Next… Develop the design

This post is a continuation of “What’s the Scope and What’s the Cost? How to get to the Design”

Now the scope of work has been established, the next step is to design the project. Designing is drawing and discovering and working with the owner to figure out what the project will look like. Drawings are assembled into documents that are then used to tell a story- one of how to build the project. We assemble drawings that can be used to get permits. In the final stages of drawing we assemble drawings to be used for construction. Design is an add-on process; as more information is included in the drawing set, the more complete and closer we get to having construction drawings. We use drawing as a tool to solve problems and understand issues. We draw plans, elevations, cross sections, details and 3d sketches. We list materials and fixtures out on a schedule helping clarify the quantities of the various elements required.

Along the way in the design process, permits are required by the local agency, i.e. the city or the county depending on where the project is located. There are two kinds of approvals, the first is from the Planning Department. This is necessary when building a house from the ground up or adding onto a building and increasing the square footage. The planning process varies depending on the jurisdiction.

The planning approval requires a set of drawings with information about the exterior. The Planning Department needs to see a site plan to assess the proximity to trees and setbacks and to get a clear understanding of what we are proposing. Because of this, we usually require a survey of the property prior to doing the submittal. Licensed surveyors sometimes locate single property lines if the particular scenario allows it. In the drawing submittal, we establish the height and square footage and call out what the roof, siding and window materials will be. There is usually a neighbor notification process with an appeal period where neighbors are allowed to chime in if they have questions about how the project may or may not affect their property. Story poles are constructed to physically show what the new building or addition size will be on the site. Often the planning approval process requires a presentation before a commission whereby the architect will describe the project and point to the ideas of the design as they are presented in the drawing set.

The second approval required to build a project is the building permit. The building department will want to see compliance with the building code and the California Energy Code. Mainly they review the design for safety issues and energy use. At this time, structural engineering drawings are submitted along with the architectural drawings and they are reviewed for code compliance. An architect always works with a structural engineer, they are our structural consultants on the project.

While the project is being reviewed, the architect continues to develop the drawings where the goal is to have a set of drawings that can be used for construction. This is a phase of service called Construction Documents. A building permit set of drawings does not have enough information to build from. Construction documents is building a set of drawings with final materials and details.

For the work to be really successful and for the process to move smoothly and efficiently, full architects’ services are required. There are so many details that make up a design. By being involved in full design services, we have the time to guide you in the process, and keep things moving forward. We coordinate consultants, help in the selection of general contractors, and we put a thorough set of drawings together to fully illustrate the design. If there is missing information, when the project is built, either the owner or contractor will have to make the numerous decisions that will come up in the process to get to finishing the project.

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