design your own house


archinecters: I have a few questions

1. Can an architecture student designs and buld his/her own house? does he/she need an architect's stamp?

2. How to find a builder?

3. Where to go to find the zoning code for the particular area?

Just a few for now.


Jul 21, 05 9:36 pm

I'd venture to say that until you can answer these questions yourself, you should'nt be considering designing/building your house.

Jul 21, 05 10:04 pm
Ms Beary

friends, family, phonebook
city hall

Jul 21, 05 10:57 pm

your own house? here in california you can submit for building permit as owner/builder with no architect's stamp.

Jul 21, 05 11:03 pm

in most states, you don't need an arch stamp for a private residence. look up the local planning commission online to find out about zoning + local building codes.

Jul 22, 05 12:12 am
vado retro

will it be octagon shaped?

Jul 22, 05 12:14 am

lol. so true, so true.

*pencrush shakes his head.

Jul 22, 05 12:15 am

C'mon, the KKKKid just wants to build a house.

Jul 22, 05 12:34 am

Since I am not from this country, thought that you guys know more than me. But whatever man.

Jul 22, 05 9:27 am

KKKK- don't get discouraged........sarcasm and egotism is the way of life here.....

1) it depends on the state/city....but most states do not require a stamp for single family houses under a certain limit (and that limit is fairly large)

2) a good builder is hard to find....word of mouth is probably the best way. just ask around......i wouldn't go by the yellow pages, but i guess you can start there to and do some "mini-interviews"

3) go to your local building dept to find out about zoning and applicable codes......even if a stamp isn't required, you are still required to follow the code

Jul 22, 05 10:02 am

Thanks Cynic for the info. are you american? or architect? you are different.

Jul 22, 05 11:33 am


1. Can an architecture student designs and buld his/her own house? Yes.

does he/she need an architect's stamp?
No. If it's over 2500 sq.ft. in California you will need a stamp.

2. How to find a builder?
The Blue Book [url=[/url]

3. Where to go to find the zoning code for the particular area?
Online. Most cities have a searchable database.

If you are in LA drop me a line, if you need more info.

Jul 22, 05 11:43 am

KKKK while the responses were rather sarcastic, I can't speak for the others, but your question sounded like one from a very inexperienced (not a bad thing but just the case) person. These issues are pretty basic and if you don't know the answers/can't find them, you will likely have much much larger problems down the road in the design and construction of a house.

Jul 22, 05 11:47 am

I agree with pencrush and diabase. Not to discourage you but in fact I would encourage to pursue your idea. You will undoubtly gain great insight into the skill and experience required to do great work in the process, way more than any school could offer.

But I still think the questions make it appear as though your a little "wet behind the ears".

Jul 22, 05 11:57 am

Money and perseverance can dry the wet beahind the ears condition.

Jul 22, 05 12:03 pm

.... and when you realize its your own money your perseverance improves drastically!

Having lived through the experience personally I would encourage everyone to give it a go.

Jul 22, 05 12:44 pm

eric moss designed the petal house in west la for a student of his. i still think she should do it herself instead of taking a credit as a project team. she was talented and certainly could do it herself.
if you got the money, go for it. houses, 2 story or under do not require a licence provided you have registered engineer design structural plans and calculations with his/her stamp on them. if it is on a hillside, they might ask you a grading plan, also prepared and stamped by a licenced civil engineer. a boundry survey or topo map might be applicable to your situation as well.
definatly consult with an experienced person and take your time to do code research.
a vast majority of architects are in this business because they wanted to design houses in the first place.
best place to start is, your local planning, building and safety dept. you can find out about their requirements if you go there with a simple schematic site plan and building section or what have you.
don't get upset at diabase and pencrush, these guys are seasoned pimps giving you some friendly advice based on their own experience.
houses are small buildings but they are the engine of architectural ideas. some first time designers get cought in peripheral details trying to pack everything they know and forget their main aim thus abandon the project with tons of frustrations and comprimises.
worst can happen, you loose some money and time and dislike architecture which is pretty bad..
i would take tectonics offer. he is generous.

