Frequently Asked Questions

The short answer: a standard basement design with ideal scheduling takes about 4–8 weeks from the decision to design with us to receiving your final blueprints. We’ll schedule a measure meeting within the first couple of weeks, then meet with you once a week (if schedules align) for 1–3 weeks to get the design dialed in. We’ll add details between meetings and have a final review of the drawing. After the final review, you’ll typically receive your final blueprints within a week. That being said, we move at your speed. If you’re in a time crunch, we may be able to expedite the schedule. (Note, however, that the build process will inevitably move more slowly than you hope, so we recommend that you embrace the time it takes to make everything just right.) Likewise, if you need time to plan or think about your design, we can space out our meetings as long as necessary. You can count on a seamless return to the process when you’re ready.
No—we offer our expertise utilizing Chief Architect to design your dream space. This CAD-based system allows you to see instantaneous 3D renders during our design meetings, enhanced by the massive libraries we’ve built over the years to visualize your project as accurately as possible. You’ll get all the benefit of this complex, professional tool without having to spend hours and hours learning the basics.
Yes. Our detailed layouts typically meet and almost always exceed building department requirements. In some instances, they may ask us to add notes or specific features, which we handle on a case by case basis.
When we schedule our first meeting, we’ll send you simple but detailed instructions for obtaining the measurements and photos we’ll need to get started. Once we have the basic structure drawn from that preliminary information, we’ll have a virtual measure meeting to fill in any details that weren’t already covered or which might require a little more explanation. Don’t worry—you are absolutely capable of taking the basic measurements, and thanks to our extensive experience and a system of checks and balances we’ll definitely get an accurate result.
We are well-versed in determining unique jurisdictional requirements and have extensive experience with some notoriously exacting departments. We are prepared to provide blueprints that meet or exceed any requirements. If your jurisdiction has a unique requirement significantly outside the normal scope of a design, we may need to factor that into the cost of the design.
Our designers work along the beautiful Colorado Front Range, but we can—and do—work anywhere thanks to our virtual meeting system.
We do take on select projects, but whether we build for you or not, we won’t send you blueprints and throw you to the wolves! We’ve worked with numerous builders across the USA whose quality we would be willing to recommend, and we’re constantly growing our contact list. We can provide especially robust recommendations in the Denver and Salt Lake City areas.
Absolutely! You can even manage your own project.
Yes. When working in a basement we are faced with all the challenges of above-ground construction and more. We specialize in basements, but we can design for almost any type of construction (and have done so).
Typically, a basement finish does not require structural work. We do not do engineering work, but we can help if your project requires it. We work closely with an engineer in Colorado and have contacts in Salt Lake City and other cities across the USA.
We have been complimented by many builders with the comment that our plans exceed architectural requirements. 99% of the time, however, a basement finish doesn’t require an architectural stamp, nor do many remodels throughout the home. Should your project require an architectural stamp (as some New Jersey jurisdictions require, for example), we will work with a local architect to get the necessary approval.
Absolutely not—we can put a bathroom anywhere, and we very rarely put the bathroom where the rough-in exists. We design bathrooms where they should go, not where one might assume it has to go. Usually, the existing pipes aren’t laid out in a usable design without breaking up concrete anyway, so the cost difference is minor. We can tie into sewer lines that run underneath the slab throughout basement. Take note where you have sewer stacks coming down the wall from floor to ceiling—those are great spots to tie in. If you don’t use or redirect the existing rough-in, it simply gets cut off and capped.
Not prohibitively. Since the existing rough-in almost always needs to be modified anyway, the cost to break up two feet of concrete isn’t much different from ten, and the plumber’s rate “per hole” won’t be any different in a different location. In the grand scheme of a remodel, it’s a very minimal cost to make sure that your space is exactly how you want it rather than having it in a bad place forever.
You can, but it’s not recommended. While it may seem appealing to complete certain parts of your project faster than others and spread the rest out at your leisure, there are some downsides to that process. Not only will it be more difficult logistically, since every room will become essentially a separate project, it will cost a significantly larger amount in the long run than completing the whole project at once. Each room would have to go through the same inspection process—meaning a separate framing inspection, electrical inspection, HVAC inspection, etc. for each section—and you may be required to purchase separate permits. Furthermore, certain parts of the project are enormously simpler when completed all at once. If you finish one room and it is between your subpanel and a room you work on at a later date, it’s going to be much harder for the electrician to wire that next room through the finished space (and therefore much more expensive for you).
Scott Stephens, our founder, started as a trim carpenter and framer over 30 years ago. He built everything from bathrooms to whole custom home developments, bringing decades of valuable on-site experience to the design process. Our current owner, Zach Hawkins, spent years as Scott’s apprentice and, eventually, partner. His extensive experience in building allows him to continue Scott’s unique, hands-on approach to architectural design.