Dilbert

Question about selling plans to home builders

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Hello,

 

I have a question regarding selling plans to home builders, do you usually charge a one time fee for the whole set of plans and let them build as many dwellings from those plans? Or is there a contract where the builder pays a percentage of the first price everytime they build a house off your plans?

 

I've usually just charged a rate like 27 cents per square feet on total covered square footage, but I feel like I'm being generous due to my inexperience in dealing with home builders.

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It depends on a huge number of factors...

 

-How good you are at what you do.

-The overall quality of your design work

-How complex your designs are

-How many details you draw up and how detailed those details are

-Whether or not you provide engineering and stamps

-Whether or not you are licensed

-The list goes on...

 

27 cents per square foot definitely sounds low though for just about any circumstance I can imagine.

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The lowest dollar amount out here in CA for a designer is 50 per hour (that I know of) but I think most figure around 75. Licensed architects are 125 plus I think.

I know I'm cheap but I'm not only the designer I'm the builder so its worth it for me to do my own plans at a bargain so I have better control over when they get done and its a good selling point to take a job from plans all the way to finish.

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Not an Architect either but sounds way too low to me , $800 for 3000 sqft home? or am I missing something? 

 

 and yes I think you should be paid each time your design is Used if your Design Work.   (if used more than once put that in your Contract.) 

 

Check out the Seeking services Forum here I think there was a post or two on Hourly Rates etc too.

 

 

 

 

M

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This is my rudimentary, non-lawyerly understanding: you retain copyright to the drawings - the builder can't sell you drawings, but they can build from them as often as they like; think of like a book - the author retains copyright, but once I've purchased the book I can read it as many times as I want without having to pay the author another fee. However, I'm sure a good lawyer can prepare a contract that requires a separate fee per build - or you can raise your rate.

 

To chime in on your rate - 27 cents is ridiculously low, even if you're just providing floor plans and four elevations. In my area even the cheapest drafters are getting over $1.00/sqft.

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I would charge them a "re-use" fee after they have payed for the 1st one (concepts and CDs) I would not do it any other way

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I could be wrong but I believe the plans have to be approved by the city for each property individually. That means that you would have to sign and stamp the plans for each individual address that it goes to. If it is basically the same layout and they are using several then you should get paid for each plan you sign off on. You and/or the engineer. If they are repeats just figure a reduced amount if you want but remember that you are still liable for the structure so that is worth a good amount. If that structure fails they will be knocking down your door. I don't think I would give them too good of a deal.

 

I have never been in this situation before. Interested to here other comments.

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....... but they can build from them as often as they like; think of like a book - the author retains copyright, but once I've purchased the book I can read it as many times as I want without having to pay the author another fee. .........

 

I am glad you are not my lawyer.  You can read it as many times as you want,  but if you bought it on your IPAD,  you cannot give a copy away to all of your friends.  I think once the builder has bought the  plans,  he can build it as many times as he wants on THAT LOT for THOSE clients,  but he can't build it on different lots for different clients.

 

If I  bought the movie "Gone with the Wind"  since I paid for it,  can I copy it over and over and resell it?

 

Robert,  you lose this one.

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As usual there's no right or wrong, only what's been agreed to.

 

A lawyer would most likely look to the terms of the agreement that went along with selling the plans. If the agreement states the builder can build as many of these houses that he wants after buying the plans then the builder can build as many house as he wants after buying the plans.

 

If the agreement states the builder can build as many times as he wants on THAT LOT for THOSE clients then that's the terms he must stick with.

 

If there was no agreement to begin with then expect a lot of chaos and confusion (and discussions like this) as always happens when there is no clear contract or agreement.

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Yep, I think it is all about how your contract is written up. But also I don't think code enforcement would allow anyone to use the same plan for each house unless it is changed to the property specific. Which means you must have the signature and wet stamp for each property and/or each structure on the same property. A builder can't legally keep resubmitting the same plan for different structures unless somebody supplies a wet stamp. Again the guy that stamps the drawing needs to get paid for every structure that is built for he or she is responsible if something fails because of miscalculations.

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I am glad you are not my lawyer.  You can read it as many times as you want,  but if you bought it on your IPAD,  you cannot give a copy away to all of your friends.  I think once the builder has bought the  plans,  he can build it as many times as he wants on THAT LOT for THOSE clients,  but he can't build it on different lots for different clients.

 

If I  bought the movie "Gone with the Wind"  since I paid for it,  can I copy it over and over and resell it?

 

Robert,  you lose this one.

