Frequently Asked Questions
 

What are the benefits of hiring a design consultant rather that going straight to a builder?

Many people go directly to a builder rather than first seeking design assistance.  Obviously builders specialise in building things not designing them.  It is uncommon that a building contractor can produce more than a basic and typical building plan.

Using a builder also leaves you without the checks and balances a design consultant brings to the contractual structure.  Who but the builder (with their interests) will be there to advise you?  Who but the builder will be overseeing their own work?  Who but the builder will be tracking the spending of your money?

Using a capable design consultant from the beginning increases the chances of success, but also, the chances you will enjoy a positive experience throughout.  The benefits include a careful design process, attentive representation of your interests, proper contractual arrangements, and vigilant oversight of budgets and construction.  These are the means which best produce a home that is beautiful, soundly built, technically appropriate, and fit to your needs.

The very best outcome is when you experience a satisfying process and end up with a home that you’ll love living in while maximizing your investment over time.

I can buy a set of stock plans for less money.  Why have my new home custom designed?

If you find a stock plan you truly like and don’t mind typical lower-end construction and finishing, you should definitely go that route.  We do not favour you buying more than you want.   However, be careful.  While stock plans may seem less expensive at the start of your project, they may involve you in unexpected expenses later.

Stock plans are not designed around your own criteria.  They may include features that do not fit well with your needs, and therefore may need to be altered.  Also, stock plans are not site specific.  They do not consider the specific conditions of your property; things such as orientation, view and existing site conditions like topographic features, slope, neighbouring buildings, and vegetation.  They usually do not have the level of information required by most municipalities to attain a building permit.  Further, they typically do not present enough information to meet relevant By-Law and Building Code requirements.

You will likely need to hire someone to produce further drawings:

– to attain a building permit
– to site the building, aligning it with a land survey plan
– to develop details which satisfy the technical requirements of the governing jurisdiction
– to guide general construction methods, assembly instructions, envelope requirements, etc..
– to flesh out missing detail with regard to the finishing and quality of the home

To avoid as much of this as possible, make sure any stock plans are as complete as possible and that the design is suitable for your property.

Stock plans usually lack necessary detail, making it hard for a contractor or cost consultant to provide an accurate estimate.  This may run you the risk of not agreeing with your contractor about the scope of their work and what will be billed extra during construction.  Similarly, where there are unknowns, contractors must increase their contingencies passing the cost on to you.

Through experience (on occasion having come to the rescue of a stock plan project gone wrong), we know that not hiring a proper design consultant means you have less input, are less protected, and ultimately are at risk for unanticipated costs.  A design professional will defend your interests by overseeing any decisions by the City Building Department, and ensuring that your home is built properly according to the plans and for fair payment.

Building a home is expensive.  Trying to save money in the planning stages often means you will pay more later; both in actual expense and in an unrefined design, not tailored to your specific desires.

Now, of course, we believe in our services and are strongly biased – so do your research.

How do I get started?

See our guide “How do I get started?“, which outlines the beginning stages of a design project and what to expect.

Are gronlund dare partnership’s services expensive?

When beginning, hiring a design firm may seem expensive, but that cost is most often more than compensated for through efficiencies and cost savings over the whole project. Our cost ranks near the middle of what is charged by firms which do similar work of the quality we offer.  Our services are not expensive – in fact, our fees rank below many firms that do work of noticeably lesser quality.

Our fees are directly related to the type, size, and scope of each project.  We offer our clients several different fee structures and tailor them to their expressed needs.  While good design costs money, we approach our work so that we are as cost-effective as possible, aiming to reduce costs across the board whenever possible.

Further, we save our clients the most money by producing documents which are clear, thorough, accurate and detailed.  Through well thought out and complete construction documents we ensure that construction, where the bulk of the money is spent, proceeds as efficiently and frugally as is reasonable.

It is also good to keep in mind that while good design can add value to a property, bad design can actually reduce it.

How do I know what gdp design services I will need for my project?

