We have been shopping around for architects and builders and have hit something that I don’t understand.
One of the design/build firms we talked to said that because we are in the McMansion overlay, that there was an additional requirement that all drawings be done by a licensed architect (instead of by an architect or engineer anywhere else). Because this builder only has engineers and no architects, he told me I would have to find my own architect as he could not handle the design in house and produce something that the city would take.
Does anybody have any experience or knowledge of this requirement? Shoud I be limiting myself to only builders and architects already doing work in our neighborhood?
This is correct, must have a licensed stamp on the plans when submitted.
Real Estate Advisor
It’s not a neighborhood thing. The McMansion ordinance is city-wide more or less. There are projects that don’t need to be stamped for the city, but they’re limited by certain criteria (type of work, how many stories, +) Technically the architect has to be licensed in Texas, the tricky part is that unless they work in Austin, they don’t know the ins and outs of our land development code nor do they want to know the ins and outs.
If you want to hop on a call, I’m happy to give you more info on this.
As a licensed architect who has worked in Austin for over 30 years, here is my take on the city regulations
While we in Zilker live in the “McMansion” area of the city with regard to zoning, that has little to do with whether or not you need a licensed architect. The McMansion ordinance sets certain parameters for what residential structures can be design to. As an example the McMansion ordinance sets certain building height limits, but you do not have to design to the limit. The ordinance just sets a constraint on the design.
As for permitting requirements for a licensed professional to seal and stamp the plans, it is all dependent on the scope of work. If you are doing a remodel that does not require any structural modifications to the existing building it does not need to have a stamp or be sealed
But if you are doing an addition with new foundation and framing then the city requires engineered foundation plans and what is called al braced wall framing diagram (plan) to show that the design will stand up to the different design loads specified by the building code. These types of plans are either done by a licensed architect or a licensed engineer. But only one stamp is required. I personally always have an engineer provide these plans as it puts the liability on them to make sure they meet the code and permitting requirements.
If you are building an entire new building, the same requirements for stamping apply. In most McMansion areas, like Zilker, what we are seeing is a trend to maximize the buildable area which usually means a two story building with habitable space in the attic, making it in reality a three story building but with it visually looking just like at two story house.
Thus if you are going to build a new home in the McMansion area and wish to maximize the buildable area with a multi-story design, then you will need more engineering design work for the permitting process to meet the foundation and framing requirements
One further note is that many residential design/builders have either in house licensed architects or engineers to provide this service, but other contractors have independent architects or engineers to provide the needed drawing on a project by project basis. Other contractor only do contracting and rely on the owner providing a complete set of documents for permitting and construction. So it is best to make sure you know what services are being provided by the different type of builders.
I hope this is helpful
Thanks for the detailed response, it all makes sense now.
When i talked to the builder I was at work and we were brief, so I didn’t get the full picture.
In most McMansion areas, like Zilker, what we are seeing is a trend to maximize the buildable area which usually means a two story building with habitable space in the attic, making it in reality a three story building but with it visually looking just like at two story house.
I find it remarkable that you readily admit all the teardowns in “McMansion areas” are being replaced with houses that are McMansions in all but name, built out to the full 0.40 FAR allowance – which in Zilker means literally almost all of this construction ends up priced well over $1 million. And yet at the same time you’re an advocate (at least in theory) of “preserving neighborhood character.”
Again, I’m stunned you fail to see the cognitive disconnect between the two. Or that you think rich white yuppies with obscenely huge houses are beneficial to “neighborhood character” – when any rational observer would argue the exact opposite, that they’re detrimental – in contrast to what’s proposed under CodeNEXT: middle-class families living in denser types of housing instead. (And no, not any silliness like 20-story condo towers in the middle of the neighborhood or anything.)
Finally, the most twisted part of it all is that you are effectively arguing in favor of COMMODITY (millionaires in massive houses) over COMMUNITY! (“normal” middle-class families like the ones who’ve lived in Zilker basically since its inception) And this reality has clearly flown straight over your head!
I need to lie down – this is too much irony for me to handle in one sitting…
once again you confuse things, in my post to address the specific question raised by Issac, I gave him my perspective as an architect. I did not advocate for nor voiced any such support of the McMansions being built in our neighborhood, but then I have come to expect you to twist whatever I say to support your narrative of what you think my position is on just about everything.
I have come to expect you to twist whatever I say to support your narrative of what you think my position is on just about everything.
Please feel free to cite some examples of anything I’ve “distorted.”