There are five basic services an architect usually offers. The phases start with concept diagrams and can guide you through complete construction. The services are flexible enough that you can choose how far you want to go, although some of the work may be influenced by an earlier step. The five typical phases are Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Bidding, and Construction Administration.
The design/build process can be an enjoyable and very rewarding experience–especially with the help of a professional architect who can map out a course that steers clear of roadblocks that would otherwise cost you time, money, and emotional anxiety. As an architect, I'm really a facilitator or conductor of information. My job is to listen to the client's wishes and needs and translate them, with some artistic license, into a space.
What we bring to the creative process:
Quality of Listening
Quality of Relationship
Quality of Communication
Quality of Clarity and Process
Quality of Responsibility and Trust
Quality of Follow-through
Quality of Design and Efficiency
The first phase of design is called Schematic Design, where the result is usually floor plans and elevations. I like to hand-sketch and draw during this phase because it is the nature of the design process. Usually, two or three options are drawn and then presented to the client for review. Inevitably, the final solution is a combination of the best aspects of each plan. The design process is a looping one, where an idea may be presented and refined a few times.
If you want, you can provide a builder with these drawings to build from. It's important, however, to realize there is still a lot of information not on the schematic drawings–specifications and details that need to be addressed.
During Design Development, the structure is designed, windows and doors are selected, foundation plans are generated, stairs are designed, and mechanical or electrical systems are presented. Details are sketched and reviewed and the overall design is refined, as additional drawings are created to understand the building. At this time, we work with the client on making many decisions.
Again, you may elect to build from these documents. The drawings are much further along and communicate a much more in-depth picture of what is involved in the project. The types of drawings may vary but normally include a dimensioned foundation plan and floor plan, elevations, a building section, framing plans, and possibly a door/window schedule. The drawings in this phase are about 30% complete when you compare them to a full set of drawings. The opportunity still exists for some changes in the design though there may be an additional fee depending on the nature of the change.
Construction Documents provide a level of detail that clearly communicates the architect's and client's intentions. This phase of work is the most time-consuming. It is the actual drawing of all the decisions that were made together in the previous stages. A builder could look at these drawings and build from them without much input.
Steps 04 & 05
Bidding and Construction Administration
I can help interview contractors, review their cost estimates and work, and make recommendations based on knowledge of the industry. Once construction starts, I will usually visit the site once a week to observe the work. I answer questions, work with the contractor to resolve problems if they come up, and assure the documents are being followed so the design vision the client and I worked so hard to articulate becomes a reality.