Blog
Jun 07

The Design Process

Thinking about embarking the journey of building your dream home? Perhaps you are interested in renovating or adding onto your existing home. In either case, your first step is to find a qualified designer to work with to help bring your vision into a reality. At Adapt Design, our process is relatively straight forward. First, we set up an initial phone call to discuss the specifics of your project. At this stage we will discuss your wants/needs to see if we are a good fit for one another. If everyone is on the same page and would like to move forward, the next step would be to set up a site meeting. This site meeting serves as a meet and great as well as gives us the lay of the land where we will consider many aspects of the site such as views, lighting, topography, surrounding architecture and the environment as a whole. Design ideas would be weighed against finances, Building Code implications as well as Zoning and other local bylaws. From the initial discussions we will send you a specific proposal tailored to your project. Once the proposal is accepted, we get to start on the fun part, the design.

The home design process we follow generally begins with getting a good sense of the client’s vision so that we can help bring it into reality. Having a good understanding of the wants/needs of the client upfront always results in a successful collaboration. I say collaboration because thats what this really is. Once we have a good understanding of what you are after, we will weigh those considerations against budgets, timeframes and codes/bylaws to ensure we are on the right track from the beginning.

Next up, the zoning analysis. In Victoria we have 13 different local governments (Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Langford, Uplands, Sooke and the CRD which covers Juan de Fuca, Malahat and the Gulf Islands) each with their own specific Land Use Bylaw. Generally Land Use Bylaws are somewhat similar to one another but often there are very different factors within the bylaw that must be taken into consideration. These range from how square footage is measured to how roof height measurements are calculated. Luckily we have been doing this for a very long time and in this time have gained a very deep understanding of how these bylaws work and have done projects in over 50 different jurisdictions all over B.C.

Creating the floor plans is next. Sometimes a client provides a sketch, photo books and sometimes its a blank canvass, each and every project is unique. We put the time in to come up with floor plans that are functional and efficient while meeting your desires. Generally we start with the main floor plan and once you are happy with the layout, we move onto the remaining floors. Since the floors are essentially tied to one another, preparing the main floor plan first makes sense.

Once you are happy with the floor plans, we move onto the exterior design. We take your preferred design style and begin by preparing a ‘massing model’ which helps illustrate the overall geometry of the building including the terrain, roof lines and shading. We then take that concept and refine it with further details including cladding, trim, fascia, windows/doors, and landscaping. Using state of the art Building Information Modelling software we provide 3D renderings of the building.

Next is the documentation stage. Your concept plans are assigned to our drafting department where the high level detail is added to the plans. This will generally form the finished plans which contain the site plan, floor plans, elevation drawings, foundation/roof plan, cross sections and various construction details. The finished plans we provide are referred to as the issued for permit/issued for construction plans and will contain all of the information necessary to obtain permits as well as during the course of construction. A good set of plans should have enough information that a competent builder can build without having to ask any questions. We spend a significant amount of time on each and every set of plans ensuring its accuracy and that all of the necessary details are provided.

Last step is the handover process where we provide you with the Issued for Permit construction drawings. If there’s anything requiring specific attention, we will let you know at this time as well as any tips/ideas or other contacts still needed such as engineering, energy compliance, arborists, interior designers and so forth. We’ve spent countless hours refining our templates so the finished product is not only functional in conveying information but looks great from the first page to the last. Generally the average length of time to design your home ranges from four to fix weeks however some projects go much faster and others can take much longer.

Typically once the permit package is completed, the builder or owner will make the application. Why? Most jurisdictions¬† require the applicant to sign waiver liabilities, agree to Hazmat abatement, pay surety fees on municipal infrastructure as well as pay the calculated permit fees. For this reason, it simply makes more sense for the owner/builder to make the submission however we are happy to take care of this if required. We currently have a 90% acceptance rate meaning that 9 times out of 10,our plans are accepted by the jurisdiction without issue. This is one of the best acceptance rates in the industry and is only less than perfect because we are complying with a 1700 page code book subject to varying levels of interpretation as well as several bylaws, all of which are always evolving and changing. If anything comes up, we take care of it right away to avoid any delays. Often it’s an interpretation issue that can be solved with a phone call, other times, it takes a little more. In fact, we’ve been successful in challenging several local governments through the BC Building Code appeal process as well as saving clients up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Long story short, we go to bat for our clients.

 

Do we get involved during construction? Short answer, sometimes. Long answer, some builders prefer to do run their own project and some prefer the involvement of a designer. While most projects typically are completed once we provide the plans (and eagerly await to see the finished product!) sometimes we get involved in a number of capacities including site inspections, code compliance, development consulting, design considerations (interior and exterior) as well as good old fashioned problem solving.

If you are considering design services for a custom new home, addition or renovation in Victoria BC or elsewhere, feel free to reach out to discuss your project. We look forward to helping bring your vision into reality.

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About The Author

Josh has been passionately involved in the construction industry for over 20 years. He is the Owner and Chief Designer of Adapt Design. Prior to pursuing home design, Josh obtained a degree in Engineering, Red Seal Journeyman Carpentry, Certified Energy Advisor and Building Official certification.