Buying Australian House Plans Online: A Smart Alternative

Building an architecturally designed home is expensive — but that isn't the only option you have. Here's our primer on buying Australian house plans online.

Buying Australian House Plans Online: A Smart Alternative
Written by
Leon Morton
Published on
March 24, 2022
Read time

Regardless of whether you want to build a house from scratch, or reinvent an old dwelling, buying house plans online is a hassle-free option for many Australians.

Think of it as a blueprint that meticulously outlines how your project should be built, leaving no stone unturned.

It might seem overwhelming for those who've never done this before, but luckily there are a handful of tips that can help you find the plan that matches your needs.

In this guide, we'll break down everything you need to know before embarking on the journey of buying Australian house plans online.

Things To Keep in Mind When Buying House Plans Online

When choosing a house plan online, it's essential to pay close attention and figure out whether it works for your specific location. What works for some may not work for all.

For instance, if you live in a beach town, you want to make sure that the design takes into account the environmental factors of the location. It works even better when you choose a design that links indoor and outdoor spaces seamlessly.

Typically, designers prefer clean features with planes and angles. That means the exteriors must accommodate materials like glass to allow natural light into the house.

Remember that your colour scheme will also be affected based on the amount of natural light that enters the house. Materials like sandstone and timber, which can often be sourced locally, will complement the colour scheme you decide on and also add texture.

The design must also take factors like wind, thermal storage, and humidity in different seasons into account. You want it to be cool in the summer and warm enough in the winter without having to spend a fortune on energy bills.

You can easily find customised house plans online.

Where to Find House Plans Online

Finding basic house plans online is easy. But finding great house plans and designs that are in line with your vision will take some thorough research and digging around.

If you aren't crazy about intricate detailing and just need something simple, take a look at Home Designs Online, which offers broad concept designs for a decent price. Of course, you will need to make some tweaks to suit your local laws.

There’s also Our Home Design, where you can buy plans or just certain design services. These are also broad concepts like designs for one or two-storey buildings, split-level or duplex houses.

You can also consider Home Shelf, which provides a number of different plans for each state and territory in Australia. You can browse plans for popular sizes of land, taking your design specifics, lot size, and budget into account. They also recommend builders who will do justice to the design and work in your area.

Obviously, we couldn't discuss this topic without mentioning our very own online house designs, architecturally designed for the Australian climate, with sustainability at the heart of every floor plan.

Here at Architopia, you'll find a range of designs that have been created by our architectural team, well-versed in their craft. These plans also come with information about materials that you need for construction.

The best parts? These designs are environmentally sustainable, and you don’t have to worry about commissions or hidden expenses.

When to Consider Buying Online House Designs

Before you decide to take the leap and buy house designs online, you need to consider if that’s the right move for you.

Some projects benefit from having bespoke plans designed from scratch, while in other cases, it makes more sense to choose an online plan.

Knowing which plan will suit your needs comes down to several factors, like:

  • Choices: When browsing house plans online, you'll have plenty to choose from, in terms of styles and customisation too. To narrow down your search from the wide array of house plans available, you'll need a certain amount of technical knowledge about the site on your part — knowing whether the design suits the location and its weather. Alternatively, your builder needs to know what you want and be able to help you find the plan that fits your needs and is within your budget.
  • Customisation: Even if you don’t end up using the plan as is, you can use it as a foundation and build your own ideas. This is where having an architect helps, since they know what is possible and can guide you to making the right decisions.
  • Order of Decisions: Some may prefer to first buy the property and then begin their search for house designs. Others may want to pick the design first and then find a property that can accommodate their chosen house plan. Online plans can be the solution in either scenario, so long as there is cohesion between your chosen plans and your block of land.

Benefits to Purchasing Online Plans

For many homeowners, buying house plans online is a no-fuss option that makes the process of building a house so much easier.

But, there's a lot more to it than ease. Take a look at some of the many advantages listed below.

  • Cost: Typically, off-the-shelf plans range anywhere from a couple of hundred to several thousand dollars, which is cheaper than bespoke plans because you save on consultation charges incurred by meeting architects who'd create a custom design for you. For custom plans, you are usually charged per square metre.
  • Time: Coming up with your own ideas can be a painstakingly long process and requires your undivided attention. From there, you'll meet with an expert architect to make sure that your plans align with the project and incorporate their feedback into your plans. The process of finalising the plans can take weeks, which can be avoided with online plans.
  • Reviews: Thanks to the internet, countless consumer reviews can easily tell you if something works or doesn’t, and why. The same holds true for house plans. Often, people are happy to leave reviews about whether they liked the plan or didn't, so you can match their criteria with your own. This also lets you know if you need to alter your plan or consult an expert to avoid the same problem.

