Our process... from the first conversation to move-in

  1. Complete the 'LET's TALK' link: We will contact you to briefly discuss your project and to set up an initial consultation meeting.
  2. Free Initial Consultation: If we determine we might be a good fit for your project, we will arrange to meet you either at our office or at the site (depending on the project) to further discuss your goals for the project, our process, and our fee structure. We will also discuss the expectations we both have for how the design process will proceed.
  3. Fee Proposal Letter: Upon completion of the initial consultation meeting, we will provide a Letter of Agreement which will outline a summary of the project scope, our proposed services, and the proposed fee arrangement for the project. Upon your acceptance, you will sign and return the proposal along with a deposit to begin the design process.
  4. Design Phase: We loosely follow the "industry norm" which is to divide the design phase into 3 parts:  
    • Programming or "Pre-Design" Services: We meet with you at least once or twice at the initial stages of the project to review a number of items. Among these are the number of desired rooms or spaces, what functions those rooms will host, the goal of the project, the desired budget, and the time schedule to anticipate. We may also initiate a site survey, soils testing, and zoning/code research within this phase.  Laslly, in a remodel or tenant finish, the "as-built" measurements and drawings are documented and input into a CAD format for use in the future design phases.
    • Schematic Design: This is where the fun begins.  We take the desired and required design features and begin translating them into one or multiple design options through various means including hand sketches, physical models, as well as digital models. This part of the process usually includes a number of meetings between you and the design team in order to ensure the design is moving towards an end product everyone is happy with. Ideally a General Contractor is selected on a preliminary basis to perform pre-construction cost estimating services once the Schematic Design Phase has been completed.
    • Design Development: This part of the process expands upon the initial design concepts of the Schematic Design process with the goal of creating a set of drawings and specifications that are a generally a complete representation of the final design intent. Hand sketches and models are input into our digital design software and outside consultants such as structural engineers, landscape designers, and/or an interior designer are brought on to ensure an accurate and feasible design is yielded. Additional meetings are held, often involving the client, architect, contractor, and consultants to finalize design options, materials, and finish selections. The end result of this phase is a document sufficient to obtain construction pricing within 10%-15% of the actual project cost, and typically a permit-ready drawing set.  
  5. Pre-construction Phase:
    • Permitting:  The culmination of the Design Development Phase is typically the submittal of Permit Drawings to the applicable Building Department.  The governing municipality typically responds with "Permit Comments" which require responses, modifications, and resubmittals which are addressed concurrently with the other Pre-Construction Phase activities described below.
    • Contractor Bidding:  With the design drawings substantially completed, the drawings and specifications are distributed to the selected General Contractor or multiple contractors for a competitive bid scenario.  The contractor typically takes a few weeks to respond and a meeting occurs to discuss the bid-based budget.
    • Value Engineering:  Every project has room for improvement and can benefit from the input of the contracting team.  This phase incorporates recommendations for cost-cutting modifications and results in final modifications to the design in order to reduce the budget and/or the schedule.
    • Design/Drawing Modifications and Final Construction Document Issue:  The Architect takes the Value Engineering modifications and completes the design drawings and specifications (known as the "Construction Documents") for issuance as the "100% Construction Document Issue" which serves as the baseline for the construction contract moving into construction.
    • Client Authorization to Proceed:  The issuance of the 100% Construction Documents ideally coincides with the city's issuance of the building permit and the contractor's fine-tuning of the budget and schedule.  The Client must authorize the contractor to begin construction based upon the final budget and schedule presented to them at the conclusion of the value engineering and permitting phase.
  6. Construction Phase:
    • Construction Commences:  This is where the project starts to take shape...  The contractor mobilizes their team and it will quickly seem like you have taken a seat alongside a race car driver that has just slammed the accelerator to the floor.  Despite this initial fast pace, it is not uncommon that as the project progresses past the initial foundation and framing stages, that it feels like the project has just hit rush hour traffic and it is crawling along.  Such is the nature of construction...
    • Contract Administration: This is a recommended (but not required) architectural service which serves to determine if the project's actual construction is being implemented in general conformance with the "Construction Documents". It typically includes weekly or bi-weekly on-site meetings with the contractor and often times, the Client. It also includes review of items such as roof truss drawings, cabinet "shop" drawings, window/door drawings, etc. Not every client/architect agreement includes Contract Administration services, but it is highly advised.
  7. Final Inspection and Move-in:
    • Building Department Issuance of "Temporary or Final Certificate of Occupancy":  The conclusion of construction phase will result in the building inspector's issuance of a "Certificate of Occupancy" verifying the project meets all applicable building codes and requirements. This is also known as the "CO".  Occasionally, an inspector will issue a "Temporary Certificate of Occupancy" which will allow the user to "move-in", but requires an item or two to be completed prior to the issuance of the final "Certificate of Occupancy".
    • Punch List and Final Walk-through:  Typically after the issuance of a CO, there remain a few items for the contractor to complete or fix.  At the point the contractor notifies the architect that the project has reached "substantial completion", the architect and usually the client will walk the project in order to assemble a "punch list". Generally this consists of documentation of cosmetic imperfections requiring contractor "touch-up", but occasionally it might note an appliance that is not working correctly or a sidewalk that is not properly draining away from a building (for example). The contractor is then expected to address the punch list items prior to being issued a "Certificate of Substantial Completion" and prior to receiving his/her final payment.
    • Architect's issuance of a "Certificate of Substantial Completion":  With hopefully only a few paint touch-ups and the alignment of a cabinet or two, the project is deemed complete, and you are welcome to begin enjoying your new home or building for years to come.   (Issuance of a CSC in addition to the "Punch List" service is not included if "Contract Administration" services are excluded from the Owner/Architect agreement.)
    • Client move-in:  The moment we've all been anticipating - Enjoy!
  8. Contractor Warranty:
    • Typical Contractor warranty:  1 year from Final Certificate of Occupancy is the typical duration of a contractor warranty.  It is recommended all clients evaluate their home or building extensively prior to the expiration of the 1 year warranty date and notify the contractor in writing of all items requiring attention prior to expiration of the warranty.

While this all may seem overwhelming to the uninitiated, Blueline Architects is here to walk you through every step of the way.