Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is CAD?

    CAD, or Computer-Aided Design (also referred to as Computer-Aided Design and Drafting - CADD), is a pivotal tool extensively employed by architects and engineers. In the pre-CAD era, designs were crafted manually on boards using pencil and paper. The advent of CAD revolutionized this process by integrating computer technology into design and drawing. CAD software offers numerous advantages, enhancing precision and facilitating seamless collaboration between designers and clients. This digital approach has significantly streamlined the design workflow, marking a notable shift from traditional manual methods.

  • What is the difference between a Residential Building Designer and an Engineer/Architect?

    At Elevation Home Designs, our approach distinguishes us by emphasizing practical work experience over advanced degrees and licenses. We confidently deliver a range of services based on our proven track record, fostering close collaboration with homeowners and builders. It's crucial to note that designers, although highly skilled, are not licensed architects. Despite this distinction, Elevation Home Designs offers services comparable to traditional engineer/architect offices. While designers may share a similar educational background, they haven't undergone graduate degree programs or license exams. For larger or specialized projects, we seamlessly collaborate with licensed Architects when necessary. A competent designer is well-versed in legal aspects, understands their limitations, and discerns when collaboration with Architects becomes imperative. At Elevation Home Designs, this discernment is fundamental and unquestionable.

  • If you are not an Engineer/Architect, who does the Structural and can the Engineer/Architect provide this?

    When building plans are categorized as “non-conventional construction,” necessitating structural design, we engage the expertise of state-licensed engineer/architect professionals. In addition to our collaborative network of reputable engineers/architects, we take pride in having an in-house engineer who meticulously reviews and approves plans for structural soundness. This dual approach ensures a comprehensive evaluation, combining external expertise with our internal capabilities to meet and exceed the required standards for structural integrity. 

  • What services do you offer that an Interior Designer does not?

    While there is some overlap between the services offered by architectural design firms and interior designers, our primary focus lies in providing comprehensive architectural plans necessary for obtaining permits from local building authorities, including planning approval and building permits. The detailed working drawings we supply are crucial for builders or general contractors. In instances where owners choose, albeit rarely, we can specify the style, manufacturer, and model number for various construction elements such as doors, windows, skylights, roofing, walls, floors, lighting, fireplaces, plumbing fixtures, and kitchen appliances. However, this is infrequent, as we often engage in budget discussions with contractors to minimize overall costs. It's important to note that we typically don't specify furniture, window coverings, or interior color schemes. Elevation Home Designs is open to collaboration with your interior designer, but it's essential to be aware that this may result in additional costs, considering the increased time investment.

  • What should I have available for the initial meeting?

    For our initial meeting, it's beneficial if you've sketched or collected articles showcasing elements you like. We recommend preparing a list differentiating your 'needs' from your 'wants.' During our discussion, we'll review the design, prioritizing the incorporation of essential 'needs' into the plan before addressing your 'wants.' This approach facilitates an initial assessment of the structural aspects and helps align the design with your budget constraints. Having these materials and lists ready ensures a productive discussion where we can explore possibilities that meet both your functional requirements and design aspirations.

  • What is Livable (Habitable) square footage?

    Livable (Habitable) square footage pertains to areas conditioned by either heating or air conditioning systems. When calculating square footage, builders and Realtors measure from the outside of exterior walls. Non-livable square footage includes spaces like garages, porches, patios, decks, etc. It's important to note that both unfinished and finished basements are categorized as 'livable' areas, contributing to the overall habitable space within a structure.

  • What are Building Codes and what do I need to know about them?

    Building codes set the minimum standards for compliance in residential construction. The specific standards applicable to your project are determined by the municipality where it's located. Typically, most municipalities adopt the International Residential Code "IRC" for one and two family dwellings, with a new version released every three years (e.g., 2012, 2015, 2018, etc.). It's crucial to note that each municipality independently decides when to update to the latest version. Therefore, we always verify the applicable code version before initiating any design concept or finalizing construction documents to ensure full compliance with the local standards.

