal family lives thus the long, low ranch format was born.


Ranch style homes

Ranch House Plan 4766-00122


     The quintessential open concept, ranch style homes are perfect for family gatherings and entertaining thanks to the large living rooms, kitchens, and dining rooms located in one area. Focused on being open and airy, ranch houses include a large number of windows in order to bring the outdoors inside.


Characteristics of ranch style homes include:

  • One story
  • Long, horizontal homes
  • Open floor plans
  • Simplistic, not heavily detailed
  • Asymmetrical, U- or L-shaped floor plan
  • Low -pitched roof
  • Moderate or wide-eave overhang
  • Attached garages
  • Multiple, large windows
  • Attached carports and garages

     After being the most popular style in the 1950s-60s, ranch homes are now becoming more sought after by the baby boomers and senior citizens that love the convenience of the single story style as well as the nostalgic aspects that bring back memories of a time long gone. Visit our website to explore our Ranch house plans.
      Craftsman, Farmhouse, and Ranch style homes vary in many ways but they all center around one common characteristic – Simplicity. These styles reflect our love of a simple, family-focused lifestyle where porches are sat on, fires are lit, and loved ones gather. These three popular house styles are just a few among the many options. Whether you’re desiring open conveniences or rustic charm, we have a house plan perfect for you and your family.  Visit our website to learn more about these and other house styles.

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What is Egress Explained

Egress Window Information

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