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Align Home Design's Process explained.

Are you a client of ours, a future client, or someone looking to understand more about the home design industry? If so, this blog post is for you! We know that industry lingo and processes can be confusing, especially if you don’t work in the industry.

That's why we have created this blog post to help explain our process so you can better understand it. At Align Home Design, we work like most design and drafting companies, but not everyone's process is the same.

What is Preliminary Design?

The first step in the custom home design process is preliminary design. We take your wish list, City or Town bylaws, and lot restraints and create the first draft of design drawings. Your final and approved prelims will look something like this:

To conserve your time and money, we do the preliminary design in steps. We make sure the main floor plan footprint is 100% correct before we start on another floor plan. This helps us avoid errors and efficiently use your hourly design time.

Main Floor Plan:

The main floor plan will include room names, room sizes, bathroom and kitchen layouts, and basic furniture, such as beds, nightstands, and dining room tables. After you provide feedback and we make the necessary adjustments, we will move on to the second-floor plan or basement plan (in the case of a bungalow).

Second Floor Plan:

The second-floor plan is much like the main floor plan and includes all the same notes and details. After we have your approval, we will move on to the next steps: the basement plan and front elevation.

Basement Development Plan & Front Elevation:

Depending on your specific project, the sequence of the basement plan and front elevation can be flexible. We decide this on a client-by-client basis, depending on time needed for the main and second-floor plans, your clarity on what you want, and if it’s easy to work on both at the same time.

What are Construction Drawings?

Construction drawings, also referred to as permit drawings, are the final plans you need to get quotes from suppliers, builders, and contractors. They include detailed and dimensioned floor plans, detailed and dimensioned elevations, building sections, and minor detailing. Once you have received the final construction plans from us, you can move on to the next steps, such as shopping for your builder or contractor and getting build quotes.

We hope this guide has provided you with a better understanding of our process and what you can expect from us. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thank you for reading!

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As published in Neighbor's of Glenora - September 2022


You have a dream for your custom home and the financing in place; now, it’s time to start with your design! Conceptualizing and ultimately bringing your vision into being can be incredibly fulfilling. We want to help with some practical information regarding the main details that will come to bear as you begin your project.

As home designers, we come in at the start, and though we’re specifically the first step along the road to the completion of your dream home, it’s helpful to know what to expect as you move through the various stages. To assist you in moving smoothly from the ‘first vision’ to the start of your build, we’ve outlined the main steps, in the process along with a few key points to consider.

One of the questions we’re most asked in June and July is “Can we build this summer?” In our experience, the process from design to issuance of city permits can take anywhere from six to nine months, depending on how settled you are in your vision.


Step One: Design and Construction Drawings, 2-5 months.

This is where Align enters the picture, first creating a preliminary design and then the construction drawings (also referred to as permit drawings). Initially, our clients bring in what could loosely be called their ‘vision board’, which includes anything from photos, or magazine images, hard copies or curated online (such as with a Pinterest board). Every person comes to this in their own way, and we support all processes that enable you to be the idea out of your head and onto the page.

Preliminary Design, 2-3.5 Months.

We create preliminary design drawings first- your dream taking shape (at least on the page). These drawings are based on our discussions and the inspirations provided. This step includes designing floor plans and front elevations and often consists of the most ‘back and forth regarding the exchange of ideas and subsequent design changes.

Construction Drawings, 1-1.5 Months.

The construction drawings come next, at the point that you’ve approved your preliminary design. These are required for quotes, designs, permits and extra outlines in the next step. A typical drawing set would include the following:

- All floor plans above grade, dimensioned and detailed.

- Basement development/foundation plans, dimensioned and detailed

- Building sections

- Construction details

- 9.36 prescriptive path

Step Two: Permit Requirements, 1-2 Months.

If you’re working directly with a builder, they will typically manage this phase of the process, but in any case, these items will need to be in your permit package. If you are self-building and self-contracting, you will need to collect all the elements below. This process can take one to two months.

- Architectural controls (if required in your subdivision)

- Plot plan & lot grading plan

- Structural engineering

- Roof truss design

- Floor joist design

- Window quote

- 9.36 model (If going performance path)

- Any additions to structural or mechanical requirements (i.e., solar panels)

Step Three: Building permit, 6-8 Weeks*

This is a fairly straightforward permit application, assuming all bylaws and rules are followed to the letter. We will always ensure that your plans are following the rules, and some clients do choose to push the envelope a bit, but they are fully aware when doing so. Typically, the process takes six to eight weeks. * However, if you are requesting a variance, add two to three months to the timelines of this step. If the development officer approves, then the city will deliver a community notice to the neighbor's in the vicinity of your property who have the option to object to your request.

