Do you have questions about alternative housing?Click Here


General Questions

Q: Why do I need an engineer?

A: Some areas of the country do not require engineering, or even a building permit. However, today’s building materials are advanced in many ways, and require a knowledgeable person to design them. This is where the help of a trained and experienced engineer comes in. You want to be sure the materials you have chosen are being used correctly, are sized properly, are connected together correctly, and are supported properly.

Q: What services does Crown Jade Design & Engineering provide?

A: When you choose to work with Crown Jade Design & Engineering we can provide you with a number of services including:

• Fine Tuning Your Existing Plans
• Producing Floor Plans & 3D elevations
• Analyzing Frame & Structural Design
• Developing Structural Plans

Q: Do I need an architect?

A: If you have an idea of what basic form you want your home to be, know how many rooms and their uses, our designers can work with you to produce all the architectural and structural plans you need to get a building permit, at a fraction of the cost of an architect.

Q: How much will it cost to have structural plans made?

A: Our fees start at $3.00 per square foot based on finished square footage above basement. We will include finished basement layout, attached and simple detached garages, porches, and decks at no extra cost. An architect can charge up to 8 to 12 percent of construction cost, or at current building prices, up to $12 to $20 per square foot. In other words, architects frequently charge on a percentage of cost basis while we charge based upon square footage of living space. This will ultimately result in your paying less than you would if you chose to take an alternative route with your plans.

Q: How long are the plans good for? Or, how soon do I need to build?

A: The plans are good for years as long as the geology doesn’t change. However, local codes are being updated every year all around the country, so they may need to be updated and have some revisions applied to meet new local codes.


Questions About Alternative Housing Methods:

Q: What is green building?

A: Sustainable building, or green building is an outcome of a design which focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use – energy, water, and materials – while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building’s life-cycle.

What Does Green Mean? Thoughts From An Engineer.pdf
Article by Mark Benjamin P.E., M.ASCE

Q: What kind of materials can I use?

A: It is best to use local materials for your alternative home. While things like bamboo and exotic sustainable woods have become increasing trendy, they need to be shipped a long distance. Local materials have a low shipping impact (use less fuel), help the local economy, are suited for the area, and more accurately fit the definition of sustainable materials.
The most popular alternative products we use and you should consider for your home are:
• Log
• Timber
• Straw Bale (Straw Bale Building Basics)
• Insulated Concrete Form (ICF)
• Structural Insulated Panel (SIP)
• Rammed Earth
• Toxicant Free

Q: How do I use local materials?

A: An enlightened engineer, such as those on Crown Jade’s staff, can work with you when you pick your materials. For instance, if you choose local timber, he can inspect timbers and specify their use in specific locations.

Q: Can I use straw bale (cob, stacked tires, rammed earth, adobe, earth plasters, etc……)?

A: You may build with whatever you want. We have experience designing, and in many cases, building with all forms of alternative construction. We have several lifetimes of combined actual construction experience prior to forming this company, so we fully understand construction from the practical side. This is especially important for owner-builders, as we have been an owner-builder several times.