Colorado West Design
General information for new or prospective clients.
CW Design is a companion business to Western Light Graphics and Roy Kastning. For the record, I am NOT an architect or an engineer. Rather I am a designer, both graphic design and house design. The two disciplines are related in the principles of good design. I have many years of drafting and design experience with many projects. I have actual experience in many phases of construction and have worked several years on a framing crew. Invaluable experience!
The vast majority of my projects come directly from select contractors or engineers. The process of designing a house is a team project involving the client, the designer or architect, and the general contractor. I like working as a team effort, because it helps the project move smoothly from start to finish.
While it is not always possible it is really good to have the general contractor involved from the start. The general contractor is responsible for determining the cost of a project including the cost of materials and labor, scheduling the construction, aligning sub-contractors and so much more. It is very helpful to be able to consult with the contractor on construction details and budgeting during the design stage. This saves time, money and is my preferred method of working.
The Design Process
All projects, wether it be new home construction or remodels, have basically two stages in the design process. The first stage is the conceptual plans and the second is the construction plans. We usually start the conceptual stage by putting together a floor plan and rough design having all the features and space the client wants. This gives us a benchmark to work from and why having the general contractor available from the start is so important to look at the plans. More often than not the first conceptual plans need to be tempered with the reality of the budget. With this in mind and the contractors input we can look at the first plans and see what needs to be done to bring the project within the estimated budget. This is where modern CAD software really shines in being able to easily adapt plans and look at different options. We are able to easily explore various design ideas such as roof lines, windows, exterior materials and so forth - all within the created 3d model
Once the conceptual design is decided upon then the plans are ready to start the construction drawings. Along with input from the contractor and engineer all of the construction details are drawn and when complete the plans are sent to the engineer. The engineer specifies all the structural elements that go into the house including foundation, framing, roof design, etc. The final stage for me is to annotate the plans with the engineer instructions so they can be stamped and submitted for a building permit.
Also involved can be an approval process by the HOA - home owners association. The general contractor is responsible for submitting all permits for building, driveway, septic systems, etc. Also for arranging any surveying and soil testing if necessary.
What Do Plans Cost?
How much do custom plans cost? This is a hard question with no set answer because of all the variables involved. Custom plans do cost more than ready-made plans, usually two to three times more at least. The size and complexity of the house affects the cost of the plans most. A single story simple house costs less to design than say, a three story house with complicated roof lines and floor plan. A complex the design requires more drawings and more time to complete. It is not only the size of the house that affects the cost, but also Is the design structurally complex or fairly simple? A small complex house will cost more than a simpler, larger house. The building site also greatly affects the cost of design and construction - on a steep slope? adverse soil conditions? Factors like these all affect the final cost of the plans and the final construction cost.
I generally design small to medium sized houses around 2000 to 5000 sqft. which can range in cost between $5,000 to $12,000. This is a wide range but I always give an estimate to the cost of the plans when I know more about the project. It is important to note that an estimate is just that because if is very hard to know how and what direction a project will go. Obviously a large, complex house is going to cost considerably more modest designs. I make a point to keep a client well advised if a project is going beyond the initial estimate. I try to bill on roughly a monthly basis. I do ask for a $500 deposit to start a project.
I always advise my clients to look at the cost of the plans against the overall cost of the project. The plan stage is a very small investment in most cases. As expensive as construction is it seems to make sense to invest in custom plans to insure you get the most out of your budget.