It’s becoming more and more frequent—potential clients reaching out to us who have been trying to “go it alone” with the city to get their plans approved for their new build or remodel. Here’s a recent message received by our Long Beach architecture firm:
“Hello, my name is ____. I’m trying to do an addition onto my grandmother’s house in Costa Mesa. I’ve gotten verbal approval on all the drawings from the planning department and was trying to hire an engineer to do the MEP/T-24 drawings for me; however it appears because I hand drew the elevations, site plans, and floor plans, they do not have the proper files to do their job. I was hoping you would be able to take what I’ve done and basically just do it the right way (the way I should have done from the beginning). I was hoping doing some of it myself would speed up the process, but it worked the opposite way and I’ve wasted months of time at this point. I have already hired a structural engineer who has done his drawings and calculations, but I am at a standstill at this point. The MEP engineers need everything I’ve done to be done in CAD and for it to be completely to scale. Due to time not being on my side, money is no problem. I just want to get it done so I can start building. I hope this is something you are interested in and we can get started.”
As you can probably tell from this message, this client is an intelligent person. He got pretty far into the process on his own, but eventually reached a roadblock that he didn’t know how to get around.
One of the greatest frustrations for homeowners or business owners when dealing with the people behind the city’s development services counter is that the two parties just don’t speak the same language. The city will ask for things like site plans, Cal Green Notes, Title 24 calculations, a WQMP, or a FEMA valuation. The average person would have no reason to know what any of these things are.
Most people realize pretty quickly that they’re in over their heads, but there are others that try for a year or more without success before coming to our Long Beach architecture firm for help. Once they do come ask for help, these “rugged individualists” turn out to be some of our best clients, likely because they have some insight into how difficult the process can be. They have a whole different level of appreciation for this aspect of our work.
Saving Time and Money Using a Long Beach Architect
Many years ago, I used to do my own taxes. It would take me hours. One year, I decided to splurge on professional help. Not only was the accountant done with my taxes in an hour, but she also went back to the taxes from prior years and found savings that more than covered the fee I paid her. From then on, I realized the value of professionals who know what they’re doing.
Similarly, an architecture firm like ours can save our clients time because we provide drawings prepared in a manner in which the city is accustomed to seeing them. Our plans are generally approved much faster and require fewer revisions than those prepared by homeowners or business owners, or even those done by general contractors.
As far as saving our clients money, here’s one recent example of how we were able to do that: We were working with a client who initially wanted to save some money by not getting a soils report, but instead, use the defaults for soils bearing capacity. We convinced him to get a soils report, and it revealed that his soils bearing capacity was much higher than the default. This allowed him to save a ton of money in foundation costs—almost the equivalent of our firm’s fees for the entire project!
Can’t My General Contractor Deal with the City on My Behalf?
The short answer is “yes.” Your general contractor can be the one to get your plans approved by the city. But in our experience, most general contractors are “do-ers.” They are usually busy building things and don’t typically have the time to keep up on the latest code requirements. They’ll often fall back on the “I’ve been doing it that way for 30 years” defense when a city plan checker tells them to do something another way. You can probably imagine how well that goes over with city officials.
Architects, on the other hand, are continually exposed to classes, seminars, periodicals, and city officials to such an extent that keeping up with code evolution is almost unavoidable.
You might be wondering, “What ever happened to the client who was trying to remodel his grandmother’s house?” We were able to help him with the architectural drawings he needed and get them approved. A few weeks after his initial message to us, we received this one: “Thank you so much for your help. You guys are badass.”
Save yourself the inevitable headache (and some time, and maybe even some money), and let our Long Beach architecture firm help you with the permitting process. Contact us today to get the process started.