Building Permit Notes

how to estimate home building costs

Our plans supply you with all the usual blueprint drawings and details needed for construction and building permits. You may copy any CountryPlans plan set locally to have additional sets for your own (single house) project - you do not need to order multiple sets. On some of our plans you will want to add in some of the included options to customize your plan set before submittal. For instance, you may have several different foundation plans in the set you are sent. You will use only one when you submit your project.

Our drawings may or may not meet all of your local requirements. Code interpretations vary widely and no stock plan will be right for every location. Some locations have specific special requirements such as high snow loads, wind loads, and earthquake loads. Some jurisdictions will require that ALL plans are stamped by an engineer registered in that state. Some building departments will not allow all the foundation options we include in our plans, particularly the pier and beam foundation. The Little House plans set with its low impact foundation may not be appropiate for hurricane areas without additonal holddowns.

In short, you may need to modify your plans to satisfy local conditions or opinions. This is true of any stock plan you would buy and even custom home designs you have done by a local architect. Contact a local home designer, engineer or architect if you require structural modifications. Smaller items such as extra hold-downs can often just be added as written notes on the plans right at the permit counter. This is what most builders do.  

Any stock plan, modified plan, or owner-designed plan should be reviewed by a local building professional to make sure it meets local codes and climate requirements. We include information in your plans packet on how to work with the building department and how to ask for a "presubmittal review" to see if you need to make changes. This can save a lot of time.

Finally, you can expect any approved plans to come back marked up with some additional notes. Many of these are things you or the subcontractor would do anyway.

The building permit process can seem frustrating at times, but it is actually helpful to you as an owner and is done primarily for your own safety and the longevity of the building. A good building inspector can help you do a better job of building your house, so try to see them as a construction resource (which you have already paid for in the permit fee).

Getting Involved and Building your own Shelter.

There is much to learn about the design and building of a house (see our Best Books list). Getting all the bureaucracies satisfied so you are ready to build is only one part of the process. Then there will be all the subs to organize and schedule. Many people love this interaction, negotiation and team working, and some don't. Instead, they can hire a local builder or designer to handle the interface with the building department and perhaps with the subs as well. See our article on 5 Ways to Build a House. You can still be an involved owner-builder AND get help from others! Don't do what doesn't feel right or isn't enjoyable. Houses are much happier places to live in when the people building it have FUN (and were therefore flexible, inventive, and creative)!

Getting a stock plan that comes close to meeting your needs and then modifying and building that plan with local help is a reasonably inexpensive alternative to spending 10% of your total budget on an architect and 20% of the construction budget on contractor overhead and profit. See this article on How to Customize our plans.

Working up an exciting design that meets your space and budget needs is one of the first and most important owner-builder projects you will do. It becomes the foundation of everything that follows, but don't get too tight about planning every detail. Opportunities will show up that were not put down on paper and could not have been anticipated. You need to jump on these and let the house evolve its own character and direction. Many of these unanticipated changes will be things people will love about this house long after you are gone. So lift your head up every so often and look around.

We make our plans easy to customize because we think you will build a better house by staying awake to opportunities and getting involved. Here's to FUN and SUCCESS on your project! And don't forget the Forum. We are here to help and we love to hear about your project. Check out the Gallery if you haven't already.

how to estimate home building costs

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What small homes cost to build and how to work with the building inspector