You may be asking yourself, “What has to happen before construction can start?”  We like to break-down the Design and Pre-Construction process into 10 basic steps.  You’ll find these steps below along with a link where you can contact us if you have more detailed questions.



We never recommend starting the actual drawings until you have a lot selected and a detailed survey done.  The survey will need to include the location of existing improvements (buildings, etc.), elevations, existing trees, and whether or not the lot is located in a floodplain.

Because this is a much more involved survey than what is typical it can take up to two weeks to receive the survey.  They are also more expensive and range between $1,000 and $1,500 for lots that are 15,000 square feet or less.

If you wondering how you go about finding a survey company, don’t worry.  We are more than happy to order the survey for you.


Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical Engineering is a fancy way of saying “soil test”.  A soil test is always ordered to determine the reactivity to expansion and contraction.  Based on the findings a recommendation as to what type of foundation to build is made and how wide and deep piers need to be (if necessary) to insure the structural integrity of the home.  The types of slabs that the engineer might recommend are covered in the foundations milestone.

It typically takes two to three weeks for the results to come in depending on weather conditions and how many samples are taken.  They also usually range between $1,000 and $1,500 depending, once again, on the number of samples taken (typically 2).

Like the survey we can arrange the soil report for you.


Design/Architectural Drawings

This is where we transfer your dream home to paper.  You will sit down with our in-house home designer or Architect partners and begin to layout your floor plan.  Later in the design process you will begin to identify finishes to give your home the unique style that’s all your own.

In our opinion, this is the most critical step in the entire process.  The more detailed your design drawings are, the easier it will be to deliver exactly what you want.  Although we can make changes during the construction process, it’s best to keep changes to a minimum as they usually add to the cost of the build and can extend the completion date.

The design process usually takes about six weeks of multiple phone calls, emails, and meetings.  In most cases, you are the driver on the speed.  If you are retired and have more time to devote to the design, we can typically have a set of drawings done in less than a month.  If you travel quite a bit, and can only meet and discuss changes sporadically, it may take several months to deliver a set of plans.  If you already have a set of plans, that works for us as well.  We will do a review and communicate with your designer/architect to make sure we understand the full vision.

Design costs will vary on the style and size of the home you want to build.  For example, a more traditional design is less expensive than an ultra-modern home, but both are based on the total framed home’s size.  If you choose to use our in-house designer, the design price per square foot is around $2.30.  Our architect partner for the more traditional designs is around $5.50 per square foot.  Our more ultra-modern architect, as you might have guessed, is our more expensive option and is around $8.75 per square foot.


Interior Design and Selection Coordination

In conjunction with the design drawings you will be assigned an interior designer based on your particular style.  The interior designer’s job is to help you narrow down your selections and make sure finish materials are selected in a timely manner.  Our designer will be here to assist you from concept to completion.

If you prefer, you can use an outside designer.  We will have our in-house designer coordinate with your outside designer to keep the selection process on track.


Structural Engineering

Once the design/architectural plans are finalized the survey, drawings, and geotechnical engineering report are passed along to a structural engineer.  The structural engineer takes the geotechnical report and designs the foundation based on the recommendation in the report.  The structural engineer also puts together the framing package based on the design drawings.

The structural engineering process typically takes two to four weeks depending on the size and unique features of the house and usually ranges from $3,000 to $5,000.

If you already have an engineer, we can work with them in most cases.  However, if you don’t have an engineer selected, we can coordinate this for you.


Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing Drawings (MEP)

In most cases, the designer/architect will have already planned the mechanical (AC/Heating System), electrical, and plumbing drawings.  However, depending on what part of town you are building in, engineered MEP drawings can also be required, which are more detailed than what the designer will typically provide.

MEP drawings typically take about 2 -3 weeks to complete and are around $1.30 per square foot.

If you do not already have MEP drawings, and they are necessary, we can also coordinate this for you.


Fire Sprinkler System Engineering

Like the MEP Drawings some parts of town require a Fire Sprinkler System, which requires an engineered design.

The system design typically takes 3 -4 weeks.  Pricing for the drawings vary, but the systems itself will typically cost around $2.45 per square foot.


Energy Compliance and Engineering

An energy efficiency engineer will also be involved in the design process.  Their function is to take into consideration multiple factors that can impact energy usage and recommend the proper systems to reduce energy costs including insulation recommendations.

We can usually get our energy compliance engineer to turn out his recommendation in about a week to ten days with a cost of around $750.


Drainage Engineering

A drainage plan designed by a civil engineer is also necessary to insure proper water runoff.

The drainage plan typically takes about a week to turn-around with a cost of around $1,200 depending on the size of the lot.



Once all of the information above is gathered together and finalized it is submitted to the city for approval.  Once a building permit is issued construction can begin.

The permitting process can take a couple of weeks to three months, depending on how complicated the drawings are and how much backlog the city is dealing with.   Permits typically run about $6,500.



The Design and Pre-Construction process typically takes three to six months and normally range between $5.00 and $12.00 per square foot.  Once the building permit is obtained, we can typically start prepping the lot for construction.


Want to get a feel for the type of home that’s right for you in terms of size, rooms, amenities, and build time?

Most of the custom homes we build fall into four categories. Find out which category is a match for you based on your answers to a few simple questions. It takes less than a minute! Click here to get started.

If you would like more detail on a particular building step, or have any questions, please email or call/text Bryan at 713.851.4698.