Taking a Residential Structure from Concept to Construction

Whether it be a new home, shop, carport, greenhouse, or landscape feature, taking a residential structure from concept to construction takes more than a pencil and a hammer. The first step toward making your construction project a reality is to understand the process so you can engage with the right consultants at the right times throughout design.

Before you begin design on a construction project it is important to understand the site restrictions. To learn more about site preparation, read this article, and check with your jurisdiction to find out the thresholds and requirements for different types of land disturbance permits.

Drawing up plans

Assuming site work is taken care of, your structure starts as a drawing. If the structure is simple, such as a gazebo, carport, or small home addition, you may be able to create your own drawings by hand or with an online drafting program. If you choose to draw up plans on your own it is often a good idea to involve a structural engineer early in the process. A structural engineer can advise you on the feasibility of your idea. They can also alert you to limitations and opportunities that structural code will influence. It is better to know these things on the front end of a project so your design can accommodate them.

If the structure is large or aesthetically complicated, you will need to engage an architect to help draft plans for the project. It is almost always necessary to engage an architect for a new house and is wise to consult with one before embarking on a large home addition.

When to engage with an architect 

Architects understand how to make structures aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. They will provide details that ensure your plans meet safety codes necessary for permitting and advise you on materials and methods to make your project more efficient and economical. An architect can see the bigger picture, for example orienting windows to maximize energy efficiency, as well as help with details like choosing finishes.

It is possible to purchase stock architectural plans online. This can be a good starting point for some projects, but you may still need to engage with an architect to make changes to the plans to accommodate your site conditions or other preferences.  On some stock plans from other parts of the country, structural engineering can be more complicated to design.

When to engage with a structural engineer

Once you have a set of architectural drawings it is time to engage with a structural engineer. The structural engineer will take the architectural plans and create a set of permittable construction drawings. Engineers can also handle the permitting process by submitting the drawings and responding to comments from the jurisdiction. Timelines for permitting vary by jurisdiction and most submittals are completed online.

Once a building permit is issued, your drawings are ready to be sent to contractors for bid. The structural engineer can be available throughout the bid and construction process to answer questions or respond to challenges that are presented in the field. This helps keep the construction process moving.

Designing and permitting a residential structure may seem complicated at first, but with the right professional team, you can confidently take your project from concept to construction. CG Engineering has a team of structural and civil engineers and planners who can assist you with this process. We can recommend architects and other consultants and contractors that can help you with your project.

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