Architect drawing on tracing paper

Custom Home Design – A Framework for Success

Every home design project is unique, because every client is unique. Variations will occur in budget, size, location and more. But developing a custom home design usually follows a standard 5 phase project framework that applies regardless of the other variables:

1. Schematic Design

Here we develop some high level ideas to guide the project. We develop some initial rough drawings also known as conceptual drawings. If we were creating a painting, these would be very broad strokes with a large brush. The project framework starts by developing the overall idea of the home. Ideas like what well-being means to you and what it will mean to live there. And we begin to think about the major building systems like structure, mechanical and electrical. See also our overview on wellness aspects of a projects.

2. Design Development Phase

After the schematic drawings stage we’ll develop the concepts further, adjusting and refining them. We’ll begin to think about materials, colours and details about the building systems. For example, what kind of structure, ventilation, plumbing and electrical is most suitable. These drawings may be used to apply for Development Permit if required.

3. Construction Documents

In this stage of the project framework we develop the drawings in enough detail so a contractor could actually build the home. We work with the engineers to eliminate interference between the various systems. We create written specifications that dictate the performance and quality of each component of the building, including any guiding sustainability issues.

4. Bidding + Negotiation Stage

Here we review the results of the bid process and award a construction contract to the successful bidder. We answer questions from bidders and clarify the drawings if required so that each contractor is bidding on the same information. It is important that the process is fair to all bidders.

5. Construction Administration

In the final stage of the project framework we help ensure what’s being built matches the design intent. We meet the contractor on site at regular intervals to address any unexpected problems before they come up. And we’ll deal with any proposed changes.

What additional services do architects provide?

The project framework can accommodate our other services if required, such as advising on site selection, model making, feasibility studies, cost estimating, renderings, walk-throughs, and more. The overall process is like a funnel, with broad ideas at the beginning, then condensing and narrowing down the design as we go along, until the construction is finished and the client takes possession of their new building.