Wednesday, December 26, 2012

With Pencil in Hand

Today, in the age of the computer, the architectural field has been flooded with dull, uninspired CAD drawings. Perhaps it is time to look back at the drawing board. A true artist's love for sketching and an innate sense of balance is not rendered with the computer. Creative architects who produce beautiful freehand sketches often end up seeing their projects built with stunning results.

I have been receiving more and more recognition from Homeowners and cit building officials with my freehand sketches and set of plans: "Easy to review and understand" - "A joy to plan check" - "more accurate than CAD drawings;" as old fashioned as it may seem, more people are respecting the "old" that's alive with the new housing trends (of course, we do use computers too).

-Bert Notch at the drawing board

Friday, December 7, 2012

Estimating Construction Cost

When estimating the total cost of building a home, one should not forget to include upfront cost like lead base paint testing and asbestos testing. Plus the cost surveying and lot analysis plan with soils and geology test and reports. All this will up the ante by approximately $500.

Then your construction pricing should include plan design fees, architectural services, and structural engineering calculations all at an additional cost accounting for up to approximately $10 a square foot.
Title 2A (Energy plans & calculations) will sum your price to build a house up another $500.

Include any retaining walls that may really up your construction cost with additional engineering fees. And your general contractor estimating cannot be detailed without blueprints. The average sets' of house plans will run about $400 for all sub-trades bidding (16 sets total).

At this point you are ready to submit your project to the planning and building department. Be prepared for these fees. Plan check fees, Grading fees, School taxes, Parks and Rec. fees, engineering fees, and others. After all this you are now ready to pay for your long waited permit cost. General permit, Electrical permit, Plumbing permit, Mechanical permit, Parking/ street bond and others.

Finally you can break ground. Getting you to this point will cost you approximately 15-20% of your construction cost. So if your construction cost is $200,000 figure an additional $35,000 + utility connection fees.

Go to  and do your own free construction estimating... If you need help call 818-662-5698 for assistance.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Problems with building and safety dept.'s today

As I visit different city's Building and safety departments, I Find it quite interesting how cities are finding several new ways to charge more money to consumers who want to improve their property. More fees, more red tape, more paper, and not to mention your property tax increase. It's like a penalty for improving your property... maybe if you let your property deteriorate you could now qualify for federal aid and be awarded for not caring. Think about it... Could it be that at some point, nobody will own property anymore?!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

California Cost for Building a Home.

So why does it cost 40%more to build the same house in california than in any other state if the material prices are the same in every state? It's simple, consider the city's Red Tape, the state bureaucracy, and all the taxes and insurance fee's. Now that Prop 30 passed and our sales tax is at 9.5%, city licences have doubled, added employee's necessary just to handle state and legal matters for insurance and employee rights, not to mention "Obama Care". Just see for yourself, permit fees have sky-rocketed since 2008 as a result.
 Little wonder people are passing the licensed contractors and licence process and doing improvements themselves, or worse, working with unlicensed trades... But do you blame them or the system. Can you see where your heading? Should we just try economic freedom instead!

Do your own comparison, run your same project on by selecting another state, then select California and see the differences in cost.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Constrictive Hands of Government

This past week I was awakened to the reality of what changes the city's and local governments have changed due to the recession. Additional forms and fees have more that doubled, not to mention the greater time delays. Sticker Shock to Clients... some cancelled plans.
It seems the government has a free hand on changing more to survive. If only free enterprise had that same licence.

-Bert Notch

Friday, November 2, 2012

Free Building Cost Estimating!

So who do you call, who do you trust, who is the most accurate? The answers to such questions can be difficult to come across for most home owners. An architect may be good on designing, but will his design be in line with your budget?
A builder without plans will only give you a square foot price, which can be intentionally misleading. Before you get started on a project with only the square foot price in mind, do your own estimate for FREE! can help you get an accurate and realistic construction estimate for your next project. Whether your constructing a new home, or remodeling your kitchen, get a quote you can trust at
Try ECCF for free and you will see the difference. Its Free, its reliable, and within 5% accuracy of what it will cost. Try it several different ways until you create a project that fulfills your needs and your budet. Its instant, so try it now at home for FREE and be your own estimator!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Planning on building? Free cost analysis and estimate!

