Benefits of using a local design firm for your house plans.

All of us have experienced the benefits of being a “local” in our own communities. An intimate knowledge and understanding of the area where we live is one reason for the comfortable feeling we have when we are there. Knowledge of local customs, protocols, restrictions, and peculiarities prevents mistakes that often cost unnecessary time, embarrassment, and expense.

As a property owner, one of the unnecessary challenges of the building process in Summit County involves the use of “out-of-town” designers and architects. This has nothing to do with the skill or capabilities of non-local professionals; it has everything to do with the uniqueness of mountain design and understanding local approval processes. There are many different architectural review nuances per subdivision, varied requirements and inspections between the different municipal and county jurisdictions and preferred construction practices for high mountain conditions that are uncommon to other areas. A local familiarity with that information is very likely to make the home-building experience much more efficient and enjoyable.

Since about sixty percent of Summit County property owners have their primary residences somewhere else, it is natural for them to want to tap existing professional relationships outside of Summit County for their design work. Sometimes the lower cost estimate for design will provide an inviting reason to use an old friend in the design or architecture business in New Orleans, Omaha, San Jose, Dallas, or even Denver. However, these professionals will not fully understand local conditions and the process variables that will be encountered.

Each of the local jurisdictions has unique development guidelines. These guidelines are constantly being reviewed and regular revisions are being made. A site may require a variance to the development code to be planned effectively. A local design team will have the ability to understand local codes and procedures, then how to utilize them for the client’s benefit.

All new subdivisions, and many that have been created in the last ten years; have several architectural review presentations during the design of a project. Local design teams most effectively facilitate the preparation of submittals to the review committees and support the design during the actual presentations. Many design review committees meet only once a month; an incomplete submittal at one meeting therefore can result in a lengthy and costly delay for a project. A local firm’s previous experience with other projects in a subdivision often can help keep a project on a smooth path toward approval.

Since only twenty percent of Summit County is privately owned, the developable property in the county is becoming more scarce and available new sites are tending to be steeper and closer to environmentally sensitive areas. With the generally increased difficulty of site development, a design team’s experience in dealing with land development regulations pertaining to local wetlands restrictions, open space guidelines, building envelope/lot coverage, height restrictions and other design nuances often can streamline a timely approval of the building permit.

As a purely practical consideration during the construction phase, it is extremely helpful to have your design firm reasonably close to the building site to enable a quick response to construction detailing, client visits, and general on-site support for the general contractor. On most projects, the design team will work with the client for at least four months, and often closer to a year, prior to the construction start. This relationship with the owner will translate into a deep understanding of the client’s intentions as presented in the blueprints and specifications of the project. For a vacation home project, the faithful eyes of a local design team can be invaluable in completing the house efficiently and in accordance with the vision of the owner.

If you start your project by interviewing a few local design firms, you will be able to make a more informed decision as whether or not your designer from “back home” will be the right choice to design your Summit County home.

There are a few firms in Summit County that provide full design/build services. These companies offer the opportunity for one point of contact to facilitate the project all the way from design concept to the Certificate of Occupancy.

The building industry in Summit County has provided careful assistance to long-distance clients for many years. It offers a sophisticated range of choices for property owners wishing to turn their homesites into dream houses. Enjoy the process!

Provided courtesy of Dan, Colorado Sumimt Mountain Homes