Placing an addition on your home can be a daunting task.  What spaces do I need to create?  Are my existing spaces not suitable for today’s styles?  Would a future buyer be more likely to purchase this home if we added this…?  Can we even put the rooms we want off this area of our home?

Start Here…

Design your own home…

Have a plan that works for your family and life…

Why use someone else’s idea of how you live…?

Your needs are unique and considerate…

What do you need?

Play Space?

Storage space?

Utility space?

Family entry?

Home office?

Home theater?


Great views?

What do you think?

Let’s start with your ideas and build a house that your family makes a home.

Having a builder move into your home for several months is the number one consideration when doing a remodel or addition to your home.  I believe that this item is even greater than the price of the addition.  You will be living with this person and their trade contractors for a long time.  If you are comfortable with them and their style then the process will be much smoother and easier.  Everyone though, does reach the breaking point where they just want it all done.  But you need to look at it like a long car ride, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” and when you get to the end you say, “Well that wasn’t so bad!”  Enjoy the journey because it will make for a more comfortable home that fits your needs in the end and enhances your quality of life.  Isn’t this why we started this process anyway?

As far as the spaces to create and the areas to remodel you are making choices based on homes you have seen that have been built recently. Some of the ideas that are incorporated into new construction are spaces that you would like to create and enjoy.  You have not thought of adding on a Pool room for nothing more than a Pool table but rather looked at the rooms you have and thought that there is a way to expand upon this and not recreate the home.  Many people are adding on specifically because of where they live and the outrageous costs associated with moving to a new home with these amenities.  Most recently in Richmond and I’m sure other markets the cost of land his risen so dramatically that the costs of the house is out of whack with the space you would gain by adding onto your home.  I have heard many times that the cost associated with my addition would not get me anywhere near the some square footage I will have if I went and bought new.

Taking the time to get you where you are comfortable with an addition and filling your needs are all part of this process.  Very few people ask to have an addition designed and have answered every question or thought every thought when we first sit down.  Many thoughts and ideas will come up during the process and your builder will even have a hand in this process.

Having some professional advice about how the spaces are to be added and available yard for this addition are the first two items that need to be addressed before we can move forward with completing the design for a new addition to your home.  C. L. Shade Drafting strives to guide you in the best possible use of the space you want to create and make sure that this can be added to your home.

Thanks for reading.

I look forward to hearing from you…

Universal design is smart design

Remodeling trends may come and go, but one trend has evolved into an improved design movement focused on increasing accessibility for everyone in the home. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recognizes universal design projects as proven design solutions for not only aging-in-place, but for families with special needs or anyone who wishes to move about his or her home freely, without barriers.

Russell Long, president of Aloha Home Builders based in Eugene, Ore., is a pioneer of universal design, remodeling his home to fit the accessibility needs of his 16-year-old son who was born with cerebral palsy.

Though Long’s accessibility needs may be greater than others, he always communicates the benefit of universal design to all of his clients. “Most people don’t think about universal design until it’s too late,” he says. “A healthy person can be injured or need to care for a loved one who is aging, and suddenly, your needs have changed,” he says.

Long believes many of the design elements incorporated into his project, which won a 2012 Northwest Regional CotY Award in the Entire House $500,000 to $1,000,000 category with Universal Design Project Recognition, are convenient and luxurious, as well as functional and wheelchair accessible. For example, the universal design features from his project include:

  • Zero barriers, which mean there are no steps in the home, especially for entryways. All living quarters are on the first floor, with the exception of an upstairs area that was converted into an apartment with the purpose of housing a caregiver at some point.
  • Wide hallways, open living spaces and dual entries in all rooms are common design elements used in wheelchair accessibility. Long’s hallways are more than 5 feet wide, and living spaces are expanded so wheelchairs can move around furniture easily. Also, two entryways in all rooms—including the living room, dining room and kitchen—allows for ample traffic flow throughout the house.
  • Microwaves drawer and/or refrigeration drawers are also common in universal design, but Long says it is also a stylistic feature for those who prefer to showcase beautiful cabinetry and granite countertops rather than the eye-sore of a microwave taking up counter space.
  • Hardwood flooring is superior over carpeting for wheelchair accessibility. Long removed all carpeting on the first floor and installed engineered hardwood flooring throughout the entire floor, only covering certain areas with rugs. The new flooring also allowed for a five zone, energy-efficient radiant heating system throughout the house, which couldn’t have been accomplished with carpeting.
  • Ramped pool entrance is a unique design feature developed by Long to make it easier for his son to be transferred in and out of the pool safely. However, once installed, the ramped entrance doubles as a convenient bench for guests to sit on while they enjoy the pool. 

