The Architectural Design Process

The following is a detailed description of how the design process works at our office. This description should be read in coordination with one of the following PDF files geared to specific types of projects. Click on the topics below for additional information.

New Construction

Timberframe

Preliminary Project Phase – Determining a Design Approach

The interview and preliminary site visit

The Interview – At our first meeting we will to want learn about you, the scope of your project, your desired timeline, and your proposed budget. We will also familiarize you with some samples of our work, drawing from recent examples that may be similar to your proposed project. We will take into account how your budget compares with a rough estimate of current per-square-foot building costs, based on our experience with other comparable projects.

We will also want to know about your site. If you have a remodeling project, we will usually want to visit the site before proceeding further. For new construction, an initial site visit is still very important, although not always essential if sufficient photos, a site topographic map, survey or other accurate depiction of project location and boundaries, and information on basic site development restrictions, are available.

With this information in hand, we will prepare a written proposal for architectural services at your request. This proposal, upon your written consent, becomes a letter agreement that defines the first phase of our services and provides a professional fee estimate and tentative schedule.

After your authorization to proceed with the project, we begin assembling the information we need to begin the design process.

Process 1

Process 2

Site analysis photos

Prepare record set

If your project involves a remodel, we will review and verify any existing “Record” drawings you may have, or have developed on your own. If a drawing set is not available, we will need to measure the house and other significant site features that may affect the project. We will also observe existing structural and mechanical systems as necessary. Since we generally use three-dimensional modeling software, our end product will be a three-dimensional electronic model of the existing house that we will use as a basis for our new design. This task also serves as a detailed site visit to allow us to better understand your site and project.

  

Examples of typical field notes for a remodel project.

 

Record drawings for remodel project, generated from model.

Site visit for new residences

If your project is a new residence and we have not visited the site previously, we will want to visit your site now. We want to assess potential views and site features that can possibly affect the design. Information about utilities and access can also be gathered on this visit. We will want to hear your thoughts about siting and orientation. If we have made an initial visit to your site prior to preparing a proposal, a second, more detailed visit may be desirable.

Typical survey.

Program & building restrictions

We will review and determine applicable zoning restrictions that could potentially affect the design. We will also meet with you to develop and refine your project program – the information we need to define your project objectives and priorities.

We welcome all input that you are able to give us that will help us design your project. Magazine clippings and articles are a common way that some of our clients use to show us ideas and preferences. We appreciate notes and photos that you wish to share with us. We have also developed a project questionnaire that some clients find useful.

Preparing conceptual designs

This is known as the schematic design phase. We work in a team with our clients and within the office. We use sketching and computer modeling in order to work through difficult design problems. Each project will require slightly different steps. Sometimes just one design is obvious or inspired. Sometimes many design options are used to refine the program and the scope and several iterations are required. We often use design sketches as a communication tool, to learn more about our clients and their needs. Our initial site visit and meetings tell us a lot about how our clients live and how they want to live. In our design discussions in the office we often discuss what will bring the client joy, what will cost them too much money, and what they will find useful. The Johnson Partnership will develop floor plans and elevations based on client discussions and consult with a structural engineer if necessary.

New residence schematic.

Remodel Schematic.

Implementing the Design

Refining the design

This phase, also known as design development, is when more detailed modeling and drawings are completed to determine and describe the size and character of the entire project, including systems, materials and finishes, fixtures and equipment.

We may review the proposed project with local agencies having jurisdiction over the project to allow for the orderly processing of applications, and then begin preparing for the production of permit drawings. At this time, we may recommend that the project estimate be refined further to allow us to adjust the design to meet budgetary expectations. This phase of the process usually encompasses 15-20% of the contract fee.

 

Images created during Design Development.

Permit documents

We now prepare construction drawings that describe the building’s construction related to zoning and building code compliance. This phase consists of approximately 40% of our contract fee.

Our basic permit set would include materials needed for submission to the permitting officials for a building permit, including site plans, floor plans, elevations, building sections, door and window schedules, and pertinent structural or required details. We usually apply for your building permit and coordinate with the permitting agency until a permit is issued.

Examples of new construction and remodel permit level drawings.

      

Construction documents

For a few projects, our scope of services are complete after permitting, although usually these clients retain our services on an on-call hourly basis to assist them with construction phase issues. In most cases, our clients choose a full service contract where our services continue throughout the remainder of the project. We assist clients with project detailing, and the selection of materials, equipment, finishes, and colors by preparing project schedules and specifications. More detail in the construction documents provides the homeowner more control over the final product and its cost. Because of our familiarity with the project, we provide valuable assistance to our clients during this phase and help maintain your design integrity.

Examples of new construction construction drawings.

     

Construction Phase Services

Finding a contractor

The project architect does not select or hire the contractor; the homeowner does. However, we may act as an advisor in helping to select the contractor. We will assist you with the bidding and/or negotiation process. This phase is about 5% of the contract fee.

Many of our clients presently choose to negotiate either a fixed cost or cost of work plus a fee contract with a general contractor they have pre-selected. This alternative allows for additional cost control during the Construction Documentation phase, as we usually bring the general contractor to the table as soon as possible. If you want to proceed with a negotiated construction contract, we can provide you with a list of Northwest regional contractors that, from our experience, have proven records of successful projects. We always welcome new qualified contractors to our list.

