Getting started with a custom home plan

Beginning a custom home design is a bit like beginning one of those essays back in high school where the blank piece of paper just stares back at you.
It's a bit daunting for most of us.

But for Chris, my husband and the principal architect of Archiscapes, it's a challenge just waiting to dive into.

The first step is to get a survey. Your survey needs show boundary lines, setbacks, topography (the grade of the property) and any large trees (especially if you want to save them).
Once we have a survey in Autocad, our drafting software, we can get going.

If your lot is in a community with design guidelines and an HOA, we need to also get those documents together.

Chris likes to start with an old fashioned pen and sketch paper. This see-through style paper is great for laying over printed surveys and throwing out ideas. Then, Chris starts sketches. He is a big fan of a black Sharpie pen for drawing general floor plan layouts.

The best plans, he says, are simple and clean, with a main house mass and lesser wings or rooflines. This keeps the house easy to build and elegant in proportion.

I often ask clients to come with a general wish list and budget for the first kick-off design meeting. This allows us to keep even the initial design sketches within reason and not to get too big for our budget. We can also talk about framing materials, site conditions, neighborhood requirements and construction pricing at that introductory meeting. It's a lot of information to take in, but it helps clients understand what they can do on their lot and for their price point.

As you can see from the steps I photographed above, the first sketches are not always easy and there is some throwing out of ideas as we go.

But the amazing part for me is seeing how often the final "initial sketch" is to the final design product. It's amazing how often they match.