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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a residential designer based in PA and in an effort to always provide my clients, either contractor or home owner, with better service, I would like some feedback on what the #1 gripe is about home designs. Whether it is communication issues or just things that should be portrayed better on the blueprints themselves.

I am open to any comments or suggestions.

God bless,
Larry
 

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What complaints do YOU hear? While you want to learn from other's mistakes, it's also good to learn from your own. Please go first and tell us some of the complaints you've heard.
 

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i hate it when the porter potty doesnt have a good amount of TP, thats a big complaint. then you gotta get creative and lose a sock or your boxers. oh and the size, im a big dude, at 6'2" pushin 300 those damn things dont do it for me. what gives? is there an XL portable john? is there? I NEED ANSWERS!!!
 

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i hate it when the porter potty doesnt have a good amount of TP, thats a big complaint. then you gotta get creative and lose a sock or your boxers. oh and the size, im a big dude, at 6'2" pushin 300 those damn things dont do it for me. what gives? is there an XL portable john? is there? I NEED ANSWERS!!!
Yeah you gotta love those urinal/toilet combo porta-johns. Nothing like a rancid plastic urinal in your face when you're forced to cop a squat on the job.
 

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# 1 gripe

Why is it so hard to get more than one copy of a plan,are Architects afraid someone will steal the extra sets.......:whistling and use them to build another house.......:)
 

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Why is it so hard to get more than one copy of a plan,are Architects afraid someone will steal the extra sets.......:whistling and use them to build another house.......:)
Because that's his overhead. Most places give a certain amount, anywhere from 4-8 sets. Give builders too many, then someone makes a change, gets very, very expensive real fast.
 

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Clarity. Stress to the homeowner the importance of being set on everything encompassed within the design. All too often, I find myself giving away change orders to promote a friendly and easy to work with reputation.
 

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HECK that's ole LARRY ...I saw Larry's site some time ago. Larry you can put your website address in your signature so you don't get axed for spamming.
 

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Blueprints, Blueprints, Blueprints.

Their biggest faults seem to be:

1. They are not consistent in the specs (sizes, reinforcement) from one drawing to another.
2. Architecturals that say - see structurals; structurals that say see architecturals.
3. Not being drawn correctly (reinforcement, sizes, risers, etc.) for the municipality it is to be built in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
#1 design problems response

Wow! I got a lot more responses to this question than I thought I would, so I will take JK Floors advice and describe the few main complaints about designers that my clients have told me:

#1 - Not enough information on the plans. Some plans that were brought to me from other designers barely had any measurements, let alone a cross-section detailing how it was to be built. Contractors hate spending time on the job site holding their tape measure on a blueprint, trying to guess to the closest inch how large certain areas are.

#2 - Too much information on the plans. Other plans that were brought to me have had electrical plans mixed in with regular structural details and it generally wreaks havoc on the brain to try sorting everything out. The designers who do that might be trying to save paper cost, but any savings are lost in the first hour spent trying to decipher the mess.

#3 - Rediculous plan prices. I hear this a few times throughout the year. Fortunately, the complaint is not about my prices :) I recently had one of my regular contractor clients come to me for some detail work on an addition he was doing and showed me the plans he was working off of. Zero structural information, basic floor plan layouts without room sizes, etc.. Despite the contractors efforts to get his client to use my design services, his client used an architect friends service and ended up paying $14,000 for worthless drawings. I could have done it for $5,000 or less. Needless to say, the friendship was on the rocks.... I wonder why....

I can sympathize with all the other design problem replies, except for the guy with the TP problem. Never had an issue like that because I never worked in the field, but you did bring a grin to my face.

Roof plans are a normal part of my designs. My clients find it much easier to calculate building materials if they have a roof plan. First and second floor framing plans are also a normal thing for us to draw. It keeps the contractors coming back.

We make it very clear at the beginning of design jobs with new clients that we provide 7 copies of plans unless they want more or less. We charge a per sheet price, so we let the client dictate the number of copies. We always strive for super-consistency on our designs, but mistakes happen. If it is my fualt I will print another set or 2, my cost, to get a revised township approval.

All of the above is just touching the tip of the iceberg, I feel, so keep giving me feedback. I am always willing to learn, and maybe someday I can add you to my client list. We do have the ability to have residential designs stamped in all 50 states.

God bless,
Larry
Larry's Home Designs
 

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How about some digital blueprints so that we can bid or work on them at home. In the past year, I have finally started to see some of these after never having one. Its nice to not have to go out to my truck at 10:30 PM when I get a call from the contractor of the owner. Not to mention, the condition of the print will remain perfect.
 

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My biggest problem is people have plans drawn
before they consult a building proffesional about cost
the designers dont seem to have a real concept of what things cost
i have never been involved in or heard of a project costing less than what was originally discussed between designer and owner.
So right away they are mad at the designer and builder
now we need to take the dream plans and scale it back by 50 percent
very very difficult.
It is much easier to add thing than take them off
 

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Why is it so hard to get more than one copy of a plan,are Architects afraid someone will steal the extra sets.......:whistling and use them to build another house.......:)

Well, there are several reasons, it depends on the municipality. In Chicago for example, we submit 3 copies to the Building department and receive 2 back.

One copy of the approved plans stays with the City for the building inspectors, one goes to the architect's office and one to the job-site. As a word of advice, make sure to always have an approved set on site.

Sometimes drawings are corrected several times from the original plan to what is approved and I've seen mistakes made where parts of a building were built to original plans and not what was finally approved, and the inspector has the approved set, so the building will not pass inspection.

