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CADbuilt, Inc

At CADbuilt, we provide solutions to your drawing needs, whether you are a homeowner, general contractor or developer. We create professional CAD drawings based on your ideas (or ours, if you need help).

We can begin with any concept- even one sketched on a napkin, or an old blueprint. Whether you need design drawings or working drawings, we will get the job done quickly, and probably at a lower cost than what an architect would charge.

CAD Services

  • Here are some of the services we offer:
  • Concept & Design- we can start from a sketch on a napkin, a picture from a magazine, or photos of your dream home. We’ll listen to your ideas, then add our expertise. If you like what you hear, we’ll draw up a design contract with a not-to-exceed price. 

  • As-built Plans- perhaps you just need plans drawn up for an existing building. We’ll come to the site, perform the necessary measurements then draft the plans. 

  • Working Drawings- once the residential design plans are complete, you will need working drawings in order to obtain a building permit. For simple projects, we can create all the construction documents. For more complex projects, we will coordinate with outside experts (such as structural engineers) to get the necessary plans prepared. 

  • Residential Title 24 Energy Calculations- if your project requires it, we can perform the necessary calculations and issue a report showing compliance with California’s Title 24 energy regulations. 

  • Building Codes / Building Permits- dealing with the Planning or Building Department can be time-consuming and complicated, from researching zoning and building code requirements to filling out the necessary paperwork. Most people can think of better ways to spend their time. Let us do the legwork for you. 

  • It’s a Team Effort- every construction project requires a team. In addition to the designer or architect, you may need a general contractor, structural engineer or various subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, etc.). Using our business network, we can bring in skilled professionals with the honesty, experience and commitment to get the job done in a timely fashion and at a fair price. 

  • Flexibility- we can do as little or as much of the work as you desire. Some of the tasks, such as pulling permits, you may prefer to do yourself. We will help you strike the right balance between spending your valuable time vs. your hard-earned dollars. 

  • Large Service Area- we primarily serve the following southern California regions: Ventura County (including Moorpark, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura), Los Angeles County, and Santa Barbara County. We occasionally do projects outside the tri-county area, including Orange County and Catalina Island. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist you in whatever way possible.
Call us at (805) 529-4975 today to schedule your complimentary consultation!

Residential (Home) Design

Residential, or home, design and drafting is the process of creating design and construction plans (blueprints) for residential remodels, additions or new houses. In this article we will explore what residential design is and the residential design process. We’ll also take a look at numerous factors that must be taken into consideration before and during the residential design process, and how to find a good residential design company. Back to List


One of the most important decisions to be made during the residential design process concerns location.

For a room addition, location boils down to where the room(s) should be added, and this depends a great deal on the layout of the existing house. Is it single-story, or multiple stories? Is there plenty of room for expansion on the lot? From a cost standpoint, a single-story expansion is usually the least expensive approach. However, local “setback” requirements (i.e., minimum separation between your house and the property lines) may prevent you from expanding horizontally.

If setbacks are an issue, then a vertical, or two-story, addition may be the way to go. One question is whether the 2nd story should be built over the existing 1st story (either completely or partially), or outside the existing house footprint (that is, above a new 1st story structure). Bear in mind that local zoning ordinances may limit the maximum height of the structure; this could become an issue if you’re thinking of adding a third story, or if the house is built on a hillside. Another consideration is that stairs take up space, i.e., if space is tight you may have to sacrifice an existing room on the 1st floor in order to make room for the stairs.

For a new home, there are other location factors- what’s the optimal location on the lot and orientation of the house in order to have the best views of the surroundings, or shield oneself from neighbors and traffic noise? What about ambient lighting? For instance, perhaps the family room should face south so that it opens onto a patio lit by the bright afternoon sun; on the other hand, that same sun could cause unwanted glare on your big-screen TV. Similarly, you might want your master bedroom to face north so that you awaken to the less harsh northern light. Your residential designer will be able to help you with these decisions. Back to List

Design Style

For a remodel or addition, the primary objective is usually to have the new construction blend in seamlessly with the existing construction. This typically means matching the existing house in terms of exterior building materials and style. However, if your existing exterior (e.g., roof, wall cladding, etc.) is in need of repair, you may consider re-doing it at the same time, so that there’s not a glaring transition from old to new.


