Architectural renderings to help decide on remodeling?


My husband and I want to make some updates to our home but we need someone to come in and give us some ideas on what is possible. I’m very clear on our overall  aesthetic but I can’t visualize a new layout. We have a strange living/dining area (overcrowded and the space isn’t maximized), two front doors, a wrap around deck we don’t use due to awkward access, plus we need to carve out an extra room in our home either through a connecting ADU or by adding a wall to our family room. What I think we need are architectural renderings, computer generated would be fine, that show us our options. If I see it visually I would be able to make a decision but I’m not clear enough to go all in with architectural drawings when we aren’t even sure what we want/what would work. It seems like there should be a simple, not too expensive way to do this but we aren’t sure where to look for this service.  Do we need an architect?  Is there another professional that offers this? Does anyone have a recommendation for someone who could do these types of drawings or computer renderings? How have others managed their design confusion? I will be very decisive once I see our options but right now I’m just confused on how to proceed. Any suggestions/feedback is welcome. Thanks!

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I've never had much luck with architects. On our last remodel, after spending $75K for elaborate architectural drawings, we scrapped it all and let our home designer take over.  She did drawings for us at a fraction of the price and was much more creative in her ideas of how to handle some tricky spaces.  I highly recommend her-- Sherry-Hope Kennedy/ Studio SHK (  She worked hand-in-hand with my contractor, Ben Radutiu, Euro American Construction (he also builds custom furniture on the side). Between Ben and Sherry, we made lots of big and small changes, sometimes on the fly and other times with drawings.  They transformed our entire house, top to bottom, every single room.  They worked beautifully together and with us. We loved them and highly recommend them.

I can recommend Zac Rymland, who did the architectural drawings for our current remodeling project. He specializes in ADUs but does all sorts of projects locally. He can do 3D renderings, is an excellent communicator, and is pretty much ego-free, meaning he will make clear suggestions but also roll with your own ideas. (I think we did something like 18 versions of our current remodel before arriving at the final plan! He was professional and very patient with all our iterations.) He's a nice guy and more affordable than some of the other options we found. You can see some of his ADU work here:  And here's his website: 

Also, if you don't yet have a current floor plan and need someone to do the "as-built" measurements (this is the first step in any remodel), we used a company called PPM, which was more affordable than other options we found:

Take care and best of luck,


Hi there!  I would suggest finding a draftsperson.  It is a cheaper alternative to hiring an architect. Good luck!


Are you thinking of permitting the work with the city? Would you need foundation or structural work of any kind? If yes, you will need drawings and possibly the help of an architect or structural engineer (or both). If the work doesn't involve any structural work or foundation work you might be okay with the help of an interior designer that can also provide the renderings and help you visualize the space with finishes and furnishings. You can start by hiring a designer that can help with this initial part and if you decide to move forward with the work then get the other professionals involved that can provide plans for permitting and construction.  

Hope this is helpful! 

Hi. We just had this done with Gehl Design Build ( Michael charges $8500 for unlimited deigns and renderings. We preferred this to other architects who charge by the hour because the flat fee allows you to explore every idea and possibility and price point without limiting yourself because of the hourly cost. In total we ended up with 8 schemes. He has decades of experience in the Bay Area, particularly East Bay. He is very knowledgable about what adds value to the house and what’s a good use of resources, etc. We have been very satisfied. He can also apply for permits and gobe you a bid for the work if you want to take it forward with him. Otherwise you can take the plans to other contractors. 

Hi there,

Are you able to read floor plans? Or do you need to see the spaces as photo-like/"perspective" images? It would take more effort to create 3D renderings if you feel you need to see photorealistic visualizations. Amount of effort to model of course depends on the nature of the space, however there are some easy to use DIY modeling tools (I think some free ones) you can find online. Feel free to reach out directly if you'd like to discuss further.