Jul 22, 05 12:53 pm

I agree to question 2 and 3, I was kinna in hurry when i typed them. You guys are truely expirienced in the field. I wonder if I am the only one who seems to be behind in my speech, and thinking. I will make sure for the next time, I won't ask obvious questions again. To responses, I learnt something today, thank you very much.

Well, talking about the post, I found this lot of land which was in a very good deal, too good to be true. I called the agent quite a few times, no response. I ran out of patient, so I came to archinect.

Anyways, the land is a good deal but it turns out to be the sqft is less than the minimum size of lot require by the building department to be built as a residential home. The owner demolished the house quite some years ago, and not realizing that he caouldn't build it again till a few years ago. After fighting with the city hall, he still lost. So the selling price was too good to be true. However, the agent told me that I can hire and attorney and fight it again with the city hall, as recently there was a new smaller house was built in the area.

So the matter became even more complicated as my family member keep on insisting that I should go ahead and buy the land first. I have no rush, and don't want to make any mistakes especially I am still new to the law of this country.

As a result the plan might not happen, but I plan to drop by at the City Hall anyways, to see if there is anything left to be done in order for the land to be developed.

Some of you guys have a very good expirience and good resposes, thank you all. Learning new thing is part of my everyday life, I am going to keep it humble as possible.

Jul 23, 05 7:29 am
el jeffe

just curious - what city and what is the size of the lot KKKK?

Jul 23, 05 10:54 am
not per--corell

In most cases, if a lot is too small to be buildable according to the zoning regs set in place, you can apply for a variance with the local planning commission.

DON'T frame this as an opportunity to 'fight City Hall'. That's not necessary. If you can demonstrate that the lot is unbuildable without a variance, you should be able to get one. They'll want to know that scope of what you're proposing to build, of course.

Jul 23, 05 3:23 pm

el jeffe- it's in MA, the lot is 2480 sqft. and the minimum is 3000 sqft.

Not per corell- can you explain to me more on the apply for variance with the local planning commision?


Jul 23, 05 8:41 pm

in texas you can build without a stamp if it's under 10,000 square feet!

Jul 23, 05 10:08 pm
el jeffe

a variance is a request to VARY from the zoning code. it's a public process that involves adjacent neighbors and anyone else who wants to voice their opinion. go to the zoning counter at city hall and talk to a planner and get an application. find out if there is a neighborhood assocation or architectural review committe and contact them.
2480 isn't far from 3000 - the lot is legal but not conforming - shouldn't be a big deal.

Jul 23, 05 10:30 pm

Hey KKKKid,
The size of that lot is very interesting to me because I've wanted to do something on little, leftover bits of land in the 2000sf -to- under 10,000sf. I never pursued this, but I think that land of that size actually opens a lot of doors with regard to showing some design prowess.

I'd like to second the 'Money and perseverance' comment. I also think that your lot will offer many learning opps, especially obtaining that variance. I guess my archinect mantra would be: "just go with it.'

Jul 23, 05 11:21 pm


No discouragement was inrtended - it is the duty of every architect to design and build their own house at least once - kind of like a trip to mecca.

But I always tell architects that it is also your duty to be resourceful and ambitious. Your opening question had no detail on how any of us can help.

Sounds like an interesting project. As is evident, the best results come from severe limitations.

Jul 24, 05 5:33 pm
vado retro

damn my texas getaway home comes in at 10,005. freakin breworcats...

Jul 24, 05 8:00 pm

I agree with you diabase, sorry for the questions. You are right, in order to get a sucessful design project, ambitious need to show through the work itself. Being Resourceful is something that I need to learn as a part of my everyday life as a starter. Some of you are very advanced. The different levels of expiriences of the people in this forum is what's make it keep on running. I have to say that this is my most favorite website since I came across it a couple of months ago, because it's like a learning blackboard to me.

el- thanks for the defination. I am going to do that today.

With all the support, I am going to go for it.

Thanks all.

Jul 25, 05 10:34 am

MysteryMan- the limitation of the land is also what interests me the most. It poccess a challenge that I think would be interesting for an academic studio.

It also a challenge that most architect would love to take. No doubt, MysteryMan, I think the same way.

Thanks for the support.

Jul 25, 05 10:44 am
A Center for Ants?


your 3500 gsf oil pump facility is exempt from the total count

Jul 25, 05 2:26 pm

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