900 East Main Street, Suite 109

Grass Valley, CA 95945


1250 East Ave #10

Chico, CA 95926


Custom Home Design Process


Having a home designed for yourself may seem like a daunting process, and it can be if you’re not prepared. If you want to go through this process with seemingly ease, we suggest being prepared on multiple accounts.

  • Be prepared with an overall budget for your project.
  • Be prepared with an idea or multiple ideas of what you want in the design.
    • What type of layout?
    • How many bedrooms?
    • What is the overall size of the home?
    • What terrain is it being built on?
    • What are the key features that are most important to you?
    • And many more.
  • Be prepared to make decisions. A custom home design is for you, and ultimately the decisions are up to you to make.
    • If you have budget and/or size restraints, be prepared to make decisions on tradeoffs. Maybe the bedrooms can be a bit smaller if you can still get the kitchen and living rooms you love.
  • Be prepared to spend time in reviewing the plans as they progress through various stages of design. Changes that occur at the end of the process typically cost significantly more than changes throughout the process.

At Jackson & Sands Engineering, we work with you each step of the way. We highly encourage you to have a contractor on board as well. They can certainly provide cost estimating and having them on board early on allows them to better plan and schedule for your project to get started once permits are issued.

The first step to complete is determining what restrictions you have on home size.

  • Where is the septic tank located?
  • What easements are in place?
  • What are the required property line setbacks?
  • What is the size of the buildable area?
  • What is the property zoned for?
  • Are there restrictions on minimum or maximum home size from the CCRs or HOAs?

To get started on a home layout, we suggest finding sample floor plans that you like (We have a library of plans available to view online and more in the office, or you can find plans from other online sources and through other printed publications) or recreating floor plans of an existing home that you like. Also, you can cut out pieces of paper and label them with an identifying room (ie master bedroom, master bathroom, kitchen, and so on). Then start to layout the papers how you like it. Don’t worry about gaps in your layout, we’ll take care of that later on. At the same time, you’ll need to be considering the elevations. What will the exterior look like? Once you have all this together (or mostly together), we’ll meet with you and discuss the concepts that you like and don’t like. From there, we will draft floor plans and elevations based on our discussions and best judgement.


Once the draft floor plans and elevations are completed, we’ll send to you and your contractor for review. Once everyone has had a chance to review, we’ll discuss any changes needed. If changes are needed, we’ll make those adjustments and repeat the process until the floor plan and elevation are just right.

Once these plans are approved, we’ll coordinate with the truss company to get the truss designs completed, complete the energy calculations, coordinate with your fire sprinkler designer, complete other plans (site, electrical, etc), and complete the engineering. Once all these are completed, we’ll pull everything together in a set of plans that can be submitted for permitting. With all these plans and steps, there’ll be intermittent requests for your input. The energy calculations can include home owner preferences. Some of these preferences include having a whole house fan or not, using heat pump technologies for your HVAC and water heater systems or using natural gas or propane.


Once the plans are pulled together, you’ll be ready to take them to your building department (with your contractor) and submit for plan review and permits! Depending on your department’s work load, the plan review process usually takes 2-6 weeks, although more or less time is not unheard of.


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