We should be closing on our new/first home in a few weeks. 1950's ranch
in upstate NY. I was thinking it could be a good idea to have an
architect draw up plans for remodeling/additions, as sort of a master
plan we could chip away at over the years, and also to avoid making
changes then realizing we should have done A differently in order to
accommodate B, etc. Any idea how much that kind of thing would cost?
Maybe one who can't walk and chew gum at the same time?, LOL!
When I did one reno. on my last house, I went to a structural engineer
for his OK and then I went to a draftman for blue print, with it
I got a building permit for my contractor who understood exactly what we
wanted and expected. Result? 100% satisfaction! From there we had this
house built. Only one like this in the whole neighborhood. Very
functional, very customized. Very very energy effcient.
Depends, if you go to real pro for lots of work, upto 20% of total
project cost. He could carry out the project management as well. Nice to
have many professionals in the family. Engineer, Architect, Lawyer,
Doctor. My family is missing one, architect, LOL!
Would your family adopt me please?
Seriously, the family pro thing is great as long as relations are
good. My doctor brother-in-law is great, has saved me tons of money,
and made it easy for me to get elective things fixed that insurance
would never cover. On the other hand, I'd rather pay through the nose
than ever go to my real estate lawyer brother for any help again. Nice
guy, but a total shithead when practicing law.
If you are planning on doing that much remodeling, then you have made a bad
purchase. The house will cost you twice as much as it should have in the
It will probably also be too expensive for the neighborhood, and will have
poor resale value.
Not always true. It depends on the house and the neighborhood.
I bought the crappiest house in a very good neighborhood for a VERY
good price at the time (it was a shithole when I bought it, but had
the basic floorplan that I liked). I did the demo mostly myself, and
put alot of sweat equity into the update/remodel. For $46k I got a
$135k remodel, and now the house is slightly above par to the rest of
If I ever sell, that strategy will result in an extra 89k straight in
Rarely it happens like that. It reminds me of saying, "Small house
in good neighborhood is better than big house in bad neighborhood.
House with view is worth lot more, location, location, location!"
You're going about this all wrong.
Take a pencil and paper, and draw out what you like. Look at it every so
often, make your changes. A few years later you'll have a pretty good idea
of what you want and by then you'll be ready to do it.
Then bring it to an architect. He'll do the things you don't know how to.
Like plan the wiring, plumbing, and HVAC lines. Because you don't know
about those and many other things, your plans will be different than what
you expected. Make some adjustments over the next couple of years, and then
Then, halfway through, you'll start to see all the things you wish you did
(been there, doing that)
Whoa, Your first house and you haven't even moved in yet. Trust me, the
home inspector will leave you with months of projects and it won't cost
several thousand dollars minimum. Don't do anything extreme for at least a
few months until you get a good feel for the property
An architect will have to spend hours drafting your house plan into a CAD
program and that task alone can take 8-40 hours or more depending on the
detail required which depends on the scope of the project. Which you don't
even know yet.
You could end up with a plan to add a second story and a pool house if you
don't define what you want. An architect is not necessarily a designer in
the sense of style, but more in a technical / drafting sense. (sure some are
great designers too)
Start with a plain old interior/exterior designer or a firm with several
designers. If their plan requires detailed plans then you hire the
architect and if that plan requires major changes, you may also need to hire
an engineer to calculate the parameters (load, size of beam etc)
If you consider any changes to the exterior of the house, then familiarize
yourself with your city rules like setbacks, height limits, style
restrictions, fence location and height etc so you don't go down a road the
city ultimately blocks. Inside the house you can do almost anything but
most things require permits (unless you don't tell anyone)
No wonder I always had my house custom built from scratch. Pick a lot,
design, execute. After 5 times(not counting cabin) still haven't got
100% perfect(satisfaction). Now I maybe moving out to acerage to try one
more time before I get too old, LOL! Never lived in a second hand house.
Thank you for giving a reasonable, informative, helpful response. We do
have a few things from the inspection to deal with right off, nothing
too difficult or overly expensive. (The interior is a bit dated, but
mechanics are all 5 years or less, incl 30 year roof.) Some electrical
work and some ventilation for the attic, and we plan to put in some
fencing. Other than that, basic decorating, some flooring, maybe adding
a door or opening a up closet here and there will be the extent of
things for the first couple years.
We have some general ideas of the parameter of what we'd be looking to
do. Financially we'd be waiting probably about 3 yrs before being able
to begin anything truly major. We've got a good sized lot and would be
looking to add on at the back of the house.
The town we're moving to has a few neighborhoods done by the same firm
back in the early '50's; there are two basic versions of the same house
all over town, and as these houses are the ones in our current price
range, we've seen quite a few of them and seen the possibilities of what
others have done with theirs over the years. Our place already has a
4-season sunroom at the back, which is a good start.
Our house is currently in the lower third of the price range on these
places, so we have a way to go before pricing the place out of the
neighborhood. The only ones right now that are cheaper are the ones
where the old folks have recently died, the place hasn't been updated in
20+ years, and the estate is selling it off as is. We love the way the
property itself is situated, and we love the neighborhood and the many
things it's convenient to, so we may very well want to stay in this
house for the duration and we would therefore reap the enjoyment and use
of the expense we may end up putting in over the years.
I've looked over the information on the town website and the way things
stand now I think we'd be in well within limitations.
Thanks for the idea of starting with designers first, that hadn't
occurred to me as I didn't really want help picking paint colors and
Thanks again for a response more helpful than "buy a different house."
(info, mostly good, snipped)
Is an actual Architect required for residential work in your town/county?
Some do, some don't. Many areas have residential designers that are more
than qualified to design residental remodels and new construction, at a much
lower price point. Unless a house is real strange, odds are what you want
has been done before, so a previous design or a book on the shelf will
provide the engineering numbers needed. You want somebody with the ability
to think in 3d, and willing to meet with you enough times to boil down the
design elements that work for you and your family. Ask friends and
co-workers who have had remodels and new houses, and see who they have used,
with preference to those who used local custom builders, not a chain. I
guarantee, the same 3-4 names will keep popping up. A long-term master plan
like you describe is an excellent idea, and will not be a problem for a
How do I know all the above? That is the business my father has been in for
50+ years, and he has all the business he can handle, just from word of
mouth. Doctors are his specialty- he does one, the others come over for
cocktails or whatever, and pretty soon he has done new houses or remodels
for half the doctors in town.
Your idea is a sound one. Architects love doing the initial design
stuff, and a master plan will be money well spent in the long run. The
initial design work, commonly called schematics, is almost play time
for an architect. Banging out the construction documents (blueprints
and specs) is the part that most abhor. For that reason alone you'll
probably find that there will be some whose fees will be especially
You need to also clarify with the architect whether they will be
expecting to get future work out of the project over the years or
whether you're just looking for the master plan and expect to have
someone else work up the permit sets of plans.
No one that hasn't seen your house and spoken with you about your plans
can provide anything more than a wild assed guess about the design fees
involved. You need to start interviewing architects and locate someone
that you feel you can work with and is on the same page with you
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.