Our Process

Dream…After gaining a clear understanding of your needs, we work to establish feasibility of the proposed project. A free no-obligation consultation is included before any design work begins. During this meeting we will gather your ideas, complete a design questionnaire and look at the structure or property affected by the project.

Open and honest communication is the key- What type of investment are you willing to make in the project?  What is the anticipated timeframe for completion of the project? Are you open to ideas and alternate solutions to address the need? After we create a feasibility report and determine that design should be the next step, a detailed contract for services is prepared and a design deposit is taken.

Next step- DESIGN!

Design…Once the parameters are agreed upon the design phase begins. First, a preliminary plan will be developed to give you an initial look at the design.

Next, revisions are made to get the design down to a final version. At this point, depending on the nature of the project, a bid set of plans can be distributed for contractor pricing -or- the plans can be finalized for engineering.

The final construction drawings include all details necessary for permitting and building the project.

Build…Once the plans are done and the permits are in hand the easy part starts- building the project.

With detailed plans and the option of consulting services during the project, the building process should run smoothly.

When the final coat of paint is on and the project is complete you will become another great referral for Exceptional Home Designs.

EHD Blog

Aging In Place Remodeling

July, 2020

The comedian George Burns used to open his stand-up act with the line, “I’m very pleased to be here. Let’s face it, at my age I’m very pleased to be anywhere!” It’s a fact many of us try to avoid, but aging is unstoppable. We will hopefully all someday be as George Burns put it – just pleased to be here. This realization brings us to a valid question- wouldn’t you prefer to “be here” in your own home, surrounded by familiar things, and at peace with the knowledge your “golden years” will be spent in a safe and comfortable environment? Aging-In-Place is the ability to live in one’s own home for as long as possible through the incorporation of design principles, telecare and assistive technologies. At Exceptional Home Designs we have seen the need for residential design which allows for comfortable aging in one’s own home and have made this is a focus of our design firm.

The numbers speak for themselves – in 2008 persons age 65 or older numbered almost 39 million and represented approximately 12.8% of the U.S. population (that’s about one in every eight Americans). It is projected that by the year 2030 this population of 65 plus persons will grow to about 71.5 million or almost 20% of the population. In other words, one in five Americans will be facing the dilemma of how to live out their remaining years in comfort and safety without the trauma associated with being relocated to a family member’s home or an assisted-living facility. This trauma, also known as “relocation stress syndrome”, can lead to health problems and conflicts which could be avoided if the use of Aging-In-Place concepts are able to be incorporated into an aging person’s existing home. What determines the ability to create a functional and livable space for an aging person in their existing home can depend on numerous factors including: the condition of the existing home; the actual health of the individual; the proximity of health services in the local area; the availability of technology for home wiring and systems which will help facilitate an older person living alone in their own home for many years. A professional design firm that is trained and up-to-date on the latest products and ideas for Aging-In-Place is vital to creating a successful project.

Most of the general products and ideas for remodeling or building a home that fosters Aging-In-Place are self-explanatory. In addition, many of the principles used in Aging-In-Place design are also the same used for homes designed to the Americans with Disabilities Act (or A.D.A.) specifications. A.D.A. specifications require minimum hallway and doorway widths as well as required heights for items such as appliances, countertops and toilets. The basic idea is to create a space that allows for: ease of movement; ease of reaching and accessing items in the home; reducing maintenance and care of the home and the yard; creating well-lit spaces; and designing systems within the home for communication, safety and security that are easily operated by the elderly person. Some specific examples are:

Ease of Movement:

  • 5’ turning or clear radius in the living area, kitchen, bedrooms and baths
  • 36” minimum width hallways and doorways
  • Eliminating steps into the home and within the home and promoting the use of ramps, elevators or lifts
  • Incorporating non-slip flooring and grab bars
  • Home designs that feature one-level living or remodeling existing main level space into livable space for an older person

Ease of Reaching and Accessing Items in the Home:

