Residential Architect's Design Process

Remodelling a home can be a very important decision, and the design process of an architect can be a mystery to the client. Sometimes, the client can feel anxious or unsure about the architect's decisions, and if the design process is not a clear and open one, they may begin to feel resentful. There are many ways in which the client and architect can come together to work towards a mutually successful design process, but before that can happen, the client needs to work out their own needs and finances, so that they can be certain about what they want.


This is probably the most important part of any design process. Establishing how much money you have to spend can set definite goals for both the architect and the client: it can also help to clarify to the architect exactly what the client can afford, before he uses very expensive designs that will never be affordable. The client should discuss openly with the architect how much he has available to spend: and the architect should be honest with the client if their design process is unrealistic for the amount of money they wish to spend.

Conceptual Design

This is the first stage of the design process, where the architect takes on board everything that the client requires, and develops an initial design. This will usually be in the form of drawings or a basic model, so that the client can easily visualise what the architect means.

Schematic Design

This is the second stage of the design process: where the ideas of the client and architect are refined and developed further. This state will consist of elevations, floor plans and sections. An elevations will show what the outside of the house will look like, the section will be a slice of the home, viewed from the side, and a floor plan is the roofless house viewed from above.

Design Development

The third stage of the design process is Design Development, where the architect creates more models and plans of the house, and starts to consider the possible materials to be used on the house. During this part of the design process, the architect will provide ideas of the finish, and initial details will be confirmed. This is the final stage at which changes of mind on the part of the client will be possible without considerable expense, so look at all of the plans before they are confirmed.

Construction Documents

Construction documents are the legal confirmation of all the details agreed in the design development process. This set of documents has to be completed before some areas will grant permission for the house to be remodeled, and they are also the documents which must be agreed to by building code inspectors and structural surveyors.

This is the end of the design process, per se, before the client invites contractors to bid on the plans as established in the construction documents. At this stage, the architect will draw up a list of people needed to remodel the building, such as plumbers and electricians, and the cost involved for each part of the build.