Home Design Process

Home Design Process

This is a “FAQ” (Frequently Asked Question).  And it’s a good one.  This post describes the architectural home design process, how each step works, their sequence, why and when they occur.  Most licensed architects are trained in this process during their apprenticeships with other architects.

The Process of Home Design

1.  MEETING: a meeting, either in person, or over the phone to discover what your project objectives are.  You are asked “What do you want?”  Notes are taken, your site is looked at (remotely or in person) and analyzed and a host of other questions asked and answered to obtain an idea of the project requirements, hopes and dreams.  This is the first step in the design process: finding out what you want.

The purpose of this Meeting is to discover the main goals the Client has for the project.

2.  PROGRAMMING: that architect documents your objectives in writing and home design processprovides this to you, for your considered additional input, revisions and commentary.  This process continues a few times, back and forth, until you and the architect feel it represents what you want in your project.  During this phase, an electronic survey is obtained with topographic information in the area of the proposed improvements.  This is often handled through e-mails.

The purpose of Programming is to describe in a text format, the objectives of the owner for the project.

3.  SCHEMATIC DESIGN (SD)- DESIGN DEVELOPMENT(DD): architect creates a Site Plan and Floor Plans of your proposed house.  During this process, You review these plans at your leisure, living with them in your day-to-day life, thinking about how your words have been transformed by your architect into a record of your lifestyle: your plans.  The Site Plans may be at an engineering scale or a variety of architectural scales.  Soellner uses different scales depending on the size of your acreage.  For instance, he may provide an Overall Site Plan illustrating the entire parcel, then “zoom-in” at a more detailed scale for an intermediate view (Intermediate Site Plan), then also have a “Detail Site Plan” at 1/32″ or 1/16″ scale or otherwise, to depict the detailed site requirements.  You may have certain features and arrangements altered to better suit your desires.  This may cycle back and forth a couple of times until you are pleased with the plans.
Next, we here at Rand Soellner Architect create your Front Elevation and send that to you, for your review and comments.  We have found that this incremental approach makes you part of the process and allows your input to be in the house as it is being formed in the hearts, minds and computers of the creators.  Once you are happy with that, we ask for your permission to proceed to the other elevations.  We create those and provide those to you.  You comment on those.

home design process 2Now you have your Site Plan (possibly at several different scales to show detail), Floor Plans, Elevations.  Your design , you may think, is done.  It is not.  Far from it. the architect continues to incorporate your detailed requirements into the documents, filling out the design with more detail.

The purpose of SD/DD process is to create and develop the design of the project that describes its main layout, shape and general components.

4.  CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS: once you are happy with the SD/DD developing design, the architect will ask your permission to be allowed to create your CDs (Construction Documents).  You may not be particularly interested in many of these drawings, as they now will become increasingly detailed, focused on connections, specifications.  At some point during the creation of your CDs, the architect will typically have a conversation with you, discussing interior finishes (if this has not already been discussed).  Some people believe that there are no financial associations with their preferences.  There are.  Your architect can help guide you during this process to guide you to make choices that are less or more expensive, depending on your wishes to spend more money to have a nicer house, or less money for a more efficient solution.  The choices are up to you.  There will also be additional discussions about who is providing your appliances, plumbing and electrical fixtures (you can save about 25% providing them yourself, if you understand what a “rough-in package” and a “trim-out” package is.  There will also likely be a discussion of an overview through the specifications, to acquaint you with the various components of your project.  Your architect will also likely be creating Building Sections, Wall Sections (both indicating references to R-values of insulation and connections of floors, walls, roof structure and other areas), Details, Door and Finish Schedules, Roof Plan, possibly Cabinetry Elevations & Electrical schematic plans and legend, Title Sheet, Abbreviation & Symbol sheet, possible 3D imagery sheet, Drawing Index, and possibly others, depending on what services your have engaged your architect to provide. A structural engineer will likely be providing foundation and possibly framing plans and structural specifications.

The purpose of the CDs is to provide contractors a set to bid on to help you obtain proposals from reasonable, interested builders to build your project.

5.  BIDDING: your architect can typically offer an optional service to bid out your

home design process
One of Rand Soellner Architect's projects bid. (C)Copyright 2004-2011 Rand Soellner, All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

project for you.  Soellner has managed this process all over the United States.  Rand Soellner Architect has developed methods of doing this remotely, in association with the hundreds of NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) local chapters throughout the country.  Your architect can include those local builders that you have heard good things about, in addition to others he researches in the larger region.  The hope is that you can obtain 3 proposals, one of which you will find acceptable.  The architect answers bidders questions, issues addenda when he feels they are necessary, and manages the bid process.  This requires the participation of interested, reasonable builders that participate in a cooperative manner.  Your architect helps you rank the positives and negatives about the various potential bidders.  Soellner recently analyzed the qualifications of about 70 possible licensed general contractors in Virginia for one of his projects he is bidding out there.  You make the choice as to the final shortlist of invited bidders, with the architect’s counsel.   Your architect distributes his documents to the bidders and they price the project with their various suppliers and subcontractors and their own work crews.  On a predetermined day and time, the bidders are requested to submit their proposals, which the architect and you review to see who has the best value.  Value = highest quality for the least cost.  This may or may not be the low bidder. The architect has probably issued addenda during the bidding, which he will often incorporate into the final design documents to be used for construction.  These are referred to as “conformed documents” as they have incorporated any clarifications and amendments made during the Bidding.  There are some builders out there who do not appreciate architects and these contractors should be avoided.  This wants to be a joyful, creative positive experience.  It takes the involvement of team players who understand their roles in the process and in the project.  Architects design.  Builders build.  There needs to be healthy respect for each other and their primary responsibilities.  The goal is simple: help the Client obtain a good project for a reasonable cost.  It should be understood that architects do not control what contractors decide to do or not do.

The purpose of Bidding is to hopefully help you obtain prices from willing, reasonable, cooperative contractors for the construction of your house.

6.  CONSTRUCTION ADMINISTRATION: now you proceed into construction, but that process is a subject for another post…

Call Rand Soellner Architect at 1-828-269-9046  for your meeting to begin this creative process.

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