Should you attempt to create your house plan design yourself? Or Hire a Pro?
House Plan Design and Your New Home
I have had several clients that have come to me and confided that they have spent the last year, two years, or even three years trying to get around the expense of hiring a competent, legitimate actual licensed architect to create their house plan design for their custom home. They usually say something like “I had a prefabricated home company create a house plan design for me for “free” during the last couple of years…”
“So, how’d that work out for you,” I would ask.
“It was a joke,” was the last response I got (verbatim). You really can’t expect some company to provide you with a house plan design or anything else for “free” and expect that something to be very worthwhile. Usually, those companies have existing old house plans lying on a shelf somewhere and if you want a very little portion of them tweaked, some kid from the back room who might know a little about a computer drawing program may modify a little corner of it for you. But even that kid doesn’t work for free; that company has to pay him something to be there. Who pays for that?
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One way or the other, the costs of your house plan design get back to you, either hidden in some material charges or administrative fees; it’s there somewhere. And what about the results? How can someone with so little experience, training, or licensing come anywhere near the design results of a seasoned, registered architect who has been designing custom homes for decades?
DIY for Your House Plan Design? Perhaps You Might Want a Real Residential Architect for Your Custom Home Project. It is More than the Floor Plans
Here’s one thing I have learned in life: nothing is free. You get what you pay for.
Those people wanting real architectural design services have come to me saying the same thing. And they have paid for their “free” services from others with wasted months or years of their time. How much is your time worth? How much would it be worth to you to have your house plan design 2 or 3 years faster than with some questionable approach? Many prefabricated home companies have one mission: sell materials and dump them in your driveway. An independent architect whom you engage to design your home has an entirely different approach: to help you satisfy your objectives. Generally, if you’re happy, he’s happy.
I have had other clients arrive with a hazy, not-to-scale floor plan sketch, proclaiming that “We’ve designed it all. All you need to do is finish it up!” How many people other than myself have seen the sign hanging in the car mechanic’s garage that says: “Rates: $50/hour. If you help: $100/hour.” There is no architect anywhere on this planet that can really use your sketches. He has to start drawing on his own, properly documenting every corner, nook, and cranny to exact dimensions and angles, usually on a computerized drawing program to create your real, usable house plan design. And he has to be thinking about what all those corners look like when the elevations are created, and how to support that form logically, simply, and economically. It usually costs less if you let the professional do his own work. And there is a lot more to designing your home that just the floor plans.
Tell Your Residential Architect What You Want in Your House Plan Design
Sure, tell the Residential Architect what you want, then let him do his thing. Professionals trained and experienced for decades normally will have excellent ideas that you simply don’t have the experience to consider in a house plan design. It’s sort of like trying to tell your neurosurgeon how to access your brain and what he should do once he gets there. So instead of attempting to be your architect’s superior describe your lifestyle. List your preferences of materials and colors and finishes. Mention your hobbies and desires for number of people in each space and how you have always dreamed of a very large kitchen with a huge island of granite and a view dining room with a fireplace. Your architect needs to know those things. Hire the professional whose work you like the looks of. Most designers have a main style. Get the guy or gal that creates homes with an appearance that delights you. Stay away from those people whose work leaves you flat. They won’t be able to change much just for your one project. Stay away from architects who design medical centers and other such things on a daily basis, because they aren’t residential designers. Find those luxury residential architects who make their living, day in and day out, designing the kind of home in which you want to live. That’s your guy. House plan design should be his middle name. By the way, Rand Soellner’s website name actually is: HomeArchitects.com. That speaks of a commitment to his trade.
Custom Home Plan Design – What Sort of Drawings Are Involved?
There is a lot more to residential design than mere floor plans. The phrase “house plan design” doesn’t really adequately explain what is involved. What does? Site plan(s), building code requirements (the current IRC (International Residential Code) book comes in a 4″ thick binder), site requirements for sewage, potable water, driveway, guest parking, garage access and back-out space, building setbacks, landscaping requirements, ARC (Architectural Review Committee) requirements, the floor plans, building sections, wall sections, details, energy requirements, structural requirements and connections, framing, roof plan(s), finish schedules, door schedules, electrical plans, cabinetry plans and elevations, administrative requirements like indexes and abbreviations and site maps, and more! Whew! That’s why home architects earn their money. It is a lot to do. And we haven’t even talked about what the architect can do for you during bidding and construction. That’s a subject for another article.
Here’s a related article called: Why You Should Use A Home Architect.