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Create-A-SunPlan Process
Sun Plans is continuously adapting the Create-A-SunPlan process to suit the client. Since 2002, the internet-based house design process has been evolving, although some nearby clients still prefer to meet face to face. Architectural services are customized based on the communication style, schedule, ability to visualize, level of technical understanding and ability to research and complete tasks that the architect often suggests. The process is different for every home owner based on their budget, climate and design style preferences.
Affordable Custom Design Services
Sun Plans' passive solar design services stay affordable by approaching the internet-based design with a variety of cost-cutting measures which focus on efficiency - saving both the architect and client time.
  • The client communicates their land information and house desires in a wish list or questionnaire.
  • The architect then performs an extensive review of the information including the site.
  • A dialog begins as both begin questioning and commenting on the path to arriving at a concept sketch. (Often an existing design may be recommended at this point and then the process can switch to adapting that design.)
  • Preliminary Design is initially limited to developing one scheme that shows furniture and other special details. (Asking the right questions up front seldom requires more than one scheme although modifications and refinements are expected.) See an example of our Study Plans.
  • 3D drawings show the ideas inside and out through colorful images. (This is an optional services since typically the 2D Preliminary Design drawings communicate the design very well.) 
  • Energy Analysis per the energy priorities of each client which might range from 30% better than code all the way to Zero Net Energy.
  • Construction Drawings include more than the simple set often found in the house plan industry, but less than may typically be provided with full architectural services. (See Construction Prints.)
  • Custom Energy Specs are more than the simple specs often found in the house plan industry, but less than the bound spec book that often accompanies full architectural services.
  • Additional services, such as creating more schemes, refined 3D, extra construction drawings, coordination with structural and HVAC engineers, assisting with builder selection, consulting during construction, etc.
  • Sun Plans also strongly recommends that a local structural engineer review the plans, especially in areas with high winds, earthquake activity, high snow loads or unstable soils. Coordination with them can be a part of Sun Plans' services.
Sun Plans is a licensed architectural firm in Alabama. In other states, "design" services instead of "architectural" services are provided. This is seldom a problem as it is not usually necessary to have a state-licensed architect design a house. However, sometimes building codes and subdivisions require that a state-licensed architect or engineer prepare house plans so it is advised to investigate prior to engaging Sun Plans in custom services.Typically only the structural engineer would need to be state or province licensed.
House Design and Planning Costs
When buying a home, the 6-7% realtor's fee is built into the price of the home, when creating a custom design with Sun Plans, we recommend a planning budget of the same amount to pay for a combination of all of the professionals that may be needed to help plan your home such as surveyors, soil engineers, architects (Sun Plans'), structural engineers, HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) consultants, construction professionals such as for estimating and any green building professionals.
In the architectural profession in general for a custom-designed home,  design fees can be 10 to 20% of a home cost with full architectural and engineering (A&E) services.
With our typical Create-A-SunPlan services, we recommend a planning budget of approximately 2-3% for architectural services. (Another 3% for other design professionals such civil and structural engineers as well as HVAC professionals is recommended for budgeting.)
The budgeted amount for professional planning also allows for the times when Sun Plans encounters a detailed client that requires or requests an above average level of service in the design of their home.
After the initial Create-A-SunPlan Consulting and Review of the wish list for the home is completed, and the desired services are selected by the home owner, a more detailed estimate can be prepared by the Sun Plans architect.
For further details about Sun Plans' custom design services, please see the Create-A-SunPlan Summary List.