If you choose to bid your project, we will prepare the bidding documents, coordinate with potential bidders, and administer the bid.

Example of bid document binder cover.

Construction administration

Once the contractor is selected and the construction contract is signed, we will act as your agent, to administer the construction contract. Among our duties during this phase will be to observe the construction project with periodic site visits, or as required, to see that the project is built as designed and specified.

We also address field questions from the general contractor, review the general contractor’s requests for payment, review and recommend change orders approved by the client, and make a final list (“punch list”) of items to be corrected or completed by the contractor. As part of the project closure we will assist you in obtaining a release of potential project liens. This phase of the process usually amounts to 15% of our contract fee.

Examples of construction observation photos.

Example of supplemental construction detail.

3D Modeling Examples

New Home Construction

These virtual models are examples of the different kinds of residential projects we typically work on. When we work with clients we provide them with virtual models throughout the design process.

In order to view these models you must download the 3D model and a free viewer application. Click on an image below and it will take you to a third-party website where the model and viewer are available for download. The viewer is available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.

To begin exploring the model, hit the escape key. If you need assistance navigating the software and/or the files, please refer to the quick reference card.

New Home Construction: Freeland Residence

This model is an example of a new home. The single-story house is oriented to take advantage of views to the west and to capture the sunset. The viewer approaches the model from the north. A two-car garage and shop is located in the wing to the left as you proceed down the driveway. As you approach you see a projecting porch canopy that covers the main entry. The main entry leads to a large great room and kitchen with large windows facing west. The master suite is to the left of the great room as you enter the house and also has large windows facing west. A home office and guest suite are located to the right of the great room as you enter. This virtual model also contains hyperlinks to drawings of the project.

Major Remodel

These virtual models are examples of the different kinds of residential projects we typically work on. When we work with clients we provide them with virtual models throughout the design process.

In order to view these models you must download the 3D model and a free viewer application. Click on an image below and it will take you to a third-party website where the model and viewer are available for download. The viewer is available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.

To begin exploring the model, hit the escape key. If you need assistance navigating the software and/or the files, please refer to the quick reference card.

Major Remodel: Carleton Park

This Tudor Revival-style house is an example of a major remodel. The main entry is under the arched roof that the viewer sees as they approach the house. After entering the house, the viewer finds themselves in an entry hall with the main living room in front of them and, on their left, stairs leading to the second floor. In addition to the living room, the main floor contains a library, sun room, dining room, kitchen, and powder room. Doors in the dining room lead to an outdoor porch, and a second stairway is located off the kitchen.

The second floor contains a master suite with a sitting room, a bedroom, and a full bathroom.

The third floor contains two studies, a storage room, a utility room, and a full bath.

The basement contains the laundry, utilities, garage, multi-purpose room, and a studio.

This virtual model also contains hyperlinks to drawings of the project.

Minor Remodel

These virtual models are examples of the different kinds of residential projects we typically work on. When we work with clients we provide them with virtual models throughout the design process.

In order to view these models you must download the 3D model and a free viewer application. Click on an image below and it will take you to a third-party website where the model and viewer are available for download. The viewer is available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.

To begin exploring the model, hit the escape key. If you need assistance navigating the software and/or the files, please refer to the quick reference card.

Minor Remodel: Laurelhurst Home

This virtual model is an example of a minor remodel to an existing home. We added a new kitchen to this Tudor Revival house. We also enlarged the existing dining room and improved the flow between the living room and the rest of the main floor.

The viewer approaches the house from the street level below. The entry is located in the inside corner of the main floor off the front deck. By reconfiguring the main entrance, we created an entry hall that provides a dramatic sense of arrival. As the viewer enters the house the new dining room and kitchen are located to the viewer’s right; the living room is located to the left. The kitchen has been relocated to a new addition to the house. The dining room is now in the space formerly occupied by the kitchen and dining room. There is also a new pantry to the left of the kitchen.

The living room is located on the west side of the house facing the street. Before the remodel the living room was isolated from the rest of the main floor. By enlarging the doorway to the living room, we created a connection to the new kitchen and dining room.

This virtual model also contains hyperlinks to drawings of the project.

As-Built Model

These virtual models are examples of the different kinds of residential projects we typically work on. When we work with clients we provide them with virtual models throughout the design process.

In order to view these models you must download the 3D model and a free viewer application. Click on an image below and it will take you to a third-party website where the model and viewer are available for download. The viewer is available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.

To begin exploring the model, hit the escape key. If you need assistance navigating the software and/or the files, please refer to the quick reference card.

As-Built Model: Hazelwood Craftsman

As part of our services, we measure and photograph your existing home and provide you with an as-built model and drawings of your house. This virtual model is a model of an existing Craftsman-style home.

The viewer approaches the house from the street below. The entry is through the door on the right of the front porch. The main floor contains a living room, dining room, kitchen, and powder room.

A central staircase leads up to a master bedroom with an attached bath, and two secondary bedrooms that share a bath.

The basement stairs are located through a door from the dining room. The basement contains a family room, studio space, laundry, and bathroom.

This virtual model also contains hyperlinks to drawings of the project.