Complete Architectural Services

The following description includes the six phases that make up complete architectural services; however phases often overlap, are combined, or are not part of the project. I include this information here to explain the typical design process; however, it’s a lot to digest. I’m glad to review it and discuss any questions you have at our initial meeting.

  1. Programming – Defining the Project
    The process begins with the “programming” meeting where we will review in detail your needs and goals for your project.  This includes reviewing not only the project’s list of spaces and their practical requirements, but also the qualities you desire in those spaces.  This can be accomplished through discussion and also with photos of projects and spaces that you admire. Prior to this meeting I will send you a questionnaire which previews our discussion at that meeting.

    The next step is the documentation of the existing conditions. For remodeling projects this includes
    the on-site work of sketching, measuring, and photographing the existing conditions, and then using that information to draft a floor plan(s) of the portion of the house that will be affected by the remodeling. This floor plan will be required for the initial design work and will be used later as the basis for the construction documents. For new houses this documentation step includes gathering information about the site, which can include having the site surveyed if no current survey exists, and also visiting the site, with survey in hand, to analyze site issues and characteristics and to also take photos of the site.

  2. Schematic Design – Basic Layouts
    Once we have had our programming meeting and I have the existing plans or a site survey I will begin the design work. My goal is to design a range of appropriate schemes (often 3) that meet your needs and provide you with the character you are looking for. These schemes generally range from less to more involved construction and budget-wise. I will present these ideas to you in the form of floor plans. You will have as much time as you’d like to consider the designs after our meeting.

    After meeting to discuss your likes and dislikes of the initial schemes, I typically develop a single “hybrid” scheme based upon your preferences from those designs.  In addition to work on the floor plan, this often includes development of the exterior and/or interior with 3D computer modeling and additional thought put into the finishes, materials, and construction techniques. Once you are happy with this hybrid scheme, a “schematic design set” consisting of these drawings is often presented to a contractor so that they may prepare a preliminary cost estimate.  The goal is to make sure that the design fits the budget before proceeding.

  3. Design Development – Refining the Basic Idea
    Once we determine that the estimated construction cost is within the budget the project moves into the design development phase where the ideas from schematic design are developed further and refined. This typically includes developing more detail of the exterior and interior of the project. This is also the phase where many of the building materials, fixtures, and appliances will be selected. 

  4. Construction Documents – Creating the Drawings Needed to Build the Project
    Once you are happy with the refinements of design development, then the construction drawings and specifications can be prepared. These include specific drawings required to bid and build the project, but also can include additional drawings which show more than the minimum amount of detail. How far to take these drawings is up to you and will be a part of our discussion before starting this phase.

  5. Bidding – Selecting and Hiring a Contractor
    If a General Contractor will be building your project there are a few different ways to bid the project, including competitive and negotiated bidding. Each has its advantages and which to choose is another area for more detailed discussion. Either way, the contractor(s) will need sets of drawings and I will explain the project to them and answer questions that arise during bidding. Some people already have a contractor selected, but for those that don’t, I can make suggestions or help them in vetting potential contractors.

  6. Construction Observation
    The general contractor is responsible for the construction of the project, including construction procedures, techniques, and schedule. However, I can be responsible for observing the construction and making sure that what is being built conforms to the drawings and specifications. I may also review the contractor’s pay requests before payments are made to the contractor. I can also provide the valuable role of your advisor as issues arise during construction.