Building Design

In many of the projects we do, design work is a key part of the services provided.  Even smaller projects often require some sort of design plans to make sure everyone is on the same page and to keep the local building jurisdiction happy.  For remodels or additions, that might mean a new kitchen layout or floorplan changes.  For custom homes, where we spend most of our design-time, a good building plan is the first thing you do and getting it right is paramount.

As a general statement, we find that good design work “is worth far more than its weight in gold”.  It’s never something we would recommend skimping on, and a marginally better design in any aspect is likely worth a lot more than it costs.  The larger the project the more so that holds true.  Construction projects are expensive, and decisions that get made in the design process have a lot of impact on costs down the line and the “value” the client receives for their home.

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At Seven Hills Construction, we care a lot about producing a well thought out build and we would love to discuss designing your project for you.  We have top notch 3d design software to produce high quality blueprints and renderings of what your home will look like.  If you are already working with a designer, we are also more than happy to consult with you throughout the process and put the shovel in the ground as soon as it’s ready. If you are trying to decide what to do with your upcoming build, see below!

Should I hire a designer or do design-build for my custom home?

For custom homes, there are generally two ways the design process plays out, and we do both depending on the project.  The first method is to hire a stand alone designer, who will produce plans for you which you will usually then send to the builder(s) to bid the project.  The second method is commonly called Design & Build which means the builder both produces the plans and builds the home.  There are pros and cons for each depending on the person and the project.


If you hire a designer, you are (hopefully) getting somebody who spends all day every day working on building design.  They likely have a very deep portfolio of projects they have done.  If you aren’t working with a builder yet, you can send the plans out to multiple builders to compare real world costs a.k.a. “get bids”.  Designer plans we often find are more detailed, which helps when you have multiple builders bidding on a set of plans.  These are all good things.  The plans often cost more than a builder would charge for a set of plans, for that reason among others, but as noted above we do not feel design cost should be the most important consideration in your project within reason.


If you decide to do a design-build, you are working with a builder whom you will likely be spending a lot of hard earned money with, and you will be building a strong relationship with them throughout the process.  Most builders have a big advantage in that they know costs very well, they can design a home that they know will fit in your budget the first time.  That experience can also be very useful when it comes to evaluating specific individual features in a design, such as, is this extra deck space actually worth it if it costs $5,000?  What about something more nuanced like the style of railing on the stairs?  Builders will also usually have a stronger sense of local building practices and methods which in their experience produce a lot of “value” – a quality product at better cost than other alternatives.


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So which is best?  That depends!  A good designer will be better than a mediocre design-build and a good design-build will be better than a mediocre designer.  All things being equal, we feel that a design-build will usually produce the best value for the client with their home, if it’s with the right builder.  Primarily, that’s because we find it’s more difficult for a designer to learn detailed building costs than a builder to learn good design. If someone is good at both, that is the best of all. if you would like to discuss the path forward please call us today.