Frequently Asked Questions

Starting a building project is a heavy financial investment.  As a client, you need to spend time in “research mode” before you make that call to an architect.  Use this Frequently Asked Questions page as a first stop.  If you don't find some of the answers you're looking for, send me an email and I'd be happy to answer it for you.

What is the difference between a "permit set", a "builder's set", and a set of "full construction documents"? 

Answer:  In most cases, the "permit set" and "builder's set" is the same thing. 

A "permit set" is a minimal set of drawings required by the local jurisdiction in order to obtain a construction permit.  The set typically includes floor plans, elevations, sections, and a site plan. Being a smaller and less detailed set of information, these drawings take less time for the architect to complete thereby costing the owner less in architectural fees.   It typically does  not include anything over and above what is required for permit. A "permit set" would be without items such as specifications, details, schedules, lighting layouts, or any additional design-work (such as fireplace design, built-ins, cabinetry, railings, special stair conditions, interior elevations, tile layouts, etc..).  The permit set of drawings leaves a large majority of final materials selections and detailing to the builder and/or client to complete following permit submittal.  

Full construction documents include all information necessary to receive a permit and for the builder to price and build the project.  This includes all the information included in the permit set of drawings as well as full specifications, all interior elevations, cabinetry design, floor layouts, built-in design and detailing, trim packages, lighting layouts, and all detailing.  The full set of architectural drawings requires much more time than a permit set of drawings and therefore costs significantly more.  

We typically recommend a set of architectural drawings somewhere in between a standard permit set of drawings and full architectural set. These drawings would include all the information found in the permit set of drawings as well as additional design for key elements such as fireplaces, railings, built-ins, etc, specified interior elevations showing design features and cabinetry layout, ceiling and lighting layout, additional detailing of key features in the project and more detailed product specifications.  This level of information is usually adequate for the builder to provide accurate cost estimates without spending excessive time on details and design work that could very well be revised or eliminated at a later date due to budget.

You want to find the perfect architect for your project.  Of course you do.  But where do you start? How do you find the right architect?

Answer: We get this question frequently so we put together a free guide which you can access right here. In it, we'll reveal 10 tips to help you out.  The guide will help you narrow down your many choices.  We can offer advice on how to look for an architect, how to budget fees, and the types of things you should ask your potential architect.

Click here to access the free guide.

You heard someone mention B.I.M.  You're thinking of starting a project.  Do you need this added expense?  Will it be of value?  Will I end up with a better project?  Will there be less construction change orders?

Answer: B.I.M. or Building Information Modeling is a process and tool for generating a full 3-dimensional representation (model) of a facility within a virtual platform. Architects and engineers use this model to understand and coordinate building components.  After the facility is built, the owner can retain the B.I.M. model for use in their facility management and future projects.  There are potential benefits to your design project if using B.I.M., but there are also related costs which might be unnecessary.  Not all projects are necessarily good candidates for B.I.M.  It's best to discuss the pro's and con's with your architect.  He or she will be able to assist you in selecting the proper platform for your particular project. 

Do I need a building permit for my residential project? 

Answer: Generally speaking, a permit is required for any project which intends to construct, enlarge, alter repair, move, demolish, change the occupancy, or any modification to electrical, mechanical, or plumbing systems.  There are specific exemptions that could apply to your project and thus you should discuss Building Permit with your Architect during the design phase.  To obtain a permit, the applicant must complete a form which can obtained by your local Building Department.  Typically, in addition to the properly completed form, the Building Department will require Construction Documents signed and sealed by your Architect.