One of the most common questions / comments I get from those that find out that I am an architect is “so how does the process work.” The design process is not complicated to me, but I have been focused on learning the process since I took a drafting class in 7th grade. So for those that have not always thought and dreamed about architecture, here is a brief list of the steps in design:
- You have an idea and engage an architect. Your idea can be a picture, a problem, or even an existing building that you like.
- You have a conversation about your goals, identify issues that you want addressed, and discuss the construction budget.
- Schematic Design – the architect takes your ideas and begins work. There is a review of the program (wants), preliminary design concepts are generated, and more conversations with you.
- Schematic Design is usually the longest part of the project, as the architect is trying to take your ideas and translate them into an aesthetically pleasing, functional, and affordable solution.
- Design development – this phase continues the conversations, but now the architect is working out structural and mechanical systems. There is also another review of the budget vs “wants”.
- Construction Documents – This is the phase that most people know about architect, this is where drawings that can be used for construction are generated. There should be minimal changes at this point, specifications are produced, and the design is finalized.
- Bidding & Negotiations – this is the pricing phase of a traditional project. The architect may advise you to have the contractor involved from day one for pricing feedback, but there is still a point where the drawings are handed over and the contractor establishes the “real” cost of the project.
- Construction – once the price and design are working in harmony and all the documents are signed and sealed by the architect, permits can be pulled and the contractor can get to work. This is the most exciting phase for most clients because they can finally see their dream rising out of the ground. The architect acts as the owners representative during this phase to help you understand the construction process.