Back to the Drawing Board: Custom Buildable Designs

Here in the CFD studio, a drawing doesn’t only mean a sketch (although we do a lot of that too!). Professional buildable design drawings for custom home design have become a highly requested service and an important corner of our design-universe. We provide this skill for both clients and general contractors, as well as custom builders. We get a ton of questions about this part of our work from clients and industry professionals alike, and today we’re going to take you behind-the-scenes where we can show you more about what that is and how we use it to help our clients build their dream space. Creating custom building plans to scale, and coming at it from an experienced full-service design perspective is one of the things that makes us unique in the field and one of the ways we make those big design dreams a reality.

Buildable drawing with Structure Plan Set - Cat French Design

Found in Translation

When we’re talking design work, there’s a big difference between redesigning room furnishings (like this project!) and structural design, such as new builds, renovations, and additions. Over the years and years of working with clients who were looking to complete large structural projects, we noticed a theme emerging. Clients would come to us with their plans- and these were important plans, y’all- things that folks had dreamed of and worked toward and saved for over the course of years, sometimes decades! Some would come with detailed drawings already set, but more often than not, that big dream was laid out in their photos, Pinterest boards, and lots of vision that they had put together over time. The question was this: how do we translate a client’s wishes into meaningful, functional design? And moreover, how do we turn it into a concrete plan that is both beautiful and BUILDABLE for their contractor? These were the challenges that needed solutions and the gaps that needed to be filled, and so our experience and expertise in creating drawings began to take shape.

In office meeting with exterior finishes modeling - Cat French Design

Scale it Up

So what is a scaled drawing, exactly? There’s a lot of visual creativity involved in custom design work (Cat has been known to throw down a sketch right there on a table if there’s not a piece of paper handy- gotta capture that design vision!). But for the purposes of making a structure build-able, there has to be scale. That means conducting an extensive measuring and documentation of the space, thoroughly evaluating parameters like one can try this for plumbing, electrical access, building code, and ADA compliance in order to see what is actually structurally possible in a given space. Then, all of that is translated carefully into our Building Information Modeling software (BIM). This allows you to manually create incredible 3-dimensional graphic images and a full 2-D plan set that shows clients the size and shape of the space, with the correct and appropriate scale. If that sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it IS. It’s a whole ball of wax, y’all. And in order to be feasible, it has to be done exactly to the right. You can contact experts here for all of your plumbing needs and get it all fixed.

Buildable Design of Cafe's Interior Elevation - Catherine French Design

Meet Jamie

Jamie Cohlmeyer is our in-house BIM and CAD expert and the mastermind behind this part of our Full-Service Design work. What do we love about Jamie? Well, he’s super talented, for starters, but he’s also very passionate about the quality of his work and getting the details exactly right. Our clients love his personable approach to any design challenge and the way he treats their space just like he would his own. Jamie is also a fan favorite amongst our long-time contractor/builder colleagues, and is a key player when it comes to translating clients’ desires, preferences, and needs into a design that truly works. In addition to other things, Jamie builds designs in BIM day in and day out and has been around the block when it comes to making things work. There’s no question he won’t tackle- everything from those beautiful, symmetrical custom built-ins around your fireplace to things like calculating the ideal flat-screen-to-sofa viewing distance for the perfect game-day experience- Jamie’s got it on lock. Like many people that spent years in the civil engineering industry, you’ll frequently see him measuring, measuring, and measuring some more- the key foundation for building out perfectly scaled design.

Measurements for interior trim work - Cat French Design

It Takes A (Design) Village

In every structural design, we’re looking at navigating the intersection of function, aesthetics, and build-ability. And just like we do in all things, we take a team approach to ensure that no stone is left unturned. Cat likes to call it “the hive mind”, but essentially, it means we put the full weight of our talent and experience into every custom project. Whether it’s a 9,000 square foot custom new construction home, or that beautiful room addition you’ve always imagined, we’re going to put the same heart and soul into every square inch. Working closely and continuously with contractors, builders, and architects has become our norm, and we love the phenomenal outcome that this brings for our clients- because, at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.

Looking for more info on how to develop your buildable design? We’re here to help! Give us a shout at or reach us at 919.537.8148. Take a look at some of our other posts about how we work with your builder or contractor here and here. For more up to date happenings and goings-on of this busy team, follow us on Facebook or Instagram @Catfrenchdesign!