To DIY or not to DIY

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I’ve been working on this idea of building a new custom house for over a decade.

If I'm honest, it's been closer to 40 years.

I’m finally in a position financially to continue (I think)

i’ve been using several versions of HD Pro in that time to work on a design.


Now I am trying to decide/determine if I can do the plans myself.

We are building in rural Sonoma County, California, so not the most lenient municipality.

On the other hand, it does not seem like a complex house to me.  Single floor, less than 1500 square feet, rectangular, no fancy layout, just a lot of porch.

I was able to go through a pre-permit? meeting 12 years ago to get some input from the county.

I also was able to do the plans to install a well and electrical service around that time.


I would really like to save the (estimated) $15k+ for an architect to do the final house plans.

My hope was that I could use HD Pro to act as draftsperson and find an architect that would be willing to markup my plans and simply charge me by the hour or something similar.  I also figure they would recommend an engineer if one were needed.


My wife and I have gone through several designs over the last 10 years, but feel we have maneuvered it to almost the perfect design.


I am just somewhat concerned after looking at a typical set of plans if I would be able to produce buildable (and able to be permitted) plans.

Anyone else do this?  In California?  Without a background in the trades?


I am most overwhelmed by things like grading and drainage plans, framing plans, wall sections, and just determining the best method and materials for construction.  I’ve done some research, reading books like “Builder's Guide to Mixed and Humid Climates” by Joseph Lstiburek that purport to show the best ways of building.  Although this one is a bit old.

Perhaps this is where the architect comes in, determining the best way to build?


I am just curious if users of this software have done something like this, or think it is possible, or am I going to spend the next two months refining and finishing these drawings only to have to plunk down $20k in the end.  Comments?  Thoughts?

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Find out what your local building authority requires for new single home family dwellings. 

These people have websites and people whose job it is to advise and help you.


You do not know what to expect, then find out for yourself what is required, now.



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If you are thick skinned and can handle a critique of your plan, consider posting it on here:


The general suggestion will be to hire an Architect, but you will get some good honest feedback.


California generally is one of the worst places for getting plans permitted. I'd seek a local draftsman to create the construction documents and help with the permit process.


Architects typically are not interested in reviewing a DIY plan.


Builders often offer this service too. Choose a builder who will take your plan, and use their draftsman to complete the drawings and obtain permits.

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