The key to universal design, according to Long, is to come up with design solutions that address current needs and future needs down the road. “We tried to think of solutions that could easily be added or taken out if we needed them or decided to sell our home one day,” Long says.

He also adds a big misconception of universal design is that it looks institutional. “We research products and designs that blend functionality with beautiful aesthetics of a home, so that it never compromises a client’s style,” Long says.

NARI is the source for homeowners seeking to hire a professional remodeling contractor because members are full-time, dedicated remodelers who follow a strict code of ethics and observe high standards of honesty, integrity and responsibility.

Visit the site to get tips on how to hire a remodeling professional and to search for NARI members in your area.

A Little on Internet Plans

Most, if not all, do not have the information required to obtain a building permit.  The permit is the goal of all plans in order to become a home or addition to a home.  C. L. Shade Drafting strives to provide all information needed to obtain this building permit by providing all information needed to construct the home or addition.  These items include:

  1. Foundation plan
  2. Floor plans
  3. Roof plans
  4. Elevations
  5. Wall sections
  6. Structural information
  7. Braced Wall Design

The United States generally works under a building code known as the International Residential Building Code or IRC.  This code provides for standard building methods across the country and most any home designer can now design for many different regions.  Of course you should consult with you Builder to make sure that this information is relevant to your areas because localities can impose their own requirements and some manufacturers products may need to be substituted for locally sold products.  A good example of this is the east coast has Hardees’ and the west coast has Carl’s Jr, same product different name.  But in general; if it works in Richmond it can easily be made to work in Memphis.

The second great fallacy of internet plans is how square footage is calculated.  Stairs, two story, clerestory areas do exist.  Even though there are big, sometimes giant, holes in the floor the Builder and his trades count this air.  Over the years it has generally been that internet plan square footages are about 25% low due to this space not being included in the square footage. While not including this space in the finished square foot number is accurate, the unfinished space as well a clerestory space can and should be shown separately for an accurate representation of the home.  Think about that when you are looking for a 2500 square foot home and the Builder looks at you and says it 3000 square feet when you ask why is it so expensive.  C. L. Shade Drafting calculates all the square footage under roof and will have an accurate representation for you based on ANSI standards and this document is available on request.

Thanks for reading and please enjoy my website


Welcome to C. L. Shade Drafting

Welcome to C. L. Shade Drafting! We are located in Richmond, Virginia (RVA), and we provide residential drafting and design services. C. L. Shade Drafting creates fully engineered plans for new and existing homeowners, contractors, builders, real estate professionals and architects.

Owner Charles L. Shade, has over thirty years of residential drafting, computer aided design, contracting, and framing construction experience. All work is completed to YOUR specifications!

We offer a variety of drafting and design services for custom homes, additions, garages, and more.

CAD Drafting

  • New residential homes that include detailed construction drawings and roof plans
  • Stock plan conversions
  • Outbuildings
  • Additions & Renovations

Construction details for other plans, including plats and interior sections are also available from C.L. Shade Drafting.

For more information, please contact Charles Shade.

Universal Design

Universal Remodeling and Design

As we grow accustomed to our homes we find that our needs change in the spaces that we have been living in. Windows are not as easy to open, doors seem a little too thin, and stairs just keep getting steeper.

It may be time to think about Universal Design, a concept by which the home can be remodeled to be easier as we mature. It may be time to move the master bedroom to the first floor. Is there a room (or rooms) that can be converted? Do you need to add on for the space? Is there a bath accessible or do you need to add one? There are lots of ideas and directions that you can go to fulfill your needs. Spending time to answer a few simple questions can lead to a world of satisfaction.

