Pipe Dream: How easy to build new house from old plans?

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Usonian
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Pipe Dream: How easy to build new house from old plans?

Postby Usonian » Fri May 09, 2003 2:14 pm

Here's a question for the architecturally & constructionally inclined members of the community...

How easy (or difficult) (and/or expensive) would it be to build a house from old plans today?

Recently, I've been adding house plan books from the 1950's-1970's to my collection of ephemera, and I have to say that I sit & dream about building one of these houses. I'm not talking about an Eichler, or a FLLW house...just a good 'ol "souped up rambler" like my folks would have aspired to.

How much have building codes, and building standards, changed? Would it be possible to walk into a draftsman's office, set down a plan from 1960, and have it drawn up to be built today?

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Postby morbank » Fri May 09, 2003 3:36 pm

this answer will be vary vague, but I believe it really depends on each city or county's specific building codes. Things like inner wall piping and ductwork, electrical, etc. have changed dramatically, to the point where I think it could affect the aesthetic appearance of a home.

We were looking into purchasing an unfinished half-built home here in S. Ca. a little while ago, and because some of the permits had expired, the county told us that so much of that house would have to be redone because the codes had changed, mostly due to new earthquake standards (new plumbing, new ductwork, even the amount of rebar in the concrete).

Considering that you would be starting from scratch, at least you could have an engineer come in and look at the plans and refit them to match standards. And in any case I believe you have to have an engineer pass them anyway. Of course, before you start spending lots of money on an engineer, you could take a stroll down to your county's building office, and depending on how nice or busy they are, they may be willing to talk to you for a while--and it's free!

Anyone agree or disagree?

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Postby lavardera » Fri May 09, 2003 5:46 pm

I think its doable! If somebody approached me with such a job I would do it, if it was a sweet house. I would figure that I would be redrawing the whole thing from scratch though, and in the course of doing that I would be going throught the excercise of bringing it up to code.

That is pretty much what you are facing though anyway - is'nt it? Those plan books from the 50's only show the design, right? There are not any construction drawings in the books? Otherwise what do you do? Take the order form, fill it out, send in your check, sit by the mailbox, wait, and wait, and wait.....

So lets have a look at this Rambler!
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old plans

Postby texasdago » Fri May 09, 2003 6:54 pm


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Energy & earthquake issues

Postby 10yrsaft » Sat May 10, 2003 11:50 am


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Don Hensman

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Postby GaryR50 » Tue May 13, 2003 7:14 am

How complete are these plan books? Do they have construction drawings, or are they basically for presentation? If there are no construction drawings, you've got a lot of drawing - and a lot of guesswork - to do.
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Postby Usonian » Wed May 14, 2003 5:34 am

All of the books I have are just the standard rendering & floorplan "dream books" like you still see in production today. Some of them are from builders or Parade of Homes-type events.

But, a few of them are from "plan mills" that are still in business today. I contacted Home Planners, and they still had two of the plans in which I was interested. Garlinghouse thought they might still have some of theirs archived as well.

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Postby lavardera » Wed May 14, 2003 6:44 am

Over at Dwell I put up links to some nice modern designs that one of these outfits was still selling.

Here's one:

Plan no. HWEPL03207 - here are some images (I hope they come up)

[img]http://www.eplans.com/common\plans\images\HPA0\HPA435\HPA435-0000-FPH-LG.GIF[/img]

[img]http://www.eplans.com/common\plans\images\HPA0\HPA435\HPA435-0000-F1-LG.GIF[/img]

edit: I guess images in the messages is -off-, but you can load the links yourself.
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Postby GaryR50 » Wed May 14, 2003 8:53 am

Nice design, but I get the impression it's one of the hundreds of vacation home designs that have been in stock plans books and magazines since the fifties and sixties. Still, it's classic modern design, which is exactly why it's still selling.
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Postby GaryR50 » Wed May 14, 2003 8:56 am

That's what I thought, Usonian. You'd have to buy their plans in order to build from them. Even if you could use them as a starting point and draw up the rest of the set yourself, you'd be violating their copyright by doing so. Of course, that doesn't seem to stop builders from doing the same thing all the time.

