During the initial stages of a project, we like to understand how the built project can accommodate clients’ needs and wishes. Often, clients will have images of things they like, ideas about things they don’t like, a timeline in mind, and very often a project budget. We like to understand the project site, its benefits, its limitations, and best views.
Once we have an understanding of each client’s project goals, we like to really understand the context of the project. We develop in-house resources for reference, such as site photos, site surveys, existing building documentation (if necessary), utility connection locations, right-of-way locations, zoning and building codes, tree and vegetation analysis, and more.
Once the site has been analyzed, we move from the realm of existing conditions to the realm of design. We begin in the conceptual design phase with a series of sketches that respond to the client’s goals, the site, and the context around the site. These are usually drawn by hand and evolve in many versions based on client review and comment. Sometimes basic models are necessary to fully understand the shape of the building and its relationship to the site. We concurrently track the conceptual cost of the building in relation to the project budget.
Upon approval of the conceptual design, we begin the process of refining the design in such a way that the design becomes more focused and particular. In this phase, specific qualities of the building are designed and ironed out, such as room sizes and locations, materials, colors, site design, and more. Sometimes a project requires more careful 3D study and presentation via hand-crafted or computer-generated models. We make sure to engage all appropriate government agencies and consultants during this phase to ensure code and technical compliance as the project moves forward. At the completion of the Design Development phase, our goal is to have the project team consistently aware of the layout and appearance of the project, and how it will affect it surroundings.
After our clients approve of this more defined direction, we move into the preparation of drawings and documents for use in permitting and construction. We generate and coordinate in-house details, as well as those produced by consultants, and review those with the client for approval. We also like to conceptualize the construction schedule for use in the contractor bidding process. During this phase, we prefer to have professional estimating performed to ensure the construction cost is in line with the project budget. Highly refined presentation materials are produced if necessary, including renderings and models.
Before our construction documents are issued for contractor bidding, we like to help the client determine the necessary qualifications for the successful execution of the construction of the project, and meet with potential contractors to explain the project to them and answer their initial questions. During the bidding phase, we are available to answer any questions bidders may have and issue any clarification documents. After bids arrive, we coordinate the bids and ensure apples-to-apples comparisons between potential contractors, and assist the client in determining the best fit for the selection of the contractor.
After a contractor is selected, we like to be involved as is appropriate for the successful construction of the project. We respond to questions during construction, issue revised documents as necessary, review and approve any shop drawings, visit the site and document construction progress, coordinate relevant documents to pay the contractor based on progress, identify “punch list” items for substantial completion, and assist as necessary to obtain government approvals and certificates for move-in. Along the way, we make sure the client is informed of progress and any issues that may arise so the decision-making process is always guided by the client.