The Design Process
Design and construction projects involve many steps, and can vary in complexity with the type and scale of the project. Most projects at some point will touch the following phases.
Deciding What to Build
A discussion that details the goals and basic requirements for the project. This usually focusses on how many rooms and their functions and comparing these with the needs, wants, time line, and budget for the project.
Rough sketches are developed, known as schematic design, show the general arrangement of spaces and of the building and its relationship to the site. This may also involve a “massing model” (either real or digital) to visualize the building, the site and their relationship to sun, views and other buildings. Client approval of sketches is required before proceeding to the Design Development Phase.
More specific, larger scale drawings are prepared to help illustrate more detailed aspects of the schematic design. Floor plans will depict all spaces in accurate size and shape, elevations are drawn showing proposed forms, shape and proportions of the building as well as a materials outline specifying proposed finishes for interior and exterior.
Once approval the final design has been reached, preparation of detailed drawings and specifications begins. These drawings, usually referred to as “Blue Prints,” will be used by the general contractor and many of the subcontractors, to establish actual construction costs and to physically build and finish the structure.
Hiring a Contractor
At this point the client and/or homeowner selects and hires a general contractor. In some instances, the homeowner may act as the general contractor. Usually, one may choose from among several contractors that were asked to submit bids on the project. There are so many decisions to make during the construction phase that it may be helpful to have “bidding documents” which are invitations to bid and instructions to bidders, so contractors and homeowners have a mutual reference point to ensure accurate bids.
While the contractor will physically build the home or addition, assistance may be desired in making sure that the project goals are being met and is built according to the plans and specifications. Site visits may be helpful to review construction and approve the contractor’s applications for draw disbursement, and to generally keep the homeowner involved and informed of progress.