The most important job any Architect has is listening: listening to what the client wants, listening to what the building or site is telling them about what the best solution is, and listening to the builder’s recommendations for constructing the design on time and on budget.
The process I’ve developed starts with a meeting with the clients on-site. We discuss what they like, what they’d like to change, and initial ideas of how to make those changes happen. I also measure the existing building and document it thoroughly with photographs and sketches that I’ll refer do throughout the design process.
Step 1: Concept Design
After that first meeting I start preparing the Concept Design, which is a big-picture first draft of what the changes and additions to the house might look like. Along with developing the design I research the Zoning and Building Codes that apply to the site to discover what is allowed to be built on the site and what documentation will be required for the permits.
Once we have a Concept Design that the client is excited about moving forward with I recommend getting some initial bids from some General Contractors to make sure the design and budget are aligned. After that, it’s time to move on to the next phase.
Step 2: Design Development
After Concept Design comes Design Development,or DD. In DD we take the Concept Design and start to flesh out all the details like the exact layouts of kitchens and bathrooms, sizes and positions of windows and doors, exterior and interior materials, and any special built-ins and features that the client wants to include in the design.
DD is a fun part of the project where we really start to be able to imagine what the finished product is going to be and what it will be like to live in it. This is also the time in the project to bring in other members of the team like a Structural Engineer, Energy Consultant, Kitchen Designer, or other specialty consultants. Once the Design Development drawings are complete they are shared with the rest of the team so they can start their work, and so the Contractor can update their pricing.
Step 3: Construction Documents
Next comes Construction Documents,or CDs. In CDs I work with the rest of the team to add all of the details to the drawings that will be required for permit review, and for the Contractor to actually build the project. This is also the time to start selecting items that need to be ordered early, like special finishes, fixtures, doors, or windows, so that they’re ready when it’s time to start building.
Once the Construction Documents and the rest of the documents are ready we submit for the permits. Depending on where the project is located and how busy their plan review department is this can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, but my experience working on projects throughout the Denver Metro Area will help it go as smoothly as possible. Once the permits are issued it’s time to start building.
Step 4: Construction
During Construction the Contractor takes the lead, and I remain available to answer questions about details or unexpected conditions that come up during demolition or construction. Finally at the end comes the big payoff, when the client gets to move in to their transformed home.