Whether you’re looking for a new place to live or an investment property, you may be tempted to build a home from scratch instead of buying one. If this is a route you’re exploring, you have several options:
From time to time, even pros can find construction a treacherous business. For a non-professional, the first option is the safest bet; however, with quality drawings and the support of an experienced design team, anyone can be a successful owner-builder. Unless you’re a veteran home builder, the third choice may be overwhelming - we strongly advocate the use of professional guidance when designing or building your home.
Whether you want to engage a GC or serve as one, your project’s success will depend on quality planning and a seamless design. Some self-builders assume that an architect’s services are a meritless expense, but the fact is that architects are qualified to do several things that laymen are not. Apart from the obvious, such as ensuring code compliance, these professionals take the time to understand your lifestyle and the needs of your family and base the architectural design on these factors. They also know how to channel your expectations of comfort, privacy, energy performance, and aesthetics into the home’s design.
Before you hire an architect, your first step should be to figure out how much you can afford to invest in the project. At this stage, also ask yourself why you prefer a custom home rather than the less expensive production variant. Asking this question will help you recognize your own needs - be it daylight, space, extravagance, functionality, or any other architectural feature that suits your imagination.
After you’ve settled on your budget and brainstormed on a list of design ideas, you can assemble a design brief that will convey these requirements to the architect. Be sure to add sketches and/or photos of prominent architectural features to help your architect visualize your intentions. Also, take the time to establish a start date for construction of your project. These documents will continue to evolve throughout the design phase, but the initial submission should be good enough to get you a design fee proposal.
Next, you will need to assess your site’s existing conditions, and it’s wise to hire an engineer to guide you through this stage. The site assessment may entail a physical survey to establish the site boundaries and topographic features, and/or a geological exploration to determine soil conditions. These procedures will help the engineers draft their initial grading design. Based on the site assessment and the design brief you provided earlier, your architect will produce an initial, conceptual design for you to review and approve.
Once you’ve discussed the conceptual drawings with the architect and given your feedback, they can continue working on the architectural drawings. During the process, the architect will develop plans, elevations, sections, and details, and you will have a chance to discuss and scrutinize these as they evolve.
Now may be a good time to think about your home’s energy efficiency. California’s energy codes are robust enough to offer compliant buildings the best energy efficiency in the nation; that said if you want to take it a step further, be sure to discuss available strategies with the architect. Expect some back-and-forth with your architect while their design is getting finalized.
When the architect presents a set of drawings you’re happy with, it’s time to get the other disciplines involved. If the site’s main elements, such as the home’s footprint, driveways, walkways, and landscaping features are confirmed, the grading design can be wrapped up. If you don’t require drastic adjustments to the home’s exterior and interior appearance, send the architectural plans over to your engineers, so they can use them as a basis of their structural design.
A structural engineer’s job is to ensure that your building keeps standing despite gravity, winds, and earthquakes. If the architectural design unwittingly inhibits either of these functions, the structural engineers will propose modifications, and there will be more coordination between them, the architects, and yourself.
When the architectural plans finally align with the structural design, and vice versa, you can start to involve the Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) disciplines in the design process. These professionals will base the layouts of their respective services on the configuration of the building - its architectural elements and its structure.
After the architectural, structural, and MEP drawings are coordinated, your design team will issue a bid set - a package of drawings you can use to solicit bids from GCs, if you’re taking this route (to read more on bidding and GC selection, click here). When you’ve chosen your GC, get their feedback on the design - sometimes field professionals may see a quicker, simpler, or more economical approach to a particular design component, and you should consider their inputs.
Finally, your chosen GC can submit the permit application for your project. This stage of the process can take some time, as most agencies require approvals based on zoning and land use regulations. Several committees, as well as your neighbors, can get involved in the approval process. On the permit side, expect several plan check cycles from the building department and more revisions from the design team before you get the permits approved. Once you do, you’re all set to build!
Construction can be a challenging process, and its success hinges on an accurate, quality design. Design Everest can bring their 14+ years of industry experience to help make your project a success. Call us at (877) 704-5727 to discuss your project and receive a quote today.
Design Everest is OPEN! We work remotely and are fully committed to taking on and delivering projects.
Design Everest’s remote working model can safely take-up and deliver your projects within the current government guidelines on COVID-19 (a.k.a Coronavirus). This applies to many of our project scopes, including architecture, civil engineering, structural engineering, and construction administration across California.
Design Everest is set up to remotely leverage digital platforms (virtual meetings, calls, emails etc.) in client-facing and internal operations. Over the years, we have advanced this ability to the extent that we can continue supporting new and existing clients across many of our projects. Even projects that need an on-site visit can be fulfilled safely via video calls or in-person visits, where permitted.
Note that the present government guidelines permit the delivery of essential services, including those related to construction.
YES, Design Everest's remote working model enables us to work safely with all clients, suppliers, industry partners, and internal staff as per government guidelines.
Design Everest can still support many of our types of projects (new or ongoing) safely. For example, new custom homes, accessory dwelling units, civil plans etc. We are committed to delivering these remotely and safely as per the current government guidelines. In case of any external dependency that is unavoidable/unavailable, your assigned Custom Success Manager or Project Manager will keep you posted on it and try their best to keep your plans in-progress.
YES, our remote working model enables us to be fully committed to ongoing projects. In case of any external dependency that is unavoidable, unavailable or unsafe, your assigned Custom Success Manager or Project Manager will keep you updated and try their best to keep your plans in-progress. If an on-site visit is not feasible via a video call, we will try our best to fulfill the visit safely, where permitted.
Some of our clients are already going ahead with their projects with us via video calls or virtual meetings. Your assigned Customer Success Manager or Project Manager is happy to help you with this, where needed.
There are multiple reasons for this. It's typical to plan the construction step in the summer. So, clients get started on the pre-construction steps (architecture, engineering, and construction admin) in winter or spring to stick to planned timelines.
Projects such as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Additions/Remodels enable clients to rent/resale and generate revenue. Meanwhile, many clients are concerned about protecting their families and businesses against earthquakes by retrofitting their homes and buildings. These are just a few of the various reasons why it’s still reasonable for clients to stick to their construction plans.
Feel free to phone us at (888) 311-3015 Alternatively, you may contact your assigned Custom Success Manager or Project Manager directly via phone, email or virtual meetings.
To summarize, Design Everest is OPEN and able to serve new and existing clients, affiliates, suppliers, and industry partners.
Stay safe and rest assured that Design Everest can help you go ahead with your plans as per the recommended safety guidelines!