The designing aspect of the house building process...

The next step in the sequence after the Planning section should be your designing aspect of you house. You really can't budget your project until you know what you build. You will take your home builder hat of and now put your designer hat on.

The steps for designing your house...

Below are the individual steps that an owner builder should utilize. They are roughly in the correct order, but your order may be slightly different.

1. Getting plans for your house is absolutely the first step. Without knowing what you want in a house, the process stops. You need to know what you want. Below are four options you can use to get going on the plans (an note: prints and plans will be used interchangeably throughout the site).

a. Buy plans from http://www.Homeplans.com. They have the most extensive collection of plans and the best overall prices. You normally can get the plans with a slab foundation, crawl space foundation, or complete foundation. The best thing, though, is that they also sell planning sets for $99. This will definitely be the best $99 you have ever spent. You can get a planning set to start the process. Make any changes, verify dimensions for the lot, and check the overall flow of the house. If it's the house you want, you would then buy the reproducible set and have your engineer make the modifications you want, as well as add any details that need to be added for construction purpose. Keep in mind though, that, adding rooms in the front or sides will dramatically change the elevations and hence your roof design and look of the house (the rear is obviously not as noticeable).

b. You can use plans you already have. If this is the case, make sure the house AND everything else will fit on the lot and you are good to go.

c. If you see a house around town that is fairly new and you like it, go the the records department of your county and request a copy of the plans. If plans were submitted, they are public records and you can request a copy. Look the plans over. If you like them, call the designer that drew the house and have him/her develop a set of plans for you, with your modifications. This should also eliminate the step of having your engineer modify and seal the prints, since the designer can normally arrange it all. Note: do not get a set of prints and have someone other than the original designer do that. Normally, the plans are copyrighted, and you just do not want to go down that path. Also, the original designer already has the plans draw and in his/her computer, so modifying should be very easy and inexpensive.

d. The last way to get a set of plans is to call up a few designers, engineers, and architects and ask to look at some of their inventory prints. They will welcome you with open arms

2.       Designing

a.    Getting Plans

                                                               i.      Via www. Homeplans.com

                                                             ii.      Via plans you already have

                                                            iii.      Via you local Building Department

                                                           iv.      Via inventory of plans from Architect of Home Designer

1.       Architect vs. Engineer vs. Home Designer vs. Draftsman

b.    Rework plans to your needs, site conditions, budget.

c.    If in neighborhood, track down deed restrictions and construction restrictions.  You will find the covenants of your lot either from a document held by the secretary of the homeowner’s association, the developer, or the recorded covenants at your local courthouse.  Items to look out for:

                                                               i.      Setback requirements – May exceed what is specified by local jurisdiction (i.e., calls for 50’ front setback versus 20’ setback).

                                                             ii.      Minimum or maximum size for houses

                                                            iii.      Contact information for person or committee if architectural approval is needed

d.    Work on finalizing site plan.  Items to remember are:

                                                               i.      Make sure setbacks conform to most restrictive requirement, as set by county, local jurisdiction, developer, or homeowners association

                                                             ii.      Make sure your setbacks are measured from the eaves, not the corners of the building (i.e., if there is a minimum 50’ setback from the front of the property line to the front of the house, do not use the front of the building walls as the 50’ designation.  Measure from the eaves (the overhangs) of your house, and add 6” to that.  I have failed an inspection when the inspector measured the distance from my front gutter to the front property line.  I talked the inspector into over riding his decision, but only because I was very friendly with him.

                                                            iii.      Include everything that needs to be on it, using your judgment.  Place septic system, leech field, well, as well as all septic systems, leech fields, and wells of all adjoining lots, if possible.  Show place of tentative electric transformer and location of electric service to house.

                                                           iv.      Include site specific land marks, if possible.

                                                             v.      Make sure to draw, or have draw, to scale

                                                           vi.      Provide distances on site plan from property lines to front, sides, and rears.

                                                          vii.      Make sure to draw any easements on the lot.

                                                        viii.      Place a designation specifying NORTH.

                                                           ix.      Include you name, the lot address, and the permit application number on it, if applicable

e.   Finalizing plans for permit package, paying special attention to the following items on the plans:

                                                               i.      Electrical plan

                                                             ii.      Flow of hallways

                                                            iii.      Elevations for windows and doors

                                                           iv.      Placement and elevation of windows

                                                             v.      Pay attention to multi-pitched roof lines

                                                           vi.      Cut sheets for windows/doors/garage doors

                                                          vii.      Detail for butt/aquarium glass

                                                        viii.      Interior Elevations

                                                           ix.      Call sizes for all windows on prints

                                                             x.      Energy calc (Note:  need to know insulation, location of house, windows)

                                                           xi.      Detail for masonry wall

                                                          xii.      Detail for bearing and non-load bearing frame wall, interior and exterior

                                                        xiii.      Truss engineering – may need engineer of record to stamp layout.

                                                        xiv.      Detail for roof

                                                         xv.      Insulation schedule

                                                        xvi.      Roof layout and truss plan

                                                      xvii.      Site Plan, Landscape Plan, and Drainage Plan

f.     Send out working set of plans Requests for Bids for long lead time trades and materials

                                                               i.      Roofing

                                                             ii.      Site Work

                                                            iii.      Kitchen Cabinets

1.       Where to buy – not Home Depot or Lowes

g.    Send out working set of plans for truss layout and pricing

h.   Go to Building Department and pick up applications, and list of required documents.  Ask questions, see it Plans Reviewer will look over plans

i.     Go to Health Department and get health permit for septic system, if necessary