The Design

Say you wake up one morning, and decide you want to build your own house... Where do you start? 

Well, most projects in our family, be they big or small, begin with a sketch...

...A plan or a road map that becomes the foundation on which ideas can grow. Before we actually started drawing the house, we first thought out our priorities, and why we were building in the first place. Denny’s top priority was having a large shop to have plenty of room for tools and a free-flowing workspace. My top priority was the kitchen/living room. 

The term “open concept” has been thrown around a lot lately, and I wanted that... but on steroids.

I basically wanted the body of the house to be one giant rectangle that didn’t have any walls or hallways dividing the space.

That said, the shop, and the main living space became the first 2 rectangles that got drawn into our sketchpad. Next came placing the bedrooms, bathrooms, and laundry room in the most logical way possible. At this point in your life, most people have a pretty good idea of how their daily lives “flow” and I found it best to design a space to most accommodate that flow. I’m sure you have at least one or two things in your current house that your constantly working around, bumping into, or swearing at; And when designing your own space, you have the unique opportunity to proactively tackle those issues.

Unfortunately, you can’t take a sketch on a napkin to the building department and have that be sufficient. 

The next step is to create a set of construction drawings. These plans are extremely important and will outline your build in its entirety.  In order to do this, you need to hire a draftsman or an architect. Budget and time will likely be the determining factors in deciding which to go with. At the end of the day both can produce the CADD drawings needed to move forward, but an architect will see a build out to completion. They’ll likely work hand in hand with your general contractor, subs, and in some cases interior designer to create your dream space from start to finish. That kind of involvement is great, but does come at a price. Some architects charge by the hour (ranging from $100 to $160 or more) and some take a percentage of total construction costs (typically between 10-25%) By that logic, if your total construction costs were $600,000 your architect would be taking somewhere around $60K-$150K. Eek! Yes, a steep price, but if you didn’t have the luxury of being on site and overseeing things, it would be well worth it to know your build was in good hands.

Because Denny is our general contractor, and we will be living on site to manage the project, we opted to go with a draftsman. 

Most draftsman have the same per hour rate as architects, but once your plans get approved from the county, their involvement in the project is done. After a couple meetings with the draftsman we had finalized our design. Our draftsman really helped us transform the rectangles in our sketch to look and feel like a home. We decided on everything from cabinet placement to exterior siding, and so much more. It’s the responsibility of the draftsman to design everything to not only our specifications, but to meet all other state regulations and code compliances.  A site plan was made to determine where on the property the house would sit, and upon completion, everything needed to be submitted to the Building Energy Efficiency Program for its Title 24 compliance. (Title 24 is a special set of building codes that need to be adhered to, to meet building energy efficiency standards in California)


Then, it’s off to the building department for permitting and final review...

Plans generally take between 4-6 weeks to be approved, but can, and most likely, get kicked back for one reason or another. In our case this did happen a couple times, but revisions were minor so it didn’t delay our process too much.

Seeing the plans transform from a doodle to a full blown set of construction documents was so gosh darn exciting. We still have a long ways to go, but now that everything is approved we can officially hit the ground running. Next up is getting water to the property and laying out the foundation! Yippee!

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Kimberly Wilson