If your planning on building your own home you'll find lots of cost eliminating software on the web, but as your own home building estimator those software programs are designed for the contractor or engineer, but these programs can be confusing and cumbersome to use. Thats where can help. There is no need to calculate construction costs on your own anymore, just register and walk yourself through the simple guide form by "Estimate Construction Cost First". This web application is designed for you the layperson. Just enter your basic idea's of what you would like to build. The web application mathematically calculates the real cost, then lets you print out the results on your computer for FREE! No need for expensive estimating software or knowledge of building and construction cost. All construction prices are compiled based on your input, so change your house plans several times to see how different the total cost comes out. Have fun and know that this estimate is Free and is more accurate than a salesman's quote.
Try different scenarios for your plans and notice the difference with

Friday, October 19, 2012

French design vs. American design

Bert Notch just completed a French country architectural plan for a client in Chatenoy le Royal, France. ˙e found it quite interesting as most homes designed in France, keep their water-closet (toilet) separate from the rest of the bathroom facilities.
 Unlike the bathroom designs in the U.S. where the water-closet is within the same areas the sinks, tub and shower. (No need to walk down the hall to wash your hands.) Other features included a 2nd story loft. Cabinet designs were also included as in France, cabinets are not considered a part of the house and are taken with each homeowner. Notch completed all plans in Metric.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Creativity in Living 10/16/12

 Creativity in Living Blog post                                                                                                10/16/12

Creativity in Living Inc. hosted contractors and clients with a tour of custom home's they designed and built by notch along with developers in the Lake Sherwood Estates and West Lake Village areas in California, just North of Los Angeles. Home styles ranged from Craftsman, Mediterranean, Tuscany at a cost of $400 to $850 per sq. Ft. The tour was topped off with a brunch at the four seasons resort. 

Check out more of Top Notch's work at

Friday, October 12, 2012


Notch just contracted with another client who chose Creativity In Living because of their pre-estimate breakdown program.

- "Unlike the designers I met before Bert, they only gave me a lump sum guesstimate. I like the fact that I can shift my cost around and make different choices now, before I get into the costly engineering phase. It's great!" -L.S. Thousand Oaks, CA.

You can try our construction estimate service too, for FREE! Its simple, easy, and can save you thousands on construction estimate costs. Be prepared before you meet your contractor to get your estimate. Try it now, it's FREE!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cost First vs Cost Later

For years, homeowners have been struggling with the low balling cost of contsruction. The pre-estimate given to them by their design professional or builder usually is 50% of the  final actual cost to contsruct their project. When presenting a construction contract based from their construction plans, the usual response is "That's double of what I was told!" Cultivating creative design and the divide of construction cost has always been a work in progress.

Bert Notch has been designing and estimating projects for over two decades . He has actively pursued, studied and researched the need for an upfront realistic method to this problem. He has formed a team of construction experts to help head up his cause and launched a website dedicated to helping homeowners know the actual cost of construction is before they spend thousands on architecture and engineered plans. This site will make the home owner aware of building costs vs. budget at the brainchild stage before spending money on plans only o have costly changes made again.

Unlike numerous websites and software available that cater to architects and builders, and are useful only after the homeowner spends thousands on engineered architectural plans and finds the actual cost is usually double their budget,   will show them what their wish list realistically is.

It's easy, click on the items that best fit your needs within the questionnaire and for free, the results are printed out instantly from your printer. No need for plans, sales pitches or software to purchase. also provides other useful forms and helpful tips for the home owner, realtor, and contractors and is also a helpful site for the architect or designer.

Check it out for free!