Glaser Designs Title
Quality since 1988

Don't I need an architect?

Of course not! There is nothing in the codes or statutes that require you use an architect for a residential design. Glaser Designs has the talent and expertise to provide you with a high quality and detailed set of house plans. If you have an idea of what you’re looking for we can take it from concept to final documents at a lower cost than an architectural firm would charge. If you’re unsure of what you want in your home design, we can work with you to design your custom dream home, addition or renovation from start to finish.

Can't I just buy plans online?

Of course you can, however what these sites fail to point out is that you'd still need to take the drawings to a local design firm and engineer to bring them up to Florida codes. We don’t think that’s very cost effective. For our clients who are not sure the direction they want their new home design to take, we suggest they peruse these sites as well as architectural and design magazines to get some ideas and we'll take it from there.

How long will my design take?

That will really depend on the size and scope of the project as well as other factors. These include your preparedness and response time, whether truss engineering is required, changes to the design or outside influences such as needing the approval of a homeowners association and of course, our current work load.

Glaser Designs will always work diligently on your house design in order to finish in a timely fashion, however we will never cut corners or sacrifice the quality of our work. Most jobs are completed in 4-12 weeks.

What should I do first?

Before we begin your design, a little preparation on your part will save you time and money. Here’s a few things you can do to get started:
  1.  For most projects, you will need a current boundary survey of your property. 
  2.  Check the survey for any utility or other easements that may affect your proposed project. 
  3.  Ask your local building department for the setbacks, flood zones and whether there are lot coverage or height
  4.  If you belong to a homeowners association, check with them first.
  5.  Likewise, check any deed restrictions you may have.

What are setbacks?

A property setback is an area adjacent to the property boundary line wherein construction is prohibited by local ordinances or zoning. For example, your front setback might be 25’, your side setbacks 8’ and your rear setback 10’ so you would not be allowed to build into those areas. It’s important that we have this information before we begin your design. You can obtain these numbers by contacting you local building department. Also, be aware that the street in front of your house is typically not the property line so check your survey.

What is lot coverage?

Lot coverage is a percentage of the total lot area that is allowed to be covered by buildings or other structures. These percentages are established by local zoning, and primarily affect our island communities. You can obtain this information from your local building department.

Will I need a boundary survey of my property?

If you are building a new home or an addition to your home, you will need to provide us with a current survey. (According
to local codes current means less that six months old. However, in cases where there have been no previous changes to
the property we have seen permits issued using surveys with much older signing dates.)

For new home construction, we recommend that you or your contractor have the survey company ‘set the corners’ of the
proposed structure. The survey company will also need to measure and document the structures footprint once the floor
is in place.

What flood zone am I in?

In some cases your flood zone will be noted on the boundary survey. If not, you can contact your local building
department. You can also find this and other information about your property in the public records. For Manatee County
use the ‘search by address’ feature to locate your property. You will even see an aerial view!  Here is similar information
for Sarasota County. Typical flood zone designations are AE, VE, C or X.

How will the flood zone affect my project?

Each flood zone has a different set of building requirements. If your property lies in an AE or VE zone and you are building a new house, the structure will need to be elevated to a point where the floor level is above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).

For additions and renovations in an AE or VE flood zone, what is commonly known as the ‘fifty percent rule’ (substantial improvement
) will apply. This set of criteria was established by FEMA and imposes elevation and construction requirements for improvements that cost more than fifty percent of the house’s current value (not including the land value). For example, if your structure is worth $100,000 and your project costs more than $50,000 additional requirements will apply.

Please Note: The local building official determines how this ‘rule’ is implemented and there are different interpretations. It is a good idea to speak to your local building department about this prior to beginning your project.

If your property is in an X or C flood zone, your project will not be affected by these FEMA requirements.

An Elevation Certificate contains the needed information. If you do not have one, ask your survey company to establish the lot and/or slab elevations and provide you with the needed paperwork.

Will my plans need a structural engineer's seal?

In most cases, the answer is yes. This is the result of code changes implemented after Hurricane Andrew. If your project
is simply interior renovations and does not include structural elements, you most likely will NOT need an engineer’s seal.    
Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive: