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Q. What is a custom home?
A. A home that is designed to fulfill your unique set of needs and desires. Your personal set of wishes will dictate the level of customization required.

Q. How do I know I’m choosing the most creative Architect?
A. You don’t….for us; most of our clients are referred or have seen our work. We suggest you meet with us to determine if we are the right fit to work together. When creating a home from concept to completion we still prefer to sketch with you during your meetings as you discuss your needs and desires for your home.

We also created this website to give you an overview of our work and can provide you with a project list.

Q. How do I know if I need a custom designed home or a stock plan?
A. Your personal requirements, lot constraints, building codes and zoning ordinances will dictate how to proceed with your dream home. Basically, when you come to our office someone will meet with you to help determine your needs. If we have a previously designed home (stock plan) that will work as a starting point we might begin from there, or we will start from conceptual drawings. Tailored Trends search

Q. Where do I start when building a home?
A. The first step is deciding on your dream location. Many of your decisions will be based on the lot size, topography and orientation, as well as building setbacks and zoning issues. For example, a front load versus a side load garage is largely dependant on the lot width, building setbacks and topography.

Q. What is the process for designing a home from concept to completion?
A. We meet with you to set a program for your project. Once we have decided to work together, we set the next meeting to start conceptual drawings. First, we work on the floor plans. Once the basic sketch is decided upon we can begin designing elevations. Most of the time the initial sketches are hand drawn. Hand drawn sketches allow us to quickly work with the client and show them options much like an artist creating your portrait. All final drawings are computer generated.

Q. How do you calculate the square footage of a plan?
A. We calculate square footage by measuring the exterior footprint of the finished floors. These calculations do not include the garage, basement, patios, porches, decks, balconies, or any unfinished attic/bonus space. Stairs and 2-story spaces are only accounted for once in the calculation.

Q. How is the living area of a plan calculated?
A. The living area is a sum of usable rooms not including baths, halls, closets, etc. We do not list this information because it does not give you an accurate size of the house.

Q. What is FAR?
A. Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is a factor set by the municipality you are building in and will vary from town to town. This calculation sets the maximum building size allowed in a particular Community.

Q. What is lot coverage?
A. This is a factor used to calculate the amount of ground coverage that a building is allowed to occupy. This calculation will vary by Community.

Q. Does it matter what city or village I build in? Do plans change from village to village?
A. It will matter when we prepare your drawings for permit. Each city or village has its own requirements for example, FAR or Lot Coverage. We try to include all the information the city may require. That is why we ask for the site address when we begin a project.

Q .What is a Plat of survey?
A. This is a legal document of the property showing lot size, boundaries, easements and setbacks as well as all existing structures. A. A topographical survey includes the information on the plat of survey plus the features of the land such as contours, trees etc.

Q. What is site engineering?
A. This references proposed survey/topography similar to above which would include such site improvements including drives, walks, patios, new structures and alterations to grading.

Q. Is Site Engineering required for permit?
A. This varies by municipalities. Most will require at a minimum, a survey with all site improvements. Other municipalities may require additional engineering. It is possible that additional information, such as impervious surface calculations or storm run-off calculations may be needed. (Communities)

Q. Are your plans signed and sealed?
A. Yes, we do provide signed and sealed drawings for the states in which we are licensed. Currently, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. For more information see Illinois Department of Professional Regulation http://www.idfpr.com/dpr/who/archt.asp Michael Buss Architects, Ltd. can provide design drawings for all other areas and work with a structural engineer in that area.

Q. How many sets of plans will I receive?
A. You will receive 10 sets of plans. The number of sheets in a set varies per project. Your plans are personalized with your name or builder name and project address in the title block area on each page. (About our plans)

Q. What is a mini set?
A. A mini set (or purse set) is a small set of plans roughly 11” x 17”. We started offering these to the homeowners as a convenience to have on hand when making fixture, lighting or furniture selections. The 11 x 17 mini set is not used for construction as some of the dimensions may not be clear.

Q. What mechanical and electrical information do you provide?
A. We provide schematic drawings for electrical fixtures and outlets. Mechanical drawings are typically not required by building departments. Supplied layouts can be prepared for submittal.

