understanding the architectural process

The industry of architecture has been around for a long time, and with that, the profession has developed a set of standards for how architects practice. At Studio 3fold, our mission is to lay out the steps of working with us as clearly as possible, that way you have an understanding of how we operate from the initial Consultation all the way through construction. In our industry, these steps are referred to as Phases, which represent the level of development each project undergoes on its way to completion. Keep in mind that not all of the phases are necessary for all projects as some are more tailored to residential clients, and others are more for commercial clients. On any project, we always customize these phases to reflect the needs of the client and the project.

Phase 1: Pre-Design

During the Pre-Design phase, we will work with you to establish the detailed requirements for the project including the design objectives, development of space requirements, relationships between spaces, timeline, budget analysis, zoning analysis, and site analysis. This includes ample time devoted to defining your “vision” for the project.

We will meet with you at your property to gather and collect information on your building site such as essential views, solar access, topography and climate, utility issues, and other physical constraints or opportunities. For remodels or additions to an existing structure, we will need to create a record of what is built before creating any design sketches. Some clients have drawings of their existing building which will help speed up this process. At the end of this phase, we will create an Architectural Program that will serve as our guide throughout the design process.

 

Phase 2: Schematic Design

Once the detailed requirements of the project are defined in the Pre-Design phase, we begin creating bubble diagrams and rough sketches of the architectural program.

These rough sketches and bubble diagrams morph into floor plans, elevations, and a virtual 3D model of the design utilizing Revit® Architecture and SketchUp. The 3D modeling software allows us to fly you around the model, creating an interactive design process that ensures the design meets your expectations. This is an exciting part of the design process where your dreams begin to take shape and become a 3D form.

We continue to refine the design until the layout of the various spaces, structure location, site features, and general look and feel of the design is defined. At the end of this phase, you will have a clear picture of the design.

If you don’t have a contractor yet, we will assist you with interviewing and the selection of a GC best suited for the project. At this stage of the project, the contractor will have enough information to create a preliminary estimate of construction cost which is vital to ensuring the design and budget meet your expectations. There are generally two options when hiring a general contractor, Bidding or Negotiation. The Bidding method is typically used for commercial projects, whereas the Negotiation method is more common for residential projects.

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

  • Site plan
  • Floor Plans
  • Roof Plan
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Building Sections
  • 3D Renderings
  • Size Analysis
  • Preliminary Cost Estimate from the GC

Phase 3: Design Development

Once the Schematic Design is approved, we begin the process of finalizing the size of the various rooms and spaces, refining the exterior and interior design of the project, selecting the exterior and interior materials, development and integration of the structural and mechanical systems, development of lighting, and final decisions on the door and window types and locations. We continue our interactive design process of meeting with you throughout this phase by walking you around and through the 3D model, making design adjustments and decisions on the fly.

One common question that arises is what level of interior design do we provide as part of our basic services. Since every project and client is different, we are capable of taking on as much as you are willing to allow. Simply put, we prefer to design and select everything associated with the project, including all the interior materials and finishes, cabinetry, lighting, plumbing, appliances, and furnishings. Smaller projects require only a limited amount of interior design, while larger projects comprise our full range of capabilities.

During this phase, the various consultants needed for the project, such as civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, and landscape, begin the design and documentation of their work. The location, type, and size of the project dictate which consultants will be needed and we help you in determining which ones are necessary.

At the end of this phase, the general contractor will create a more accurate estimate of construction based on the Design Development Documents, which include more developed drawings from the schematic design phase and the following:

  • Interior elevations
  • Key Details
  • Reflected Ceiling Plans
  • Outline Specifications
  • Interior Finish Schedule
  • Plumbing Schedule
  • Lighting Schedule
  • Appliance Schedule
  • Door & Window Schedules
  • Consultants’ Drawings
  • Revised Cost Estimate from the GC

 

 

 

Phase 4: Construction Documents

Upon approval of the Design Development Documents, including the estimate of construction cost from the general contractor, we begin adding detail and technical information to the documents such that the contractor has a complete set of instructions with which to build the project as designed. This includes the site plan, detailed floor plans, enlarged plans, wall sections and details, ceiling plans, power, and lighting plans, finish schedules, window and door schedules, exterior and interior elevations, interior details, specifications, and consultant drawings. These documents are typically the drawings suitable for permit submittal that become the legal set of plans and specifications referenced in the contract with the general contractor. A complete set of Construction Documents may include the following drawings:

  • Cover Sheet
  • Site Plan
  • Floor Plans
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Building Section + Wall Sections
  • Exterior Details
  • Interior Elevations
  • Interior Details
  • Reflected Ceiling Plans
  • Interior Finish Schedule
  • Plumbing Schedule
  • Lighting Schedule
  • Appliance Schedule
  • Door & Window Schedules
  • Consultants’ Drawings
  • Outline Specifications

During this phase, we will meet you less frequently since most of the design decisions have been made and our primary focus is toward creating a set of instructions for the general contractor. The construction document phase typically ends when the building permit is approved, and the contractor begins construction.

Phase 5: Construction Administration

The construction process of any project can be the most exciting and the most difficult of all the phases.  During this phase, Studio 3fold acts as your eyes and ears throughout construction to ensure the contractor is following the drawings and specifications, and to keep you informed of the progress and quality of the contractor’s work. During this phase, we act as your agent to guard you against defects and deficiencies in the work performed by the contractor. These services typically include the following:

  • Construction Observation: we will visit the site at intervals appropriate to the stage of construction and observe the work of the contractor for general conformance with the contract documents. This is accomplished by regular Owner/Architect/Contractor meetings to review and answer questions about the drawings and specifications, construction progress, and other issues related to the project.
  • Review product submittals, shop drawings, and material samples: there are many types of materials and products that will need to be reviewed and approved for conformance with the drawings and specifications, including windows, doors, tile, hardware, lighting, and items provided by fabricators such as structural and decorative steel, cabinetry, and trim.  
  • Supplemental documentation: In some cases, the contractor will need additional information about certain aspects of the project, and we will provide supplemental drawings and documents to clarify the design intent for the contractor. 
  • Review requests for changes: It’s common for the contractor, architect, or owner to propose changes during construction which may require a review by the architect, and in some cases, additional drawings and documents will be needed to facilitate the change.
  • Evaluate contractor request for payment: we will assist in the processing of payments to the contractor by visiting the construction site to determine if the particular work described in the payment request has been completed.
  • Project Closeout: once the project is Substantially Complete, we begin the process of evaluating the completed work relative to the contract documents, and listing items that do not meet industry standards for construction. This list of issues is referred to as a Punch List and is typically broken down into an Interior and Exterior Punch List that the contractor will need to remedy before the project is considered complete.