  • How long does it take to do designs for a custom home or an addition?

    The design process typically spans 2 - 3 weeks, varying based on the complexity of the project. From the initiation of the design process, it may take anywhere from 30 to 90 days to receive the final set of plans. The duration is influenced by the feedback and changes during your reviews, as well as the current workload at Elevation Home Designs. It's crucial to note that no plan will be released without thorough consideration of all issues. We ensure that the final set of plans is accurate, comprehensive, and meets your requirements and expectations, providing a more accurate building review process as well as a solid foundation for collaboration with your contractor.

  • Why do I need a Building Permit, even if it is a small job?

    Securing a building permit offers the invaluable services of a plan check engineer who ensures that your plans are complete, comply with accepted engineering principles, and meet State minimum construction standards. Additionally, a building inspector conducts inspections to verify that the construction aligns with the approved plans and adheres to minimum standards for construction techniques. Even for small projects, obtaining a permit is crucial as construction is a significant financial investment, and non-compliance can jeopardize its integrity.

    Undertaking work without required permits is not only illegal but can pose problems during property sales. Fire and homeowner’s insurance coverage may not recognize unpermitted work, leading to potential invalidation. A permit not only helps you avoid future complications but also safeguards your investment. If building officials discover unpermitted work, you might be compelled to dismantle the remodel. Legally, when selling your house, you must disclose any unpermitted remodeling, and buyers may demand bringing the work up to code. Realtors cannot market any 'habitable space' that lacks proper permits.

    It's essential to note that attempting to increase your home's value by avoiding a permit, thinking it will lower your taxes, is not a wise strategy.

  • What about those plans available in magazines or plan book? They sound reasonable in cost!

    When considering plans from magazines or online sources, often termed as 'Stock' plans, it's essential to recognize their attractive low costs. However, these plans are not custom-made and may pose challenges. They lack the necessary details for Building Permit submission, a crucial requirement varying across municipalities. Insufficient details can lead to added costs, as contractors might need to make assumptions. Additionally, there's a risk of non-conformance to your building site, necessitating expensive plan revisions. Floor plan layouts may also deviate, requiring further adjustments. Altering stock plans raises copyright concerns. At Elevation Home Designs, we are developing a curated stock plan list to address your specific needs and streamline the process.

  • Can I share my house plans with my builder?

    Yes! Once you purchase your home plans you are free to share them with your builder or whomever you choose.

  • Will you work with our builder?

    Absolutely. Once you've entered into a contract with Elevation Home Design for your home floor plans and architectural drawings, we highly value collaboration with your chosen builder. This ensures a seamless and coordinated home building process, allowing for effective communication and successful execution of the envisioned design.

  • What is your process for working with our builder?

    Our process begins with collaborating closely with the home buyer, ensuring the design of the perfect plan for their dream home. Subsequently, we extend our collaboration to the builder during the construction phase, providing ongoing support and addressing any questions or concerns related to the plans. This two-part approach ensures a comprehensive and coordinated effort, from design conceptualization to the successful realization of the envisioned home.

  • If our builder has questions on the job site, can they contact you?

    Absolutely, we encourage open communication. Your builder can contact us anytime during the entire process of building your home if they have any questions or need assistance. 

  • Does our builder pay for our plan?

    Typically, the home buyer directly pays the Home Designer for the home plans and designs. If your builder prefers you to include the plans as part of the total cost of your new home and handle the payment, please reach out to us. We are flexible and can work out an arrangement that accommodates your builder's preferences. 

  • Is there anything our builder should know if we choose you for our home plans?

    A fundamental principle we believe in is that 'A successful build begins with a Great Set of Plans!' A comprehensive, consistent, and easily understandable set of plans is crucial for the success of the build. This not only streamlines the construction process but also minimizes project review times, ultimately leading to cost savings on materials and labor in the long run. Communicating the importance of this to your builder ensures a smoother and more efficient construction journey