Whether you remodel, redesign or build a custom home the design process is the same. It is broken into different design phases. Designing a building takes time and a lot of careful planning. The different phases are as follows:
THE DESIGN PROCESS:
- Conceptual design
- Schematic Design
- Design Development
- Construction Documents
- Construction Administration
Depending on the size and complexity of the project, (smaller projects like an addition) will tend to have these phases rolled together into one design phase. So be aware of these phases but understand they may get merged.
The Design Phases
This phase is where the architect listens to the client, develops a program if the project is big enough to warrant it and prepares one or more initial designs, (probably in a sketch format). It’s where the needs of the client are turned into a drawing and ideas and concepts are tested to get the clients approval of a design to proceed with.
Schematic Design (SD)
Depending on how the concept designs were received by the client, these sketches may be further developed in the schematic design phase. Typically the best ideas are combined into one design during schematics and developed further. During this phase the drawings are developed to show what most people understand as plans and elevations. If the client is willing to pay extra, physical models or renderings, (3-Dimentional colored drawings) are prepared to help the client visually understand the design. Depending on the address of the project, some city or other jurisdictions may require a design review board to approve the design.
Design Development (DD)
Once the schematic designs (SD) are approved by the client, or any other entity having jurisdiction, the next phase would be design development. On larger projects this is where the architect takes the time to fully develop and analyze the design to discover where and if there are any problematic areas that need further study and/or adjustment. It’s where the design gets fine tuned and where different materials are reviewed. It is also where the code is researched to flush out specific requirements pertaining to this project.
If you have a change of heart with regards to the design and you want to modify it, now would be the time. Once design development ends and you move into the next phase, changes become difficult, time consuming and costly to incorporate. Your Architect will certainly ask for additional compensation to make any changes once he is in the CD phase.
Construction Documents (CD)
Approved design development drawings (DD) allows for the beginning of the construction documents phase. This phase is the most time consuming and difficult for the professionals. Here is where the details (nuts and bolts) of how everything goes together in the building are drawn. Window and door penetrations, roof details, wall sections, schedules, etc. These are the drawings that will be used by the contractor to build, remodel or add to your home. They are required to be submitted to the Building Department for review and approval of the building codes and they must be prepared in a format dictated by the building officials. These drawings must be signed and sealed by each professional discipline before the Building Department will even accept them for review and processing.
Once the (CDs) are completed or nearly completed and before they are submitted for permitting review, the architect prepares “Bid Set” documents in order to distribute them to contractors who will bid for the construction of the project. The purpose of the bid is to obtain multiple pricing on the construction of the project and most clients will base the winning bid on the lowest bid. Some clients may already have a contractor they wish to work with and skip the Bid process. Others prefer to bid the project without the help of the Architect.
Construction Administration (CA)
After the construction documents have been permitted the Construction Administration phase of the project kicks in. This is a process where the architect helps the client administer the construction contract, if it is in his scope of work, in his contract with the client. Many residential clients tend to not include the architects services during this phase of the project in order to save money. However, be advised that the architect works for you and represents your best interests before the contractor. Unlike the contractor who is technically a vendor, the architect acts as your agent to assure the quality of the work and the specified materials are installed and not substituted for lesser quality products. (see FAQ: Design Fees for further discussion on this subject)
What has been described is a typical process for a residential project. We trust this tour guide has helped you better understand the process to alleviate your fears.