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Best bet is to talk to an architect first. Get them to draw up your ideas which you can then take to a structural engineer/experienced General Contractor for review. Having the architectural plans are essential in securing permits anyway with DCRA so it makes sense to get professional ones done early. The architect may charge around $1,400 for a 2,000 square ft house design. The General Contractor usually won’t charge for the initial consultation (looking at your plans and tellign you what can work). I had a very good architect draft my last project, her name is Theresa Pangelinian and I think her web site is at: www.icaddesign.com. If you’re planing a major job, 203k is the way to finance it in my experience. Cheers.