1.Establishing Goals And Preparing A Program Or Outline
This is typically the initial meeting between the building designers and you to discuss and layout the framework for the project scope to and clarify any of your expectations and needs along with the project budget.
This is a good opportunity to share photos, ideas and any other information that is relevant to the Project such as a copy of the property survey which is needed to complete the construction documents.
2.The Preliminary Design Phase
This second meeting with you will be when the building designer will put forward the first rough drafts of the floor plan and exterior elevation studies for you to review, critic and or approve. This can be a process and the time needed to work through this phase can depend on the size and how complex the proposed design is. There can be as many as 2-3 revisions before a preliminary design is approved to proceed to the next phase. At this time you may request additional drawings to further clarify the design. The goal is for you to have a clear understanding of the proposed design and to make any alterations necessary to achieve the project goals at this stage before moving on to the more detailed drawings.
3.The Design Development Phase
In some cases, this phase may be blended into the previous phase. I typically present the preliminary drawings to my clients as scaled and partially dimensioned drawings to show room sizes and overall building dimensions. This helps establish if any areas need to be increased or decreased in size or relocated a little earlier in the process. But I am aware of other building designers that do it differently. Either way is fine. This phase just takes the preliminary drawing to the next level by adding additional information and specifications allowing you, the client, to see the project pulling together and becoming cohesive. This is the time to address any final questions you may have relating to the layout, size or function of the spaces.
4.The Construction Document Phase
This phase involves the preparation of detailed Construction Documents and possibly Specifications* for obtaining bids from contractors, obtaining a building permit and for use by the contractor to construct the Project. The Construction Documents, sometimes referred to as CD”s, typically required by municipalities for obtaining a permit include but may not be limited to:
Once completed by the by building designer You are presented with completed and final construction documents for review & approval prior to being sent for sign and seal by the Engineer of Record when required by the municipality.
*I typically don’t provide specifications for my clients as often this is part of the general contractor’s contract with the client. I include as much information about the exterior and interior finishes, etc. as provided to me by the client on the plans. Very often the client hasn’t made specific selections for flooring, counter-tops at this stage. This may not always be the case, however.
5.The Bidding Process
Some building designers may offer services to assist with the bidding process. This involves preparing bidding instruction or a set of guidelines to the contractors with the intention of securing an apple-to-apples estimate that fit within an allotted time frame from each bidder. Next potential contractors are given the chance to bid on your project with each receiving a complete set of drawings, specifications and bid instructions. This is more common in commercial projects and large-scale residential projects.
I often encourage my clients to include the contractor in preliminary design meetings for their expertise and valuable input if they have already made a decision as to who they will be working with. But in most cases, the client is interviewing general contractors once the preliminary plans are completed enough that an estimate can be prepared or later when plans are finalized and ready for permitting. This can be a very daunting part of the process and I am always available to answer questions my clients come across when talking with contractors. It is very important to do your homework and check references to be sure that you will be hiring someone who will be a good fit for your project. A low bid is not always an indicator that you are hiring a qualified contractor that is best suited for your project.
The process to your dream home can take a bad turn if drawings are less than thorough and specifications are left in unanswered. Contractors very often refer to Construction documents to justify an action or lack of action. A disagreement between you and the contractor can result in a halt in your project while issues are worked out and can sometimes result in legal action. A professional building designer will try to avert any such conflicts before work begins by exploring design solutions with you on paper, and communicating with the contractor to answer any questions regarding a specification or drawing detail. Regardless of the scope of your project, thorough planning, and good design go hand in hand and will not only save you money but make the entire process go easier and with fewer complications.
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My name is Judith Ann Koehn and I am the principal/designer for Ontwerpe Studio a Residential Design and Drafting firm. I am passionate about “good sustainable design” and with more than 20 years of experience designing small casitas to large custom homes, multi-family housing and many different kinds of remodeling projects I would be very comfortable helping you bring your next project to life.