  • Access to kitchen
  • Access to bath
  • Access to the exterior
  • Access to bedroom
  • Dealing with stairs
  • Wheelchair or scooter access
  • Low or no threshold showers
  • Door handle-sets

Consultation with an home designer who has had these questions asked of them before can help to guide you in your future needs. Universal Design is not all about making the house look like an institution. It is about wedding different aspects of accessible and adaptable design. It is oriented around all age groups in a family being able to comfortably live in a home together.

Why Are Homes Expensive?

Among the obvious reasons are commodity, material, and labor prices as well as the run up in number of homes that where built and the availability of money. Among the lesser known reasons is the building code, minimum lot sizes, and expected amenities.

I have two 150 square drawings that I like to show clients. One is 10 x 15 has four corners and a 50’ perimeter. The other has an 86’ perimeter and 22 corners. We used to build them quick and inexpensive now we build them complicated and expensive. In the first 20 years I have been building it was rare to see a concrete pump truck visit a job-site. We used wheelbarrows and our backs. Now I’m not one to impede progress but that is a $500 item tacked onto every house. Granite was reserved for the well-to-do. Now it is in homes down in the $200k range. Irrigation systems are becoming normal, jetted whirlpool tubs, three and four bathrooms, and on and on and on. There is a point when the cost of a home outweighs the value of the home. That is part of what we have been seeing in this housing downturn.

The building code is designed for the safety and welfare of the homeowner. While it seeks to create a balance between cost and safety it generally errs on the side of safety. The most recent major change concerns an item known as Braced Wall Panels (BWP). More engineers and the plywood industry are making a bundle because of these regulations and for the most part the requirement is superfluous at best. But this requires additional work on the part of the home designer, the builder, the masonry contractor, the framing contractor, possibly the drywall contractor, and the building official at both the plan review stage and conducting inspections of the home during construction. Permit fees and construction time has increased because of this which leads to additional finance and carrying charges.

Many factors contribute to the cost of a home and most will ask for a cost per square foot. This can be terribly misleading and difficult to pin down because a lot depends on the choices of the homeowner. Most commodities that do fluctuate tend to not change the cost structure by too great a degree but a home owner never has a hard time finding a $600 sink that they just can’t live without.

Conditioned Crawl Space

Conditioning a crawl space along with air-sealing the exterior envelopes are two items that should be implemented by all homeowners and builders that would like to bring “Green” construction to their project. These two items alone can account for the most energy saving benefits that you will see as a homeowner.

One thing is true especially in older homes: There is a forced air heating and/or cooling system that was either added 30 years ago or placed when the home was built and it is in the crawl space or the attic. Either way one of two things is happening. 1. The system’s ducting was never insulated or was built using duct board. (If it’s duct board run away!) 2. The duct system was held together using Duct Tape, now called Duck Tape because it did not work on ducts and this tape has failed and the ducts are leaking air all over. A third option especially with 30+ year old systems is mechanically fastened galvanized ducting that is not sealed in any way but also is not potentially coming apart. Trust me this stuff would stay together in a tornado. This latter type of duct is a great candidate for a conditioned crawl space. It is already leaking enough air to keep the crawl space pressurized therefore keeping ground borne pollutants at bay. And it’s easier and better to condition the crawl than it is to mastic seal and insulate the duct. Create a conditioned space around the duct; allow it to be brought into the building envelope that is already full of conditioned air much as a Mechanical Room inside the building envelope is.

Most old homes (and a lot of new ones) are leaking air around windows, doors, walls, electric outlets, light boxes, overhead fixtures, at wall corners, thru plumbing penetrations, floor joists at the exterior, attic access stairs and doors to attics, fireplaces, chimneys, kitchen and bath exhaust fans, dryers, what did I miss? Because of this the home is essentially one big chimney where hot air rising creates a need for cool air to fill this void. Conditioning the crawl space is one way to help plug this chimney and keep ground pollutants out of your living space.

Parade of Homes Gold Award

The 58th Annual Parade of Homes (2009) showcased 71 new homes throughout the Greater Richmond and Tri-City areas. These homes feature the best selection in home designs, construction techniques and materials.

Click here to visit the Parade of Homes website.