For a new house, there are a number of issues regarding design style- what styles do you like? What will blend in with the neighborhood? Are there any zoning or HOA (homeowner association) restrictions on style? Again, your residential designer can be a useful resource in answering these questions.

There a number of sources you can draw upon for design ideas: 

1) Books, magazines, TV shows 
2) Homes of friends and relatives 
3) Model homes or homes for sale

Back to List

Residential Design Process

There are many phases to the design process, and it will vary from company to company, but the typical design-to-construction process usually begins with an initial planning meeting with the designer. Back to List

Architect or Designer?

We are designers, not architects. However, either a designer or architect can be used for residential design. Both have the necessary knowledge of design principles, design styles and building codes. The biggest difference is that residential designers only design homes- they don’t design office buildings, shopping malls, schools, churches, etc.- whereas architects may design residential, commercial and institutional buildings.

One important factor in picking a designer or architect is assessing his or her communication skills. It takes a team to build a house. For a new home, that team might include you (the homeowner), the designer or architect, a structural engineer, a civil engineer, a general contractor and local building authorities. It’s important that whoever designs your house be able to communicate effectively with every other team member, especially when it comes to representing or defending your interests. Back to List

The Initial Meeting

The initial meeting may occur in the designer’s office or, if it’s a remodel or addition, at the job site itself. During the initial meeting you will discuss your objectives for the project, the style and size of the building or renovation, the “feel” or aesthetic you’re going for, as well as financial constraints. With regard to your budget, you may be tempted to play your cards close to the vest for fear you’ll be taken advantage of, but usually it’s better to be up front with the designer. There’s nothing worse than having the designer create your dream home, only to find you can’t afford it.

If it’s a remodel or an addition, the designer will need to study the existing house and ask you a number of questions. What do you want to change about the house? What ¬do¬ you want to keep as is? What are you hoping to gain- more space? Better use of the existing space? There may also be a series of lifestyle questions- do you entertain frequently? Do you have young children? Do you have lots of overnight visitors? Will your parents or in-laws be moving in at some point?

This is a good time to share your own design ideas with the designer. It could be anything from a sketch on a napkin to a picture from a magazine or a brochure from a model home. Remember that one picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to communicating your wants and needs.

Next, the designer will try to determine whether the project, as you’ve described it, is feasible from a number of different standpoints, for example:

1) Design- do the traffic flow patterns work, does it use space efficiently, etc.? 

2) Legal- are there issues with easements, zoning ordinances, etc.? 

3) Structural- for example, if it’s a 2nd story addition, is the existing first floor foundation adequate to support the new story? If the house is to be built on a hillside, will expensive piles or caissons be required to support it? 

4) Financial- have you budgeted sufficient money for the project? Many homeowners only consider the cost of the addition itself, without factoring in other costs such as demolition, remodeling existing rooms, landscaping, etc. 

Another consideration, if it’s an addition, is whether the size of the addition makes sense. For instance, adding just a bathroom is not very cost-effective- the builder has to bring in the same equipment and subcontractors to build a 50 sq. ft. room as compared to a 3000 sq. ft. house. On the other hand, “overbuilding” (e.g., building a house that’s much larger than the neighbors’ houses) usually means you’ll never recoup your construction costs at the time of resale.

5) Timing- an extensive remodel or addition may be a major inconvenience to you (for example, picture being without a kitchen for several months) or even require that you temporarily vacate the premises. Certain jurisdictions forbid grading (earthmoving) work during wet winter months. There may be upcoming events in your life that could further impact whether the timing is right- the arrival of a new baby, an extended visit from your in-laws, etc. 

