Fenton Design Associates

Excellence in Design.. Quality of Service.. Attention to Detail.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions


We encourage you to browse through our website.  It is loaded with helpful information.  However, here is some more information on the subject:

How long will the design process take before I get a permit?

Let's break down the process:  

Intital Meeting:   

Up to 1 week (depending upon your schedule.)
Concept/Approval:
2-6 weeks (some arch. reviews can even take months!)
Construction Drawings: 
3-8 weeks (depending upon the complexities.)
Plan Check/Permitting:
4-7 weeks (some bldg. departments are easier than others)
Total Time until permit: 9-22 weeks (In other words, about 2-5 months!)
(2 months = simple project + no glitches.)

How do I know if I can 'afford' what I want to build?

You can only get a 'ballpark' figure about building costs by discussing your ideas with your designer and/or builder.  In order to really know how much the project is going to cost, you at least need a fairly thorough set of plans from which the builder can bid out the project.

How expensive is it to develop a set of plans?

It depends upon the project and where it is located.  Some municipalities require less on the plan submittals than others.  Some structures are just way easier to design than others. 
In other words...it all depends! A 'cheap' set of plans is no longer possible (like it was twenty years ago.)  Even small projects require all the steps, jumps and hoops.  You can barely dig a hole in your backyard without a permit anymore!  Plan Costs can be estimated based upon 'Per Square Foot' pricing or an hourly rate plus materials.  At Fenton Design Associates, we believe that a great product at the fair market price is the best combination.  And that is what we provide.  It is imperative that you get good plans developed...your investment is riding on them! 

What kinds of costs are associated with the permitting process?

In order to get a permit, you will need to pay a host of fees to different organizational/government entities, including, but not limited to:  Plan Check Fees, Permit Fees, School Fees, Road Impact Fees, Fire Department Fees, Park & Rec. Fees, Police Department Fees, CC&R fees, architectural review board fee, etc..  Added together, these fees could end up costing tens of thousands of dollars.  Fees within incorporated cities are usually much higher than the rural areas.

Am I allowed to prepare the plans myself?

In California, you are still allowed to prepare your own plans.  You will still need to hire licensed professionals to analyze the structure, verify the property corners, test the soil, etc.

Should I hire a general contractor or build it myself and save some money?

Even though it isn't rocket science, the building process is still very complex.  Dealing with between 50-100 sub-contractors and materials suppliers can be a feat in management.  The pros make it look easy, but it isn't.  Unless it is very simple and straightforward, we recommend that you hire a general to manage the project.

How often do we need to meet?

Once we complete the initial meeting, we might meet once or twice more.  Most of our relationship will be at the beginning of the design process.

What can I do (as the owner) to expedite the process?


Be as responsive as possible.  Respond to questions/requests in a timely manner.
At Fenton Design Associates, we like to get the project completed as soon as possible.  We want a smooth, efficient process.  It makes everybody look good and feel good.

What if we change our mind about building after we already started the design process?


Just talk to us.  We are reasonable folks.  We will just prorate the percent completion of the plans and you will be on your way!