How much do you charge per square foot for house plans?

The amount per square foot may vary with the home’s complexity. We base the fees on projects of similar scope and compare the time spent to the size of the home. From that point, it is a simple math formula to develop a per-square-foot price.

How long does it take to complete the plans once the design process begins?

Every plan is different and has varying levels of detail, which determine the amount of time necessary to complete a comprehensive set of plans. After the initial design consultation, the designers and project managers meet to discuss the required time frames, which are then communicated back to you, the client.

Since I am paying for the plans, do I own the design when you are finished?

No, not without a written transfer of copyright. In general, the author holds the copyright, and in this case would be the designer.

Am I allowed to have a kitchen in my guest house?

The zoning classification for your specific property determines whether a second kitchen is permitted or not. You would have to verify this with your local municipality.

If I bring a design from another company, can you make a few changes and finish the design?

Yes, if certain conditions are met. First, it’s a myth that you can change a certain percentage of the plan or design to circumvent intellectual property laws. The design would have to be cleared by the original designer or exist in the public domain.

What percentage of the plan do you need to change to prevent copyright infringement?

There is no set percentage to avoid copyright infringement. Contact the original designer for permission to use the design.

What do you need from us before you can start designing?

A vision:

  • An initial consultation is recommended to learn more about the project’s scope and gather enough information to prepare the design proposal.
  • Before the designers can begin, there are questions to be answered that relate to the property.  Due diligence needs to be done to discover the building setbacks, height requirements, existing structures, or utilities, etc.
  • We need a current property survey. And depending on the characteristics, you may need a tree and topographical survey.  Additional surveys are required for waterfront properties.
  • Communication preferences.  We’ve learned that some clients prefer email contact, and others prefer the telephone.

Will we be able to be engaged in the design process?

We encourage you to be as involved as you’re comfortable with being.  We also promote getting involved early in the process.  If you have an interior designer, a landscape architect, or other disciplines, we encourage that team to be built early as well.

If I hire you to design a new home for us, how many times can I reuse the plan? Is there a fee?

The design fee is generally associated with a single use.  We offer additional options for reusing the plan and design.

What are the next steps after we approve the design?

There are two basic steps to approve a design.  The first step is to approve the floor plan layout, which is referred to as schematic design.  The second step is to approve the design development, which is the finished design process, just before moving into construction documents and engineering.  The space between design and construction documents is where most clients meet with the builder or builder candidates to begin developing a construction budget.  This process helps ensure a successful outcome.

How many rounds of changes are we allowed to make?

We expect a number of refinements or changes resulting during the normal process of design and have that considered in the project fee.  If additional changes or refinements are necessary to properly communicate the design to the building trades, we’re happy to accommodate those changes at an hourly rate.


Can I pay for my design fees after I receive my building permit?

The design and construction documents are paid for when the design is completed.  The permitting process is separate and part of the builder’s responsibility.  The builder and the designer work closely together to answer any questions or additional requirements the municipalities may have.

Will you be involved in the bidding and construction process?

TSG may provide involvement in residential projects during the bidding and construction process if requested (per contract); this is more common in commercial projects.

Besides government filing fees and permit/license fees, what other additional expenses am I expected to incur?

As it relates to our services, the fees are set in the design proposal.  Any additional fees would be incurred by a change in the original project’s scope and will be discussed with the client before the work begins.  We encourage our clients to meet with their builders or municipality to learn more about what is required to develop their property.

Are there charges for field observation services?

ld observation is an optional service, with expenses discussed upon client request.

At what point will I have a better idea of where the house will be located on the property?

A basic location is discussed before the design begins to help establish the full scope of the project.  It is not until the property survey and due diligence is completed that the specific location can be determined.

Will I need a current property survey?

A current survey is considered less than five years old.  If the survey is older than five years, the client may contact the original surveyor for options on recertification, or they can hire a surveyor for a new survey.

Can I start work without full construction documents?

No.  Permitted construction documents are required before work can begin.  Otherwise, potential fines can be incurred from your municipality

What are soil borings, and do I need them for my project?

Soil borings are holes drilled into your property to a depth necessary to determine the characteristics of the soil and any action required to make the ground suitable for construction.

I heard there is a new Building Code coming out for Florida.

You are correct. The 2023 Florida Building Code, Residential, 8th Edition draft has been completed. The tentative effective date for the 8th Edition (2023) is December 31st, 2023.

How often is the Building Code updated?

The Florida Building Code is updated every three years and may be amended annually to incorporate interpretations and clarifications.

What is an engineering review?

The review and plan preparation of engineering drawings is a comprehensive assessment the design load requirements (both gravity and wind forces) of the Building Code to specify the appropriate structural bearing elements, connections, and foundation system. We do this to hold paramount the Safety, Health, and Welfare of the public.

Why might my home require an engineering review?

Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the review and approval by an Engineer or Architect has been incorporated to help prevent this from repeating. In 2001, the Florida Residential Building Code implemented this requirement.

When does the engineer begin their work on my project?

It is recommended that the engineer be apprised of the design scope of the project as early as possible to provide preliminary recommendations for the structural requirements. However, the full involvement of the engineer in most cases will not begin until after the Design Develop phase with the designer/architect is complete and has been signed off by the owner.


When the construction documents are completed, do you have a structural engineer?

We are the Total Solutions Group and make it our mission to reduce unnecessary time and the cost associated with running around town for other services.

What is MEP, and do I need this for my home design?

MEP refers to engineered Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing services.  Most residences do not require this level of service.  MEP is required for very large homes and commercial projects.  Your designer will know if you require these services in your initial consultation.

Do you provide MEP engineering?

We do not have MEP engineer in-house; however, we do partner with some great firms in the area which allows us to include MEP engineering in our plans.

What kind of building materials can be used for the walls of my home?

There are a wide variety of Building materials that can be used for a home. Concrete Masonry Units, Wood Stud Framing, (ICF) Insulated Concrete Forms, solid concrete panels, Steel Stud Framing, and SCIPS (Structural Concrete insulated Panels) are the most common.

Can I decide what type of walls will be used on my home?

You as the homeowner of a custom home project can suggest a certain wall type. Then the builder, designer, and the engineer will review the material request and provide feedback as to if it would be the most efficient and economical material for your specific design.

What is the cost to engineer my home?

The amount is based on the complexity of the design requirements of the project. We will need to thoroughly review the design scope to assess how much the fee will be. Fees can range between $0.75 to $2.00 Per square foot (total under roof)

Do you have references for builders?

Yes, in most cases.  We maintain relationships with builders in various areas and do our best to pair our clients with builders suited for their projects. Ultimately, the builder is chosen by the client and needs to be a good fit for the project and vision.

What is the due diligence fee for my project?

The due diligence fee is associated with the time necessary to research the project site to learn more about the requirements for design and construction. These requirements include items like building setbacks, height requirements, size restrictions, etc. This research is critical and helps protect the client from unseen surprises

Does your engineering team provide home inspection services?

Unfortunately, FDS does not provide home inspection services.  We specialize in production and custom home designs.

Can you please review a crack (ceiling, slab, wall) on my home?

This is more of a forensic structural engineering service which unfortunately is not within our scope of work.

I built a detached structure (shed, cabana, trellis, gazebo, etc.) at the back of my home. The city is requesting signed and sealed drawings. Can you provide this?

Unfortunately, this request is not within our scope of services.

My home is settling at a particular location. Can you provide engineering to repair it?

This is more of a forensic structural engineering service which unfortunately is not within our scope of work.