Has anyone obtained construction drawings / built a house from a Home Designer design?


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I'm curious if anyone has taken the step from new/custom design with Home Designer to actually get construction drawings that were ready for submission to the local code enforcement agency.


I'd like to hear about the process.


My understanding is that as long as you're following the building code, and, adopt a "prescriptive" design (v. engineered design), the design will be acceptable to local agencies.    That said, I think you still need to make sure your design can support the various loads (dead, live, wind, snow, seismic...) with acceptable flexing....and, that soil conditions support your structure.     After that, I think it still needs to be submitted by a state licensed engineer.


However, the framing and material list tools in Home Designer make it look like you're ready to start buying wood!    How do they relate to actual construction / engineering?   Do they conform to any rules?    How close do you get?      I suspect that the extent of the support in the software is to give you an idea of feasibility and to prepare a cost estimate.


Don't get me wrong - if that is as far as Home Designer can take me, that's perfectly fine.   I find that HD has been worth every penny to allow me to express what I want in a very detailed way.   It's absolutely real, and I can imagine my design being built.


However, my experience is that finding a structural engineer is not easy, and, I'm concerned about their ability to start from a design I've prepared in Home Designer.    So, this has me thinking that after I get an engineer engaged to work with me that I have to start almost at the beginning, which I quickly translate to [redundant?] costs in my mind.


So, I'd love to hear about how someone has taken that next step.


- How did you find a local engineer

- How did you convey your design to the engineer?    

      Did they take your Home Designer plan directly?

      Did they need to model the design from scratch in other software?

- Was any actual engineering done?

- How were construction documents created? 

- How long did it take, how much did it cost?


My goal is to finalize a design so that I could turn a drawing package over to a builder for construction.  (not to obtain additional general contracting or construction management services).


I just want to better understand the complete process so that I know what to expect and can plan for it.



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I use HD Pro and have since 2013. I've drawn over 730 residential projects with it. One thing to verify is what your state allows designers to draw without being licensed. Here in MA, we can draw any 1-2 family dwelling or addition to. The contractors need to be licensed and insured to build it. They will normally do their own material takeoffs, as I would not rely on the material list from HDP. They all calculate waste in their own way. Regarding engineered material, such LVL, I-joists, roof trusses, etc., most Inspectors want some certified documentation that what I've drawn for those items will work. I design with what should work from information in the materials published span charts. Yet I always note that it is to be verified by others qualified to do. Many of the lumberyards have staff on hand who can take the plans and run the calculations with the software given to them by their engineered material source. Roof trusses are typically designed by the truss manufacturer. A local licensed structural engineer that can take your plan to review and stamp is also a great person to have access to, as some towns will still require a stamped set of drawings.  I've never had an issue with drawing the foundation plan and needing an engineer. I hope this helps you a bit. 

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Thank you, Keith.


I suppose the premise of my question ("Has anyone...") - of course!    I should recognize that there is a large community of designers using HD for decades!


Your experience makes sense.    I guess that my design has some complexity that I'm uncertain about.   It's an open concept that requires some engineering with the roof support.   Beyond that, I think the rest of the design is straightforward...

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3 hours ago, MattCarp said:

However, the framing and material list tools in Home Designer make it look like you're ready to start buying wood!


The software measures the accuracy of how you modeled the plan file and NOTHING else.

3 hours ago, MattCarp said:

How did you find a local engineer

- How did you convey your design to the engineer?  

The phone book is your best source (local to where the project is)


Most Engineers use AutoCAD so you export your plan and its views to .dfx or .dwg file formats.


The best thing for you to do to get squared away is to visit your Permit Authority's website to understand what they require for construction document submission.


The only real limiter is not the software but rather it is you and your competence and your intention to get a product, no matter what.



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Lots of states want the foundation stamped by an engineer so they would check soil and footings be it slab on grade or foundation walls dug down under frost line.


States have very different permit requirements and inspection etc.


Best bet might be to start talking to a contractor first as they will know people who can help and they may have a ood idea of what is possible or not.


I mean just because you drew that roof and open concept does not mean it is practical to build as it could add costs you do not want to pay.


Some lumber yards will help you with sizing framing members or LVL or PSL etc.


My suggestion is to first find a GC and start talking and working out a deal on what he would require to build your house.




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