Unless you have significant architectural and building experience, designing a home is likely a daunting endeavor to most future homeowners.
Your first step is to define what you like; and to a certain extent, also what you dislike. Almost endless architectural styles are available from simple log cabin, traditional timber frame, cap cod, colonial, Feng shui, historic, passive solar, victorian, modern or contemporary to name a few…
Building a dream…
Gather ideas by reading architectural magazines and researching the internet, downloading exterior and interior photos and floor plans.
Visit open houses and show homes and take pictures if possible.
From dream to reality…
Calculating your building budget is a crucial step to avoid cruel disappointments. The cost of building varies greatly by location, construction style and design. Inquiring with local general contractors about custom home cost per square foot in your area is a wise thing to do.
If you are planning to build a log home, a timber frame or log/timber accent frame home for example, then ask log or timber frame builders about the extra cost that is likely included with this type of construction. This gathering of information will help you define how much living space you can afford, or are willing to spend.
Do you own a building lot?
It is our strong belief that a custom home is site specific to take advantage of orientation to views, passive solar gain, topography of the land and environmental impact. By buying a stock plan, and dropping it on a site you have not purchased will deny you the opportunity to fine tune your favorite floor plan to fit just right on your property.
Beware of copyright infringements.
All designs you will find are copyrighted, and you should protect yourself from possible legal pursuit by buying the design of your choice if you do wish to build it.
Many of our customers come to us with a plan they believe is just what they want. After we sit down and review their needs, budget and how well the design will fit the building site, the final product often ends up quite different from the original ideas, to their great satisfaction.
Buying a stock plan or hiring a home designer or an architect?
A stock plan typically will cost you a few hundred dollars to upward of $1000.00 depending on the size and construction style. Stock plans are not site specific, and not structurally engineered to your local weather and soil conditions.
The set of plans will have minimum information for building permits, and local building inspector review will likely require the plans to be customized to fit local codes and bylaws, local site snow load, wind load, and soil bearing pressure. In the end, you will be building someone else dream and miss the chance to build what you want and need.
Home designers professional qualifications range from no post secondary education, to college and university architectural graduates and fees vary greatly from less than $1.00 per square foot to upward of 1% of the finished house building cost.
When selecting a home designer, look for years of experience in the industry, check portfolio for creativity and architectural style, education and references from previous customers and builders.
In North America it is not required to be a licensed architect to design residential projects.
Licensed architect firms mainly design public and commercial buildings with some residential work. An architect will typically charge between 7% to 12% of total cost of a project. Their fees reflect a deeper involvement in the building process, well beyond the design and drafting of construction plans.
An architect will prepare bid documentation, including construction specifications for contractors and trades, site analysis, and may assist with planning and zoning, environmental studies manage construction contracts and coordinate project with engineers, interior decorators, landscape architects…
Architects may go as far as designing specific furniture, dish and cutlery sets to match your home design architectural style.
The design process from RCM CAD DESIGN DRAFTING LTD:
Preliminary design stage:
The first step is to gather all necessary information about the site.
Zoning, soil and weather data, snow and wind load, seismic zone, allowable building envelope, applicable building codes, local bylaws, building and environmental restrictions…
We work with you to establish your targeted budget, as well as architectural and construction style with pictures and written/oral description of space relationship and size of rooms with possible desired orientation to view and sun, access and egress to house, including services location.
Photos of building site and views from all sides with orientation to North, South, West, East is helpful. A plat map of the property with grade elevations at the building site should also be available.
RCM CAD provides a detailed questionnaire to help you focus on the most critical aspect of the design.
The preliminary design package we provide includes fully dimensioned floor plans with structural design of log/timber work (size and support), rendered pictures of the house on your virtual building site and a virtual walkthru animation to allow our customer to visit their future home inside and outside, view furnished rooms with appliances and cabinetry as shown on our web page rendering samples.
The virtual walkthru is an essential and powerful visual tool that allows the customer to fully understand room sizes and relationships with traffic space and outdoor living. If you would like to view a walkthru sample, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send a sample walkthru to you so that you may experience the usefulness of this tool before you even begin building.
After receiving your feedback on all aspects of the preliminary design proposal, we start the revision process to fine tune your home to your complete satisfaction. Typically it only takes 1 to 2 revisions, but we include up to 3 revisions in our process. Good communication by email and phone or face to face is essential.
After this, we work on the final construction set of plans. Construction plans consist of drafting a set of plans ready for a structural engineering stamp, if required, and building permit approval. The quality of the final set, including custom construction details from concrete foundation to roof, is essential to ensure that you will get precise construction quotes from all builders involved in the quotation process.
Our set of plans includes:
- A cover page with a perspective view of your home and general construction notes.
- Four elevations: front, back, left and right as required for building permit.
- Foundation plan and/or basement plan
- Main floor plan and floor framing plan
- Upper floor plan and floor framing plan.
- Roof framing plan
- Electrical plan for each floor with electrical schedule and wiring details
- Two full sections across the house showing stair calculations, headroom and distance between floors…
- Workshop drawings of log and timber work (if applicable) showing all walls and roof beams fully dimensioned (length, size and elevations from top of main floor.
- Custom construction details for concrete, framing, log and timber connections, steel anchors and finishing details
- Window and door schedule for each floor with nominal and rough opening dimensions.
- Finishing schedules for all floors, walls and ceilings.
- Two isometric views to get a birds eye-view of the log/timber work (if applicable).
- Final virtual walkthru is also available for you and all builders.
Preliminary designs take about two weeks to produce from the time we receive down payment. Revisions typically take one week each. Drafting of plans takes two weeks in most cases. Larger projects do tend to take longer.
A set of plans by RCM CAD consists of about 15-20 pages (D size 2′x3′ at 1/4” per foot scale) for regular job sizes.
Please view our plan samples on our web page design section for more information.Why is a good detailed set of plan essential to the success of your home building project?
All that we build or manufacture starts with a plan precisely detailing all facets of construction to ensure a successful end product whether it is a bicycle, a car, a piece of furniture or a house.
A house is a large investment that requires much attention to all details.
Some people believe that eliminating or minimizing the design process and buying the cheapest plans possible will save them money.
The opposite is actually true.
A quality set of plans, professionally designed and drafted, will save you many times the cost of the plans.
- A good design is worked within a set budget, eliminating the dreadful possibility of running out of money before the house is ready to move in.
- Eliminating wasted space and optimizing traffic flow will save on overall size of the home.
- Judicious material selection and simpler construction practices can save large amounts of money. Designers with many years of experience can make a big difference in helping make all the right decisions.
- A set of house plans that leaves many guesses will be difficult to impossible to estimate material and labor costs.
- If the builder has to guess, it will invariably cost you more money.
- You do not want to have the builder interpret the plans.
- All builders will charge more when finding grey area in the design to protect themselves from surprises.
- You, the future home owner must understand the design. Regular floor plans and elevations only show a tiny part of the design. A virtual walkthru of your home will ensure that you will not be surprised when the home is built, as you will have viewed the design in 3 dimensions.
- If you ask the builder to change the design as it is being built because you suddenly realize it is not what you expected, you will have to pay cost overruns. All cost overruns can simply be avoided with a good design from the start.
- If, in the unfortunate event you have a conflict with your builder, your plans and building contract are the legal documents you will depend on. All quotations are based on plans, so the more detailed the plans, the better your legal protection. Ask a lawyer…
We at RCM CAD DESIGN strongly recommend all future home owners hire an independent professional team, free from conflict of interests, and working just for you, to design and draft quality set of plans and therefore ensuring a successful and happy home building experience.