As far as using a set of plan for a different house, Again, it would have to be on a lot of substantially similar size and of the same Zone to ensure that the FAR and set-backs are met. Keep in mind that varies per property. Besides, you would be looking at a heafty lawsuit, I saw such a case last year, that went over $50,000, for a set of drawings that would have cost about 3g's... Not worth the risk IMO.
 

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My biggest problem is people have plans drawn
before they consult a building proffesional about cost
the designers dont seem to have a real concept of what things cost
i have never been involved in or heard of a project costing less than what was originally discussed between designer and owner.
So right away they are mad at the designer and builder
now we need to take the dream plans and scale it back by 50 percent
very very difficult.
It is much easier to add thing than take them off

Bingo! That's why I'm here...
 

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Wow! I got a lot more responses to this question than I thought I would, so I will take JK Floors advice and describe the few main complaints about designers that my clients have told me:

#1 - Not enough information on the plans. Some plans that were brought to me from other designers barely had any measurements, let alone a cross-section detailing how it was to be built. Contractors hate spending time on the job site holding their tape measure on a blueprint, trying to guess to the closest inch how large certain areas are.

#2 - Too much information on the plans. Other plans that were brought to me have had electrical plans mixed in with regular structural details and it generally wreaks havoc on the brain to try sorting everything out. The designers who do that might be trying to save paper cost, but any savings are lost in the first hour spent trying to decipher the mess.

#3 - Rediculous plan prices. I hear this a few times throughout the year. Fortunately, the complaint is not about my prices :) I recently had one of my regular contractor clients come to me for some detail work on an addition he was doing and showed me the plans he was working off of. Zero structural information, basic floor plan layouts without room sizes, etc.. Despite the contractors efforts to get his client to use my design services, his client used an architect friends service and ended up paying $14,000 for worthless drawings. I could have done it for $5,000 or less. Needless to say, the friendship was on the rocks.... I wonder why....

I can sympathize with all the other design problem replies, except for the guy with the TP problem. Never had an issue like that because I never worked in the field, but you did bring a grin to my face.

Roof plans are a normal part of my designs. My clients find it much easier to calculate building materials if they have a roof plan. First and second floor framing plans are also a normal thing for us to draw. It keeps the contractors coming back.

We make it very clear at the beginning of design jobs with new clients that we provide 7 copies of plans unless they want more or less. We charge a per sheet price, so we let the client dictate the number of copies. We always strive for super-consistency on our designs, but mistakes happen. If it is my fualt I will print another set or 2, my cost, to get a revised township approval.

All of the above is just touching the tip of the iceberg, I feel, so keep giving me feedback. I am always willing to learn, and maybe someday I can add you to my client list. We do have the ability to have residential designs stamped in all 50 states.

God bless,
Larry
Larry's Home Designs


Larry,

On the first two issues I will comment. The drawings, should have dimensions, they should never have to be measured or scaled... Period.

As far as elevations, sure, cross, wall sections, with UL numbers, insulation types, gyp. board, framing, Footing details, etc.


The issue that you have regarding too much information on the plans, is not really the case, what those architects did was poor work, they didn't structure the plans properly. They should be structure as follows: Page 1 Title sheet, with site plan, legal descriptions, notes, and certifications.

Next is architecturals, with floor plans and maybe electrical, some elevations.

Foundation Or structurals, depending on the size of the project either go before the architecturals or at the end of the set, if larger projects. (because that's how they are reviewed, besides if it's a bigger project, we usually subcontract to an S.E.)

Mechanicals, Electrial, Plumbing in that order... If it's a small SFR or up to 3 units, you can mix some of these, but I like to keep my mechanicals completely separate with Vent, schedules.. I don't even label the rooms on the floor plan, but rather on the perimeter...

Clarity on the plans is of the utmost importance...



Door, window, plumbing fixture, and HVAC schedules... But these should be limited to small sections of the drawing.. Keep in mind that the more detailed a plan is; the more the building inspector will be looking for.. It will save money to the contractor if the architect is as vague as possible,

Just obtain minimal approval on items that don't really matter, just show the size, type, UL rating and quantity. Just whatever the city requires. No need to get fancy. If the homeowner has extra money to spend, let him spend it on upgrades, like brazilian cherry floors or granite counter tops...Not brand name screws or doors with a certain type of closer...
 

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I have always found it irritating that a particular dimension you might need on sheet #4 is buried way back on Sheet #7. Or they are non existent. And when a Designer/Architect/Drafter is questioned about it, they become almost indignant that you do not just go ahead and subtract from, or add to, an external series of dimensions somewhere to extrapolate the needed information.

And cryptic/shorthand abbreviations are a PITA! As are "per field measurement and verification" notes. Get off your butt and go get some accurate As Builts put together to work from.

Don't give me a long Simpson code number (or other esoteric nomenclature) to go by without also clarifying the notation with a word or two of normal English explaining the fixture. Believe it or not, I don't have each manufacturer's identification codings memorized any more than you do. And I do not happen to have the full set of Sweets Catalogs on the bookcase right behind me on the jobsite as is usually the case in your workplace.

If you have to, at times, jot in a handwritten notation... try it in clear English block style printing. Doctors and architects both seem to feel it is somehow impressive to pen almost indecipherable notes.
 

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I can't stand housewives and people who watch tv that think they're designers. Every time i see one of them on site it's because they changed their mind on a whim AFTER work is done (i'm sure you hate losing jobs to these types as well), it's not fair to the crew and it's especially not fair to the homeowner who is likely paying the designer more than me.
 

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.........Keep in mind that the more detailed a plan is; the more the building inspector will be looking for.. It will save money to the contractor if the architect is as vague as possible, ...
I'm not sure I'm following this. Can you clarify?
 
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