Are you thinking about building a new home but not sure where to start with designing it?

When it comes to a new home there are several entities that offer residential design, including architects, lumber yards and residential contractors. If you’re interested in building new, your first step to designing your home should be calling around to see who offers residential design services and learn more about their availability and pricing.

When you schedule your first meeting to discuss the design of your home, there are some things you will want to prepare for the first consultation:

• Bring hand sketches, layouts you like and examples of designs you would like incorporated in your new home.

• A wish list divided into two parts; the “must haves” and the “would like but can live without.”

• Your tentative budget. It’s very important to know how much you have to spend so plans can be designed accordingly (you should already have met with a lender and know how much you will be approved for in a construction loan).

• Your timeline or schedule. When do you want to move in? How flexible is your timeline? Have you accounted for construction delays due to weather or material lead times?

After you consult with a residential design company and have chosen who you want to work with, you will sign a contract to begin the design process.

Now you need to work closely with the design company on what elements you want in your home so that they can begin developing floor plans and elevations. This process may take several rounds of designs to fine tune the home.

Once the design is completed, then the construction phase begins. This includes preparing the construction documents detailing all aspects of the house, looking at structural design and calculation packets, preparing plans and documents required to obtain a building permit, providing a final set of reproducible construction plans for the owner(s) and working closely with the builder during the construction process to answer questions as they arise.

The design company prepares the plans for the home, the builder is responsible for interpreting the plans, pulling the permits and building the home. Select your builder early so he or she can be included in the design process.

When you are building a home, there are other considerations you should make note of.

Look into your local municipality's requirements and restrictions before designing your home so you don’t have any surprises along the way.

Choose a reliable and experienced builder who will not cut corners.

It is also crucial to understand that plumbing, mechanical, electrical and civil design will not typically be included with the house design. Your builder will need to work closely with those specialists to incorporate their needs into the design.

The more you can work out and determine in the design phase the easier and smoother the construction will go, so try to avoid making design changes once construction has begun. Changes can still be made but they will be more costly if construction has begun.

Building a new home can be fun and challenging. Hopefully these tips will help as you begin the design and construction of your new home.

Gregory Granlund is the senior architect Lien & Peterson Architects, Inc., a member of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. House Calls is submitted by association members. For more information, please call 715-835-2526 or email