  • Lowered windows and windows with easy-to-operate hardware
  • Faucets and door hardware with lever handles versus knobs
  • Lowered kitchen and vanity countertops with open space below
  • Shower with curbless entrance, fold down seat and handheld showerhead
  • Front loaded washer and dryer and kitchen appliances at usable heights

Reducing Maintenance and Care of the Home and Yard:

  • Low maintenance exterior such as vinyl siding or brick
  • Low maintenance trees and shrubs with elevated flowerbeds
  • Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection
  • Appliances designed to report trouble back to the manufacturer electronically
  • Easy to clean surfaces

Creating Well-Lit Spaces:

  • Sensor light at exterior entry focused on door lock
  • Light in the shower
  • Lots of windows for natural light
  • Task lighting in appropriate places
  • Lighting in closets

Easily-Operated Communication, Safety and Security Systems:

  • Entry door sidelight or lowered peephole with doorbell in accessible location
  • Anti-scald and pressure-balanced faucets
  • Light switches, thermostats and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations and not more than 48 inches above the floor
  • Rocker or touch-activated switches
  • Home security system direct wired to police, fire and EMS

These are just some of the design ideas that are incorporated into an Aging-In-Place project. A qualified designer like Exceptional Home Designs can provide the expertise, care and customer attention that a project such as this requires. Aging-In-Place is a concept that will continue to grow and expand as our population ages. It is very likely many of us will be faced with these same challenges in our own homes at some point.

For more information visit the National Aging In Place Council’s website at www.ageinplace.org.

Copyright Law and House Plans

August, 2020

Did you know that house plans are protected under Federal Law as “architectural works” and can be copyrighted just like books, movies or songs? The U.S. Copyright Office defines an architectural work as: “the design of a building as embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings. Copyright protects architectural works created on or after December 1, 1990. Copyright also protects unconstructed architectural works embodied in unpublished plans or drawings on December 1, 1990, if the design was constructed on or before December 31, 2002.”

Many people, including professionals who have worked in the residential building and design industry for many years, assume house plans are “public domain” since they believe many homes are simply copies of previously designed homes. When searching for house plans on the internet it may seem that similar design trends exist from plan to plan- i.e. the layout and types of rooms, the overall style of a home, the design of specialty items like staircases and kitchens. However, even though there may be similarities in plans from one designer to another, it is still illegal to directly copy or make modifications to a plan designer’s work. This also includes reproducing or re-using a designer’s plan. Only with a specific license granted by the designer can a plan be used, modified, or reproduced.

Individual architects and designers may grant certain exceptions for the use of their plans but those exceptions must always be granted in writing by the copyright holder. Many designers may also allow homeowners, builders, subcontractors and others to make modifications to a copyrighted plan but this must also be expressly granted, in writing, by the copyright holder.

In addition, if you modify another designer’s copyrighted plan you may not be allowed to claim copyright in the new plan. Furthermore, the original copyright holder can claim copyright in the modified design but may not be held liable for defects in the modified design.

Lastly, it is also illegal to build multiple projects from one set of copyrighted plans without express written permission and, in many cases, a re-use fee. Many designers will allow prospective homeowners and builders to purchase multiple sets of a copyrighted plan for a fee. 

It is not a defense to claim ignorance of copyright law. Any person who is a party to copyright infringement may be subject to penalties including the purchaser, designers, architects, homeowners, builders, blueprint services, developers and real estate agencies. Penalties can include actual damages caused by the infringement plus profits made by the infringer to include profits from the sale of a home built using copyrighted plans without a license. Copyright law allows for recovery of statutory damages which can be as high as $150,000.00 for each infringement. In addition, the infringer may be required to pay legal fees of the copyright holder in pursuing damages for copyright infringement.

In conclusion, respect the copyright of designers and architects for their architectural works and avoid potential exposure to legal issues later. For more information on the copyright of architectural works refer to:

“Copyright Basics for Home Designers and Publishers” by David Bennett, Coats & Bennett PLLC

“Copyright Law of the United States- Title 17 of U.S. Code”