Go into any bookstore or search on words “Stock House Plans” and you will find thousands of them, mostly junk. Perhaps 50% of are stolen and just about all of them get twisted and stretched before they actually get built. But for decades, a few architects have seen them as a way to democratize design, to make good designs available at a lower price to a larger audience. Now, when clients have less money and architects are reliving that joke of a decade ago (What do you say to an architect with a job? “I’ll have fries with that.”), perhaps it’s time for talented architects to take the stock plan business seriously.

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Stock plans aren’t a new idea; Frank Lloyd Wright thought they would bring his houses to a wider audience. Life Magazine promoted them for years, hiring great architects like Robert Stern and Hugh Newell Jacobson. More on their background at TreeHugger: Good Architects Selling Good Plans is a Good Thing.

Interloop Architecture of Houston, Texas made the plans for this office and residence available through Hometta, which Delivers Good Designs For Smaller Homes Off the Rack.

Houseplans.com offers new designs like the Flexahouse by Nick Noyes, but also classics from great architects like the late William Turnbull, who worked with Charles Moore on Sea Ranch.

FreeGreen turns the entire stock plan business on its head by giving away the plans. Like much on the internet, it isn’t a bad idea because so many get stolen anyways. At least this way they make money from customization and from specifying products from advertisers. More at TreeHugger: Free Green Turns House Design Business On Its Head and How Much Should Design Cost?

FreeGreen is also building <a href=”The chain of Eco-Homes in Greensburg. More here: Meadowlark House by Steven Learner Wins Chain of Eco-Homes Competition

Some architects do it on their own and sell them directly; Greg Lavardera at LamiDesign has been doing it for years and built a career out of it. More at TreeHugger: Click Your Way to Greg Lavardera’s Modern Stock Plans and 6040 House by LaMiDesign

It isn’t done enough, but really, Good Architects Selling Good Plans is a Good Thing.