Timing is everything!

Ultimately, our goal is to support our clients’ timelines to the best of our ability. Considering that the process includes the various stages above and some complexity regarding permitting, our advice is that if you want to build in spring 2023, the best time is to start now! You’ll be able to work through your design and ensure that the details of your dream home are perfect, while also getting the permitting process underway. And while we’re always optimistic, we’re also realistic, given our experience.

Building a custom home is a significant investment in money and time – including the many years you plan to live in your home once it’s complete. As such, it’s helpful to understand timelines, which can sometimes add many months to the process id not considered at the outset. The result is a more efficient building process, fewer surprises, and a chance to experience all the joy you’d wish for in creating your custom home.

Thanks for reading our blog post!

Please Share, Comment and come back next time!

- Align Home Design

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Welcome to our very first blog post! Were so excited that you are here and reading our very first attempt. Please bear with us, we are learning here!

Let's start off simple and talk a little bit about Align Home Design, who we are, and why we are here.


Meet Greg MacDonald and

Cassie Cove.

Co-Founders of Align Home Design.

We are both originally from Ontario, where we grew up and attended Loyalist College in Belleville Ontario. We graduated and obtained our diploma's in the 3 year, Architectural Technology program. We both were intrigued by the city of Edmonton and not long after graduation we made Edmonton our new home. (Separately I might add!)

Greg, The Master of Building Things, and Driven Entrepreneur.

Greg LOVES to build things and you will almost always see him keeping busy with one job or another. Whether it be building a deck on the weekend or volunteering to build a playhouse for a child with the Make a Wish Foundation. He brings a great mixture of experience to the team, both in design and the hands on construction aspects of the industry. The creation of Align Home Design is allowing him to take all he has learned in the construction industry and be able to express it and use it to help people design their dream homes.

Cassie, Challenge Seeker, and Creative at Heart.

Cassie LOVES design, specifically home design. She has always been passion about it, even from a young age. Helping people create the space that they will spend most of their time in is the ultimate challenge and feeling of satisfaction. Home design is like putting together a puzzle, taking a client's wish list, inspirations and dreams and creating a work of art, that people get to live in! Cassie brings years of custom home design experience to the team and the creation of Align Home Design is allowing her to check off some exciting boxes off her bucket list!

- Be her own Boss!

- Continue to... Design, Design, Design!


Align Home Design - Why are we different? Why should you call us?

After working in the home design and building industry for over 10 years, both Greg and Cassie noticed a missing niche in the home design market, and that is where the idea of Align Home Design started. We have built this company around a few very particularly important aspects that we feel set us apart in the Edmonton home design market.

Communication, Communication, Communication!

This is one of the most important values at Align Home Design. When thinking about the biggest investment you will make in your life (designing and building your dream home) is there a such thing as too much information and communication? We think not! You can expect that we will do everything in out power to ensure that you have no bad surprises during your time working with us.

As many of you may already know, we work with estimates/quotes for all of our jobs. They are all based off estimations and can change, and for that reason we communicate with you through the entire process. We will always ensure we are on track with your estimate, and if not, you will know about it before we proceed further. During the entire process, we are open, honest and communicate with you about absolutely everything! No email is too long, there is no such thing as too many phone calls, and you can change your mind as much as you want - always know that when that happens, we will openly communicate with you about what that means to you when it comes to budget, time line and anything else.

Design vs. Building Experience.

If you have spent anytime in the home design industry in Edmonton, you know that when someone works for a typical design and drafting company you NEVER get to leave the office to see the build process of your designs. We are proud to have hands on building experience that complements our experience in design. Our team is perfectly balanced with Greg having a large amount of building experience and Cassie having spent most of her career learning the ins and outs of custom home design. Being able to work together and bounce ideas off one another, we feel is the perfect balance. Align Home Design prioritizes getting out to site, seeing what we are drawing and constantly learning and evolving.

Thanks for reading our very first blog post!

Please Share, Comment and come back next time!

-Align Home Design

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