WHEN TO DESIGN
Immediately. There is no reason to hold back on design. No matter when you are planning to break ground, getting started on the process is always a good idea.
If you have a certain season you are shooting for, here are some tips:
Spring and summer weather get people out exploring, thinking of change as the world around them pulses and transforms in color, aroma and with the reverberation of living things. Even when finding property early on in the spring in the north, it is usually unrealistic to consider that a project of any size will be completed prior to the coming winter.
HOW LONG: I am continually asked at the beginning of a project how long it will take to complete plans. This varies greatly on the scope of work and I generally tell people that I can have plans out, depending on the scale of the project from 4-10 weeks after the sign-off on final design. Until a design is agreed upon, you are more in control of the timeline than I am. I will guide you through design decisions using the experience I have gained over the multitude of projects I have worked on and provide solutions that I understand to meet your needs and aspirations.
NEW CONSTRUCTION: I highly encourage people to do the planning in the winter so that they are prepared to break ground in the spring. While spring is the busiest time of year for contractors, there are things to consider if you are planning to build in the winter months, especially laying the foundation.
A typical winter in the northwest brings bitter cold and snow as early as October. It is common knowledge that winter tends to set in around Halloween, with sometimes an early snow, usually followed by warm spells for another month prior to the arrival of more steady cold weather. Although the ground does not typically freeze to any depth before Christmas, this is not a certainty and although this is not usually a season of heavy precipitation, it remains unpredictable.
Heavy snows usually start in mid-late February and I can recall several years when it has snowed in early June, although melt off has usually started at the end of April. If a project can be dried in before the ground freezes, materials can be stored under cover and major dirt work (aside from final grading) can leave for a site that is easier and less costly to maintain during the remainder of the construction process.
Scheduling along these lines will not only save you time in labor, but also in buried building elements, costly snow removal, continuously covering materials and other cost overruns.
SMALL REMODEL OR INTERIOR IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS: This category of projects can be performed in adverse weather and may be planned at any time in many cases with the availability of qualified contractors being favorable in the off season.
LARGE CUSTOM HOMES: In many cases, it can take up to a year to complete plans and obtain permits and bids. If working with a qualified contractor throughout the design process, bidding is simpler as cost is continuously being evaluated. If you do not have a contractor at the time you wish to start planning, I have built several custom homes and completed remodels/additions and restorations as well as design and can work with you to keep the design in budget.