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Consulting Services
Need assistance? Get personal architectural help!
If after first trying to Select-A-SunPlan (which is where most home owners start), time or patience starts running out, it may be time to engage the Sun Plans' architect to help in the selection process - or to help create a new design.
While it is encouraged to Contact Us with short, simple questions about either a particular plan or service, complex answers may require the involvement of the Sun Plans architect instead of customer service. Debra has been involved with the design of every Sun Plan. She can give insight as to why one plan should be chosen over the other, the implications of changes to a design and when a custom design may be the least expensive option for constructing a home.
"I sincerely appreciate all the time and input you have given us. It has been very helpful in getting us going. Thank you again," Rebecca
In addition, some questions can only be answered after Sun Plans evaluates both the particular climate, the client's energy priorities AND which house plan(s) are being consider. Seldom is there a one-size-fits-all answer. Further, customer concerns often involve siting the house, choosing a piece of land, changing the foundation type, or wall and roof construction details. These time-intensive services are considered fee-based consulting.
If you plan to send the information and payment for the consulting services by surface-mail, please contact us so that we can place you in the schedule and be on the look out for your submittal. Thanks! (Some prefer to pay on-line via the secure Sun Plans' shopping cart, then send information electronically. Either way works!)
Consulting in General

While consulting services are tailored to each customer, climate, land, budget, etc., as a rule, detailed review and feedback on the information submitted by the customer is provided in the following categories, but not all items are applicable to each client or there may not be enough time to cover them all in detail during the first round of consulting as each $495 consulting block is limited to four hours of the architect's time:

