Working Backwards…

It’s that time of year when people begin thinking about undertaking home projects great and small.   If you are considering renovating or building a home  in Calgary this year, there are numerous considerations to keep in mind (so you don’t lose your mind.)

We want to walk you through the stages you generally go through when designing and building a new home.  What you will discover is that as much as you plan and organize and plan some more and do everything in your power to make it happen on your terms…there are things that are out of your control.  Sometimes knowing that up front can alleviate some of the stress of having to give up that control.  When those things that are out of your control are managed by qualified professionals (designers, builders) that stress can be drastically reduced.

So, let’s get started.  What follows is an outline of the typical process you go through when working with Brent Ellergodt Design, with a general overview of timelines and what happens during each stage of the design/build experience.

Stage 1:  Design (Approximately 2 – 4 months)

We begin with the Design Stage (and with the assumption that you already have the piece of land you will be building this home on, be it here in the city or on a nearby acreage)

We break the Design Stage down into a few pieces.  We start with Programming, which could also be described as ‘discovery.’ This is just the beginning, where we are gaining an understanding of who you are, and what your needs and goals are.  We discuss your needs from both a quantitative perspective (ie:  number and sizes of rooms, square footage, etc..) as well as a more qualitative perspective (getting to know you more personally so we can better understand how you want your home to feel.)  We use our questionnaire, and a lot of conversation to uncover the information we need to proceed.  Effective Programming will not only examine your current needs, but will seek to anticipate and prepare for future needs.

From here we step in to Schematic Design, which establishes the general scope, concept, scale and relationships among the various components of the project.  The primary objective is to arrive at a clearly defined, feasible concept while exploring the most promising alternative design solutions.   Rough plans are drawn up to help you visualize the main features and help you make decisions in order to move forward.

Once your schematic design is approved, we move in to Design Development, during which we expand on the initial design ideas and develop more detailed drawings.   We strongly recommend hiring a contractor / builder at this time.   Your builder can provide valuable “pre-construction” services such as establishing a schedule and, more importantly, cost estimating.  If you are currently searching for a builder, we are happy to introduce you to some exceptional builders whom we have had the privilege of partnering with over the years.

Your project proceeds to the next stage once we gain your approval of the Design Development drawings.

Stage 2:  Municipal Approval (Approximately 3-4 months)

Development Permit                                             

A Development Permit is generally required for new inner city homes and is sometimes required for renovations based on certain criteria, such as square footage and building height.   The Development Permit relates to issues around By-laws and Land Use within your design (items such as building height, lot coverage, setbacks, and privacy issues.)  Find more information about Development Permits in Calgary here.

From the approved Design Development drawings we create the drawings required by the City of Calgary for the Development Permit submission. These drawings are reviewed by a city planner who will provide us with comments concerning any items that do not meet the current bylaws.

We, as your designer,  are responsible for the submission and monitoring of the application until the approval and release of the Development Permit.

Building Permit

A Building Permit is required for the construction of your home.  The Building Permit deals with safety issues covered in the building code, such as structure, safety, and egress.   At this stage in the process we prepare detailed construction drawings (also known as working drawings or blueprints), which your builder or contractor will use to establish actual construction costs and to build your home. These drawings are also required to obtain your Building Permit, which is required prior to construction.

While we are continuing on through the Municipal Approval Stage, your builder is also working diligently gathering together the remaining documents needed by the City to apply for your building permit (such as the truss and floor joist layouts.)  Find out more about the Building Permit process here.

Once your construction drawings are complete, they become part of the package that your builder will take to the municipality to apply for your Building Permit.

The Municipal Approval stage is one of those areas that falls out of the control of both you as the homeowner, and us as the designer.  There are many factors that can impact the timing of getting the approval required for the construction of you your new home.  These can include issues that might arise from your community association, or how many permits the City is dealing with at that particular time.

Once your Building Permit is approved you and your builder move into the actual building of your new home.

Stage 3:  Construction  (Approximately 8-12 months)

Where it all comes together!

Typically the construction of your home can take approximately 8 – 12 months, however there are countless things that can factor in to this timeline including the complexity of your design, the busy-ness of trades involved, or the weather (always a factor in Calgary.)   There are almost always setbacks, surprises, and things that are out of your control which is why the selection and hiring of a qualified and experienced home builder is so critical to the process.  The payoff for all of this is that much anticipated day when your builder hands over your keys, packs up his truck and you move in to your new home.

So, back to the beginning.  You can expect it to take approximately 12-20 months, start to finish, to build a new home (emphasis on the approximately!)     If you have a certain date by which you want to be in your new home…start calculating backwards.

This is a great time to begin the process, getting your head in the game early as far as a new build means that your builder could be breaking ground in approximately 4 – 6 months.

Note:  The process is very similar for extensive renovations, with a few variations in terms of timing and documents required by the City.

We would be happy to discuss a new build or renovation with you with no obligation.  Contact us  at  403.242.2704.

We will also have a booth at the Calgary Home and Garden Show  February 25-28 so do stop by…we would love to meet you!


Posted on: January 20th, 2016 by Ellergodt Design
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