By Tim J. Davis
If you’re wanting to have a qualified professional draw your house plans, here are a few tips on what to provide the designer or architect with.
You have probably spent a great deal of time trying to find out what you are wanting. This is only natural as you are wanting your home to be not only functional but to fit your personal needs as well. Don’t hesitate to sketch out ideas on grid paper. This is one of the best resources I’ve received from a client. Think about the size rooms you need as in most homes, each room is specialized with specific purposes. Think about porches and entrances, where you are wanting windows, then note them on your sketch.
If you have already selected a lot, obtain a survey, preferably with topography. A good survey should have existing utilities, right of ways, easements, and even setbacks on it. If not, then it’s probably a good idea to hire a registered land surveyor to provide you with one. If the lot is in a subdivision, most likely this is already completed and available through the real estate agent or subdivision board.
As for the exterior of the home, spend time looking around your area at different homes or look in architecture magazines and books. Take photos or make photocopies of what you like and mark them with the things you liked. Hey, a picture paints a thousand words. Take care not to duplicate a copyrighted set of plans.
And make sure you tell them what your needs are as far as electrical. If they are drawing the electrical plan also, you may wind up with a generic electrical plan. Considerations there are ceiling fans and their locations, more outlets in specific areas, how much exterior lighting you are wanting, etc…
Some of my colleagues are probably going to not like this next paragraph. Oh well. If the truth hurts? I’ve seen many a future home owner not get what they are wanting in a home in place of what the professional wanted through artistic license. Not only for the fact that you are one paying the bill, but also for the fact that you are the one who inevitably has to live with the house after it’s built. Stick to your guns about what you want. The only reason you wouldn’t get what you’re wanting is if it’s either prohibited by code, physically impossible, or it just isn’t in the budget.
Make sure that they spell out what you’ll receive with your plan package from the beginning. That’s generally the case if you’re looking on the internet for the design professional. If they are wanting to be upfront with you, they will spell out on their web site what you will receive and generally how much it will cost.
Most of all, a bit of common sense would be not paying for the entire job until it’s complete. If you make arrangements to pay one third or half up front, that’s fine. But make sure you can see the finished product before you pay the final amount.