How to Acquire Existing House Plans in South Florida

To build an addition to your South Florida home, you must obtain a copy of the original house plans.

Check out your house plansCheck out your house plans
Your architect will need the plans to identify load-bearing walls and to ensure that the roof angles join correctly. Your builder will also be required to submit the original plans along with new plans when he applies for building permit.

Research whether your home falls under a county or a city building department. For example, if you live within the city limits of Delray Beach, the office responsible for building is the Delray Beach Planning and Zoning Department, but if you live in unincorporated Palm Beach County, you should contact the Palm Beach County's Department of Planning Zoning and Building in West Palm Beach.

Determine the year your house was built. With changing technology, house plans are stored in different ways by building departments. Some older plans are still stored on microfiche, while newer plans are scanned and stored in computerized form.

Call your building department to find the cost of copying your plans; the price varies depending on the age of the plans and the size you want. In April 2010, a Palm Beach County Building Department official quoted $1.25 per page of microfiche plans, and--for computerized plans--a range of $0.15 for 8x11 inch paper to $2.00 per page for full-size architectural plans.

Go to the building department to order the plans. You can order plans by phone, but builders in South Florida claim that it is less stressful in the end to go and order the plans in person. Be sure to order all the necessary plans. Different sets of plans are filed with different permits, so the electrical plan may be stored separately from the roof plans.

Things You Will Need

  • Map
  • Street address

Tips

  • Building plans are public record in South Florida. You do not have to own a house to obtain building plans.
  • Remember that in South Florida, your postal address can include a city name even if you live in an unincorporated area. If you are not sure of the jurisdiction, check your property tax bill to determine if you pay your property taxes to the city or the county.

Warning

  • Be aware that you cannot legally just build a new house using another person's plans

About the Author

Lesley Boughtlower began her professional life as a German translator and later wrote training and user manuals for translation software. Boughtflower holds the Bachelor of Science in translation from Salford University, and the Bachelor of Science in computer systems from Florida Atlantic University.