The Six Standard Phases

Phase 1: Pre-Design + Planning

Simply put, predesign consists of activities done before starting the actual design. Predesign services can vary greatly depending on the complexity of a project and the experience of the Client. Sometimes a Client will have most of the predesign criteria established, however, more often than not, the Client will require the experience and researching capabilities of the architect to properly determine the project requirements.

Services at this stage may include: programming, budget analysis, schedule development, space schematics, existing facilities survey, code analysis, etc.

Phase 2: Schematic Design

Schematic design typically begins in rough form as sketches, floor plan studies, and/or quick models. Several client/designer  meetings are typical during this phase to make decisions and determine a design direction.

At the end of this phase it is common to have the following documents:

Site Plan  ›  A drawing depicting the buildings location on the site.

Floor Plans  › Drawings of each floor showing the size and locations of the various rooms/functions.

Key Elevations  › Drawings of appropriate building sides to convey conceptual design direction for the project.

Key Sections  › Building cut through drawings depicting the heights and relationships of the various floors and roof.

Area Analysis  › A summary of the sizes of the various rooms/functions in the building.

Renderings or Model  › Renderings or a physical model depicting the overall look of the building.

Preliminary Cost Estimate  ›  A rough estimate of the cost of construction based on the current building design.

The preceding list of drawings may still be rough in nature at the end of this phase. Their intent is primarily to determine a design direction with which to proceed into the next phase.

Phase 3: Design Development

The design development phase typically includes finalizing the size of the various rooms & spaces, refining the look of the project, selecting exterior and interior materials, determining the project’s systems, and deciding upon door and window types and locations. This phase may also include several client/designer meetings which are critical to finalizing design decisions so that the detailed documentation can commence in the next phase.

INTERIORS.  One common question that arises is, “What level of interior design do you provide as part of your basic services?”  Simply put, we will design everything that is typically built-in to the project. This includes basic cabinetry and finish materials such as tile. This does not include furniture or stand alone light fixtures.  If the client would like detailed interior design services, they can be provided at an additional cost as well as collaboration with an interior designer.

At the end of the design development phase the previously listed documents from the schematic design phase should be updated in further detail. In addition, it is common to also have the following documents:

Outline Specifications › Preliminary written description of the project’s major systems and materials.

Key Interior Elevations  › Drawings depicting the vertical relationship and material choices of the project’s interior rooms.

Reflected Ceiling Plans  › Drawings of the ceiling depicting locations of lighting, equipment, & level changes.

Interior Schedules  ›  A detailed list of the type and location of of interior finishes.

Door & Window Schedules  › A detailed list of the type, size, graphic appearance and location of all of the doors and windows in the project.

Key Details  ›  Large scale technical drawings of specific elements within the project.

Systems Consultants’ Drawings  ›  Varies with each project. May include structural, civil, electrical and mechanical drawings.

Phase 4: Construction Documents

The construction documents phase involves adding a level of detail and technical information to the design documents such that a contractor has a set of instructions with which to build the project as designed. This set of instructions is, however, not a complete set, as the contractor is responsible for many aspects of constructing the project. This phase may also include several client/designer meetings, however, it is not as likely as previous phases considering most of the design decisions have been made. This phase is more about the designer and consultants working through the technical aspects of the project.

PERMITTING.  It is during this phase that the project is submitted to the local building department in which various city agencies review the submitted documents for compliance to the codes. The client will be required to pay a fee to the city when the documents are submitted. The timeframe for this process varies depending on the project’s size, complexity and the speed of the local jurisdiction. After the various agencies review the project they will return the documents with corrections. Every project has some level of corrections and does not mean that the work was done improperly. The designer and consultants will then fix the corrections and resubmit the documents for a second review. If the submitted documents then meet the agencies approval, the client will be allowed to ‘pull a permit’ to construct the project – meaning the client will pay a permit fee allowing construction to commence. For an additional fee, most jurisdictions will expedite the process.

DOCUMENTS.   At the end of the design development phase the previously listed documents from the schematic design and design development phases should be updated in full detail. Additional documents will also be created as part of this phase and can vary greatly depending on the scope of the project.

Phase 5:Bidding/Negotiation

THE CONTRACT DOCUMENTS.  This construction procurement phase will often overlap with one of the other phases depending on the method of selecting the contractor. It is important to note that the documents prepared by the designer and consultants in the construction documents phase are actually considered to be contract documents. They are a contract that the client will hire a contractor to perform. In addition to the documents, there is an actual contract that must be signed between the client and the contractor.

CONTRACTOR SELECTION.   When it comes to hiring the contractor the owner typically has two choices:

  • Bidding.  Involves making the set of documents available to two or more contractors who then submit a bid to the owner with how much it will cost to build the project including the contractor’s fee. The owner can then select whichever bidder they want, even if they are not the lowest.
  • Negotiation. Involves selecting a contractor based on qualifications, capabilities and/or referrals. Once a particular contractor is selected the owner then negotiates the terms of the contract with the contractor including the contractor’s fee.

Phase 6: Contract Administration

THE CLIENT’S AGENT.  During the construction observation phase the designer will act as the line of communication between the client and contractor. Once the project construction commences it is important to keep the designer involved in the project to assist the owner with the following tasks:

Observation services.  The designer will visit the construction site at appropriate intervals to observe the work for general conformance to the construction documents.

Evaluate contractor requests for payment. Assist the client in processing payments to the contractor by visiting the construction site to determine if the particular work described in the payment request has actually been completed.

Process submittals. Review shop drawings, product data and samples for general conformance to the design intent. Review results of tests and inspections Keep the client informed as to the progress of tests and inspections during the construction process.

Supplemental documentation. The designer can provide supplemental documents to clarify design intent for the contractor.

Handle requests for changes. The contractor, designer, or client may need to change something during construction. The designer can administer this process and prepare the necessary construction document revisions.

Resolve claims between the client and contractor. The designer acts as the mediator between the client and contractor if a dispute arises. This is the first and least expensive step to conflict resolution during construction.

Administer the project close out process for the client.  Assist the client with the various processes and steps that occur as construction ends.