The specific set of services is determined by the details unique to each project, along with the desired goals of the client.  Before a project begins, gdp will sit down with you and determine what scope of work will suit your particular venture.  We decide together which services might be required or desired, and which services would be unnecessary while remaining available upon request.

It is normal at the beginning of a project for clients not to know exactly what they need or want. Especially with residential work, clients are often new to the process and uncertain about what they want.  We work with you until you are comfortable, not only with the anticipated direction, but also with how we define it.

Alongside the scope of services, it is equally important that we determine a preliminary budget or range and an agreeable scope of design fees so that everyone is fully and equally informed before moving forward.

What is the process for designing a new home or renovation?

Visit our “Design Process Guide’’ for a complete explanation.

How long does the design process take?

Depending on the size and scope of the project, this varies widely.  Moreover, a lot depends upon you, and together with us, how quickly design decisions get made.

We all like things as soon as possible.  There is always compromise between design and time.  None-the-less, it is not good to rush the design process.  The only way to rush things is to eliminate steps and that reduces quality, as well as later, reducing our control of parts of the construction work.

It is always best to accept the time required for a properly resolved design to the satisfaction of the client.  Changes and fine-tuning are much less costly on paper than during construction.

*** For single family residences, design can take a number of months to complete for a building permit submission.

How can I best decide whether to build a new home or renovate my existing one?

We would be happy to help you consider your options.  If you are entertaining this question, most of the answers lie in whether a renovation will work for you.

Some key questions:

– How old is the home and what is its general condition?
– If renovated, what existing conditions would require upgrading?
– Are you prepared to not live in your home for 6 months to a year?
– What is your budget?
– What zoning implications exist for your property?  Often older homes do not meet current zoning
* requirements and overall improvements may be required if significant changes are made.
– Is your existing home capable of being altered so that it works for you?

What is the cost of new construction?

There is no easy answer to this question.  There are many factors to consider when estimating potential construction costs including the type and complexity of the project, the expected standard of construction and finish, and the level of specified materials.

The overall design determines typical construction costs as well as atypical ones such as special structural requirements.  The costs which are most directly in the hands of the client are derived from the multitude of finish and outfitting options.  These costs can be very significant to the budget.

We often use cost consultant estimates to determine and control cost estimates.  These provide important checks and feedback while we develop your design.  They also give a degree of certainty for financing and the decision to proceed with construction.  We also use ballpark figures of cost/sq.ft. which reflect the complexity of the design and the level of fit and finish.

 What regulations must I meet when building on my property?

 There are generally two main forms of regulations that always apply:

1. The applicable Municipal Zoning Bylaw must be adhered to.  These regulations dictate what kind of use (residential/commercial . . .) is acceptable, what density  (floor area, FSR, etc.) can be built, where you can locate a building within a property (defined by front, side and rear setbacks), and the limits to the buildable form (number of storeys, step-backs and general massing).
2. In British Columbia, the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC) must be followed.  The BCBC dictates minimum standards for such things as structure, occupancy, fire escape, ventilation, water management/drainage, insulation, and most other general construction practices.

A few jurisdictions also have their own Municipal Building By-Laws that need to be adhered to as well.  These are typically based on the BCBC but include additional regulations.

Please note that this question is site specific and depending on your location there may be other By-Laws that may apply to what you want to do.

How do I apply for a building permit?

Building permits are issued by the Municipality in which your property is located.  Each Municipality has their own specific application requirements and procedures.  Check with your local Building Department for further specific information.

For residential construction in general, the submission requirements include a set of design drawings that sufficiently detail the project and how if conforms to By-Law and Building Code requirements.  Also, an application form is typical along with all stipulated fees.

Submissions may also require structural engineering drawings, a site survey, a geotechnical report, and fire suppression drawings.

The building permit process can be confusing.  As part of our normal practice, gdp will either assist you or manage your application for you.  With our experience dealing with Municipalities in BC, we are familiar with both the requirements and processes that need to be negotiated.

Can I ask more and different questions?

Is your question not here?   Contact us  and we will do our best to help.