If we are working with an existing building we will need to survey the building so that we have accurate drawings and can then properly design the alterations or additions. If required, we use 3d surveying to get the most accurate and highly detailed information.
No matter what the project, the design is always based on the requirements of the client. To better understand the client’s vision, we ask them to provide pictures of buildings they like or dislike. At this point, design drawings are simple: walls, doors, windows, room names and dimensions. To eliminate any questions or concerns, we also create 3D digital models that allow the client to really “feel” and understand what the building will look like. This is where we implement VR and AR so the client can fully immerse in the design.
To manage the client’s budget, schematic design is further developed to include framing and foundation systems, finish materials, the types of windows and doors, and the mechanical and electrical systems. We select the systems that are most economical for the project and present the client with an updated construction cost budget. At this point, the client typically will have to make some sacrifices. We help the client make these decisions – it is important that everything comes together, not only financially but also functionally and aesthetically.
We coordinate the documents with all the various consultants involved in a project: civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and fire alarm design. Most residential projects do not involve consultants unless if there is a specific situation that requires them. We give direction to the consultants as the documents are developed and completed. The end result: a final set of construction documents that can be issued for bidding and permitting.
Bidding & Negotiation
Here, we are the middleman between our client and the contractors. We receive the bids, review them for completion and then create a comparative spreadsheet to evaluate the bids with our client. From there, we select one or two contractors to meet with. This gives the client the opportunity to ask the contractors questions and get a feel for who will be the right fit for the job. Based on the discussions and negotiations at the meetings, contractors will resubmit their bids with any necessary adjustments. After reviewing the revised bids, we will recommend the best contractor for the project based on the price and what the contractor has included in the price. In the end, the client decides who to hire.
This phase is hands-down the most important phase of the project and unfortunately, industry wide, it is the one with the least involvement from the architect. Most clients feel that they can manage the construction process because now that the contractor is on board, the project should just be in cruise control. This could not be farther from the truth! The architect possesses the insight, expertise, and balanced decision-making ability to keep things running smoothly. We cannot overstate the importance of the architect’s involvement in this process. Not only is the architect safeguarding the design but also the owner’s checkbook.