Inclusions of Your Purchase

Buying a house plan is like a tour package. It comes with a set of features for a price. This depends on the design of house you choose, and who you purchase the plans from.

For instance, when you buy a plan from Architopia, you will receive a concept, how to develop it, and the documentation related to the construction.

The cover sheet is a classic example of documentation. This is usually the designer’s vision of what the finished home will look like. Not all online plans come with this. There is also the foundation plan, which consists of detailed drawings with information on the thickness of the walls, where the columns should be and critical notes required for construction.

Most importantly, there is the floor plan. It has information on the dimensions of each room, window placements, ceiling designs, and other structural notes.

Some plans also come with electrical information about switches, outlets, and fixtures. You can also find plumbing details in some packages, which talk about where a shower or a bathtub should be placed.

But this is not always the case.

Sometimes, you get only the basic design and you need to hire a professional to get the documentation done. This means you need to find out what permits you require and the council regulations you must meet before you buy the plan.

Services That Won’t Be Included

Depending on where you buy the plan from, you'll receive different services. For some businesses, the house plan is just a map of the finished product — it does not come with instructions on how to build the house.

At the end of the day, remember that buying a house plan is very different from working with an architect. It'll be your responsibility to:

  • Handle town planning and development applications
  • Procure the necessary construction permits
  • Select the right contractors and builders for the job
  • Manage and oversee the construction process

While this does make things more affordable, it will require a lot more time and involvement on your part.

When You Shouldn’t Buy Online Plans

Unsurprisingly, there is a downside to buying off-the-shelf plans. Since these plans aren't tailor-made to suit every need, you may not see your visions come to life with them.

To save yourself from disappointment, here's what you need to think about before you start your research.

Finding house plans online in Australia is easy when you look in the right places.

If You Want a Lot of Customisation

If you have a lot of specific ideas, buying an online plan might not work out as well as you want. You'll end up paying for a plan, only to hire a professional to fit your ideas into the one you bought.

This is big a concern, since these plans are made to be generic. Your own ideas will be specific to the site, location, and budget.

Ultimately, the savings you make on a cheaper plan will be lost as you spend extra modifying the design to suit your very specific vision.

More Money in the Long Run

Sure, online plans might be a cheaper deal but if you are new to the process, you might end up paying a lot more than you need to.

If the plan does not suit your property or your needs, your construction and consultation costs will increase. That also means you might have to compromise on quality.

Don’t Meet Council Planning Requirements

Every council has its own requirements that you are legally bound to follow. Being as generic as they are to suit the needs of a majority of clients, online house plans don’t always take this into account.

That means it is up to you to make sure you don’t end up in a legal soup. To ensure that your house plan meets the necessary criteria, your best bet is consulting with a professional — which will cost you extra.

Indifferent to Your Lot

The size and orientation of your land, and how well they are suited to your design are key factors in deciding whether you will have a well-built property or not.

Particularly if you have a difficult block of land, you might end up buying a plan that does not ensure that your living room has enough sunlight or that your bedroom is getting too much of it.

Further, these plans can’t take into account factors like the incline or traffic of the road your property is on, which determines things like parking space, gardening area, etc.

Red Flags: When Online House Plans Are Too Good to Be True

As the old saying goes — all that glitters is not gold. This certainly applies to buying house plans online as well.

At first glance, some plans look good enough for you to jump right in and begin the construction process. Before you invest in them, here's what you need to look out for.

Hidden Costs

Cheap plans may seem like a boon at the time, but they can make a huge dent in your wallet if you aren't careful about hidden expenses.

When calculating your charges, be mindful of additional costs, especially those for customisations. These could include anything from making big changes to a layout or consulting with an architect and hiring a contractor.

Once you've added all these to the cost of your online plan, you'll know whether it makes sense to continue.

Additional Planning

If you don’t find a professional who can tell you whether or not a particular design matches your property type and location, you will end up paying a lot for a design that doesn’t work for you.

To avoid this, you need to compare multiple online sites to get an idea of what the package includes and how much you will pay for it. This also gives you an idea of what you need to do on your own and where you'll need to call in the experts.

Find the Best Australian House Plans Online with Architopia

Whether you're looking for a design that satisfies your artistic needs or one that is energy efficient and eco-friendly, Architopia offers a number of house plans for any climate across Australia.

To get you one step closer to building your new home, we've also created a step-by-step guide that will take you through how you can use our house plans effectively.


Purchase architectural house designs online for one low fee.