Architectural Process

The Architectural process is a series of phases developing the project from the beginning through to the end of construction. The phases are standard in the Architectural profession because they are beneficial. Each phase has a purpose. They provide a framework for the design with milestones allowing decisions to be made in a manageable process during each phase. Each phase continues until the owner approves, allowing the project to move forward to the next phase.


The Pre-Design Phase is preparation tasks prior to designing. It begins with client programming. Special focus and attention is given to fully understand our client’s objectives, budget, and timeframe. A summary is prepared for review and comment so we are on the same page. The site is studied for its relationship to the home for its design. City agencies are research for code requirements and restrictions. On remodeling projects, site measurements and photographs are taken for preparation of existing conditions drawings that are used throughout the design process. In most projects an Architectural site survey is needed. Some projects also require a soils/geological report. These documents are done by consultants and hired by the owner. We can refer and coordinate these consultants. Since these take several weeks to prepare and are essential to begin design, they are typically ordered at the very beginning. The phase is complete when the owner signs off on the program, budget, schedule and code analysis.

Schematic Design

The Schematic Design Phase typically begins with plan sketches. Several meetings are typical for client input and discussion to develop the design. The design and meetings continues until the client is satisfied with schematic plans. The phase is complete when drawings are signed.

Design Development

Design Development takes the design to a much greater level of detail. We’ll look at 3D images and scaled drawings, studying all of the important architectural details of the interior and exterior of the home. The design typically involves everything that is built-in to the project and has Architectural relevance to the design concept and includes basic cabinetry and finish materials. Fixtures, hardware and appliances schedules can also be included if requested. Coordination with engineers is initiated and other desired consultants can be decided. The design and meetings continues until the client is satisfied with design development plans. The phase is complete when drawings are signed.

Construction Documents

Construction Documents are prepared after all of the design decisions are made. The construction drawings are detailed sufficiently to ensure the project is built for the intended design and accurate, competitive bids can be obtained from contractors. This phase mostly involves the Architect and consultants working through the technical aspects of the project. The plans will be submitted to the building department with a fee, paid by the client, for review and corrections. A list of other related city agencies are also be provided requiring their approvals. Plans are resubmitted with the corrections fixed and agencies approvals completed. When the plans are approved, the permit can be obtained by the client as owner-builder or by a general contractor, and paying the permit fee. This phase is completed when the plans has been approved by the building department.

Bidding or Negotiation

The construction documents become part of the Architect-Owner contract and the Owner-Contractor contract. There are two methods of hiring the contractor, by a process of multiple bidders or by negotiation with a trusted contractor. It is beneficial to determine which contractor selection method will be used early in the process. There are pros and cons for each method. We can help you determine which contractor selection method is best for your project. This phase ends when a contract with the contractor has been signed.

Construction Observation

Once the construction begins it is beneficial for the Architect to provide the following tasks:

  • Regular site visits to observe general conformance to the plans
  • Review contractor payment requests with site visits to verify work completed
  • Review shop drawings, product data, samples for conformance with design intent
  • Review results of tests & inspections to keep client informed
  • Provide supplemental documentation to clarify design intent as needed
  • Revise plans as needed for changes that arise
  • Clarify misunderstandings between client and contractor
  • Assist client review punch list and closeout the end of construction


The fees are project-based and vary with project scope, size, location, duration, complexity, and uniqueness. Our fees are set at the beginning of a project as either a fixed fee or an hourly fee with an estimated number of hours to complete. The total fee is then divided into the individual phases by percentage of the total fee (for fixed fees). 

Pre-Design (5-10% Of Total Fee)

Schematic Design (15-25% Of Total Fee)

Design Development (15-25% Of Total Fee)

Construction Documents (25-30% Of Total Fee)

Bidding Or Negotiation (3-7% Of Total Fee)

Construction Observation (15-35% Of Total Fee)