Q. What is PDF?
A. Adobe® Portable Document Format (PDF) is a universal file format that preserves all the fonts, formatting, graphics, and color of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it. Adobe PDF files are compact and can be shared, viewed, navigated, and
printed exactly as intended by anyone with free Adobe Acrobat ®Reader®software.

Get the FREE ADOBE READER if you don't have it yet by going to this link: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html

If our clients are traveling or relocating and can’t meet personally, we may use the PDF format to send review sets electronically.

FAQ’s regarding previously designed homes/stock plans

Q How do I order a previously designed/stock plan?
A. If you know the plan # you would like to purchase you can order by phone or by email . We will fax a confirmation of the plan or visit us at the office. For more information contact us at any time.

Q. How do I make changes to a stock plan?
A. Simply provide us with a list of desired changes or markup the changes on the plan. We would then provide a quote for the cost of the plan with changes. (About our plans)

Q. Are all stock plans sold by architects?
A. No. Many times the plans you find on the internet or in magazines are being sold by a plan service or publishing company. Purchasing from these sources may be a problem if your municipality requires a signed and sealed plan for permit.

Q. Are all of your plans on this website?
A. No, We have put a selection of our work on the site. From these choices we can direct you to other plans not yet available on the site. We believe choosing a home is a personal and creative matter. When you visit the office we have someone guide you through your choices. Often times due to village zoning, side yard setbacks etc. you may be looking at plans to wide or large for your lot. Every municipality has a set of codes that we must research and adhere to. This is an ever changing process to keep abreast on municipality Community requirements.

FAQ’s regarding Green Design & Construction

Q. What is LEED?
A. The LEED acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is a Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable design & construction.

Q. What is LEED AP?
A. The LEED AP acronym stands for LEED Accredited Professional, this credential assures a level of competence as a green building professional and it has multiple levels of accreditation dependent on accomplishment, expertise and specialization.

Q. What is 'sustainable design & construction'?
A. Sustainable design and construction is a practical application of numerous principles and concepts as they apply to the design & construction of a particular building and its use. This may include use of recycled/low impact materials which are natural or efficiently manufactured, utilizing mechanical systems which are not only energy efficient but renewable and pose no harm to occupants or the environment. There are many other principles and concepts however when applied properly help ultimately reduce the buildings impact on human health and the environment during the building's lifecycle.

Q. What is 'green building'?
A. Green building is essentially utilizing the same concepts and principles outlined above in sustainable design & construction thus allowing the terms to be used interchangeably.

FAQ’s regarding Commercial Plans & Services:

Q. How is Commercial square footage calculated?
A. Commercial/Retail/Industrial (link to portfolio\commercial) square footage calculations can be and usually are calculated in many different ways. Many trade associations have published accepted industry standards, for example BOMA International who publishes separate standards for office rentable and industrial rentable calculations is an approved ANSI standard, however many property management firms utilize their own formulas derived from modifying these standards.

Q. What are Lease Outline Drawings?
A. Lease outline drawings or LOD is a floor plan which illustrates & documents the proposed and/or certified square footage of a commercial space being leased also known as rentable square footage.

Q. What is a 'White Box' or 'Vanilla Box' set of drawings?
A. White Box or Vanilla Box drawings WB/VB respectively are a set of construction documents which are prepared to take an existing commercial space or combined spaces to an open and plain finished state which is then ready for the tenant to perform their finish out work on the space (partition walls, finish flooring, etc.) The finish out drawings are typically prepared as a separate set of documents in this case. There are many variants of the WB/VB and content can change based on the needs of the landlord and/or tenant.

Q. What is a 'Turn-Key' set of drawings?
A. Turn-Key drawings are a complete set of construction documents which are prepared to take an existing commercial space or combined spaces and ultimately provide a final finished out state which is then theoretically ready for the tenant to take possession of and conduct business. This set of documents ultimately combines a WB/VB as described above with tenant finish-out needs as opposed to having them separate, this is sometimes done to differentiate work being performed by the landlord and that of the tenant.