The Benefits of a “Smart Design”

When it comes to the point of designing your house, there are so many variables that go into making the right decision: What builder should I hire? Can they do what I want? How long will it take? How much is it going to cost? What does the process look like?


There are 100 builders in town, and only 4-5 draftsmen. Crazy, right? So, getting on their schedule can be difficult. Your design can take weeks to months to get going, causing frustration and when you finally get your plans back, they’re either not what you want or you have changes. Then, you wait 2-3 more weeks for those changes to be made possibly resulting in a different plan or perhaps nothing was done the way you wanted. A common answer we’ve heard over the years is “your way didn’t work, so I did it this way”. This back and forth gets time consuming, frustrating and many people end up settling on a design layout they didn’t want – just to get moving! Unfortunately, this is common – way too common in building. This method is a traditional process for all the builders who share draftsmen.

Another route is hiring an architect. If you have the time and the money, this isn’t necessarily a bad way to go. It can be a great experience, but one that is costly and time-consuming – it can take upwards of 12 months to get finished plans.

Design-build is a process that we employ. With this process, there is only one contract with a single point of responsibility. The designer and contractor work together from the beginning. I will go into more detail about that method shortly.


How do you figure out who to go to for your house design? There are many factors to take into consideration and differences between a draftsperson, a designer, and an architect. A draftsperson is good for mass producing plans, copying plans, and taking direction from someone else on the design. Their education is based on learning drafting techniques and drawing programs like AutoCad or Revit. Because of the primary focus on drawing, this technical training does not include design styles, functionality, cohesion or building and design innovation. With all due respect to the craft, it will be unlikely that a draftsperson will give you something unique, personalized, or remarkable. The benefit to this method is that it provides the cheapest route for getting a set of house plans with the average cost between $2k – 4k, depending on the size of the house. 

On the other end of the spectrum, using an Architect to design your house will certainly deliver on that custom, unique, one-of-a-kind house. Their education is vast, and their skills are quite technical. Throughout their education they are able to work alongside other architects to gain experience and knowledge. This is also the most costly way to go, as they typically charge 3-5% of the total house cost, minimally. Therefore, you will need to budget around $30 – 80k, on average, depending on the size and cost of the home. 

A designer is not a licensed architect, but has the base education of a draftsman with the technical training of an architect. Therefore, they are a little harder to find! Designers typically work alongside architects and receive countless hours of informal, on-the-job training. Their education is driven by a passion for the craft and results in a set of skills, vision and insight that is not taught in the traditional classroom. To hire a designer is typically around $5k – 15k. 

Everyone has a budget, right? A common perception is that the design is a great place to save some money on a new build. Personally, this is the one area of a new build where you should never try to cut corners. The flow and design of your house and how it functions is something that is hard to fix later, not to mention it would be very expensive. Rather than spending tens of thousands more to remodel your house in the future, investing in the right company from the start will pay off in the long-run. 

To put this in perspective… The average cost of a new refrigerator is about $3k – $5k. When the house is finished, and your beautiful new refrigerator gets installed, it sticks from the cabinetry by about one foot. Does this sound familiar? Most of you probably have this issue in your current house or have seen it in others. Most new refrigerators are three feet deep. A good designer would have factored this element into the overall design and provided a recess into the wall to eliminate this from happening. It may seem like a minor example, but if you are willing to spend that money on an appliance, which will need replacing in 5-10 years, while ending with a significant design flaw – the overall house design is a smarter investment. 


As I mentioned earlier, we employ a Design-Build process. As a client, you are only managing one contract with a single point of responsibility. The designer and contractor work as a team from the beginning, providing unified project recommendations to fit your schedule and budget. Any changes are addressed by the entire team, leading to collaborative problem-solving and innovation, not excuses or blame-shifting. This method is a fundamental difference from the old ways. We establish a culture of collaboration from the start.

  1. R. Fleming Construction is a total custom design/build company, every house is unique to each individual client. Personally, I have nearly 20 years of experience in this industry and it all started with an early love of architecture. Through schooling, working with architects in various firms, and then starting my own design firm, it has given me vast knowledge and experience to offer something beyond “the standard”.  

A technique I use called “smart design”, can go a long way when it comes to laying out your house. I can make a 1,500 square foot house feel like a 2000 square foot house, all by designing smart. This means we are not wasting square footage with long hallways, dead space on every floor, or oversized spaces designed without intent. I take into consideration the flow, your traffic patterns, and how changes to the interior will affect the exterior.

I partnered with R. Fleming Construction in 2014 and we together have built a system that no one else offers. By providing a single point of contact, incorporating smart design, managing the bidding process and overseeing the building – nothing is missed. Communication is not lost, nothing falls through the cracks and your house is designed to fit your lifestyle and budget. I am involved every step of the way. There are no surprises or major changes to the budget without you involved in the process. We are invested in your happiness, end-to-end. 

Why do we do this? We love houses! Over the years we have established “a look” and difference that has set us apart from the industry. My designs speak for themselves and I invite you to check out our website which is full of information and houses I have designed and we have built.  

Come sit down with us and we’ll show you how we can make your dream home a reality.