The Gold Award Winning Home was created by C. L. Shade Drafting for J. R. Walker and Co. Jim Walker’s unique vision for homes brought this design to life and we are happy it received recognition from the building community.


Crawl Space

Most homes have them some do not. You may have a basement or be on an on-grade slab. To a certain extent this will pertain to basements that were built say 30+ years ago. Not so much now as there are very good waterproofing systems and methods that are required to be implemented when building new homes.

As a homeowner you need to inspect your crawl space at least once maybe twice a year. With a basement this is much easier in that you can walk around as opposed to crawling and possibly slithering in a crawl space, and basements usually have overhead lights which make this inspection easy. Crawl spaces should have lights installed there also to aid in this inspection over and above the required service light for mechanical equipment and such. Inspection may reveal a water intrusion from the exterior that is not readily visible because of plantings and mulch built up over the years through landscaping. Gutters can get clogged or broken. The yard can potentially slope back to the home instead of away. A hose can be left on to slowly drip drip drip without you knowing it. In the extreme this water can cause erosion of the footing under the foundation causing cracks and the foundation and interior wall surfaces. A small crack in the house may lead to a larger problem that could easily have been found early by just looking.

Less likely would be a pipe coming loose. Water pipes are usually pretty quick to find since you will hear water running or waste pipes too as there will be an odor associated with this disconnection. Slow drips or slight leaks are the ones to look for. Having the crawl space covered in a 20 mil or thicker poly will aid in this since puddles will form instead of being soaked up by the ground below. Kitty litter can be an affective way of cleaning up bulk waste (we had the kitchen sink pipe come loose after a clog was cleared by a drain snake and noticed an odor several days later after many a grind of the disposal sending leftovers to the waste facility) that may have escaped.

Other items may include running another phone line or outlet for Grandma’s newly acquired tiffany lamp and having a well lit crawl may keep your cost down because it makes the job easier.

Don’t forget the crawl space it is part of your home just like the exterior that everybody gets to see.

Thanks for reading and please visit my website

Mechanical Space

When I started writing this I was using the acronym HVAC for Heating, Ventilating, and Cooling. Since none of the equipment ventilates the areas that it conditions I am going to just call it HaC for Heating and Cooling

I prompted my Wife that the home we now own was the right one to purchase partially because the heating and cooling equipment is within the building envelope. It was built in 1954. Is full masonry construction and has old leaky windows. Having the HaC equipment within this envelope is a situation that rarely happens in new construction. Something that I discovered later and to my dismay I had abandoned is that each room of the home had a supply and a return in it. Interestingly the supply is in the center of the home and the return was at the exterior wall. Both of these are at floor level which is not generally accepted these days but we often still feed from the floor and return under a staircase which is generally low in the wall. Or in the case of second floors is fed from the ceiling and returned from the ceiling.

Today we supply over or below exterior openings since these are usually cooler or warmer depending on the season and through a process called the stack effect the warmer air moves to the top or the cooler air moves to the bottom creating convection in this area that helps to mix the air. (I would assume this is fairly localized and does not mix all the air in the room well.) In my case we abandoned the floor returns and placed a sealed duct return in the attic to the HaC equipment in the mechanical room. This allows for the air to be moved from floor to ceiling thus helping to even the temperature throughout the space. New construction HaC equipment is relegated to crawl spaces and attics. Generally this unconditioned space is either extremely hot or relatively moist in relation to the surrounding environment.

In the former the air-conditioning has to cool that 140 degree attic air before it can cool the air in the home. On top of that cooling is a process of removing moisture from the air, so unless the system is sized right and allowed to run for extended periods of time it will not remove latent and occupant moisture from the air and therefore not cool. The crawl space system may have an easier time of conditioning the air in its environment but it has the unenviable task of keeping all that dirt, grime, and possibly mold associated with crawl spaces out of the air-stream. This in and of itself is the best reason to seal duct work in the crawl space.

Conditioning the crawl space helps with the ducting problem and goes a long way to mitigating moisture and other contaminants in the crawl space environment. This also will allow the equipment to generally only work with conditioned air and will have an easier, read equipment sustainability, time of maintaining the temperature set at the thermostat.