Programming & Planning
Before the project begins, we can meet with you at your home or place of business so we can understand what you have in mind. We will listen your description of what you think you would like to do and, if you would like, we can tell you a little more about ourselves and how we work. Afterward, we can send you a fee proposal to make sure that we understand what you have said and to make sure you understand exactly what we plan to do and how much we would charge to do it. There is no charge for this initial meeting.
Programming and Planning is typically the initial phase in any project that involves functional complexity. We will work with you to identify ways in which your work or lifestyle can translate into a successful built environment. Whether it is identifying a company culture for a commercial project or style preferences for a home, gathering visual images and writing goals of what you imagine your project to be will lay the foundation for the design. We will then create a list of various functions you envision for the project and the different spaces or rooms that will house them, including their size and who will occupy them. Adjacency diagrams can then help us to see the relationships between these functions.
At the end of this phase, you will know how much area you need to build or remodel, who will occupy each room or area, and the relationship of each function to the next. This is particularly helpful for projects in which the construction will be phased – you will be able to see how the construction of one phase is related to the others and minimize or eliminate having to rebuild or demolish an earlier phase to create the next.
We usually begin this phase by gathering information about the location in which the project will be built, including any regulatory and code restrictions. This involves researching local planning and building codes and taking detailed measurements and photographs of the existing conditions. We then typically build a three-dimensional computer model of those conditions, which is usually followed by creating free-hand plan sketches that show design options being considered.
After reviewing those options with you, we narrow them down to one plan that incorporates the best and most appropriate solution for your approval. This plan is then input in the computer model so that it can be studied and reviewed in three dimensions.
Finally, we produce a preliminary set of drawings from the model that can be used by a contractor to prepare a preliminary estimate of construction cost so that we can determine that the cost is within your budget before proceeding further with the design.
This phase is used for more complex projects in which a detailed development of the design is needed before proceeding to the creation of final construction and permit documents. At this point, we will typically study the project more in three dimensions, select materials and colors, and draw more detailed plans so that the look and scope of the project is defined sufficiently for you to know exactly what the project will look like.
It is usually at this point that any review by the local planning department takes place if it is necessary, and a separate set of design review plans can be created for their approval. Another cost estimate can be done at this point to further ensure that we are on course financially.
At this point, we are ready to produce documents (drawings and specifications) that can be submitted for a contractor, or contractors, to give us a bid and for the local jurisdiction to review and issue a building permit. These documents are detailed and are often combined with the documents of other disciplines being coordinated by us.
In a residential project, this may include landscape plans, structural drawings and specifications, and energy calculations, but can be expanded (especially with commercial projects) to include many other disciplines, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, plumbing, fire sprinklers, and fire alarm systems.
In larger projects, this list can be expanded to include any specialty, like security or audiovisual, that may be germane to the project.
Bidding & Permitting
Once the documents are submitted for bidding and permitting, we will answer bidders’ questions and respond to plan check comments by local authorities. We can also help you with the selection of a contractor. Other times, you may have already selected a contractor that you want to work with, in which case we will help you resolve any last cost questions they may have.
At the end of this phase, you will have a contractor and a building permit and will be ready to start construction.
An important role that we play is to serve as your representative in ensuring that the project is built according to the construction documents. We will make periodic visits to the construction site and prepare field reports, attend meetings with you and the contractor, and answer questions by the contractor.
This role, along with the role played by city inspectors, is vital in protecting everyone’s interests, as it provides a system of checks and balances during this critical phase. We believe that building a trust in, and collaborating with, the contractor is a key to a successful project and we covet our ability to work with contractors in a respectful and constructive way.