Design and construction projects involve several steps. Typically, projects go through six basic phases. However, on some projects several of these phases may be combined or streamlined based on the limited scope of a project. Full service would include to a degree all the phases listed below.
Pre-design - Deciding What to Build
The owner and architect discuss the requirements for the project (how many rooms, the function of the spaces, etc), testing the fit between owners needs, wants and budget. For new homes and significant Seattle remodeling I send clients home with a questionnaire that poses specific questions that often times clients have not considered. This phase also will involve gathering information about your current home and/or site. A site survey, a geotechnical report are sometimes required.
Schematic Design - Rough Sketches
The architect prepares a series of rough sketches, known as schematic design, which show the general arrangement of rooms and the site analysis. Some architects also prepare computer models or physical models to help visualize the project. The owner approves these sketches before proceeding to the next phase.
Design Development - Refining the design
During this phase an architect prepares more detailed drawings to illustrate the other aspects of the proposed design. Floor plans show all the major rooms in correct size and shape. Outline specifications are prepared listing the major materials and room finishes
Once the owner has approved the design, the architect prepares detailed drawings and specifications, which the contractor will use to establish the actual construction cost and build the building. These drawings and specifications will become part of the building contract.
Often, clients will only ask for permit drawings not understanding that several things are not included in a set of permit drawings. Permit drawings contain only what the local jurisdiction (i.e. building department) requires which doesn't include everything that a set of construction drawings would contain. Items included in a full set of construction drawings would include such things as finish schedules, hardware schedules, cabinet and millwork details, interior elevations, detailed lighting specifications and details, etc. that a Seattle home builder would need to prepare a more precise bid. Without a full set of construction documents you may find yourself paying for expensive change orders during construction.
Hiring a Contractor
The owner selects and hires a contractor. The architect often can make builder recommendations and can help conduct interviews of various contractors to help you determine the best fit. In many cases, the homeowners choose from among several contractors they've asked to submit bids on the job. An architect can help you prepare bidding documents as well as invitations to bid and instructions to bidders.
While the contractor will physically build the home or addition, the Seattle residential architect can assist the homeowner in making sure that the project is built to the plans and specifications and act as “advocate” for the owner when conflicts arise. The architect can make site visits to observe construction, review and approve the contractor's application for payment and generally keep the homeowner informed of project's progress. The contractor is solely responsible for construction methods, techniques, schedules and procedures, but we’ve found that the most successful projects are ones where the architect is involved from beginning to end.