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  • Writer's pictureCheryl McIntosh

What Does My Architect Do?

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Successful built projects, those that achieve the desired results for owner and users, result from informed clients working with skilled, licensed Architects. Architects are registered professionals bringing many years of education, experience, and registration to your design and documents while acting to protect you, your time, money, and your property.

Listed below are phases of typical architectural services. The Registered Architects at Rhodes Architecture provide all of the services listed. However, we do not discriminate against smaller projects, which may not require or have the budget to support all of these services. We are flexible and can tailor contracts to provide whatever services a client may require.

ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES The general design process can be broken down into phases, each of which focuses on a different aspect of a construction project:

  1. Pre-Design and Programming

  2. As-Built Documentation and Verification

  3. Schematic Design

  4. Design Development

  5. Construction Documents

  6. Bidding and/or Negotiations

  7. Construction Observation/Contract Administration

Pre-Design and Programming

  1. Understand client’s needs and goals

  2. Help develop programmatic requirements for the project

  3. Define the scope of the project (size, complexity, level of finish, costs, schedule, scopes of professional services)

  4. For additions and renovations-field measuring and existing condition drawings (as-built drawings and documentation)

  5. Verify and analyze the site conditions to determine how the site will impact the project

  6. Review code and zoning regulations such as setbacks, building height and lot coverage

  7. Understand and assist the client with construction cost allowances and planning

  8. Understand overall likely project costs

  9. Inform you about potential complexities and complications that your project may entail

Schematic Design

Based on the existing site and building conditions, pre-design, and our initial discussions, we prepare a detailed program that identifies spaces and areas required for the project. The sketches prepared during this phase represent the layout of rooms and placement of building on the site, as appropriate. Here Architects create options and set the direction for the design. Sketches, plans, diagrams and modeling convey in sufficient detail the approximate size and location of rooms, walls, windows, doors and other built-in features, and are used to obtain a preliminary budget allowance from a general contractor.

New Construction Schematic design for new construction typically begins with analysis of the project site and spatial relationship diagrams that illustrate how areas will relate to or connect with one another. We will provide a conceptual site plan and show the shape of the building on the site, in addition to the space layouts as noted above. It is important that you are in agreement with us about the direction the project as portrayed in the schematic design documents. This stage is the easiest time to make changes and to add or subtract features from your design.

Renovations/ Additions The major goal in schematic design phase of additions and renovations is to complement and add to existing architectural forms, materials and styles, and to create comfortable and natural transitions between new and existing spaces. Relationship diagrams may be used if the renovations/addition are extensive and include multiple areas. Most often we will develop the existing conditions (“as-built”) drawings and continue into sketches and special diagrams based on the project goals.

  1. Meet with the client, propose alternative approaches, study your space and functional needs and desires

  2. Prepare schematic site plans, renderings, plans, and elevation drawings of the building project, usually in sketch form

  3. Prepare schematic site plans–usually in sketch form

  4. Assist in preparing an initial allowance of construction cost based on area, volume or other unit costs to determine if the scope of the project conforms to the client’s budget

  5. Prepare initial modeling and three-dimensional studies to help you visualize the design

  6. Discuss additional architectural services or additional professionals for your project (general contractors, structural engineers, civil engineers, mechanical/electrical/plumbing consultants, interior designers, planners, lighting designers, landscape architects) who may add value to your project

  7. Discuss how to interview and hire a builder, bid, or negotiate your project

  8. Set project schedules and goals

Design Development

Based on an approved schematic design, project schedules, goals, and budgets we complete more detailed drawings to further define the scope, scale, and character of a new building or your addition/renovation. Drawings will identify relationships, forms, assemblies, and appearance, and will also act as a preliminary layout of the construction documents.

In this phase an Architect further refines the design, aligning it with your needs and tastes. This stage of design yields floor plans, building sections, and elevations in CAD (computer aided design) software and three-dimensional interior and exterior modeling. Many specifications (detailed descriptions of specific materials, equipment and finishes) documented in the Architect’s plans will need to be decided in this phase, including decisions on interior and exterior materials, finishes, equipment, doors and windows, and other permanent features.

  1. Commences after client approval of the Schematic Design Phase

  2. Includes the preparation of hardline plan, elevation and section scaled drawings utilizing

current and malleable computer aided design software

  1. Includes the preparation of hardline drawings of site plans

  2. Includes making material selections, finish selections, equipment selections, choosing mechanical systems

  3. Includes the review of decisions and selections to insure the design is evolving in accord with the initial design intent

  4. May include bringing additional design professionals into the project development and present their initial ideas, drawings, and details. This could include general contractors, structural engineers, civil engineers, mechanical/electrical/plumbing consultants, interior designers, planners, lighting designers, and landscape architects

  5. Includes making design decisions to accomplish final material and equipment recommendations, pricing and budgeting

  6. Should include retaining a general contractor to revisit the preliminary estimate of construction cost as the design becomes more clarified. This can involve one or more contractors to prepare preliminary estimates

Permit and Construction Documents

Based on approved design development drawings, construction drawings will be developed that specify, dimension, and detail the site and building for construction. Construction Documents and modeling will act as a template to convey decisions to the builder, so that they in turn will build the project the way it is intended. These documents will also be used by the local building, fire, mechanical, electrical, and land use reviewers to check that the as well as lenders to provide financing, if applicable. At this point changes made to the documents should be minimal, as significant changes will increase time and cost.

Depending on the level of complexity of the project, a project manual outlining contract conditions for construction and specifications may be developed in association with the drawings. If competitive bidding is the chosen route for contract selection, the project manual can also include a formal bid proposal and instructions to contractors on bid submission.

The plans (“construction documents”) will act as the record of all the client and architect decisions made throughout the previous phases. These are your specific and formal instruction to your builder and convey your intent and decisions.

  1. Commences after client approval of Design Development Phase

  2. Includes the creation of detailed construction drawings and specifications outlining the work to be done, materials, workmanship, finishes and equipment required

  3. Incudes the preparation of documents for bidding or pricing

  4. Includes provide assistance to client or contractor with filing construction documents required for the approval of governmental agencies having jurisdiction over the project

  5. Often includes creating final lists of finishes, fixtures, and equipment, specify and draw interiors and interior components attached to the building

Continued reading:

Part II

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