Here is my typical process for residential remodel projects. The process is essentially the same for new construction, except that as-built documentation is omitted. Depending on the size of your project, this process can take approximately 3 - 9 months from our initial meeting to when the building permit is issued, and another 3 - 12 months from when construction begins to when your project is completed.
1. Initial Meeting
We start with an on-site discussion of your project goals and a tour of the property. This gives me an opportunity to view the existing conditions and potential challenges that we’ll be addressing in the subsequent steps. This meeting is complimentary and I’ll send you a proposal for design services afterwards.
2. Feasibility Study & Survey
When we are in agreement on services and before we proceed with the design process, I need to thoroughly investigate the sections of the zoning and building codes that may affect your project goals. Depending on your desired scope of work, it may be necessary to get a property survey now if you don’t have one already. The survey will provide important information pertaining to boundary line locations, lot size and coverage, easements and rights-of-way, and critical environmental features. I’ll provide you with a written report of anticipated restrictions based on the code research and property survey.
3. As-built Documentation
After we’ve confirmed that your project goals are compatible with the applicable codes, it’s time to schedule an “as-built” appointment. This is an on-site appointment for measuring and photographing the existing structures and conditions of your property, both inside and out. The product of this step is a drawing set of as-built floor plans, elevations, and critical sections that will be used as the basis for design work. Note: this step is unnecessary for new construction projects.
4. Schematic Design
Finally, it’s time to start designing! This step typically involves two to three design meetings in which we’ll look at several plan layouts and massing studies and narrow those down to your favorite. The product of this step is a set of simplified drawings and specifications that we’ll use to get preliminary pricing feedback from a general contractor.
5. Preliminary Pricing
At this point, you’ve interviewed a few general contractors and identified one that you’d like to work with for the remainder of your project. We’ll ask this contractor to provide a rough cost estimate of your scope of work based on the set of simplified drawings and specifications. The intent of this step is to verify that we’re still matching with your budget before we launch into significant development of your design.
6. Design Development
You’ve decided that the anticipated cost of construction is acceptable and you’re ready to proceed with obtaining a building permit. This step involves elevating the simplified drawings to a level of detail required by the permit application guidelines of your local building department. We’ll also be working closely with a structural engineer to produce the necessary structural drawings for the application. Depending on the complexity of your project, it may be appropriate to request an updated pricing estimate from your contractor that reflects the new structural information. This step concludes with the successful intake of the permit application for review by the building department.
7. Construction Documents
While the building department reviews your permit application, we’ll work on the construction documents. Now we’re expanding the previous drawing set with additional drawings such as interior elevations, electrical plans, and construction details that were not required for the permit application but are useful to the contractor for construction. We’ll select finishes and fixtures and define as many of the remaining placeholders as possible prior to construction. Depending on the review times of your building department, our goal is to complete the construction documents at approximately the same time as the permit issuance.
8. Final Pricing
After the permit is issued and revisions required by the building department have been incorporated into the drawings and specifications, we’ll provide the construction documents to the general contractor for final pricing. If necessary, we’ll make adjustments to details or finishes to align the costs closer to your budget, and then we’ll issue the documents for construction!
9. Construction Observation
This is the final step of the process and still a very important one. My role throughout this step is to make sure your project is being built according to the construction documents and to facilitate design modifications along the way. We’ll identify significant milestones during construction and schedule on-site meetings for those dates to review progress, answer questions, and plan for the next milestone. It may become necessary to produce supplementary drawings to provide design clarification or respond to requests for design changes or unforeseeable conditions that are revealed during construction.