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Recommendation on Designer in Austin, TX area


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By Kabot in Austin, TX on 10/3/2002


We have a home plan in mind and would like to get blueprints. Does anyone know of any good designers in the Austin area that we could contact? Also, we have been told that it could be cheaper to actually buy the blueprints online and then have them altered. Does anyone know if this is true? We are also needing to get a septic and well in the next few months. Any recommendations there? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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By Jim in Austin, TX on 10/4/2002


Kabot,

The best way to find a designer to fit your budget would be to contact the local chapter of the AIBD - American Institute Of Building Design. This can eliminate good designers who are not members of the institute, however. If you are looking for someone to do the drafting, you can seek out drafting companies as well.

If you are seeking a substantially reduced rate, you can take your chance with a student from one of the local CAD colleges. The Northridge campus of ACC teaches AutoCAD, and more specifically residential drafting. Some of these students are quite capable of cranking out your plans without the substantial increase in price you will get with a designer or architect. If you know exactly what you want and don't need creative input or design modifications to ease construction costs, then this is what I would pursue. In any case, good luck with your quest.
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By Jim in Houston, TX on 6/26/2003


Kabot,

Just wondering if you ever found a satisfactory designer as we are in the early planning stages ourselves for building outside the Austin area. How's it going?
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By Eric James in Rex, GA on 8/24/2003


You could save costs on design fees with an idea of what you want. I have had clients purchase plans online and then have me redraw the plans with the clients suggested revisions... every time it happens, the client has already purchased the plans, so I can't say "STOP!" I can recreate the basis for design from the online drawings and incorporate your revisions in the redraw. Typically a cient requests changes enough to eliminate copyright infringement. If, however, your requested changes are minimal from a plan that you have found online, or for comparison shopping purposes, check with the seller of the online plans for fees required to modify the plans to fit your needs.
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By Rosalie in Spicewood, TX on 3/18/2006


We are building in Spicewood. We found an architect in Marble Falls for $.75/sq ft. This was half the cost of an architect we met with in West Creek. He's busy and turnaround time is slower than I would like. He is an O-B himself, which helps in the design and cost control aspects.  His name is Jerome with Delineations. He's in the phonebook.


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By Steve in San Marcos, TX on 3/26/2006


I'm in the planning stages for an O-B in the San Marcos area and am working with a designer out of Kerrville. Their website is texashomeplans.com. Very nice folks, affordable plans, and O-B friendly!

Steve


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By James in Spring Branch, TX on 3/28/2006


Kabot,

We did the same thing for our plans. We looked at buying plans and having them modified (cost came out to be more) but ended up designing our own. The service I used was okay (but some things to watch out for). I would prefer not to post them - a little on the negative side.

I found a septic yesterday that will save us at least $5,000 - the vendor is out of Blanco so they most likely will cover your area also if they are willing to come all the way down to San Antonio.

I have some questions about your building location and the installation of the septic and the designing for blueprints, also comments about the blueprint service we used. So PM me and I will fill you in on the details of the septic as it relates to your location.

James


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By Jeff in San Antonio, TX on 3/28/2006


James, could you post the info on the septic? I am in looking for contacts right now.


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By Cris in Austin, TX on 3/28/2006


Me too! Looking around Spicewood.

CD

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By David in Conroe, TX on 6/28/2006


Jeff; we used Countryside Construction in Sattler, Texas (just below Canyon Lake Dam) to install the septic on our property on the Guadalupe River. We are absolutely 100% satisfied with their work, their product, and their price. It was a professional job all the way. I don't know how far they venture, but it is certainly worth a phone call. 

Did you get the spreadsheet attachment I sent to you on planning? If not, let me know and I will try it again. This forum is new to me and I'm still going through the learning curve.

David


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By Jeff in San Antonio, TX on 6/29/2006


David, I did not get the spreadsheet, could you please send it again? May I ask how much the septic came out to for your project? Do you have any other subs that you recommend (foundation, electrical, framing, etc.)? How far along is your project? We are hoping to be moved by next May. We should be finished with plans and start to get bids in about a month and then start some time after that. PM me.


