The following provides a brief overview of the architectural design and construction process, in phases, for new custom homes. The process is similar for major remodelings and interiors projects:
While not technically part of the house design process, selecting a site must occur before anything else can occur. There are many factors critical to consider when selecting a site for your new home (see our architect's custom home site selection checklist). A thoughtful house is melded with the land, oriented toward the views, captures the prevailing breezes and sunlight, and fits into the context of the neighborhood with an appropriate scale and character. Unless the site is simple and relatively flat, a detailed site survey must be drawn before the house designing begins. The survey will include topography, vegetation, drainage, utilities, easements and other elements critical to a proper placement of the house on the site, capture the views and integrate the landscape and home.
The first step is for the architect to gather and analyze all of the information necessary to create your custom home. During this time we formulate a detailed 'program' which defines your needs and objectives: function, size and relationship between spaces, character and image, and a host of other considerations that affect how you will live in your new home. We analyze your site and determine the best placement of the house on the site and the spaces within to capture views and sunlight. We also research and study the local building codes and zoning ordinances. Finally, we work with you to establish the construction scope, budget, and schedule.
Conceptual brainstorming and exploration define this phase of the house design process. It begins with the creation of concept diagrams and rough sketches. During this time we create the general layout, form and overall appearance of both the house and the site. Sketches, drawings and study models are prepared to help evaluate the house architecture ideas and concepts and set the final direction for refining the House. Once we know the general location of the house on the site, we test the soils and evaluate its bearing capacity, locate the underground water table, bedrock and obstructions to construction. This allows us to plan an appropriate foundation and structural system.
After the general size, layout and character of the home are established, we begin to refine the house. Floor plans and elevations are prepared with greater accuracy than those prepared during the schematic phase. Work commences on the architectural building systems, including the structural frame and mechanical system. Ideas are explored for feature elements of the house such as stairs, cabinetry, fireplaces and built-in furniture. Drawings are prepared that describe some of the important technical details. Floor plans, elevations and sections through the house are developed. By the end of this phase, seventy to eighty percent of the creative work will be complete.
Construction Documentation is the phase where the custom home design is translated into the technical language of the contractor. Working Drawings (sometimes referred to as building plans, floor plans or house blueprints) and specifications are prepared which define in detail all of the materials that are to be incorporated into the house, where they are to be located and how they are to be installed. Although this phase is primarily intended for working out the technical aspects of the project, some designing also takes place. In addition, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, and interior finish materials (tile, carpet, paint colors, etc.) are selected.
During the Bidding and Negotiation phase our architects assist you in obtaining competitive bids or negotiated proposals from a selected list of home builders. We distribute the house plans and building specifications, answer contractor questions, interpret the documents, and prepare addenda (revisions to the original home plans or specifications). Once the bids are received, we analyze the results and prepare the contract between you and the selected contractor. After selecting the contractor / subcontactors, the construction drawings and specifications are submitted to the local building department for review. Once the building permit is obtained, construction may begin.
The final phase of the process is the home's construction. In this phase we review the progress of the work and facilitate any architectural changes that may be required. Our architects answer questions, review submittals and shop drawings (manufacturers’ and subcontractors' drawings of specific elements to be incorporated within the house), and review certificates of payment (pay requests) that are submitted by the contractor. Final selections of finishes and fixtures are made at this time. Upon completion of this phase we thoroughly inspect your home to ensure that it is complete and ready for your use.