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Planning My New Home From Scratch

As a kid I would design random homes on grid paper so I've always dreamed of making my own home from my own plans. Once I have my own design drawn up what else would I need to do in order be realistic about getting it built? I assume I would have to get it approved by a structural engineer or electrician to work out the details for the builder? From there I guess I would have to bring the plans to a township office to get permits approved.

Re: Planning My New Home From Scratch

I would say that you will need an architect, doing building plans for a home is a far cry from a layout on grph paper.


Re: Planning My New Home From Scratch

There are parts of houses some people forget about;

Where will the heating system be located?
How will the plumbing / ductwork be run?
What size HVAC dusting will be needed?
What do the views look like?
Where will the outlets and switches be located?
Is there room for furniture placement?
Are the walkways wide enough for use / code?
Do the doors swing in the right direction?
Can you get the appliances in / out ?
Will people with mobility / sight problems have difficulty?
Will the cabinet doors hit the appliances?

These type of questions are best answered by an experienced professional

Re: Planning My New Home From Scratch

First you need an architect, who knows what the plan checker at your building department needs before he/she issues you a building permit.

You can discuss all your "wants and needs" in a home with your architect, so he/she can put them down on paper. Besides, your plan package will include all of the items Houston mentioned above.

Once you have an approve set of plans and a building permit in your hand, you can:
1. Hire a general contractor to oversea the construction, get bids, coordinate with the different trade folks. Or you can act as a general yourself.
2. Arrange for financing (your cash or construction loan).

If this is your first home, there are a million things to know to avoid disasters and help you navigate through. The rewards are tremendous, if you are successful.

Good luck and let us know.

Re: Planning My New Home From Scratch

I understand how detailed plans can be and how much thought goes into them. I have seen actual plans and happy to say even at my young age those plans were surprisingly detailed for the little that I knew back then. I am comfortable with creating my own plans according to code but framing and calculating loads is mainly where I know I need my work checked. I know there are plans on websites that can be purchased as well and i'm sure people have wanted an architect to modify existing plans so I'm guessing its the same kind of deal. Assuming the plans are professionally detailed and printed, would it be reasonable to hire an architect to look over plans that someone made themselves for any corrections or would they still need to reach out to an engineer, electrician, plumber, etc? I'm just unsure of who should be looking over new designs.

Re: Planning My New Home From Scratch

In my fair city the plans must have an engineers' stamp, no matter how simple the home. (smaller, non habitable structures exempt) Also a good idea if you want to insure the home.

Re: Planning My New Home From Scratch

A few words of caution:

- a building permit comes with an expiration date. Get going immediately.

- make sure you have all necessary funds on hands PLUS 20% for the unexpected, changes, mistakes and waste. Don't lose your shirt for being underfunded.

- start when the weather is friendly. You don't want to lose time and money due to the weather.

- you main goal is to put it up and then wrap it asap. If you have the exterior protected, then all indoor construction can be done later, without so much pressure.

Re: Planning My New Home From Scratch

Yes, the race is to get it "under roof"

Once you are dried in, the rest can take a while.

In my fair city you have to have at least one inspection every 6 months or the permit expires. You don't have to pass the inspection, just enough to keep it active or the city's computers throw it in the dead pile.

Re: Planning My New Home From Scratch

The first thing you need to consider is where you're going to build. In my city you need a minimum of 3 sets of drawings done by an architect and signed off by an engineer. One has to be filed with the building and codes enforcement folks, one with the tax and zoning folks a few doors down, and one set must be on the job at any and all times where any work is in progress. You are also required to have a properly licensed contractor (city, county, and state) qualified to do that work apply for permits (self-contracting not allowed for an entire new structure, only for work done on existing structures). Residential permits are good for a year and can be renewed only once. I'm not sure what happens if you exceed that but it wouldn't surprise me if they said to take it down to the foundation and start over. Nice folks, huh? Separate inspections for foundation, framing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and insulation; rough-in and finished as appropriate to trade involved. Power, water, and sewer not run until all finished inspections complete and passed.

Now go 20 miles south and you can self-contract with one set of drawings done with a dull crayon on a paper bag which only the inspector might ask to see (and he usually doesn't) and you can make them yourself. Permits renewable for as long as you like. You can even live in the place once you've got a building permit no matter how incomplete it is. So long as you pay the fees for the necessary permits nobody cares what else you do. The only inspection is final electrical and to be sure you've included either sewer or septic in there somewhere. Utilities will hook up anytime you want them to, finished or not (save for electrical, but they will hook up to a dried in house if you didn't have a temp power pole put up to build with). Nobody needs licenses for anything unless you're within a city limit where more may be asked of you.

And then I've built in gated communities where you had to have all of the first part and a lot more, and even then you never had anything locked-in till some committee approved the ideas you set forth both before and during the building process. These folks take exquisite pleasure in making people squirm so if you build there, just hand it all over to your community-approved architect and community-approved builder as you'll never get through it yourself.

You're already seeing a difference of at least $5-10K here just based on the where.... not to mention completely different 'rules' to be followed in the process. So that's where you start- with the 'where', and that will tell you much of the rest of what you'll need to know. Unless required, an architect may not be necessary as a good builder can look at and evaluate your 'drawings' then build accordingly. I'd go that route if I had a good contractor who I could trust if I was allowed to just to save money which could be better used elsewhere. But in the end, much may be laid out to you based on the 'where' and what that requires, and in those cases all you can do is follow procedure.

Post pics when you're done, and let us know how it's going once you start. And good luck!

Re: Planning My New Home From Scratch


Re: Planning My New Home From Scratch

Since the thread got "bumped", I'll add something new.

If you want it pretty, consult an artist.
If you want it sturdy, consult an engineer.
If you want neither, any architect can do that and charge you more for it too!



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