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By David in Conroe, TX on 6/29/2006


Mark,

The septic cost was around $6K. It is a conventional system (sort of) instead of an aerobic system. We have an aerobic system at our home in Montgomery, and I am not pleased with any part of it. If you can get a conventional system installed, I highly recommend you do so. You will have to get a designer first, and the system will be installed by another contractor. I am looking diligently for the paperwork for my septic, but I cannot find it. I keep everything, so I am confident I "stuck" it someplace where I could immediately get my hands on it. So much for good administration.

We just got our prints last week, so we are at the very beginning of the project. The spreadsheet attachments are in Microsoft Excel. I have some information on them, but you can edit them to suit you. I hope you find some of this useful, and I certainly can use any hints you may have. I would highly recommend you get a soil analysis before you talk to an architect. I used ECS Ltd. in San Antonio. Their phone number is 210.494.7100. I talked to Benny Krieger. The soil analysis cost was approx $1,100. I also plan to use them to sample and test my foundation pours. I may give you a call this weekend, as we will be at the river. Good luck with your project.

Dave

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By Michael Penn in Dripping Springs, TX on 2/4/2007


Hi David,

Could you elaborate on what you didn't like about the aerobic system that you had in your previous house? In the area where I'm building, everyone talks like aerobic is the only way to go, like there's really not a choice (presumably because of the rocky soil, etc).  

But it makes me very curious what was unsatisfactory about the aerobic system that you had before--maybe I can go another way, or at least accommodate the aerobic system to make it work better.

" We have an aerobic system at our home in Montgomery and I am not pleased with any part of it. If you can get a conventional system installed, I highly recommend you do so. "

Michael


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By David in Conroe, TX on 2/5/2007


Michael,

We have an aerobic system in the home we live in now. My displeasure with the aerobic system is the ongoing maintenance costs. When first installed, we used a bucket of chlorine tablets about every four months. No one we know used that much, and no one in the business could tell us why we used that much, but the fact is that we did. A bucket of tablets costs about $60. We used approx three per year = $180. The testing service, mandated by the State of Texas, was $150 annually. So, that was $330, or $27.50 per month just to keep your own little sewer system running.

You get two years of inspections included in the purchase/installation price of the aerobic system. On our third year, we had to replace the pump motor. $300. The fourth year we had to replace the air compressor. $220. I have also replaced every sprinkler in my system in the seven years we have had it. They are less than ten bucks each if you replace them yourself. We recently had a "chlorine injection" system installed in ours. Another $300. With the injection system, we can buy the cheapest bleach available (generally around $1 per gallon) and pour it in the injector. This has saved a lot of money. A gallon of bleach lasts about two months, so that puts the chlorine maintenance at $6 per year.

Our inspection fee is now $180 annually. I have heard that the inspection fee in the Hill Country is over $200 per year. But the icing on the cake is the scam concerning the inspection process. Texas law mandates that your system be inspected three times per year (every four months) by a licensed inspector. The secret seems to be how the inspector gets his certification. Each manufacturer of aerobic systems can certify people to inspect their system. I have been told, by an inspector, that manufacturers select the people who can attend their certification classes. If you don't "push" a manufacturer's product, it is very difficult to get into their certification class. I have no way of proving this, but I do believe it.

I have a friend who used to work for the State of Texas. He has a BS in environmental engineering, and he holds every water and wastewater certification issued by the State of Texas. He cannot inspect my aerobic waste system. That is incredible to me. There are the reasons I do not like my aerobic system. Depending on the terrain, the installation costs are about the same. The only maintenance costs incurred on a conventional system is having it pumped out occasionally.

The maintenance costs incurred with the aerobic system is the annual cost of inspections and chlorine, plus periodic costs associated with replacing air compressors, pumps, float switches, and sprinkler heads. Plus, according to manufacturers' recommendations, having the tank pumped out occasionally. If there are no options, you will have to get one. If you do have a choice, I would highly recommend a conventional system. Thanks for letting me express my opinion. This is a great forum for exchanging ideas and experiences. If I can help you, or anyone, in any way, it will be my pleasure.

Dave

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