Designers Guide to Selling Home Plans Online

By Chip Hudson

July 1, 2020

In today's technology based business world, home designers must utilize every tool available  in order to have their ideas and plans reach as many builders and prospective home buyers as possible. Selling home plans online may be a daunting process, but once you get started you'll find a much wider market to showcase your work.

Sites for Designers to Sell Their Plans

Home plan designers utilizing the online market have a couple of options when it comes to selling their designs. Designers can choose between selling their designs through a third party and creating their own website to sell their plans. Let's take a quick look at the details behind either strategy.

Designers who create their own website will have to put in a lot of time, money and effort in order to create an effective website to attract clients. In order to sell plans on their own site, home designers will have to consider many different aspects in order to successfully utilize their own website.

  • Hiring a web design professional
  • Website hosting services
  • Online shopping cart requirements
  • Online payment and processing options
  • Automation versus manual plan delivery

As you can see, the process of setting up a website to sell your own home designs is far from simple. Web design and hosting can be pricey, especially if you wish to sell your product through an automated process. There will inevitably be regular fees and costs required for updates and maintenance, and designers may be required to take time away from their home design priorities in order to keep an eye on their site.

Using your own site also brings up complications when it comes to payment and distribution of your home plans.

How do you plan on making sure clients are able to purchase and receive their required plans?

Automated printing and shipping can be a costly endeavor, especially when it comes to home designs. If you wish to manually print and ship, there is always the potential for delay and missed orders during the transition from the automated purchasing process to the printing and shipping step.

Most home designers won't have the time or financial resources to sell their plans directly from their business' homepage, so taking advantage of a third party site may be a better or additional choice. Here are a few options:

All four of these sites give home designers an outlet to sell their plans online with minimal time restraints on the designer's part. However, they don't all give equal exposure to the untapped online market.

Of the four, Portfolio Home Plans offers the most widespread potential for owners to showcase and sell their product. Like the others, PHP offers a large collection of home plans on their homepage, but they exponentially increase the potential for exposure by having their virtual marketplace embedded on thousands of webpages other than their own. The PHP marketplace exists on the homepages of builders, contractors, realtors and home designers. Choosing to sell your designs with PHP gives you the advantage of exposing your designs to potential clients directly through the homepages of their chosen builders and realtors.

Plan Requirements

When you decide to sell your plans online with Portfolio Home Plans, it's important to note the plan requirements before uploading your plans for potential customers to view. If you have chosen incomplete plans, or plans that may not meet the necessary requirements, you've lost time and reduced your exposure to builders and home buyers.

Let's take a quick look at what aspects are required according to PHP's minimum drawing standards for selling your plans on the digital marketplace embedded on thousands of sites.

  • Foundation Plans
  • Floor Plan(s)
  • Exterior Elevation
  • Roof Plan
  • Cross Section
  • Electrical Plan

When your home design has all of these things in order, you're ready to upload it for sale on PHP's virtual marketplace. Before you do, however, you may wish to take some time to review all of the minimum drawing standards to ensure that your plan is 100 percent ready to go.

Optimizing Sales Using Photography

While builders, contractors and realtors may be able to visualize a finished product just by looking at a home plan, the average home buyer cannot. When selling your home designs online, you'll want to give prospective buyers the best possible visual imaging in order to make your plan stand out among the rest. There are a few different ways to display eye-catching visuals of the final result of your designs.

  • Professional Renderings
  • Black and White Renderings
  • Amateur Photography
  • Professional Photography

If the home you've designed has yet to be constructed, you'll want to include a rendering of what it could potentially look like once the building process is complete. You can choose a professional rendering of your house plan or include black and white hand-drawn renderings of the potential finished product.

Both of these can give buyers the opportunity to imagine what their house will look like after construction. A professional rendering is usually recommended over a black and white rendering.

Professional renderings are usually done with the aid of computer rendering software allowing you to produce a quality result in a short amount of time. Professional renderings can also often be presented in three dimensions that allow you to view many different angles from the same rendering.

With hand-drawn images, you'll have to create a new image for each angle. This can be time consuming and costly.

If you've already sold your design to a builder who has completed construction, you may wish to utilize photography to display the finished result of your plan. Photography offers numerous advantages since you'll be able show potential customers the end result of your designs without leaving anything to the imagination. You can take these photos yourself, use an amateur photographer or hire a professional to take these pictures for you. 

While taking the pictures yourself or utilizing an amateur may save you money in the short run, having professional photographs taken may produce a more attractive result that can increase sales.

When searching for a professional photographer, make sure you select one that has experience with photographing homes. Many realtors, contractors, home builders and property managers regularly employ professional photographers who specialize in taking pictures for marketing homes to potential buyers or renters. If you have contacts in these different industries, you may wish to get recommendations from fellow professionals in the home buying and building business.

Once you've hired a local photographer, you'll want to plan your photoshoot carefully. One of the advantages of hiring a photographer that specializes in home photography is that they'll already know what they are doing and have a well established plan and routine. This can make planning your photoshoot much easier than if you hire an amateur or take photos yourself.

Regardless of whether you utilize an amateur or a professional, you'll want to make sure that photos are taken from several different angles. Give potential customers a view of the front, back and sides of the house. You may also wish to take pictures of key parts of the home such as the entry, interior spaces and other key or unique features of your design. This will paint a broader picture that will draw potential buyers to your design.

Finally, make the photoshoot worth it for the home owner. After all they are doing you a favor by allowing you to use their home for promotional purposes. Compensate them by offering gift cards as an incentive or allowing them to keep a copy of all of the photographs should they choose to sell or rent their home at a later date.

The online marketplace is a great way to improve exposure and increase sales of your designs, and taking advantage of these tips can give you an edge over other designers venturing into digital home plan sales.

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