I’ve been busy starting a few new projects the past couple of weeks. All three projects are small additions on the back of houses; one in San Francisco, one in Livermore, and one in Richmond.
Measuring a house can be tedious, so I often begin with just the basic dimensions and information essential for the project. I can always verify and fill in details later as needed. Beyond breaking the task into manageable bites, this strategy also keeps initial costs down. This is good if the project is uncertain and the client has hired me in part to determine feasibility. Thoroughly photographing the building is very helpful. It is hard to catch everything, and the pictures help me clarify if a dimension doesn’t seem right. Arial photographs are also a good tool for understanding the neighborhood fabric and locating the North arrow (and more importantly South)
Besides basic dimensions, asbuilt plans should include basic structural information: sizes of studs and joists, direction of joists, and roof framing and slope; and location of the utilities, furnace, water heater, electrical panel, and, of course, the main sewer line. The location of the sewer line has been crucial in all three of these recent projects. When designing for a tight budget, it usually doesn’t make sense to relocate the main sewer line, and you need to make sure you can connect to it easily and with adequate slope.
The next step is schematic design. This is the most exciting part of almost any project. Sometimes unexpected solutions appear out of nowhere.