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Special Report 37: Better home design leads to better project - Electronic Edition

Special Report 37: Better home design leads to better project - Electronic Edition
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Author: Mark A. Smith
[This is the Special Report 37 in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. Our electronic products download immediately to your computer upon purchase.]

This report is guest authored by designer Dale Booth of Tucson, AZ. A coauthor of a recent self-contracting book, he has been filmed in our Ten Commandments DVD 1c where he reviewed house plans with a design client. Ten pages, revised with new reader comments, web links, and suggestions.

Topics Include:

  • Common design mistakes
  • Accessibility standards
  • Budget and lifestyle
  • Self-design
  • Saving money while adding features
  • What a complete set of drawings includes
  • Study plans for rough cost estimates
  • Stock plans
  • Design software
  • Engineering tasks and costs
  • Converting ArchiCAD plans to PDF

Excerpt from Report:

"...Before we get into the details and process of Better Home Design let me share an editorial I wrote several years ago.

Confessions of a residential designer.

I have been in construction for 30 years and designing homes most of my life and as an independent professional for the last 15. And owner-builders have been my greatest joys and my worst headaches.

One of the toughest things I need to do as a designer working for you, the owner-builder, is figuring out what you really want and can afford.

Design is the easy part of a custom home designer's job, communicating your needs within a realistic framework is the hard part. Typically the prospective owner-builder has defined their goal of building their own home without having all the information necessary to make good informed decisions. Sure, your buddy from work watched a special on cable TV about saving a ton of money and you saw an infomercial for a good reference book about doing it yourself, but are you ready for the reality of home construction?

Sample Reader Comment Excerpts:

O-B Connections:

FROM: Chad from Clinton, UT
SUBJECT: Designer

There is an engineer in Ogden who designs the plans and stamps them. I wish we had done that, because we had them drawn up and had to pay an engineer separately. You can also check out some local places and see if you like any plans that they have and then just choose one of them. I think one is called Creations West, but I am not sure. It definitely would have been cheaper. No matter who you use, go visit a bunch of model homes and find a style that you like and fits your family and budget best. Then you can use that floor plan to start making changes and get ideas. Hope this helps. Valyn

FROM: Darrel from Plain City, UT
SUBJECT: House Design

We had a recommended design firm do our design. We asked for accessibility standards and understood that it included engineering and MEC check. In our first meeting we specifically asked to minimize hallways and to fully utilize space. The house ended up too large, we had to eliminate hallways, it did not meet accessibility standards. I had to get my own engineer and spend $300 for engineering and still am working on a final MEC check. Currently, I am trying to refine the design with a local architect. It took me a month to get the files from the original firm so I could get the non-structural changes that need to be done, done. My experience hopefully is not typical, but it is a cautionary tale. Good luck. Darrel

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