Of course, no seller of house plans (myself and Greg included) is ever going to put the whole set of drawings where anyone can get their hands on them without paying for them first. They'd be giving away their products if they did. So, you'll never see more than an undimensioned floor plan, some undimensioned elevations, and a presentation rendering, which isn't sufficient to build from. By the way, I got an email from a woman who had been to my website and said that she "didn't see any actual designs there." I thought, jeez, lady, were you expecting me to publish the whole set to my website for free? ;)
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Copyright

Postby Usonian » Wed May 14, 2003 9:49 am

Not that I condone the pirating of designs, but what is the extent of copyright laws and house plans?

Now, some of these planbooks are from companies that are defunct. Many of them are well over 40 years old. Assumedly, many of their designers have passed on to the great Suburb in the Sky. In general, when do these things move into the public domain?

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Postby texasdago » Wed May 14, 2003 10:27 am

Have you spent any time looking at New Homes Guide from the 50s?

An example from our neighborhood:

Image

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Postby GaryR50 » Wed May 14, 2003 11:34 am

Usonian: In the case of deceased designers, it's difficult to say. Some no doubt had heirs, and those heirs would then own the rights to their designs. In the case of those who didn't have any heirs, their works may have wound up in the collection of some museum or other preservationist organization, similar to the Eichler Network. In that case, they would probably own the rights. I'm afraid finding any plan sets that are in the public domain would be pretty rare, and you probably wouldn't find any that are representative of what we would consider good design, either. Most of the works of notable and not-so-notable architects are well protected. As for copyright periods, I believe the current law says the architect's lifetime plus fifty years. If an architect who died fifty years ago had negligent heirs who didn't renew the copyright application, that could result in it falling into the public domain.

That's a nice design, Tex. I've seen a lot of similar ones, some of which are still offered for sale.
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Postby texasdago » Wed May 14, 2003 12:33 pm

I've always found the hexagonal bedroom interesting. Also, the way that the front of the garage juts out actually helps out from a storage/work area standpoint. Of the two in the neighborhood, both have removed the wall separating the two living areas.

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Postby GaryR50 » Thu May 15, 2003 3:13 am

Yeah, I like that, too. The cool thing about the hexagonal bedroom is that it's an irregular hex; four sides longer than the others. Very Interesting.
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Postby texasdago » Thu May 15, 2003 6:08 am

I'll try to snap a picture of it for an article I'm writing for an online magazine.

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Postby GaryR50 » Thu May 15, 2003 6:25 am

So, was that one built in your neighborhood, Tex?
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So...

Postby modfan » Thu May 15, 2003 6:42 am

How changed does a floor plan have to be (a little or a lot) ie say a kitchen
or a bath cabinet/fixture rearrangement to be concerned about copywright issues. I mean some original architect plans are so bad (like 'what were they thinking') when they designed this home. I am frequently baffled by obvious failures withe some homes (even today) the worst is putting dining rooms far from kitchens and having master bedrooms with very little wall space in them (only one wall to place a bed against-bad design)

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I didn't mean

Postby modfan » Thu May 15, 2003 6:46 am

I didn't mean 'this home' is the previous post referred to with the attached floor plan from Houston one. I meant in some home plans in general......ie new homes, plan books etc. .....

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Postby texasdago » Thu May 15, 2003 8:19 am

Yup... two examples in the neighborhood (pardon the poor pictures):

Image

and

Image

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Re: So...

Postby GaryR50 » Thu May 15, 2003 12:02 pm

Gary

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GaryR50
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Postby GaryR50 » Thu May 15, 2003 12:06 pm

Gary

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Postby texasdago » Thu May 15, 2003 12:53 pm


GaryR50
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Postby GaryR50 » Thu May 15, 2003 1:25 pm

Gary

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Postby texasdago » Fri May 16, 2003 6:25 am


GaryR50
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Postby GaryR50 » Fri May 16, 2003 6:49 am

Gary

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Postby texasdago » Fri May 16, 2003 7:10 am


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Postby GaryR50 » Fri May 16, 2003 12:30 pm

Gary

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