All architecture projects are developed gradually in phases and involve several steps.
On some projects, these steps could be combined, or there could be additional ones.
Here, the typical ones are shown. Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss the process that are catered to your projects’ needs.
Our process always starts with an initial consultation first by a phone call, and visiting your space. At initial consultation, we can discuss your wish lists and bounce back ideas. The ideal schedule and budget of the project can be discussed at this time, so a service proposal can be created for your review.
Set up a Project
This is the stage to measure and create the plans of the existing built condition, so the architect can use the information to develop proposed designs. These are often called “As-Built” drawings, and it can be created by architect’s measurement, or client’s original blue prints if already available. If the project is larger and complex, “as-built” company can be hired to do the work efficiently. 3D model of the existing space can be created, too, as a visual reference and a useful tool to develop the project. I will advise what option is best for your project’s goal.
Programming & Space Planning - Deciding What to Build
Sometimes, the client does not know about the design goal. How many rooms, what functions of the spaces, how many work stations would fit, etc… In this case, a “test fit” can be done, as a starting point, and together we can develop and define the programming through this exercise. Also at this stage, we consult the local regulatory agencies to check the initial code requirements to understand any design restrictions that your project may have.
Schematic Design/Rough Sketches
At this stage, we prepare rough plans and other idea sketches based on your wish-list, known as "Schematic Design." These plans will show the general layout of the rooms and space configurations. 3D images are often used in this phase for an effective and efficient communication with the client. In schematic designs, we could be working on several alternatives, until we have the design direction before moving onto the next steps. It is very helpful if the clients could share their ideas at this stage; through narratives, sketches, images of the other projects. Any form of collaboration is welcomed for us to know what you are looking for.
Design Development/ Design Refinement
In this phase, called "Design Development", the architect prepares more refined drawings to illustrate various aspects of the proposed design, while coordinating with various consultants. The drawings in this stage typically include the generic materials and finishes (i.e. ceramic tile, hardwood floor, stone cladding, paint or stained finish, cementitious siding, etc..). General lighting schemes, window & door functionality, and cabinetry ideas and functions are also developed at this stage.
Almost all projects need permits from the City’s regulatory agencies.
Rather than providing the full set of detailed construction drawings that are used for construction, “permit drawings” are often created during Design Development phase. These drawings show the right amount of information of the final proposed design in order to satisfy agency’s base requirements in an efficient and strategical manner.
Preparation of Construction Documents
In this phase, we will create drawings that accurately define the scope of work. These drawings are fairly detailed, and will assist the contractor to use establish actual construction cost and to build the project. These drawings and specifications become part of the building contract. Well developed and defined work are important to avoid the surprise after the commencement of construction, as much as possible.
Hiring the Contractor
Architect can assist you to find a contractor best suited for the project.
In many cases, clients choose from among several contractors they have asked to submit bids on the job. Architect will also help you prepare bidding documents as well as invitations to bid and instructions to bidders, answering to their questions.
Often times, it is better to bring the contractor on board at an earlier stage, such as at the end of schematic design. With the contractor’s involvement, the team has a better grasp of the ball-park cost and develop the project with contractor’s input along the way, as feasibly as possible. Architect can help you to decide on a good approach, depending on your project.
While the contractor will determine the construction methods, schedules and procedures, the architects are actively involved during the construction phase to help the construction to go as intended and approved by the client.
During construction, questions from the site and request for clarification to architects and consultants (called “design team”) are inevitable in all projects. Service in this phase includes periodical site visits to observe and solve the problems on any design issues arising from unforeseen conditions, and answer to those questions. Reviewing final shop drawings before fabrication, to ensure that the architectural goals are met and coordinated, is also an architect’s important role, to control the quality of the end product.