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Frequently Asked Questions

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1. What is included in the drawing package for permits?

The drawings package typically includes floor plan(s), a foundation plan or pier & joist layout, a roof plan, 3 - 4 exterior views, at least one section drawing (project dependent) and detailed construction drawings and notes. This also includes the Schedule 1, designer sheet which is needed for building permits.

2. What does BCIN mean?


BCIN stands for Building Code Identification Number.


Anyone who is offering design advice or who provides drawings to the public, besides an Architect or an Engineer must have a BCIN to legally be a Qualified Designer in the province of Ontario.


In order to get a BCIN an individual must pass at least two exams. One must be a legal exam on the Ontario Building Code Act. The second is a technical exam in the individuals area of practice based on the Ontario Building Code.


In order to use this BCIN, the company or design firm must also register with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It also means that the design firm carries at least the minimum applicable insurance required by law, as set out in the Ontario Building Code Act.


If you are planning a construction project you will need to get a building permit. In most cases in order to get a building permit you will need construction drawings to explain your plans and show what construction you are planning, and how the construction will take place. Unless you as a home owner are skilled in this area and have complete confidence that you know the building process and applicable laws it is wise to have someone with these qualifications prepare these drawings for you.


Having a BCIN means the individual understands the Ontario Building Code and can apply it to new building projects, whether it is a new building or renovation.


North Country Design and Build is a registered design firm with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Jen Schwindt is a qualified designer and has her BCIN.

3. What is your process?

Our process generally works as follows:

1. Getting started: We will have a conversation about your project. We get to know you and understand your goals, style and priorities. You can give us your wish list and project requirements. You can share any inspiration photos or sketches you may have. You can share photos of your existing property. We will talk about the design and the building materials you wish to use in your design. 

2. Site visit: Depending on the project a site visit may be required. If so, we'll arrange a time to meet on site. This is often where we would take measurements of the existing structure and confirm the construction methods of the existing structure. Not all projects require a site visit. 

3. Preliminary Plans: Once we have gathered the information above, we will put together design concept drawings. These would typically include floor plans and elevations or 3D views. 

4. Revisions: We may go back and forth with design changes. It's only once you're happy with the overall design concept that we'll move on to the next step. We can go through as many revisions as you would like. We want you to absolutely LOVE your design. This stage varies from client to client. Some have very minimal design changes and others would like to explore all their options on paper before moving forward. 

5. Construction Details: We will add in all the construction details and structural information required for building and permits. 

6. Final Review: You will have the opportunity to review the construction plans. If you're happy with the plans, we will finalize the drawings. 

7. Permits: You will have the architectural design plans needed to submit for building permits and give to your contractor for the next phase of the building process. 


4. What is Jen's design background?

Jen took Interior Design at Georgian College and graduated with honours in 2006. While still in school she assisted an experienced architectural designer gaining invaluable insight into best practices and the industry. After graduating she gained further experience while working for a high-end log home company in the Muskoka's. After spending some time there she transitioned to a smaller company, where she was able to help clients navigate the design and building process. In 2014 she wrote her Building Code tests to become BCIN certified. This led her to start North Country Design and Build, where you'll still find her today, helping people with the process of taking their dreams and ideas and making them a reality. 

5. Can we work from a distance?

Yes! This is often the case with many of our clients. If you don't yet live in the area or this is your seasonal cottage, we can still work together. It's easier than ever using the online tools available.


6. What is your design method or philosophy?

We design functional spaces that are practical for living. Then we make sure it also looks great! In other words the old design saying is very true: Form Follows Function. Of course we want it to look great, but that's not our only goal. It also has to meet the daily needs of those living there, be sustainable, and stand the test of time. 

7. Can you provide 3D drawings?

​Yes, we provide 3D renderings! We provide 3 to 4 exterior 3D rendering as part of your new home or cottage drawings package. If you'd like to see more of your project in 3D we'd be happy to create these drawings for you. We have different pricing options available depending on what you're looking for. 

8. What are the benefits of 3D drawings?

  • ​3D drawings are a great way to visualize what your finished project will look like. These drawings help to ensure you and your builder are on the same page. 

  • We can show you what your project will look like with a certain color of siding, flooring and most other finishes.

  • We are able to change the time of day and year you are viewing your project. This allows you to see approximately how lighting can change in the summer compared to the winter.

  • You can show your friends and family what the finished project will look like without having to explain the meaning of everything on the technical construction drawings.

9. How long will it take?

This is very much project dependent and we would be happy to give you an idea based on your project and our current schedule. Typically, most clients end up spending a few months planning an average sized home. This gives the client time to make decisions and think about the ideas without rushing.​ This is not always the case and projects can be completed much faster.

10. Will you take care of building and overseeing the entire project for us?

No, but we can point you in the right direction by recommending excellent general contractors and builders in the area that would be a good fit for your project.

11. If we hire you for the architectural drawings, can you also help with interior design?

Yes. Since Jen has an interior design background it's easy to incorporate this aspect into the overall design. Once the architectural drawings are complete we're happy to help with additional drawings and planning. This could include electrical & lighting layouts, furniture plans, finishes plans, fireplace design details, custom cabinetry plans, and more. 

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