DSA offers a broad range of architectural services that can take
you from the "just talking" phase of your project all the way to
your Moving-in Party.
The services listed below describe the most common phases of
a typical construction project. Not surprisingly, they correspond
directly to phases of work defined in a typical Architect/Client
agreement. The phases define the architects responsibilities
while guiding the project from beginning to completion.
While it might not be the most glamorous part of the design
process, Pre-Design is crucial to the successful launching of
any new project.
During Pre-Design, the client is interviewed at length to
determine goals, identify design issues and establish a budget.
These factors are then studied in relation to the specific site
conditions, legal constraints and building codes in order to
establish a project's feasibility.
As site conditions play an important role, the site is carefully
documented. Any existing structures are photographed,
measured and digitally drawn to produce a set of "As-Built"
drawings. These drawings will be referred to, elaborated and
modified throughout the entire project.
Exciting and fast-paced, Schematic Design is when the first
rough layouts for the project are produced. Information and
ideas gathered during the Pre-Design Phase are used to shape
design sketches which:
1) Determin an architectural character appropriate for the
2) Establish general size and arrangement of spaces;
3) Establish the general massing of the building or addition;
4) Address parking and other site-related elements;
5) Determine a conceptual structural layout.
The final Schematic Design drawings will include plans and
exterior views that show which portions of existing structures or
site elements are to be removed, and which elements are to be
added. Exterior "before & after" views (elevations) are also
drawn as required.
"Reality Check #1"
Before completing Schematic Design and moving on to the next
phase of work, rough cost estimates are made based on a
price/square foot multiplier. Independent builders may also be
asked to comment on the constructability and estimated cost of
The Design Development phase is where the final plans from
Schematic Design are rigorously developed and refined. This
includes the drawing of interior views ("elevations"), building
sections and details as well as the selection of materials and
products such as windows, flooring, mechanical and electrical
equipment and plumbing fixtures.
"Reality Check #2":
During Design Development independent builders will be asked
to perform preliminary estimates on the project. This will help
the owner decide if any cost cutting measures should be taken
before proceeding to the next critical phase of work:
Construction Documents are the actual building instructions for
the project. Based on the approved Design Development
drawings construction documents can be produced with varying
objectives. These different objectives require that they include
different degrees of detail and information.
The main types of Construction Documents, from the least to
the most detailed, are:
The Permit Set:
Intended for submittal to the Building Department, these
drawings require enough information about the project for City
personnel to check for conformance to building codes, zoning
regulations and other laws.
The Bid Set:
Given to building contractors so they can bid the project. More
information is generally required than for the Permit Set. More
information results in a more accurate bid. Occasionally the Bid
Set is developed while the Permit Set is being reviewed by the
The Contract Set:
Once a contractor has been selected, additional information and
some adjustments to the Bid Set generally need to be made.
The Contract Set becomes part of the legal agreement between
the owner and the builder.
Permits from various governing agencies must be received
before construction can begin. For projects within city limits, the
local Building Department (aka "Development Services") is
usually the main entity overseeing the permitting process.
Some smaller cities or areas outside city limits have private
companies do the review on their behalf. County, state or
federal agencies may also be involved either directly or via local
The architect is generally responsible for assembling and
submitting to the City and other appropriate agencies all the
drawings, specifications and other information required by them
to conduct their review. Once the review is complete the
architect responds to the rewiewers' questions and comments,
makes any required changes, and works to resolve any disputed
Of course there are permitting fees to be paid, usually at the time
of first submittal of plans. Fees are generally estimated based on
the size of the project. If there is a balance or refund due at the
time of project approval it is usually paid/refunded when permits
Contractors are usually the most interested in bidding a project
when the Permit Set is ready to be submitted to the City or has
already received permits. However it's best to get as much
information as possible onto the drawings before releasing them
for bidding. (See Construction Documents) Therefore, additional
information that surpasses the requirements of the Building
Department is usually included when putting together the Bid Set.
This includes items that can greatly affect the price of the project
such as materials, finishes, products and equipment.
When the Bid Set is ready the architect assists the owner in
qualifying contractors, organizing and administering the bidding
process. This includes establishing the rules and requirements
for bidding, responding to contractor's questions and for
maintaining fairness by getting equal information to all the bidders
at the same time.
Once the bids have been made the architect usually helps in
evaluating them so that the owner can decide which contractor is
best for the job.
Construction Administration helps keep the project on track and
constructed in accordance with the architect's drawings.
This is usually done through periodic site visits by the architect.
Construction Administration visits give the contractor, as well as
the architect, an opportunity to discuss any issues that have
arisen. When required, additional research or design drawings
may be furnished by the architect, who also provides
photographs and written field reports of the site visits to the
Review of shop drawings, writing and administration of punch
lists, coordination of consultants and rewiew of product literature
are also some of the duties performed by the architect during