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The difference between an architect and a residential designer is training and license to approve construction plans. An architect has years of training in design and material applications. My credentials as a residential designer are simple, thirty-five years as a draftsperson for architects, builders and homeowners, with a lot of my time spent building my own designs. I’m very good at translating a client’s ideals to paper. Years of practical experience have given me the design sense needed to produce well thought out sets of plans.

To start the processes for a full set of working drawings, gather all the ideals you have for your new home. These ideals can be from magazines, books, photos, designs from an Internet site or your own drawings and sketches. Pictures of exteriors and interiors of homes can be a great help. Anything you can use to show your ideals. Parcel map or topo map will help in the planning of the footprint. Digital photographs of the job site provide the needed elevations for foundation.

If the job has already been developed I can provide a cost to completion. When a project has or needs an engineer I work well with engineers or can contact one that I have worked with. Engineering is needed if the construction is exceeding the lightwood framing standards that most building departments require.

In shop work is welcome. I can work in AutoCAD anywhere for anyone.

Here are several examples of homes. There are hundreds more on the computer that can be reviewed to see if any are what you might have in mind.


Remodels & Additions

Developing a set of plans for remodels and additions take some thought. First an existing floor plan should be done. I usually meet with the homeowner or contractor to see the job and talk about possibilities. After that initial meeting I can provide you with a cost for a prelim and drawing of existing floor plan.

Some times the job planning is developed to a point where only the drafting needs to be done. My advice is to let someone with the experience in construction suggest some ideals. Clippings from magazines or copies of pages of ideals can be a big help.


Some time called mother in-law units or guesthouse. Size depends on requirements in your city or county. In most cities you are allowed a percentage of the existing homes square footage. County is usually a maximum of 840 square feet and 400 square feet storage. Every situation is different and the building departments are more than willing to help you find the size acceptable in your case. In many areas Granny units are encouraged to provide for higher occupancy and low income needs.


When I first started designing vacation homes the trend was a small well-insulated cabin. At that time you might be in the cabin for days before the electricity would be turned on or the road cleared. I was hand drafting pre-fab cedar log homes from the Klamath basin to the gold country in the Sierras.

In the late 80’s the cabin style changed to multiple bedroom homes with private baths. Most of the vacation homes I have done in recent years look like the house down the street. Soon my new early western cabin designs will be complete. They are insulated and constructed to with stand the cold.

Minimum heating requirements will allow these to be built in places off the grid. Each model is designed to have the panels prebuilt then shipped to the site. Here are a few of the vacation homes I have done in the recent years on the coast and the mountains.

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mike@integdd.comMike Swaney's Blog
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