If everything looks good from a feasibility standpoint, the designer will draw up a proposal and price quote including the project description, scope of work (what drawings and documents will be produced), exclusions (which documents are the responsibility of a third party) and costs. Depending upon the project and the designer, you may be billed in one of several ways- time-and-materials, fixed cost, or a not-to-exceed figure (often tied to a specified number of design change rounds). In addition to design and drafting, there may be additional costs for project management (for example, pulling building permits, or meetings with third parties such as general contractors). 

After the proposal is accepted and a retainer is received, the design company will move on to the next step. Back to List

“As-built” Plans

As-built plans are required only for remodels or additions, and refer to plans showing existing construction. The term “as-built” can be a misnomer, in that technically it refers to the house as it was originally built; however, the term has become synonymous in most circles with “existing” construction. Depending upon the size of the remodel/ addition, only part of the house may need to be drafted.

The designer may visit the site to perform a site measurement, or “site verification”, in order to determine existing conditions. This may include measuring the interior and exterior of the building, as well as distances from the structure to the property lines. He may also take photographs to record existing conditions.

Next, the designer will create one or more of the following line drawings:

1) Site (or plot) plan- this is a view from above showing the property lines, existing structures, driveway, street, rights-of-way, easements, etc. Critical dimensions such as setbacks are also shown. In addition to the site measurement data, an official record of the property line distances and bearings (such as an assessor’s parcel map) is required. 

2) Floor plan- this is a birds-eye view of the building interior (with the roof missing), and shows at a minimum walls, doors, windows and stairs. It may also show mechanical equipmen

Residential Design Plans

In the next part of the process the designer prepares plans showing what’s to be demolished, the existing construction to remain, and the new construction. It’s during this phase that your input, as the homeowner, is critical. Typically there are several design rounds and at each stage you’ll have an opportunity to offer your feedback. Perhaps you want a certain room bigger or smaller, or a door moved to a different location. It’s imperative that you review the plans closely and suggest changes now, rather than after construction has begun. 

The residential design plans may be simple 2D (two dimensional) line drawings, similar to the as-built plans. In some case, the designer may provide isometric drawings or color renderings, for a more realistic three-dimensional perspective view of the project. The latter can be particularly useful for clients who have difficulty picturing what the final house will look like based on a black-and-white line drawing. 

Once the residential design plans are complete, you may submit them for review by local authorities, such as the planning department or your homeowners association. Better to discover a problem now, rather than after the complete set of permit drawings is prepared. It’s still relatively inexpensive to make design changes at this point. If you haven’t already selected a general contractor, now would be a good time to do so. You should have the GC review the residential design plans and give you a preliminary estimate on construction costs. He won’t be able to give you an exact estimate until after the structural drawings are complete (see below). 

Permit Plans, Working Drawings & Construction DocumentsOnce the residential design plans are finalized, the process of preparing building permit plans begins. These may also be referred to as working drawings or construction documents. Some of the drawings that may be included during this phase include: 

1) Schedules- doors, windows and room finishes 
2) Building cross-sections 
3) Electrical and lighting plans 
4) Mechanical (HVAC) plans 
5) Plumbing plans 
6) Structural plans, including foundation, floor framing and roof framing plans and details 
7) Title 24 (Energy Calculations)- required in California to prove compliance with the state’s energy standards
Some of this work may be farmed out to third parties. For instance, structural plans are usually drawn by a licensed structural engineer. Larger design-build firms may have an in-house engineer, but smaller firms usually do not. On all but the simplest projects, local building authorities will typically require that the structural plans be “wet-stamped” by either an architect or engineer. Although architects are legally able to wet-stamp the plans, they often choose to outsource the structural plans to a structural engineer. 

Once the permit plans are complete, the general contractor and subcontractors can use them to do material take-offs and calculate construction costs in detail. The same set of plans will be submitted to the local building department for building permit approval. Banks may use the plans as a basis for approving construction loans. 

Back to List

Plan Check

Plan check refers to the process of having the plans reviewed by local building authorities, whose goal is to make sure the proposed structure is safe and complies with local ordinances. Most projects go through at least one round of plan corrections. Some jurisdictions with limited personnel will outsource the review process to a third party. 

