Our Clients Say...

It's impossible not to notice what a wonderful bunch of people you have assembled.

Glenda Andes, December, 1999

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Welcome to the 'Design and Build' Process

Creating a custom home, designing a special addition or remodeling a much loved existing home can be a very exciting and rewarding experience. A great deal of your time, thought, and personality goes into the plans simply because you and your family make so many of the decisions. As a result, your "mental scrapbook" of ideas can come to life on paper creating something that is uniquely yours.

We typically visit your home or new home site and listen as you describe your goals, ideas, budgetary considerations, time frame, etc. We take time to explain the many aspects and considerations involved in designing a home or addition/remodel and explain how each of these considerations affect the final cost. Hopefully, this information will enable you to better describe to us the direction you would like your design to take in order to meet your budget. To begin the exploration of your design we would enter into a design contract and receive a deposit.

Based on what you tell us, we often sketch one or two example plans or "concepts," and generate a "most likely price range" that approximates the cost of these conceptual plans, for both the design and construction phases, as well as incorporating your description of the details into the project.

Once the example sketches and "most likely price range" are presented, if you decide to proceed, we continue within the same design contract. At this point, we can determine a schedule for the design development and project a construction start date.

The design proceeds in two stages: (1) Preliminary plans and specifications are developed and then estimated, and (2) final adjustments are made and the plans are detailed for construction.

As the preliminary plans develop, we get closer and closer to seeing your home, addition, or remodel project on paper -- just as you want it. When you are satisfied that you have made all the adjustments and changes you want, we would begin work on an accurate and detailed estimate.

During the estimate time period, Alice Coddington, our Client Selections Coordinator, can work with you to develop preliminary allowance budgets for flooring, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, lighting fixtures, appliances, accessories, etc. Coddington's job is to help you sort through the many selections you will need to make and help you create realistic budgets for these items.

Please note that some of the details and costs of your project are determined outside of your or our control. Building codes, engineering, and homeowner association requirements influence the plans and costs.

Once the estimate has been completed, we review it with you in detail and offer additional ideas for reducing costs if you desire. Once we have final decisions, we revise the plans and specifications and sign a building contract.

Working drawings are completed after the building contract has been signed. They are used for the construction process and they allow you to view the plans in even more detail.

Hopefully, this detail-oriented planning process brings you to a building contract with no need to make any further major changes. Once working drawings have been finished, engineering completed, and a building permit obtained, even a "minor" change can necessitate redrawing, re-engineering, and re-approval by the building department and/or homeowner association. These extra steps are costly and cause delays in starting or progressing with construction. To avoid this, we encourage you to take full advantage of your planning meetings to think out loud about your home or addition and arrive at a plan that serves all aspects of your housing dream.

The total cost of your plans depends upon the size and complexity of your home or addition design. Typical drawing costs are 2-1/2% to 3-1/2% of the estimated costs for a new home. (they vary more widely for addition and remodeling projects. We will be glad to give you an estimate.) Since we charge on an hourly basis, you are able to affect the drawing costs by being as specific as possible about your likes and dislikes. You may also stop the drawing process at any time with no additional obligation beyond the billable hours spent up to that point.

Drawing expenses ARE part of the cost of your project; however, these fees are distinct and separate from the estimated cost to build the house or addition.

Many people begin the design and build process with a great deal of construction knowledge; others know what they like or dislike but have not been exposed to the technical side of home building. Wherever you are on this continuum, when your new home or addition is complete, you will have acquired considerably more construction knowledge and technical vocabulary. Do not hesitate to ask for an explanation at any point; we expect and welcome your questions. We invite your frequent inspection and are eager to explain the construction process to you.

Shelter Alternatives, © 2004; Page modified Jan 15, 2014