Behind the Scenes: Researching Your Property

People often ask me: What is the design process? How do we get from an idea to a permit-approved set of plans? The answer varies depending the project’s location, size, and type. But there are few common denominators. Enter… drum roll please!… 

Behind the Scenes! A series of posts to help you understand what I’m doing back here. You know, behind the scenes.

Phase 2: Research Your Property

At the beginning, I like to get a handle on your property. It involves lots of online research, maybe a site visit, and LOTS of reading tiny text in giant tomes called code books.

 
Behind the Scenes: Researching Your Property  @MeldrumDesign
 

1. Parcel Info.

Your property carries with it all kinds of information. I’ll be looking for a Parcel Map, Property Description, Parcel Number or ID, and Zone. 

If you, the property owner, have any info such as old plans, surveys, deeds, title research, etc, please let me know. All that stuff could save me time and you money.

If I don’t find what we need in your documents, I’ll check with the town. Sometimes I find it with the Assessor, or Town Hall, or the County Recorder; it’s a treasure hunt!

2. Check the Codes

Most towns have zoning and building codes. These are the giant tomes I was talking about earlier. Footnotes on footnotes on footnotes. I am so thankful for the “find” function on pdf readers, they’re very helpful as I’m figuring out which codes apply to your project.

ZONING codes are specific to your region or town and will tell us:

- Setbacks (the minimum gap between our building and the property line)

- Maximum Height (how high we can build)

- Coverage (how much of the site we can cover)

- FAR (floor area ratio- how much square footage we’re allowed)

- Maximum Density (how many units we can build)

BUILDING codes can be specific to your town (usually only if you live in a big city) or your town may adopt the IBC (International Building Code) and IRC (International Residential Code). In any case, building codes are very similar throughout the United States. They will tell us minimum standards for designing a quality building. 

For example, the IBC talks about:

- Occupancy Type

- Construction Type

- Fire Protection and Means of Egress

- Accessibility

- Energy Efficiency

- And on and on and on

And the IRC talks about:

- Foundations

- Wall and Roof Assemblies

- Chimneys and Fireplaces

- Exhaust Systems

- Plumbing & Electrical

- And on and on and on

3. Lay of the Land

Google Maps and land surveys are really helpful here. It’s important to plan your project with the site in mind.

Which way does your property face? Can we catch the right sun angles and wind directions? Are there any significant changes in topography? Can we play with that or will it be an expensive nuisance?

Often, if we’re designing an addition or a new house, I recommend getting a land survey. Assessor’s maps aren’t necessarily accurate and if there are codes to follow, we need to know exactly what your property looks like.

Sometimes I recommend a full topographical survey, sometimes just property lines and building corners.

It’s good to gather this info before we get into schematic design.

4. Rural is a Bit Different

If you live rural like I do, the codes near you may be very lenient. Sometimes it’s not worth spending time on extensive research, especially if you have lots of documents and information to give me. 

Generally, in these areas, I can base my site plan on the assessor’s map (which is, again, not always accurate) because your parcel of land is large or we’re staying away from the property lines. These areas also usually adopt the IBC & IRC so as long as I design to those, we’re good to go.

That’s it, piece of cake! Haha. Yeah right.

*I reference “towns” a few times here. By that I mean your governing jurisdiction whether its a county, city, town, or region…

Let me know if you’re ready to get going with your project. I have a few free consultation spots left in May. Click here to grab one.


Last Month on Social Media:

 
This is the new Entry at one of my San Diego projects... can you spot the unique touch? 🧐 I'll give you a hint: my client is an artist AND they ordered a custom front door. 🐢🚪

This is the new Entry at one of my San Diego projects... can you spot the unique touch? 🧐 I'll give you a hint: my client is an artist AND they ordered a custom front door. 🐢🚪

This is the new rain chain at my parents house.💧I got to see it in action a few weeks ago. So beautiful 😍 and so functional (this replaces a gutter)! 😲 Plus you get that soothing sound. I love this thing.

This is the new rain chain at my parents house.💧I got to see it in action a few weeks ago. So beautiful 😍 and so functional (this replaces a gutter)! 😲 Plus you get that soothing sound. I love this thing.

 
Just signed on to design the remodel of this house on the lake. Check out that wall of windows! 😍 Luckily, the client saw the potential in this place and hired me to help take full advantage. 💪🏻  Want to make better use of your space? Message me. 👋🏻Meldrum Design is all about making great design accessible to a range of homeowners. I'm here to help with everything from the basics to the luxurious. 👑

Just signed on to design the remodel of this house on the lake. Check out that wall of windows! 😍 Luckily, the client saw the potential in this place and hired me to help take full advantage. 💪🏻

Want to make better use of your space? Message me. 👋🏻Meldrum Design is all about making great design accessible to a range of homeowners. I'm here to help with everything from the basics to the luxurious. 👑

Last year I hired a business coach. I had just earned my Architect's license and I was ready to dive into work again, to build my business. 👩🏻‍💻 But, as a one-person business, "diving in" can be a daunting task. Michelle, the biz coach extraordinaire, became my temporary business partner. 🤝 She helped build my new, gorgeous website (have you seen it yet??) AND she helped with financial projections, marketing plans, branding... all that good stuff. 📈🗓✍🏼  It was SO helpful to have a second opinion on how to spend my energy and money. 🙌🏻 Michelle and I finished our 6 sessions in December. I really miss her (and may eventually go back to her again) but, for now, Meldrum and I are thriving. 🤗 If you'd like to know more, check out her Client Case Study on yours truly. http://bit.ly/2urMNFM  @whenIgrowupcoach

Last year I hired a business coach. I had just earned my Architect's license and I was ready to dive into work again, to build my business. 👩🏻‍💻 But, as a one-person business, "diving in" can be a daunting task. Michelle, the biz coach extraordinaire, became my temporary business partner. 🤝 She helped build my new, gorgeous website (have you seen it yet??) AND she helped with financial projections, marketing plans, branding... all that good stuff. 📈🗓✍🏼

It was SO helpful to have a second opinion on how to spend my energy and money. 🙌🏻 Michelle and I finished our 6 sessions in December. I really miss her (and may eventually go back to her again) but, for now, Meldrum and I are thriving. 🤗 If you'd like to know more, check out her Client Case Study on yours truly. http://bit.ly/2urMNFM

@whenIgrowupcoach

Archifact #1  💡Cantilever: structural element of a building that's only supported on one side, the other side floats. Like this house! 🤯  Pc: @dezeen

Archifact #1

💡Cantilever: structural element of a building that's only supported on one side, the other side floats. Like this house! 🤯

Pc: @dezeen