Building Your Dream Home by the Rules


By Rick Rutstein

The National Association of Home Builders’ remodeling index, which measures current remodeling activity and indicators of future remodeling activity, is at its highest point since 2004. Thanks to the economic recovery, many homeowners are finally able to move forward with those home improvement plans they’ve been putting off. If you are planning to move forward with your much-awaited home improvement plans, you probably want to get started yesterday. But having been in the home design industry for years, there are two aspects of the home improvement process I want to bring to your attention that require some attention upfront: planning and permits.

The first thing you want to do is make a preliminary plan. Only you know what you are hoping to achieve from the home improvements, so make sure you get all your ideas down. For example, which problems are you hoping to solve? Do you need more storage space? Perhaps you’re looking for a more open floor plan or maybe a room addition. It also might be helpful to pull clippings from home design magazines and blogs for inspiration. Once you have created your wish list, prioritize the list and discuss it with your designer so he and she can create a design that most effectively fulfills your wishes. From there, the designer will create conceptual drawings, which you can then take to get an estimate from the contractor of your choice. Jenny, we also provide conceptual drawings at our firm, instead of prompting readers to discuss the plans with “their designer”, we prefer that the article say that we too provide such service. The added perk about us is that we do not just design, we ensure that the design will work (since we are able to address structural integrity and code parameters) at the conceptual phase, before we move into the construction phase.

It’s also important to design by the rules. San Diego has restrictions regarding how close a structure can be built to property lines, building area rations, historic-district preservation, ordinances, etc. Therefore, many remodels and home additions require permits. In order to obtain a permit, you must submit your plans to the development services department, showing the existing conditions and the proposed improvements; packaged with all city required drawings (site plan, water pollution control plan, floor plans, elevations, sections, etc.). Clearly being prepared and knowing what a project will require from the beginning helps ensure a successful project.

To ensure a successful project, clear communication in the planning process is key, while preventing possible issues with the building department through concise research for the permits required. Therefore, to hasten the permit process, it’s important to work with a professional who understands the San Diego permit process. The objective is to design your dream home, while ensuring your building permit is processed as effortlessly and easily as possible. On the other hand if you don’t obtain the proper permits or your designs don’t meet regulations, you may be required to return the home to its original state and/or go through the permit processing with possible violations, both triggering fines, fees and a less than pleasing experience

At Professional Design and Drafting, we furnish you with conceptual drawings, and the construction drawings to build your desired home (combination building permit, coastal development permit). We also work closely with San Diego City Development Services Department to obtain the permits for you. Having been a plan checker with the city of Santa Rosa, I understand the process and code requirements associated with the development of a project.

For more information on how we can help you design and obtain permits to create your dream home, log onto

or call us at 858-583-1979.