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(FAQs) Frequently Asked Questions


Will my plans meet local code requirements?

The first phase of your home design is called the “Schematic Design Phase”. This is the “creative phase” during which the floor plans and architectural style are created. These are not the plans that are submitted to your county for construction permits. However, we will determine local code requirements and any Community Covenants and Restrictions (CC&Rs) during this phase. This information plus the lot plan and the topographic analysis of your site (if sloping or not flat) are essential for the proper schematic design.


How do I get the plans for the construction permit?

After the Schematic Design Phase is completed, you may contract with us or a local engineer to create the “Permit Set” of plans. If you contract with us, we will contact a civil and or structural engineer in your area. We will work with this engineer to have the permit set drawings.


Why is the "Construction Drawings Set" so much more expensive than the Schematic Design Drawings?

Although most of the creativity and the “soul” of your new home are in the Schematic Design, there is a lot of work involved in getting the "construction drawings set" created. This is especially true if the house will be on a sloping lot or on land with problem soils, e.g. swelling clays. Also, the engineer has the task of making certain that all plans are in compliance with local code. This can be tedious work. If the schematic design has challenging structural elements such as cantilevers, or large unsupported areas requiring pre-stressed concrete, steel or other special supports, a structural engineer is essential in having a safe design. Most of the work and therefore most of the fees that you pay for the “Construction Drawings Set” go to this local licensed engineer, who will sign the drawings.


Is there an advantage in having Asis-Leif Designs create the “Construction Drawings Set”?

Yes, there is an advantage in having us work with the engineers to make certain that they don’t make changes to the Schematic Design without our and your approval. However, if you decide to have the “Construction Drawings Set” done by a third party, we will give them our full co-operation. The objective is to have your beautiful new home built safely and rapidly. We want to see you obtain that objective.


I noticed that you are a ‘Residential Designer” and not an Architect. What is the difference?

Our Chief Designer, Cynthia Asis-Leif is a licensed Architect in the Philippines. She completed a five-year architectural degree program and graduated with honors from the prestigious University of Santo Tomas in 1981. She served her apprenticeship for five years as the first woman architect hired by the world-renowned Francisco Mañosa and Partners. She began her own practice in 1986. She has designed hundreds of homes. Although she is an international associate member of the American Institute of Architects, she is not yet licensed as an architect in California. 

Fortunately, California law allows her to design homes up to two storeys in height (plus basement). So when you hire Asis-Leif Designs, you get someone who has been trained and worked as an architect for many years. This training included structural and interior design. 

So for the lower cost of a Residential Designer, you get far more sophisticated capability and skills. 


How expensive is Residential Design?

Whereas architects may charge the prospective homeowner in the range of 10%-15% of the cost of the construction of the home, we as a Residential Design company, will only charge about 1.5 % for the schematic design and about 4 to 5% for “Construction Drawings Set” . First, we will prepare conceptual drawings of your new home for your review.  Additional follow-up design reviews fine tune the initial concept design. We will strive to satisfy your expectations as much as possible. The end result is a home design that meets the client's budget, needs, and dreams. 

For more details on our affordable home design fees, go to our Design Fees Page


What about license agreements, copy restrictions and copyright?

All plans are protected under the Federal Copyright Act, Title XVII of the United States Code and Chapter 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Asis-Leif Designs retains title and ownership of the original documents. Clients are to use design for one-time build-out only. The Designer reserves all rights for designs and plans submitted under contract including copyright. The client has the right to as many copies of plans required for construction or permanent records. The client may not sell or assign plans. Client must include name of the Designer in any media description of finished construction based on work completed per agreement. The Designer assumes no liability whatsoever as to the ultimate use of designs provided to client unless retained to complete construction documentation and specifications.


Do I choose foundation options and exterior construction?

Depending on your location and climate, your home will normally be built with a slab, crawlspace or basement foundation; the exterior walls will usually be of 2x6 framing. Most professional builders and contractors can easily adapt a home to meet the foundation and exterior wall requirements you desire. Every state, county and municipality has its own codes, zoning requirements, ordinances and building regulations. If we do the working drawings, we will comply with your local building requirements---snow loads, energy codes, seismic zones, etc. If you choose another party to do the working drawings of the schematic plans we have prepared, you have to make sure that you strictly comply with all local building codes, ordinances, regulations and requirements---including permits and inspection at the time of construction.


What about modifications?

If you'd be making major changes from the final plans we have already produced, we recommend that you consult a professional. Of course, you can ask us to do the modifications for an additional fee. It's always best to think of these modifications prior to the production of the final plans.


I do not understand some of the terms you have described on this page.
How will I find out more about these?

To understand the definitions of some architectural and technical terms, go to our Glossary Page.

See a gallery of our custom-designed homes.



27702 Crown Valley Parkway,  Suite D-4  # 270
Ladera Ranch (Orange County), CA 92694
Copyright © 2001-2012    
All rights reserved

Phone Numbers       949.307.1739
Toll-Free   1.888.553.2279
      Email us at sales@asis-leif.com