Who Comes First – The Builder or Designer?

The day has come and you have decided to renovate your home. You know that the renovation you want to do is more than just paint and it is more than you can do by yourself. So the search is on for the professional who won’t take you to the cleaners. You need someone who WILL make sure that you are properly taken care of. The question is…Who To Call? Most people will call renovation companies first and others will call the home builders association as part of their research. Both of these avenues will direct you to a renovation company to start the process. With our experience, we have found that homeowners are best to have an established design and pricing plans before they call a contractor/builder/renovator so as to ensure that their conversations with these people are as successful as possible.

A construction worker connecting plumbing pipe in an unfinished wall. Focus is on the connecting pipes.

Your best strategy is to interview designers and/or architects as the very first step in your project. These are professionals who are very well versed and familiar with the municipal rules and bylaws. They will be educated in the local building codes. They will also have a clear understanding of budgets and the equitable limits of your neighborhood. These designers will have many contacts including other designers and engineers etc. who are professionals in their own fields and will be integral to the success of your project. The interview is not just for price and ability but for the comfort and confidence you will feel with the designer. The proverbial ‘you get what you pay for!’ still holds true with design companies. The price ranges for designers start from the graduates of the local technical school and extend to the fees of fellow members of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

Don’t Be Afraid of Permits!

Depending on the extent of your project, but 95% of the time you will require a Building Permit. Besides the Building Permit, if you have an addition as part of your project, you may require a Development Permit. Do not allow your builder to start your project until they have produced the appropriate released permits. The owner of the property is ultimately responsible for all permits, not the builder. A Development Permit is NOT a Building Permit. Some design companies will handle all the application processes for you.

The permit requirement from the City states: “Plans submitted should be to a professional drafting standard.”

Most think that a permit from the City is a means to increase their taxes. But the honest truth is, inspections and certification of a project is a must to maintain your equity and liability of family’s financial portfolio. The most important thing is to create a safe environment for those who reside within the home and for their guests.

SE1311-10-Malbec-Hansen-Renos-139House RennosHome Renno

Steps To The Successful Build

·        The Dream

·        Find a designer

·        Create the design close to your budget

·        Create pricing plans

·        Call builders to bid

·        Evaluate the builders contracts and prices

·        Perform a design review to match the project to your budget. Make changes to meet that budget.

·        Establish a start date for your project and select the builder.

·        Apply for permits.

·        Go build!

This list is a very simplified list and will contain many subsections. The timeline for the process from ‘The Dream’ to ‘Go Build!’ can be anywhere from a couple of months, to a couple of years depending on the level of your project. You will experience many levels of emotions through this process from excitement to frustration and your patience will be challenged. This is normal and your designer will be able to guide you through this with good communication. As a friend once told me – “Every home has it’s own book!”













Our goal as design consultants is to provide guidance for successful projects to our clients.

Thank you to Dwayne Seal of Dwayne Seal Custom Designs for sharing his expertise and experience in renovation design with Calgary homeowners and  Who To Call  users.




Dwayne Seal
Dwayne Seal
Dwayne has been working in the architectural industry since 1978 when he was hired on as a part time junior draftsperson with B. J. Wensley & Associates Architects in Edmonton. In 1989 he moved from commercial architecture to residential taking position with Reid Built Homes. Dwayne moved the family to Calgary in 1997 to take on a position as senior designer with Stepper Homes where he was involved with 7 SAM awards for design and many finalist nominations through the CHBA Calgary Region. Lifestyle Homes hired Dwayne as planning department manager for a short period. At the end of 2005, Dwayne took his experience and opened Dwayne Seal Custom Designs as a full time consulting business. While working with Stepper, Lifestyle and associated with Lockwood Design Group, Dwayne was involved with SAM awards committee for over 10 years and has recently been involved with the SAIT Architectural Technologies Academic Advisory Committee www.dwaynesealcustomdesigns.com
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