We left off with preliminary drawings, so let’s take a look at what you should do when you receive the drawings.

PDF files are currently the best way to share drawings electronically

Your designer will send you some plans and at least one elevation so you can see their interpretation of what you have communicated to them. These are usually not very detailed as a lot of structure and selections have not been addressed yet. At this point, the basic layout is figured, with exterior doors and windows placed.

Some details, such as bathrooms and closets will show up and a few design features may be evident. Otherwise, there won’t be a lot of extra details to look at.

As the homeowner, you now have a job to do to move the project forward.

1. Make sure the layout is What you want. Some changes may have been made to meet code, or make the flow work. Keep an open mind and write notes so you can discuss it later. Look at how you live and see if this layout truly reflects that.

Preliminary plans are just a preliminary idea and not for construction

2. Make sure the front elevation looks the way you want it to. You may have to imagine how the sides and rear will look at this stage, because they will be dependent upon the layout and front elevation. Are the main design elements in it that you wanted or did you have to sacrifice a lot to get the look that fits the layout?

3. Make sure to note any changes you want to make. Maybe you now see where you want a patio instead of a deck or you want to add some space to a few areas. This is your chance to discuss all of the possibilities. If you have the ability to mark the PDF, or printed sheet up with a red marker, this helps with visual communication.

Remember that sometimes things you thought you wanted may not work with your layout. If things are missing or different than you asked, make notes and discuss it with your designer. They may have missed it or just hadn’t added it yet, or there may be other reasons they can share with you at your next meeting.

There is a difference between “budget” prices and actual costs

This stage is the infancy of the preliminary stage and you may need to go through it more than once to finally get a layout or look you are good with. I have had clients who have gone through this three or four times because their layout didn’t match what they envisioned, but they didn’t know any other way to communicate their desires other than to address and ask questions during this stage. They were finally able to agree on a good layout/elevation and we moved into the final part of the preliminary stage.

Prior to this, you may have been working on a preliminary budget. This is where prices will now change. This is where the plans get sent out to be estimated off of and you begin to see actual costs of building your dream home.

The final part of the preliminary stage is when you are good with the layout and the elevation, you have begun to make some selections, but now, you have a preliminary plan that you can send out to contractors and vendors to get pricing.

Unfortunately, this is also the time you may find that there are areas you may have to scale back. Things like the flooring and the kitchen may have originally been a “budget” price, meaning this is the allowance we are going to put towards that cost. Allowances, or “budget” prices, are an amount placed in until an actual cost can be ascertained. Generally an amount based on previous project prices.

For example, you may see an allowance of $25,000 for your kitchen. This may have been a general amount figured based on a mid-range cabinet and Formica countertop. Maybe based on a standard used by a contractor, etc. However, when you go to have your kitchen designed, they showed you a lot of options. The options you chose and the type of countertop you want will come in at $35,000.

Once you have finished your selections, your actual budget to build is determined and any last minute changes based on the selections are made, you can move into the final stage, construction documents.


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