aBetterPlan.com > About this Website
"Architect Don Berg has collected designs from America's best designers and architects" - Timber Home Illustrated
"Helpful resources" - Grit Magazine
"Berg built a business of designing iconic farm structures, helping people raise barns that fit their needs and dimensions while often maintaining historic style" - Out Here Magazine
|Stock Blueprints||Custom Designs||Sponsors and Links|
I researched for my books Barns & Backbuildings and The Backroad
Home, I was lucky enough to find dozens of architects and designers who
shared blueprints of simple country homes, cabins, barns and
outbuildings. I also found some manufacturers who offered kits and
pre-built buildings, country building products and furnishings. In
1999, my son Christopher created a website where I could present our
Back then, websites were said to be on the Internet Super Highway. My friends and I never really fit into that concept. Our country buildings and simple sites were really on the Internet's backroad.
Fortunately for us, an amazing number of people like you are willing to take the time to search for our hard-to-find plans, kits and products. Over the years we've expanded into a network of websites with all types of country buildings, backyard improvements, home and garden products, do-it-yourself projects, tools, furniture and crafts. Recently we've been consolidating everything on eBackroad, an easy search system to help you find what you're looking for from hundreds of independent designers, manufacturers and craftsmen. Listings on this web site are just a sampling of what you'll find on eBackroad. Try it here and see for yourself:
Many of the listed websites have provided samples of their standard building plans, testimonials from their customers or photos of products and finished buildings. In my opinion, this is your best source for good common-sense designs, accurate construction drawings and quality buildings, products and services. Still, you should always use care and the advice of building professionals in your area, and the services of your building department in the selection and use of all building plans, kits and products.
The free plans that are available through aBetterPlan.com are hosted on TodaysPlans.net, my directory of over 3,000 free woodworking, building and backyard project plans, including many of my own barn, garage, workshop and shed plans.
I hope that you enjoy your visit to aBetterPlan.com and that you find what you're looking for.
In 1856, architects Henry Cleaveland, William Backus and Samuel Backus added a few words to their book, Village and Farm Cottages: "For the convenience of such as may wish to build after any of the designs in this work, the Authors have prepared careful, lithographed working drawings and printed specifications for each." They offered their construction drawings for $3.00 a set and started a tradition that continues today. Now, more than 60% of all homes are built from stock plans.
In building from stock, pre-drawn plans, either from the designers you'll find here, from the big plan companies, or from magazines and catalogs, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. Blueprints are rarely refundable. The blueprinting process is expensive, and returned plans are usually tattered enough to be unusable by another customer. In addition, most plan designers feel that purchase of blueprints is more like employing an architect than buying a product. The plans allow you to imagine the finished home, to see how your furniture fits, to get competitive bids from contractors and to have preliminary reviews by your town's building department and by your community's planning board. Even if you don't build, they feel the plans provide a valuable service.
That means that you have to be very careful in selecting a design. Purchasing one set of blueprints and building from it is inexpensive. Having to purchase more than a few non-refundable sets of plans is not.
In addition, most stock plans will have to be adapted for use on your site. At the very least, you'll need your contractor, a surveyor, an architect or an engineer to set the position of your new building on your property and plan the drives, utility lines, septic system and drainage. After that, your blueprints will usually have to be modified to suit your site's conditions and the requirements of your building department. The bearing capacity of your site's soil, the depth of winter frost, the force of typical winds and the normal amount of rain and snow in your area are all factors that have to be engineered into your building. The changes are usually made by simply adding notes to the blueprints. Your contractor or building inspector will take care of the common changes. Where more elaborate changes are necessary, you'll have to hire an architect or construction engineer. In all cases, have your blueprints reviewed by an experienced building professional who knows local conditions, before you start to build.
Standard plans and manufactured buildings are a good way of getting a great design inexpensively, but sometimes special needs or a special site require the care that can only come with a custom design. An architect will usually charge 6% - 12% of the planned construction cost for a one-of-a-kind design. If that seems expensive, think of how expensive it really is to build a new home, barn or outbuilding that you're not completely happy with, or that doesn't take best advantage of your country property.
The American Institute of Architects offers a free brochure that should answer most of your questions about working with an architect. It's called You and Your Architect, and it's available from The American Institute of Architects, 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006. To locate an AIA member in your area, see their on-line directory: AIA Access
Some of the designers and manufactures listed on these pages will modify their standard plans or provide you with custom designs that meet your needs exactly. Modifications to existing plans may cost less than all-new designs. Contact designers through the e-mail links on their websites for quotes on custom designs.
This directory is sponsored by a variety of advertisers and linked to hundreds of independent websites. Although we try to work only with the best companies, ad agencies and websites, we can't be responsible for other websites' content, products or policies.
Have all blueprints, building kits and products reviewed by your building department or by an experienced building professional who knows local conditions, before you purchase or start to build. Plans, products and kits may have to be modified by a local professional to suit your site's building code and weather requirements.
I'm a member of the American Institute of Architects. I've been lucky enough to have my work featured on HGTV and in magazines like Home, Better Homes & Gardens' Home Plan Ideas, Mother Earth News, Country Magazine, Period Homes Magazine, Equine Journal, The Old House Journal, Country Home, Country Extra, Traditional Building and others. Please check out my books on country building at your library or bookstore.