Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is CAD?

    Computer-aided design (CAD) which is also known as computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), is used by most architects and engineers in the use of computer technology for design and drawing. Prior to CAD all design and drafting was done on the board (pencil and paper). CAD software has many advantages which allow for more precise drawing and it does make it easier for the designer to share plans with the clients.

  • What is the difference between a Residential Building Designer and an Engineer/Architect?

    Most designers have practical work experience in place of advanced degrees and licenses. At Cornerstone Home Designs, this is particularly true. We have the ability to perform many services with confidence. We have a proven track record that allows us to work closely with homeowners and builders. First, designers are not licensed architects. Cornerstone Home Designs offers virtually the same services that traditional engineer/architect’s office would provide. Designers may have a similar education but have not received graduate degrees, or gone through the license exam procedures. In fact, we can work with Architects when it is required depending on the size and type of project. Any good designer should know the law, the limits of their own ability and the wisdom to know the difference. The ability to know when this is a necessity should never be questioned by a Designer.

  • If you are not an Engineer/Architect, who does the Structural and can the Engineer/Architect provide this?

    When building plans are defined as “non-conventional construction”, the building plans require structural design by a state-licensed engineer/architect.  We work closely with several reputable engineers/architects to stamp the plans saying they are structurally sound.

  • What services do you offer that an Interior Designer does not?

    There is a certain amount of overlap between what an architectural design firm does and what an interior designer can do. We have a primary responsibility to provide the architectural plans needed to obtain permits from local building authorities (e.g., planning approval and building permits).  The working drawings we provide are needed for the builder or general contractor. At the owner’s discretion, which is rarely done, we will specify the style, manufacturer and model number for products such as doors, windows, skylights, roofing, walls, floors, lighting, fireplaces, plumbing fixtures, kitchen appliances, etc. We rarely do this as the overall budget may be discussed with the contractor in how to minimize overall costs.  We typically don’t specify furniture, window coverings or interior color schemes.  Cornerstone Home Designs is willing to work with your interior designer, just be aware that it will add to the cost of the home for time invested will increase.

  • What should I have available for the initial meeting?

    If you have taken the time sketch or collect articles of things you like, have them available for review. I always suggest making a list of what you “needs” and your “wants”. We can review the design and see where we can fit all the needs into your design and then work on all your wants. This allows an initial evaluation of what can be done structurally as well as what can be built for the budget at hand.

  • What is Livable (Habitable) square footage?

    Livable (Habitable) square footage is calculated on any area that is conditioned either by heat or air conditioning.  Builders/Realtors calculate square footage from the outside of exterior walls. Non-livable square footage would be areas like garages, porches, patios, decks, etc.  In all cases, unfinished/finished basements are considered 'livable' areas.

  • What are Building Codes and what do I need to know about them?

    Building codes establish minimum standards that must be conformed to in residential construction. On any project, the requirements within the municipality your project is located will determine what standards they impose. Most use the International Residential Code "IRC" for one and two family dwellings. A new version is released every 3 years, 2009, 2012, 2015, etc. Each municipality decides when to update to the latest version and as such, verification to what they are using is always done prior to any design concept or final construction documents.

  • How long does it take to do designs for a custom home or an addition?

    The actual design process is usually 2 - 3 weeks depending on the project. The process can take as little as 30 days or 90 days to receive the final set of plans. This is all dependent on your reviews/changes as well as the current workload at Cornerstone Home Designs. No plan will ever be released without knowing that we have addressed all issues prior to drawing the final set of plans and that we have provided an accurate and comprehensive set for you and your contractor.

  • Why do I need a Building Permit, even if it is a small job?

    Taking out a permit provides you the services of a plan check engineer who will make sure that the plans are complete, that the plans comply with accepted engineering principles, and that the plans meet State minimum construction standards. In addition, a building inspector will perform inspections to make sure that construction is consistent with the plans and minimum standards for construction technique. Construction is a substantial financial investment, which can be seriously jeopardized by non-complying construction. Work done without required permits is not only illegal but will create problems when you try to sell your property. Fire and homeowner’s insurance coverage may not recognize work performed without permits or may be invalidated. A permit will also help you avoid headaches in the future and if building officials discover you have done work without a permit, you could be required to dismantle your remodel. If you sell your house, you are legally obligated to disclose that you have remodeled without a permit, and the buyer could demand that you bring work up to code. Realtors cannot market your property listing any ‘habitable space’ that was not permitted. In saying this, thinking that you want to increase the value of your home by not obtaining a permit because your taxes will be raised is not wise.

  • What about those plans available in magazines or plan book? They sound reasonable in cost!

    I have been asked about our fees and that it would be so much cheaper to buy plans from these resources as well as on-line. It is important to note that those are considered 'Stock' plans and they are low in cost BUT you have to understand that these are not custom. They are all not acceptable for submission for a Building Permit as they do not have all the information required by each and every municipality. Many lack details and this is an issue that could cost you more money as lack of detail means that even a good contractor must assume different issues. The other is that it may not conform to your building site and again, the cost for revising the plans, through the same source as purchased, will be expensive. Lastly, the plans may not be totally conforming in floor plan layout which again requires revisions. Copyright law regulates anyone other than the original creator in altering a set of plans and this is important to know. Cornerstone Home Designs is currently working on a stock plan list to help fit all your needs.

  • Can I share my house plans with my builder?

    Yes, once you purchase your home plans you are free to share them with your builder.

  • Will you work with our builder?

    Yes, once you are under contract with Cornerstone Home Design for your home floor plans and architectural drawings we will want to be in contact with your builder to ensure a smooth home building process.

  • What is your process for working with our builder?

    The first part of our process is working with the home buyer and helping them design the perfect plan for their dream home. The second part of our process is working with the builder to answer questions during the construction of the home related to the plans.

  • If our builder has questions on the job site, can they contact you?

    Yes, we are available to your builder throughout the process of building your home.

  • Does our builder pay for our plan?

    In most cases, the home buyer pays the Home Designer directly for the home plans and designs. If you are working with a builder who would like you to pay them for the plans as part of the total cost of your new home, feel free to contact us and we will find a way to work with your builder.

  • Is there anything our builder should know if we choose you for our home plans?

    We are very experienced in working with builders and can provide references from builders we work with.