Beginning my first addition looking for plans

Old 10-26-03, 08:40 PM
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Cool Beginning my first addition looking for plans

I am speaking to a designer/ old buddy that will have some plans done for me to look at and when I ask how much he will be charging me he said he will let me know.
This was a week ago and now we need to meet I ask for the rate by the hour or by the plan or by the square foot?
I have also had to have a guy from Standard lumber come out to give me a idea on footings cause I am buy the water and only 2ft above the water table....he then wanted to do plans for me and instead of putting a floating slab in design a plan and change me plans totaly and said this would cost me nothing to look at.

I don't know what to do at this point should I be getting this in writting so I don't get two sets of plans and two different bills?
Old 10-27-03, 05:36 AM
Doug Aleshire's Avatar
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My suggestion is to get everything in writing. Period. You should also know what you are paying for. If you need more on this, e-mail me.

If your design and old buddy is a person you can trust, knows the local codes and understands what is involved great. If what you mentioned is a concern, like 2 ft water table, then you may be looking at some engineering issues that would be required with your drawings wehn submitting for building permit. Your buddy should know all about this.

My own opinion is that no floating slab will work for your project. I assume that your home is on solid foundation now so you need to follow suit. Nothing worse that one solid and the other going up and down at will. As you live near Grand Rapids we are talking about frost and this means 42" below grade footings.

The issue of the Standard Lumber guy is that they want your business and in doing so, they will come and look at site, they may do preliminary drawings but they will not give them to you. That only comes with purchasing lumber from them. There may be a small fee involved but this can be avoided by calling them and saying, "No Thank You" until you know where you stand with your buddy or whomever is going to assist you with this project.

Read the following for additional ideas and steps involved.

Should you hire an Architect or Designer for your project?

Few people realize how complicated it is to build... that is until they find themselves lost in the maze of design options, building codes, zoning laws, contractors, and so on. No two building projects are exactly alike, so there is no single, clear-cut path to follow.
The architect/designer is the one professional who has the education, training, experience, and vision to guide you through the entire design and construction process, from helping you define what you want to build to helping you get the most for your construction dollar.
Whether you are remodeling, adding on, or building from scratch, the architect/designer can guide the way. Working with contractors and other construction professionals, architect/designers can help you end up with a well-designed project that meets your needs and works with your budget and time frame

One important note...the fees charged for these services varies by who you hire. Their services are invaluable. The experience and knowledge they possess to assist you in attaining your goals is what you are paying for. This is usually a fraction of the projected total cost of your project. Trying to do this yourself, unless you have skills to do so, will turn into a nightmare that could have been avoided.



This first stage, called programming, is probably the most valuable time you will spend with your architect/designer. It is at this time you discuss the requirements for your building: how many rooms, what function the structure will have, who will use it and how. It is also the time when you begin to test the fit between what you want, what you need, and what you can spend.
Don't come in with solutions already decided upon. Be prepared to explore new and creative ideas. Be very frank about how you want the end result to feel and work. The architect/designer/designer will ask you lots of questions to get a better sense of your goals and needs and to determine if your expectations match your budget. The architect/designer may suggest changes based upon knowledge, experience, and your budget. After thoroughly discussing your functional requirements, the architect/designer will prepare a statement outlining the scope of your project. During the next step, your program will be realized.


Once you have defined what is to be built, the architect/designer will then do a series of rough sketches, known as schematic designs. These sketches will show you the general arrangement of rooms and of the site. If you have difficulty understanding the sketches (many people do), ask the architect/designer to explain. Depending on the project, some architect/designers will also make models of the design to help better visualize it. These sketches are not "finished" construction documents. They are meant to show possible approaches for you to consider. The architect/designer will refine and revise the sketches until a solution is developed that you agree meets the needs of your project. At this point, the architect/designer will also give you a rough preliminary estimate of construction cost. Remember, there are still many more details to be established about your project and that this cost estimate is very general. It is hard to predict market conditions, the availability of materials, and other unforeseen situations that could drive up costs. Therefore, this figure must include a healthy contingency to cover cost changes that arise as the design matures. Don't panic if these first sketches seem different from what you first envisioned. Ask your architect/designer how these designs satisfy the requirements you discussed in the first stage. It is vital that you and your architect/designer are clear about what you want and what the architect/designer intends to design. It is much easier to make changes now when your project is on paper, than later on when foundations have been poured and walls erected. Before proceeding to the next phase, the architect/designer will ask for your approval of these sketches.


This step, called design development, is when the architect/designer prepares more detailed drawings to illustrate other aspects of the proposed design. The floor plans show all the rooms in the correct size and shape. Outline specifications are prepared listing the major materials and room finishes.
When looking at these drawings, try to imagine yourself actually using the spaces. Ask yourself: Do the traffic patterns flow well? Does each space serve the intended purpose? Do I have a good sense of what it will look like? Do I like how it looks? Do I agree with the selection of wall and ceiling finishes, door types, windows, etc.?
Based on these drawings, the architect/designer will prepare a more detained estimate, though final costs will actually depend on market conditions. Review every element with your architect/designer to make sure you are getting the most out of your construction dollar.


At this point, the architect/designer prepares construction documents (Final Blueprints), the detailed drawings and specifications which the contractor will use to establish actual construction cost and to build the project. These blueprints will be submitted to the City for your Building Permit Application. These drawings and specifications become part of the contract. When construction documents are finished, you are ready to submit bids for hiring the General Contractor or builder.


There are a number of ways to select a contractor. Your architect/designer can make recommendations, or if you already have someone you want to work with, you might send the construction documents to him or her and negotiate fees and costs. Or you may wish to choose among several contractors you've asked to submit bids on the job. The architect/designer will help you prepare the bidding documents, which consist of drawings and specifications as well as invitations to bid and instruction to bidders. The bidding documents are then sent to several contractors, who within a given period of time, reply with bids which include the cost for building your project. The lowest bidder is often selected to do the work but I stress shouldn't be the main factor in hiring a contractor.
While the architect/designer can recommend contractors and assist in the selection process, the final choice is up to you. Some people prefer to act as their own general contractor or to do part or all of the construction themselves. These methods can save you money initially but can also add problems and costs later on. Discuss the pros and cons of these methods with your architect/designer to help you decide what will work best.


This final step is often the most anxiety-producing part of the who process. Up until now, your project has been confined to intense discussion, planning, and two-dimensional renderings. When construction begins, your project moves from an abstraction to a physical reality.
The architect/designer's involvement normally does not stop with the preparation of construction documents. Architect/designers also can provide construction administration services. These services may include assisting you in hiring the contractor, making site visits, reviewing and approving the contractor's applications for payment, and keeping you informed of the project's progress.
While the architect/designer observes construction, the contractor is solely responsible for construction methods, techniques, schedules, and procedures. The contractor supervises and directs the construction work on the project.
The path to a completed building project is paved with lots of challenges and uncertainty. There are literally hundreds of decisions to be made, decisions which have a strong impact on how the project looks and functions over time.
The architect/designer can ease the way by helping you avoid wrong turns, but also can direct you to solutions you never considered. The result is a unique building project created to meet your needs, express your individuality, and provide enjoyment for everyone who uses it.

Good Luck in your venture! If you need help, just ask.

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