Frequently Asked Questions

What is a building designer?

A Building Designer is first and foremost a professional familiar with all facets of the building trade, whose plans and designs represent the particular needs, style and budget of the client. A Building Designer may offer a complete array of professional services to you as the client and may consist of:

  • Residential Design, both single and multi-family, and commercial structures as permitted by the architectural statutes of each state.
  • Confering with you to ascertain type, size, and ultimate usage of the structure during the initial planning stage.
  • Approaching any design problem based on the practical, functional and economical solutions that will best fulfill your requirements, while translating these factors into a concept that is both aesthetic and utilitarian.
  • Offering recommendations regarding the site, interior and exterior layout, materials to be used, and architectural and exterior treatments.
  • Furnishing you preliminary and detailed designs for the proposed structure, ranging from the initial concept to complete working drawings and specifications that will comply with all applicable building codes and regulations.
  • When the conceptual designs are accepted by you, the building designer may present a contract detailing the extent of the services to be furnished and outline the related responsibilities, fees, and structural, mechanical and electrical considerations.
  • Helping you select contractors and overseeing construction. You may retain a Building Designer to provide all or any part of the planning, design, and construction process as you desire. These services are subject to the policies and services of the individual designer you select.
  • When retained to do so, he may assist you by preparing and publishing bid proposals for construction, and may also interpret and explain bid proposals to you with any recommendations.
  • As your agent, he may as allowed by some states to conduct on-site inspections or observations of your construction, ensuring that all work meets the recognized standards.

A Professional Member of the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD) has met the requirements of the AIBD Bylaws and the minimum two-years work experience standards. The AIBD established an autonomous body known as the National Council of Building Designer Certification to create and administer an examination and certification program. These persons so certified are permitted to use the title of Certified Professional Building Designer (CPBD). Certified Members have more than six-year of work experience, have submitted examples of their work, and have been tested on competencies related to performing services required in any portion of planning, design and construction, as permitted in their state of residence or practice.

For more information on this certification process, please visit NCBDC.com.


What is the design process?

  • Obtain a Boundary Survey of the property from a professional land surveyor
  • Obtain an elevation certificate and grade elevations of the property from a professional land surveyor.
  • Call Roney Design Group (RDG) and schedule a meeting date/time to sit down and discuss your needs and wants so that they can get a better understanding of your lifestyle and quality of finishes and style of home. Free 1hr consultation
  • Design proposal is then presented to client for approval and to move forward with preliminary designs described in the scope of work.
  • Once the preliminary plans are designed and ready for presentation, RDG and client will meet to review the plans and make necessary changes/adjustments the client desires. At this time, a 3-Dimensional color rendering of the exterior will be presented.
  • If no changes/adjustments are needed, client authorizes RDG to proceed on with construction documents that include but are not limited to: Site Plan, Foundation Plan, Detailed Floor Plans and Exterior Elevations including door and window schedules, Floor and/or Roof Framing Plans, Structural Sections and Details, Structural Specifications, Electrical Floor Plans, Plumbing Floor Plans & Risers, HVAC Floor Plans & Specifications.
  • Once the plans are completed and signed and seal by a state licensed structural engineer, the plans are picked up by the General Contractor that is awarded the project and submitted to the correct municipality for plan review.
  • RDG is responsible for any plan review changes that require plan clarification or changes. Plan review comments that require product approval numbers, energy calculations, manual “J”, etc. are the responsibility of the General Contractor, unless otherwise contracted by RDG.
  • Plans are approved, a permit is issued and construction can start!
  • RDG services are completed once the client/general contractor obtains a building permit.
  • Additional services may be requested by the client for an additional fee such as:
    • Construction administration - including: site observations, approving payment requests, shop drawing review, interpretation of the construction drawings and specifications
    • Contractor selection, taking and receiving of bids, and / or awarding the contract for construction
    • Landscape and irrigation design and drawings
    • Interior design, color and material selections
    • Preparation for and attendance at the Board of Adjustment for variances
    • Additional design, drawings or details not outlined in the contract

Where do I start?

First determine your budget (what you want to spend) on the improvements of for a new home. Then contact a Building Designer / Architect for a meeting to review the desired scope of work.


What information do I need?

A boundary Survey with improvements (for additions), an Elevation Certificate if in a Flood Zone. A list of the desired scope of work for an addition or remodeling, or a description of the desired new home size, types and number of spaces, and style of building design.


How do I select a Designer?

Ask your friends for a recommendation, check the Better Business Bureau, and check with AIBD for certified Building Designers in your area. Next step would be to interview the list of Designers and ask pertinent questions such as: length of time in business, have they designed projects similar to yours, check their references, discuss your project with them and see if there is a comfortable connection between you and the Designer. Never base your decision on price. You always get what you pay for.


How much does the design cost?

Each project is different in scope and therefore the design fees will vary. Upon an understanding of the specific scope, a fee proposal will be developed for the clients review and approval.


Should we hire a design/build construction company or a designer independent from the builder?

We believe the designer should be independent from the builder to avoid a conflict of interest and additional contractor overhead and profit expenses added to the design fees. You also have two separate professionals overseeing the other one's work.


Should we renovate our home or consider new construction?

This depends on a number of factors such as the condition of the existing home and the extent of the desired improvements, or if your property is in Flood Zone (AE or VE), which means the 50% rule dictates the extent of renovation permitted. New construction does not have this limitation.


Speaking of that, what is the 50% rule?

This rule is a requirement of FEMA for existing structures located in a Flood Zone that does not meet the required Base Flood Elevation for the first living level. Essentially, it prohibits you from spending more than 50% of the depreciated value of the existing structure for renovation or addition costs. This amount does not include the value of the land, pools, docks or any other site improvement. Strictly, the value of the building.


What are AE and VE Flood Zones?

These are flood zones categories in the coastal regions of our state. Each zone requires the structure to an elevated to a certain level above mean sea level, based on the FEMA maps. An ‘AE’ zone only requires the additional elevation above grade to secure the residence above the rising flood waters. ‘VE’ zones have the additional requirement that the structure be built on a piling and grade beam type of foundation and have break-a-way wall on the level below the required Base Flood Elevation. Additionally, some municipalities require an additional height to the first floor living level above the FEMA required Base Flood Elevation. This is called ‘Additional Freeboard’. In some cases, this can be as much as an additional two feet in height.