 

 

Well, I did say I'm NOT a lawyer. This excerpt from an article by a real lawyer supports you're view (emphasis is mine):

 

"In many construction projects, the owner, construction manager or contractor will contract with an architect or designer to design the project. Regardless of payment, if the contract does not state otherwise, the original architect or designer retains ownership of the copyrights and the purchaser merely obtains a non-exclusive license to use the plans for that particular construction project. This means that the owner and/or contractor do not necessarily have the right to use the purchased plans for any other projects and do not have the right to prevent the original designer from selling those same plans to other owners and/or contractors."

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Well, I did say I'm NOT a lawyer. This excerpt from an article by a real lawyer supports you're view (emphasis is mine):

 

"In many construction projects, the owner, construction manager or contractor will contract with an architect or designer to design the project. Regardless of payment, if the contract does not state otherwise, the original architect or designer retains ownership of the copyrights and the purchaser merely obtains a non-exclusive license to use the plans for that particular construction project. This means that the owner and/or contractor do not necessarily have the right to use the purchased plans for any other projects and do not have the right to prevent the original designer from selling those same plans to other owners and/or contractors."

Hey,   you might make a good lawyer,  all they do it look up precedents.   Nice job.  Maybe  I will hire you if I need a lawyer...  god forbid.  

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Wow, thank you all for your informative and awesome feedback. I kind of figured I was getting the short end of the stick, but I'm not registered or licensed as an architect. Kind of do it as a hobby... I first got into it after my dad got me 3d home architect in 1992 I think when it came on 4 floppys. Didn't really know what I was doing when I was trying to sell my plans at age 20, 10 years ago, I just put my trust into a builder that told me what other draftsman were usually charging.

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Joey:

 

it would be the builder that does the signing/stamping unless there is an architect or engineer involved in the project

 

designer/drafters are not allowed to sign/submit

 

the homeowner can sign/submit but may need architect/engineer also

 

all depends on the jurisdiction

 

Lew

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Whatever you decide make sure you have a clear agreement with anyone for anything.

 

I'll try not to make the same mistakes that I did when I was younger, but I'm not great at drawing up contracts though lol. I'll probably go to a lawyer and seek help in making a good contract.

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And raise your rates.

 

for sure , or you might as well spend your evenings working at Home Depot instead..... 

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Joey:

 

it would be the builder that does the signing/stamping unless there is an architect or engineer involved in the project

 

designer/drafters are not allowed to sign/submit

 

the homeowner can sign/submit but may need architect/engineer also

 

all depends on the jurisdiction

 

Lew

 

In California anyone can draw a residential plan and submit it as long as it qualifies under the conventional framing requirements. I built my own new 2500 sq. ft. cabin in Big Bear California and pulled an owner builder permit, drew the plan myself and didn't need a licensed architect or engineer. The only thing that may have made a difference is that it was 400 sq. ft. and I left only one wall and half of the existing foundation. Not sure if you can use conventional framing for a 100% new home. I don't know why if would matter?

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....... I built my own new 2500 sq. ft. cabin in Big Bear California ......

 

WAIT A MINUTE !!!!!!!!..........  ski party at Joey's place next winter.......  it's not Utah,  but it is close to home.

 

Hey Joey,  are you on the slopes?

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We finally found a location for that California user group meeting.

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We finally found a location for that California user group meeting.

Great idea,   hey Joey,  can I bring something?

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WAIT A MINUTE !!!!!!!!..........  ski party at Joey's place next winter.......  it's not Utah,  but it is close to home.

 

Hey Joey,  are you on the slopes?

Not anymore on the slopes. I like to just cruse around the lake on my boat and relax and sometimes so a little fishing. In the winter I like to drive out to the Holcomb Valley (where they shot parts of "Bananza") and do a little four wheelin in my old 1988 beat-up, rust bucket 4x4 Chevy Suburban (have you ever heard that model?).

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Thant's actually a good Idea! I could host a user group meeting there. 3 and 1/2 bathrooms with lots of beds. My wife could do the cookin. Everyone would have to pitch in a little with $$$ for the food and utilities. We could do it in the summer and have a nighttime lake cruse in the tri-tune boat and go have a nice dinner in town. 

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Not anymore on the slopes. I like to just cruse around the lake on my boat and relax and sometimes so a little fishing. In the winter I like to drive out to the Holcomb Valley (where they shot parts of "Bananza") and do a little four wheelin in my old 1988 beat-up, rust bucket 4x4 Chevy Suburban (have you ever heard that model?).

Alan,  do you think we can hold the UGM on Joey's boat?  

 

Chevy Suburban,  isn't that a classic SUV about the size of an M-1 Abrams Tank?

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