For many of our clients, this may be the first time they have gone through the design and construction process. We understand that education is part of our role and are patient to explain the process and key decisions to be made along the way. Below are the typical steps required of most of our projects:
Free Initial consultation:
We meet with you at no charge and listen to your goals and ideas about your project, consult on the feasibility and perhaps give you some fresh new ideas you may not have considered. We also discuss the steps involved, ascertain what level of service you require, and what other consultants may be needed. Most projects will need a structural engineer and Title 24 Energy consultant; others may require civil engineers for grading and drainage, land surveyors to establish the property lines and contours or slope of the site, landscape architects, interior designers or other specialty consultants. Architects are traditionally the ‘conductors’ of this orchestra of consultants and we have great relationships with multiple consultants in each of these areas. As part of our work we will request proposals on your behalf and coordinate their work.
Formal proposal for services:
Based on our initial meeting, we provide a detailed written proposal, outlining all the steps necessary for your project along with an estimated cost breakdown per phase of work.
Programming – creating a detailed list of your goals and desires, room by room and between rooms, as well as the relationships of the interior spaces with the outdoors, including other more general considerations: energy use, maintenance issues, schedules and budgets.
Field Verification and production of as-built drawings – if the project involves remodeling an existing building, we measure and draw the existing building conditions. If the project involves new construction, we gather surveys, soils reports and other data about the site, so that we have a clear understanding of the project environment.
Review of city requirements – every municipality has their own rules, and an understanding of the restrictions, opportunities and process is key to helping guide you to informed decisions.
Schematic Design/Master Planning:
In this phase we quickly ideate multiple design layouts that meet the criteria defined in the previous step. You may be surprised at some creative solutions that you never would have imagined. We generally start with floor plan options and then look at exterior elevation options based on your chosen style direction. In some cases, we plan not just current work, but master plan a longer term scope of work — so that there is an coherent vision of how a property can be developed over time. We have the capability to work in 3D through SketchUp or Chief Architect if you so desire, but we can also do quick hand sketches to convey a space or detail in three dimensions.
Once you have approved the concept drawings produced in the step above, we put the design into our CAD program and refine the details, dimensions and materials. We often recommend that a contractor is brought in at this stage, if not earlier, so as to give you a more detailed cost estimate and reality check to make sure your budget goals are being met.
Planning Review Process/Entitlement:
This step in particular varies quite a bit depending on the city or county in which your property is located and the nature of the project. Purely interior projects generally don’t need planning review. For new construction or projects with exterior additions, some cities have a very simple straightforward process which involves a simple check on whether zoning criteria have been met. Other cities may require public hearings, consultations with historical planners, and months of review by the planning department and other agencies. As part of our proposal in step 2, we outline the process that will be required for your particular project. In many cities, this is the phase where the site design is reviewed, requiring civil engineering and/or landscape consultants.
The largest amount of our work is spent in this phase, preparing the detailed drawings required for permit and for construction. This is where we add your finish and electrical choices for example, lay out your lighting, define your windows and doors. This phase is also when structural engineering and Title 24 energy consultants are required. When completed, the plans are submitted to the Building Department, which checks them for compliance with the Building Code. There are usually some comments that need to be addressed; then the building permit is issued. This is the end point of our Basic Services.
Bidding and Negotiation:
Some clients know ahead of time what contractor they would like to work with, others do not and would like to get competitive bids for their project. We can prepare bid documents, review bids, and help guide you to choosing the right firm to construct the project. This is an optional phase of work.
During construction, we are available as needed to answer questions, make changes, prepare additional details as requested by you or your contractor, certify payment request, etc. We can also perform site visits to monitor the construction for conformance with our design documents, especially at critical stages in the work, such as before the first concrete pour for foundations, completion of framing, completion of electrical, mechanical and plumbing before the walls are closed off with the installation of drywall. Again, this is an optional phase of our work, as our time can vary a lot depending on your interest and availability to be involved.