Many homeowners planning to remodel are often surprised when asked if they have plans for their project. While a contractor may be able to draw a set of building plans, residential designers are specialists who are trained to use space most efficiently and educated in all the newest trends and products available.

They not only draw plans, but also spend time with each client to determine their specific needs, lifestyles, priorities and budgets to design a custom room, addition or entire home. Residential designers can best be described as a cross between an architect and an interior designer.

Q: Why seek out a residential designer to design my remodeling plans when so many contractors offer free design advice as part of their bid service?

A: Contractors generally tend to fill a client’s requests in the most straight-forward manner possible, keeping things simple to avoid confusion and spending any more extra time than necessary. Getting the job and building it are their number one priorities. By contrast, the residential designer’s whole purpose is sit down with you and work out your design puzzle in its entirety, with the emphasis on finding the best solution rather than the most obvious. Helping you understand the complexities of the project fully before it goes to bid (or worse, gets built) prevents misunderstandings and possible regrets about your choices.

Q: But isn’t using a residential designer expensive?

A: Not at all. In addition to saving time and effort, it often saves you money. Most contractors are so thrilled to get well-documented, professionally designed plans that they often rebate some or all of the residential designer’s fees back to the consumer when they sign up with them. They recognize that detailed plans with full specifications and interpretive drawings result in a smooth-running project. A client who understands and wants exactly what he is getting saves the contractor from the potential barrage of change-orders, time and money over-runs, and bad feelings on both sides that can easily result from misunderstandings and/or ambiguities. Having accurate plans before the bidding process even starts makes it easier on the contractors and the client. If multiple bids are obtained, everyone is bidding on EXACTLY the same materials, brands, models, etc.

Q: So when should I bring in a residential designer? Do I need to know precisely what I want before I talk to one?

A: Although ideally you’d meet fairly early in the project’s planning process, anytime prior to construction is appropriate. You need to have a basic idea of what you’d like to accomplish, but skilled questioning by the designer to help determine even your hidden wants and needs is a very important part of the process. An incredible array of products is available and getting guidance from a professional saves you time, effort and money. Questions about your lifestyle, creative solutions, or suggestions for new/specialized products may even trigger your looking at your project in a whole different light. The designer takes everyday usage practicalities, future growth potential and multi-use possibilities into consideration when creating your final design.

Q: What is the range of services that a residential designer typically offers?

A: It varies, but generally includes development of design options, working out the final floor plan with notes and specifications, a custom electrical plan, cabinet elevations, room isometrics, and door/window/appliance/finish schedules are available as desired. Full working plans (i.e. permit-ready) for homes or additions are usually available also.

Q: Should I purchase predrawn plans from the internet or magazine?

In times past, some of our clients have felt that they could save money by purchasing pre-drawn plans via magazines or online websites. These websites offer many different designs and give the impression that their plans are guaranteed.

In some areas, the building codes are universal across several states. But in California, we find that the California Building Code (or CBC) is unique to this state and requires specific notes & details to meet such requirements. You may choose to purchase pre-drawn plans, but we must inform you that modifications will likely be required by local building departments, unless the plan was previously drawn by us.

In addition, most online plan companies do not list the cost for modifications. The reason is obvious, so be very careful.

We prefer to work with design ideas and sketches you come up with as the client. Our qualified designer will be able to get the general design concept of your home simply by providing this sketch. From there, we can create a custom design to meet your needs and save you any added unnecessary costs.

We do, however, recommend that you browse the online and printed resources of these pre-drawn plan companies, such as homeplans.com, to develop the concept of your home. Research the plans they provide and it will help you determine your own preferences in the design of your new home. Then our qualified designers can put together a plan that is customized for your needs.

You may use the links below to search plan databases for plan features that appeal to your needs & wants. Provide us the plan numbers, and we will create a custom, unique plan just for you!

Use these internet sites to browse thousands of plans:

eplans.com
Dream Home Source
HousePlans.com

Q: How much do you charge?

The Design and Drafting Fees for our services are very reasonable. Fees are usually based on the square foot of the project and range between $0.85/sf to upwards of $2.00/sf, depending on the complexity of the project. These fees reflect the quality of our work, not a high profit margin. We spend more time and effort to ensure accuracy and quality than the competition. You will be quoted an estimated fee before you sign our contract.

Q: How do you design for free?

Most of our clients love us at the end of the project because they did not “technically” pay for our services. How is this done?

On most projects, we are able to save you enough money to cover our fees by suggesting alternative designs and methods of construction to accomplish the same end result… but costing you much less.

For example, one client wanted a covered patio at the rear of his home, but he could not afford the posts, beams, concrete footings, and labor to install it. So we simply suggested that he use “cantilevered trusses”, which do not require support beams or posts, etc. This suggestion saved him more money than our services cost him, and he still got what he wanted: a beautiful patio.

Typically, we make up for the cost of our services by saving you money during construction through design modifications. This means that if you had gone to a drafter and had him draft your plans without considering the design, you would have paid less for the plans, but more for the project overall due to poor design often featured on pre-drawn plans in plan books.