All of our clients know what architecture is, but few understand the totality of the process.
“All we need is a schematic design and then you just finalize the drawings, right?” The simple answer is yes, that is all we need, but the reality is there are many thousands of decisions to be made from beginning to end. Below outlines the “Big Five” phases of service. Each step has many nuances, clients to educate on systems, philosophies of materials to be shared, options to be selected, and explorations in the design to be made. It’s a step-by-step process, and each project and client take a unique path to the end.
Many of the best projects come from the exploration along the way.
We don’t just have ideas and draw them; we discover the right answers as we go.
Full Architectural Service The “Big Five”
Programing and Site Selection
Programming is working with the clients to prepare the list of project requirements; functional, spatial, and aesthetic. Discussions can range from the style of the house, number of bedrooms, unique furniture, ceiling heights, to the most important thing, what’s “the story” for the house. Site selection is always a difficult task. To envision raw land and how it will receive a house is a large leap of imagination. We will visit various sites with our clients to evaluate the potential of various properties. The first order of business when evaluating a piece of land is to understand what it wants: what is the best approach, where is the sun path, where are the views, how does the house present itself to the street and potentially the other competing interest. The puzzle starts here.
These are the first preliminary sketches done of the project. They are done after the program is taken and the site is selected. The drawings are kept deliberately simple so as not to inhibit changes. Plans are meant to begin to define areas and functions and to establish the size of the project. Exterior elevations are also included at this step but are more a study of style, massing, and proportion. The other main objective of the Schematic Design is to provide a basis for cost. The local inflation cost for buildings is challenging to track, which is why we recommend brining in our contractor at this stage to get a realistic potential cost for the project.
Here, in this stage, we have the first solid statement of what the Owner wants the project to be and what it might cost. At this point, the schematic design becomes a process – the plans and budget outlines are modified as many times as necessary to balance what the Owner wants against what the Owner wishes to spend. Those two targets rarely overlap, but the intent is to find union of those targets.
After we feel that we have a project sized and budgeted properly, we begin Design Development. The plans and elevations become more refined and we begin to discuss and select structural systems, windows and doors, finishes, fixtures and fittings. Schedules are made, details drawn, specifications are written depending on which way the project is to be contracted. This is where the bulk of the architectural work is done. It is not uncommon to spend months on this phase of the project.
Contract Bidding and Negotiation
Depending on how the project is to be contracted, we assist the Owner in developing a list of qualified bidders or select a Contractor with whom to work directly. We work with this new member of our team, to deliver a more accurate or absolute cost. If the construction estimate based on our plans turns out to be more than we had anticipated, we work with the Owner and Contractor to modify the plans to suite the desires.
After a construction contract is signed, we work with the Owner and Contractor in an attempt to ensure that the project is built per the plans and specifications. We receive payment applications from the Contractor and approve payments. We make at least monthly site visits to observe construction, review shop drawings and other submittals, and are “on call” to answer any questions or inspect site abnormalities. Typically, during construction, we also assist we additional selections that were not made during the drawing process. Those might included; flooring and trim stains, cabinet styling and counters, wall colors, tile, and specialty electrical and plumbing fixtures. Finally, we administer closeout and the first year’s warranty period.
At their option, Owners may select any of the above phases through which to take architectural service. Further we offer consulting of any of these components on an hourly wage. My desire is to tailor fit the service to the Owner’s needs. The intention of this flexibility is to provide the proper level of service required to accomplish the project while meeting the budget.