Home Construction – Design – Draw – Permit – Budget and Start !

by Otis Bradley

“Hi Otis, we finally found the house we’ve been searching for!  Its fantastic, amazing !  We bought it !  We want to fix it up (a few bathroom remodels, a kitchen remodel, pop out a little two story addition, replace the rotten foundation – etc etc).  We’ld love to have you help us.  How much will it cost and when can you do it !

Oh yeah we move in next month and we need it done right away cause we sold our old house and we are moving in !”


Click on above image for a larger version.

We love to get these calls !  Everybody is excited.  Things are happening.  Ideas are germinating.  And a whole new life is about to begin.  Often times it takes a while before everyone realizes that construction projects (like any project) do follow a logical path of planning – pricing – permitting – agreeing – and commencing.

 Obviously projects range in size and complexity but it is typical when buying an existing home that there may be a list of small projects. 

Some are simple – replace the hot water heater with the same model.

Some …. complex – remodel the kitchen by gutting existing structural walls and re supporting using steel beams with new footings – install complex cabinetry – electrical  and plumbing.

Some may simply require an owner telling the plumber to change the hot water heater.

Others may have architects, interior designers, structural engineers, contractors, trade specialties, business managers – each with their own area of influence – coming together to create one set of clear set of plans and  instructions on how the project shall be built.. 

We usually start off making some preliminary budgets.  Plans are drawn up.  Everybody weighs in.  Plans are re drawn and we continue in a circling sort of fashion until we have a final ok from the owners.  At this point we get the working drawings completed and all the documents required to apply for a permit at our local building department.  In some areas of the country this can be relatively simple and others extremely complex.  Usually the bigger the city/town, the more complex the permitting. 

I used to try to show people the process with a linear list –

  1. Preliminary plans
  2. Preliminary budget
  3. Working Drawings
  4. Etc.

But it never showed the interaction of lots of parties – that’s why I like the visual description of the “mindmap” shown above.

The more people involved in the design and planning – usually means more time up front as everybody ads in their changes/ideas/requirements.  The more complex the project – the more “experts” required.  It really helps to have a “driver” (sometimes the owner – the builder – or the architect) – a person who takes charge and pushes the project along.  It is not uncommon for the process to take many months, even years to design a project.  But what ever the scope of the project – you can accurately price something without plans – and you obviously can’t start work with out plans.

So when you find your amazing new house – get ready – get busy and get planning so you can get your project going.