When the plans have finally been approved, you will be issued a building permit and construction can begin. 

Back to List

Choosing a Residential Design Company

It is important to note that from the smallest of remodeling jobs to the largest of projects, every aspect of the project has to be thought through very carefully in order for the project to be successful. Look for a residential design company with a good reputation and one that you feel comfortable with. Be sure to ask for references. 

At the same time you hire the designer, you should be looking for a general contractor. Most residential designers work closely with a few builders to create a cohesive design-build team. By hiring this team, you insure good communication between the designer and builder, which is critical to the project’s success. At the same time, you need to be sure that the contractor will be attentive to detail as well as your needs and desires for the aesthetics of the project, throughout the entire building process. Many decisions have to be made and you want to be confident that both the designer and general contractor will look out for your best interests, make the right decisions, and keep you informed throughout the entire process. 

At this point, a word should be said about the subject of General Contractor vs. Owner-Builder. There’s no question that you can save money by being your own general contractor, i.e., an owner-builder. However, be prepared to spend LOTS of time at the job site supervising the subcontractors, i.e., the people doing the actual work. Unless you’re using friends or relatives as your subs, you run the risk that your subs may not be available when you need them (for instance, if they’ve been called away by a general contractor who provides them with work on a regular basis). The project may take considerably longer to complete if you’re an owner-builder, so if time is of the essence you should probably hire a general contractor. 

Some residential design companies are ‘Design-Build’ firms that offer both design and construction capability under one roof. Such firms usually take on large projects. If you prefer dealing with one company, a design-build firm may be the way to go. On the other hand, you may prefer the flexibility of picking a designer and general contractor individually.
    Here are some questions to consider in choosing the right residential design company for you:
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have experience with past projects which are similar to yours?
  • Can they provide client references?
  • How long will it take to complete both the design phase and permit plan phase?
    Back to List

Choosing a General Contractor

As mentioned above, it’s best to choose a general contractor at the same time that you choose the designer. In some cases, you may pick the contractor before you pick the designer; in other cases, you may not pick the contractor until the residential design plans or construction documents are complete. The earlier the better, because the contractor may provide useful input into the design. In all cases, try to have your general contractor in place before submitting plans to the building department. 

When comparing bids from several contractors, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Ask for a detailed list of materials. Some contractors put in allowances for items such as kitchen appliances and plumbing fixtures; others do not. You don’t want to find out after construction has begun that the contractor didn’t include rain gutters or window trim in his bid. 

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry ("NARI") is a not-for-profit organization that has served the remodeling industry for over 50 years. On their website (www.nari.org) you can download a free brochure titled “How to Select a Remodeling Professional” which may prove helpful.
    In addition, ask the following questions:
  • If you have not yet selected a designer, ask if they can recommend one they’ve worked with on a regular basis.
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have employees, or do they hire subcontractors, and for which tasks?
  • Will there be a project supervisor or job superintendent to oversee the project on a daily basis?
  • If so, how much of his or her time will be spent on your project?
  • Can they provide client references from past projects similar to yours?
  • Will they clean up the job site on a daily basis?
  • Will you have to move out of your house during construction?
  • Does their contract specify approximate start and completion dates?
  • Can they provide a copy of their contractor’s license and certificate of insurance?
  • Do they warrant their work?
We hope this article will prove useful to you. 

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  • Primary California Service Areas
  • Cadbuilt we primarily service the following southern California regions:

    • Ventura County
    • Moorpark
    • Agoura Hills
    • Westlake Village
    • Thousand Oaks
    • Simi Valley
    • Camarillo
    • Oxnard
    • Ventura
    • Los Angeles County
    • Santa Barbara County

    However, we occasionally do projects outside the tri-county area including:

    • Orange County
    • Catalina Island
    • Please call us in regards to other nearby areas.

Call us at (805) 529-4975 today to schedule your complimentary consultation!