Designing Your New Home

One of the most exciting events in life is building your dream house. It's also one of the most stressful. One way to ease some of that stress is to know what to expect. Without a crystal ball, there's no way to know everything that's coming at you, but having a general outline of milestones and their expected time frame may cut down on the number of sleepless nights. 

If you're hoping to break ground in 2015, you better get moving. As you'll soon see, the major steps necessary to get your dream home designed, drawn, approved, and permitted are not done overnight. Working with your chosen architect and your local government offices requires time and patience on everybody's part. Though far from a comprehensive list, the following information will point you in the right direction and allow you to check the steps off as you complete them.

Follow These Steps to Design the Home of Your Dreams


1. Choose Your Architect
(1-2 months)

Choosing your architect is like choosing your prom date: whether
you choose well or poorly -- you'll remember it for the rest of your life.

Take your time. Remember that this is going to be a personal relationship and not just a service. Your architect is going to partner with you in what will, most likely, be the largest purchase you will make in your entire life.

Consider overall compatibility, a philosophy similar to yours, and ability to communicate. Communication is the key to a great project.

What your architect provides should go beyond a basic service.


2. Establish the Exact Parameters of Your Home
(1-2 months or more)

Spend time looking through as many different home magazines as possible.

Create a file of styles you like and a file of styles you don't like. Your architect will be able to use these files to understand what your tastes are. This will save you a tremendous amount of time in the design process. It will also save you money.


           BIG HOUSE = BIG HOUSE


3. Determine Your Budget
(1-2 months)

Size does matter: When considering a budget, the larger the home, the less you can afford on the inside. The smaller the home, the more you will be able to afford on the inside -- ceramic tile and hardwood floors, wood trim with more elaborate moldings, wainscoting, even LED lighting. Remember: you live on the inside of the home, not the outside.

   smaller house = upgraded amentities

  smaller house = upgraded amentities

Reducing the square footage does not proportionately reduce the cost and vice versa. Average home costs are just that -- averages. Increasing the square footage lowers the cost per square foot. Decreasing the square footage does not reduce the cost by the same square foot cost as the average. There are fixed costs that do not change, such as the costs of installing the utilities into the house, installing the driveway, preparing the site, installing the sanitary system, building permits, and the list goes on.


4. Review Schematic Designs
(2-3 months)

Floor plan sketches begin. This where the fun begins.

Sketch plans will be altered many times until your desired floor plan is achieved. This is the most economical time to make changes in the design of the house. Use your architect and his or her talents and time wisely to look at different options during this phase to save you money during the construction phase. Lines on paper are so much easier to move than concrete in the ground or walls that are already built.



5. Refine Design Development
(1-2 months)

Exterior of the house is designed to match the floor plan.

Window sizes are finalized.

Floor plan is finalized. This is where window and door locations are adjusted for balance and harmony on the exterior.

At this phase the house really comes to life. Roof lines can be explored, window styles addressed, contemporary versus traditional options investigated. You can even explore the use of passive or active solar design.


6. Finalize Construction Documents/Choose Finishes
(2-3 months)

Construction drawings are meticulously detailed to give contractors all the detail they need to build the house. While this is typically the most boring part of the process for the owner, it is actually the most important part of the process. Every light switch is being located, every receptacle is being spotted, every plumbing line is being sized, duct work is laid out, and all the other details necessary for the contractor to build the house are specified.

While construction drawings are being prepared, you should pick out the exact finishes you want in the house (appliances, floor tile, carpet, cabinetry, light fixtures, door hardware, bathroom accessories, etc.) so they are included in the contractor's bid. It's important to pick everything and have it referenced on the drawings so the contractor knows exactly what you want and it can be reflected in their bid.


International Residential Code Book

International Residential Code Book

7. Be Patient During Code Review & Permitting
(1-2 months)

Every new home built in Pennsylvania must follow the International Residential code and meet the Energy Conservation Code.

Construction drawings must be submitted for code review in order to receive the mandatory building permit. Review could take six weeks or longer for approval.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      


8. Break Ground
With the building permit issued, the contractor can break ground and begin construction.

You've come a long way in eight to nine months.



COPYRIGHT © 2014 Franus Architectural Associates, Inc.