Many of our clients have never worked with an architect before. We offer the following information as a primer on what to expect during the design of your project.
STAGE ONE: Programming: In this step, we put down in writing all of your requirements for the construction project. We ask you many questions, such as what is it which you wish to build or remodel? What rooms or spaces are needed? What goes into those rooms or spaces? What is your design taste? What problems need to be solved?
STAGE TWO : Site Analysis
If you are building a new home, we need to see the building site. If you are remodeling or adding on to an existing home or building, we need to gather any drawings of the existing conditions which you might have. Otherwise we will need to take careful measurements and photographs so we can prepare our own drawings of the existing conditions.
STAGE THREE: Schematic Design
With the information we have gathered in Stages One and Two, we can then begin sketching and preparing preliminary conceptual drawings to study alternative design solutions. We will then meet with you to discuss these drawings in detail. Sometimes we need to make a few revisions of the schematic design drawings in order to home in on the precise solution to your particular design requirements. Once you are comfortable with the schematic design, we recommend that we have a general contractor prepare a preliminary cost estimate. This is to give you a reasonable idea of what the project will cost to build. If the estimate is too high for your budget, we can easily make adjustments to the scope of the project at this stage. This ultimately helps save design fees.
STAGE FOUR: Construction Documents
"Construction Document" is a fancy way of saying ‘plans and specifications’. During this stage, we prepare the actual dimensioned drawings and detailed specifications which will be used for taking bids and obtaining a building permit. We will have meetings with you during this stage as the drawings evolve to be sure everything meets with your approval. It is our philosophy that the more information which is put on the drawings and in the specifications the better, since this allows for tighter bids, minimizes change orders, and fosters better construction quality. Robert R. Larsen, A.I.A. is known for our thoroughly prepared construction documents.
STAGE FIVE: Bidding and Negotiations
Once the drawings and specifications are complete and you have approved them, we assist you to issue the plans to contractors for bidding. You may wish to take competitive bids from as many as three contractors, or you may want to negotiate with just one contractor with whom you feel comfortable. Either way, we will help you to analyze the bids and to finalize a contract for construction with the successful bidder.
STAGE SIX: Construction We strongly recommend that we remain involved in the project during the construction phase. Unlike the automobile or aircraft industries, where many prototype models are built and tested over many years before a final product is manufactured, your project will only be built once. No matter how many drawings we draw, there are always things which occur during construction which require our being available to answer questions and work the "bugs" out of the design.
In remodeling and addition projects, this is even more important since it is not uncommon for unforeseen problems to come to light during construction which need our attention. During the construction phase we act as your representative to guard your interests. For instance, we usually review and approve the contractor’s invoices to be sure they are appropriate for the work which has been completed. We also visit the project site periodically to monitor the quality of construction. Other services include checking the contractor’s shop drawings and answering the contractor’s questions.
STAGE SEVEN: Project Completion
As construction nears completion, we will walk through the project with you to make a final review of the work and make note of any remaining items which need attention. We often issue a "Certificate of Substantial Completion" which establishes the date at which time warranties commence.