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Slowduck --

I only have a tiny bit of experience with this, but since no one else has responded I'll give it a shot. Perhaps that will prompt someone else to respond. ;-)


1. What is the best way to go about drawing up some schematics for this given that I don't have any architectural background except for drafting in 7th and 8th grade. for a month.

I would think you might want to get a home design program like Home Architect and try it out. It draws the basic layout for you, and most of them are 3D now so that you can sort of see what the room looks like with cabinets and furniture in it, as if you were standing in it. You can move your point of view so that you can see what it looks like from a different direction.


2. How would one go about hiring someone to DO these plans (as opposed to doing them myself in number 1 above)

That all depends. If the changes are not too complex, especially foundation and roofline, an experienced contractor may be able to do that from your floor plan. He may have a designer that he relies upon.

For informal plans you can hire a designer to draw them. That may be good enough. For formal blueprint plans, you will need an architect. Architects do a lot more detail, including more attention to structural requirements, materials lists, placement of all electrical outlets, phone jacks, etc. The designer will be a lot cheaper initially, but designers often miss things that an architect wouldn't miss, so it could end up being more expensive in the long run.


3. How much should this cost to create the PLANS...and would someone do that without actually a committment to BUILD?

That depends upon whether you hire a designer or an architect, and how you agree to be charged. Designers often work by the hour; architects often work off of a percentage of the estimated construction cost. Around here, it's 10% for the architect; I think that price may include some supervision during construction. I have the impression that it can vary a lot, so you'll just have to ask questions of people in your area.


4. And finally, How would I get estimates on the work (again with no commitment to build?) and in what order...general contractor? Architect? Handyman? Do it Myself?

If an architect draws the plans, he should be able to give you a rough estimate of what it should cost to build. When you are ready to build, you should ask 3 or 4 contractors to give you a bid on it. Around here, contractors do not charge to do bids, but it is also extremely difficult to get one to give you a bid.


As for what order, I think what I'd do is get some home design software and play around with it. That should help you to firm up your idea. Your first step in the design software should be to draw your existing home. Then you can start modifying that.

Then I would try to arrange for a free consultation or two from architects, builders, designers. Ask if you can have a chat for free about some work you are wanting done. You need some ballpark figures before you launch out on anything. They should be able to help you figure out where and how to get started.

Good luck!

- tmeri
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