Are you looking for ways to save on your construction project? Do you hope to add resale value to your home with an affordable addition? Perhaps you want to change the design of your house and are keen on minimizing the cost of the alteration. Regardless of the project you may have in mind, building is all about compromises. You often have to choose between aesthetics, durability and cost-effectiveness. The guide below aims to make these choices easier for you as you plan your project.

Site conditions

The ability to choose the location of your future home can afford you a significant cost advantage. But savings come with a compromise. If you dream of soaking up California’s stunning beauty from a hillside villa, be ready to pay out on grading and foundations, as leveling the grade and strengthening the foundation will bear a colossal premium. If living on a flatter surface is acceptable for you, then check your prospective site for other budget-busters that may hide in the ground, such as poor soil, rocks, and a high water table. If you’re free to choose your site, capitalize on the opportunity by avoiding these costly conditions

Permissions from local authorities

Usually, a state or municipality has its own set of permits for the different kinds of construction work. But a permit may not be required for all locations. Typically, walls that are 4 feet or lower in height do not require a permit. But this rule varies according to different jurisdictions and cities. So, it’s better to check with the local authorities before contemplating any kind of wall building activity. The building code and planning and zoning regulations adopted by the respective area will feature a set of restrictions for the benefit of both the residents and the public. Safety, strength, height limits, ease of access, visibility and materials are the common factors covered in the code. Even a basic fence might require some permits depending on the height and location of the building.

The essentials of construction

A site wall is the first thing people chance upon, even before entering an enclosed property for the first time. Care has to be taken to ensure that the wall is constructed thoughtfully, aesthetically and cost effectively. A site wall should not only look inviting, but also stand the test of time. Obviously, higher walls have to be thicker since the pressure on the soil is more. The wall you build has to be restricted completely to your own property. When it comes to materials, the choices are aplenty – concrete, wood, stone, iron, etc. Also, the design, construction and supervision have to be entrusted to the best possible team of professionals.

Got questions related to civil or architectural engineering? Our team of experienced California-licensed engineers can help you with the right advice and services.

Call us at (877) 704-5727 or email your requirements to for a no-obligation quote followed by a consultation.

*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.

Verified by Michael Howie PE

You must have an account to comment on the post. Register with us if you are an AEC professional!

Schedule Consultation