  • Review of customer's ideas for a new design or changes for an existing one by Sun Plans
  • House siting
  • Floor plan function
  • Energy-related concerns
  • Construction materials
  • Structural issues
  • Exterior design
  • Opinion of probable construction cost
  • Study Plans of any existing designs that could meet the needs without extensive changes if it is found that an existing home, or parts of one, might be close.  (Often parts of other designs can be utilized to help keep the custom design fees low.)
    Create-A-SunPlan Consulting
    The architect provides insight to your ideas for a custom design
    • It is possible to choose just this consulting portion of the process without further commitment to custom design services. Your ideas (either sketches that you have and/or the completed SunPlans questionnaire) are reviewed and commented on by the Sun Plans architect.
    • Increasingly, customers are starting with our detailed questionnaire for the Create-A-SunPlan even if they desire to start with a pre-design Sun Plan. This questionnaire gathers an abundance of information about the details that are desired in a home which then can be used to help search for a design (including Sun Plans that are not on the web sites) instead of creating a new plan. It takes a bit more time on the customers part to complete the questionnaire, but then I have a much better idea of the home owners detailed needs. The questionnaire is complimentary with the purchase of The Sun-Inspired House book or other purchases. Or once the consulting fee is paid, I can then send the questionnaire as well as Study Plans of subsequent house designs that we think you might like.- Debbie Coleman, Architect
    • Please see Create-A-SunPlan for the recommended process.
    • Pay the consulting fee through our Online Store or by sending a check in with any surface-mailed information.
    • Send in your information by e-mail or surface-mail.
    • Fees start at $495, but $990 (2 blocks of consulting) also includes one concept diagram of a floor plan or a detailed review of sketches that are created by the home owner or other designer/architect. (Large homes greater than 2500 s.f. living area or extremely detailed information submitted may incur additional review charges. If the client chooses to proceed with the Create-A-SunPlan process, the concept diagrams can be revised as part of the next stage.)
    • If you choose to surface-mail your information and fees, please e-mail us once you do so that we can place you in the schedule and be on the look out for your submittal. Thanks!
    Adapt-A-SunPlan Consulting
    The architect provides insight and comments regarding proposed changes.
    • Choose this service for detailed questions about  changes to ONE particular Sun Plan. (Unless you considering at the most two almost identical designs, please use Create-A-SunPlans if a single plan has not been chosen)
    • Please see Adapt-A-SunPlan for the recommended process.
    • Request the free Adapt-A-SunPlan questionnaire as a starting point for submitting requested changes. (Please use the Contact Us button at the bottom of the web site pages.)
    • Send in the information by e-mail or surface-mail. (If the information and fees are sent via surface-mail, please e-mail Sun Plans to be placed in the schedule immediately and be on the lookout for the information.Thanks)
    • Pay the consulting fee through our Online Store OR by sending a check in with any surface-mailed information.
      • Typical fees are $495.
      With Adapt-A-SunPlan services, you may request the Study Plan for no additional charge after making the $495 payment.
      Select-A-SunPlan Consulting
      The architect provides searches in detail through all the plans on and off the web site then recommends one or more designs for your based on our detailed  input, wishlists, site plan, climate, etc.
      • Choose this service when you are having trouble selecting a Sun Plan or if you have narrowed it down to a few and still can't decide
      • Starts the same as the Create-A-SunPlan process with the extra detailed approach versus the simpler Adapt-A-SunPlan process for one design.
      • Request the Create-A-SunPlans questionnaire if you have purchased anything from Sun Plans even if it just The Sun-Inspired House book. 
      • Send in the information by e-mail or surface-mail. If the information and fees are sent via surface-mail, please e-mail Sun Plans to be placed in the schedule immediately and be on the lookout for the information. If the files are large and/or numerous, please set up Drop Box or other similar electronic file sharing system first.
      • Pay the consulting fee through our Online Store OR by sending a check in with any surface-mailed information.
      • Typical fees are $495.
      With Select-A-SunPlan services, Sun Plans can send Study Plans for no additional charge of the Study Plans that closely match the detailed information and wish list that you submit.
      Construction Consulting 
      (Only for house designs created by Sun Plans.)
      Increasingly, customers are requesting services that go beyond a house plan purchase or the advice received during the design process. There is a wide range of capabilities of both home owners and builders. Sun Plans is available to help fill in the gaps and can help assure that the home is constructed according to the drawings and specifications especially when:
      • The builder is new to constructing a low energy home and perhaps has never built a home to Energy Star standards
      • There is no third party Home Energy Rater/consultant nearby to review the drawings and specs and provide the builder and home guidance n constructing a low energy home
      • The home owners decide to subcontract the home themselves
      If one or more of the above apply, then the additional Construction Administration services from Sun Plans can go a long way to protecting the huge investment of building a home.  If you have thinking about building a Sun Plan, or have already started building from a set of house plans received from Sun Plans, these please contact us to tailor a Construction Consulting service for your particular needs.Typical services may include:
      • Helping with selecting a builder, home energy rater or heating/air conditioning contractor
      • Coordinating with a structural engineer
      • Preparing a detailed cost estimate
      • Selecting particular products especially windows and insulation
      • Making additional changes to the drawings if needed
      • Fees start at $195 to order one block of consulting. More can then be added as needed. It can be paid for through the Custom Payment link in the shopping cart prior to submitting questions and concerns.
      These services can also be arranged to be included with the quote for the Adapt-A-SunPlan or Create-A-SunPlan process.  Please just ask for them to be included.
      Adapt-A-SunPlan Consulting - Existing Home
      (Except for locations nearby, this service has been discontinued for the time being)
      Sun Plans assists with having an EXISTING home adapted for a sun-inspired, passive solar design with lower energy bills and brighter interiors. 
      • The first step is gathering information to be evaluated.  The more information provided, the more comprehensive an evaluation. Recommendations of items to submit include the following.  (However, if you are near us, please call us and we can discuss on-site options.)
      • Drawings (to-scale or with dimensions) of the home
      • Photos (that are properly labeled) primarily of the outside, but that show adjacent structures and trees and any interior spaces that may be affected and especially south-facing rooms
      • Site plan (or legal survey) showing how and where the house is situated on the land- especially the north arrow that is described as either true north or magnetic north (per the compass)
      • List of ideas that you are considering, questions that you have as well as any other information you feel will allow us to best understand your intentions.
      • If there is a large amount of information that needs to be reviewed and you plan to send it electronically, please advise us ahead of time so that we can set up a Drop Box folder.
      • Information that is evaluated can vary greatly based on your requests, but in general includes reviewing climate data, the existing home, window size and placement, thermal mass, overhangs, etc.  They are inter-related and must be evaluated together.   
      • Review and consulting begins at $495 for basic, written recommendations. If you are mailing the information to be evaluated, please include a check.  f you are sending the information electronically, please pay on-line. (If your home is near us, please inquire about local to our area, we have 
      The services and drawings can be tailored to your specific needs.  After the review of information is completed by the Sun Plans' architect, a summary is sent by email and can be followed up with a phone call.  Also, a phone call can be arranged right after your information and payment are sent in, but before the detailed part of the review is begun if it is easier for you to communicate additional ideas.(Local projects have the option of face-to-face meetings and site visits.)
      Often, having a local HERS(home energy rater service) rater first provide an evaluation of your home in terms of existing energy features such as insulation and air tightness (as measured with a blower door test), can be extremely helpful to us in the evaluation. Please send a copy of any evaluation along with the other information.  Otherwise, Sun Plans can help you locate a HERS rater. It does not make sense to add passive solar energy (or increase passive cooling) without first make the home's envelope as energy efficient as possible so that the free sun's heat (or any heat for that matter such as that from wood, electricity or gas) stays in the home.
      Consulting on House Design or Plans by others  
      This follows a process and fee structure similar to the Existing Home above except the photos may be eliminated. Sun Plans can recommend changes to house sketches or plans from another architect or designer. It is preferred to review construction drawings since that is more thorough, but to a lesser extent design drawings can be reviewed, but for overhang evaluation and other such technical details we need construction drawings. The actual changes would need to be by the person and/or firm who owns the copyright unless you have a copyright lease and CAD Files. (Typically it is more efficient to have the original architect or designer make the changes from our ideas to the actual CAD files.) 
      Fees start at $990 and are payable through the Custom Payment Link or by check if the information will be mailed.
      HVAC* Consulting or Zero Net Energy Load Consulting
      * Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
       (This service is only for Create-A-SunPlan clients.)
      More often than not, passive solar and other high-performance homes end up with grossly over sized HVAC equipment. This not only undercuts potential energy savings but can lead to comfort and moisture related problems. Moreover, when mechanical contractors bid on high-performance homes, they tend to propose expensive, top-of-the-line equipment, which ironically, is seldom cost-justified in super-efficient homes.
      The Sun Plans' HVAC consultant can assist with the code-required HVAC Manual J calculations for the particular climate and the specific house design as well as home owner preferences. Manual S and Manual D for system selection and duct design can also be performed. He can further work alongside the builder and the HVAC subcontractor with equipment selection based on the types and manufacturers that they carry. He is happy to talk to all parties to ease concerns of sizing, moisture, temperatures, etc. A pre-requisite for utilizing his services includes the home owners' and builder's commitment to work with a third party technician for testing and verification of the building envelope. This can be a HERS rater that also does the Energy Star home rating even if Energy Star certification is not sought.
      For those who desire a home with solar panels to offset part or all of the electrical loads, Sun Plans can do the Zero Net Energy Calculations for the entire home.
      Fees start at $1295 for each of the above services.

      Construction Consulting
      Increasingly, customers are requesting services that accompany their house plan purchase. Sun Plans can help assure that the home is constructed according to the drawings and specifications. Please see Consulting Services and scroll to find Construction Consulting.