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The long process of do-it-yourself blueprints

Homeowner aims to save money on room additions

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Q: I own a small 1955 tract home, which is nothing special in design. I would like to add a family room and bathroom. I contacted two local architects about drawing plans for this modest addition. The first wanted a $5,000 deposit to begin the job; the second said it would cost about $8,000. Both of these amounts seem extreme to us, considering the scope of the job. Do we have any alternatives to getting plans drawn up at a more reasonable cost? I have purchased a software program for home design, but it requires a bit more technical knowledge and patience than I have. A: Wow, $5,000 to $8,000 seems excessive to us, too. We'd opt for pencil and paper rather than a computer, and we suggest you give it a shot yourself. The process will crystallize your ideas even if ultimately someone else draws the final plans. If the addition is not too complicated, drawing the plans is a real option. Several sharp pencils, sheets of vellum (for converting into blueprints) and some rudimentary drafting...