Over the years since I started my business I have had many clients and business associates mention to me that it would be very helpful for them to have a timeline of expectations or knowledge of how an architecture project comes together.  So I have decided to start a new series on my blog titled “Chronicles of an Architecture Project” where I am going to lay out – week by week – the process that I go through from the initial meeting with the client to finished Construction Documents.

Week One – This is the initial meeting with the client.  I have a design guide that I give to my clients to have them start thinking about their projects in design terms.  It is laid out in the following categories:

What To Consider:

Your Site

            Your Space

            Design Mood and Feeling

            The Details

            Materials

            Sustainability and Energy Efficiency

            Timetable

            Budget

Answer the Why’s

10 reasons why you want to build or renovate?

Who, What, When, and How

Who will live in your home now and in the future?

            What different new activities will you need to accommodate?           

           How do you want your home to fit with the existing environment?

           Are there any health and safety issues you need to take account of?

          What would you really like to live in?

          What do you want your home interior to look like?

          What colors will it have?

          What facilities for cooling and heating do you want?

          Do you want to install or upgrade existing security and/or audio systems?

         Do you want a total makeover or a staged process?

         What is your budget?

         Does your budget allow for consent and consultant fees and GST?

        What level of involvement do you want in the management of your renovation?

HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR DESIGN PROJECT

During the initial design meeting I also collect contact information and set up a program.  Many people think a program is part of commercial design only, but having a program for a residential project is just as important.  The Architect needs to know what rooms you want, what rooms you definitely don’t want, and what rooms might be lived without if your budget or square footage get too large.

I then encourage my clients to set up an account on Houzz where they can browse images of projects, save images to an ideabook and call out the things they like about each image to help narrow down their design style. Although magazines and books are still widely circulated, this is a new design feature that helps the Architect immeasurably, because let’s be honest, most homeowners are not really proficient in design and architecture lingo, nor should they be.  I don’t expect to know every medical terminology when I got to see my doctor, so likewise, Architect’s do not expect their clients to know the terminology, but simply show me what it is you like.

And lastly, and most importantly, at the end of the meeting I let them know that I will be sending them a proposal for their project based on the scope of work they have supplied to me and the amount of time I estimate before I will get that to them.  I like to work on a percentage of construction, that way there are no surprises for the client when the invoices come in at the end of the month.  It also gives me a very good way to program the amount of time I need to work on their project each month, and tells me if I have enough time to take on their project, or if I need to find additional staff to accomplish the project in the timetable allotted.  It is very important at the end of the meeting to give the client a clear understanding of what is going to happen next and schedule the next meeting.  Everyone knows that you blink and it’s Friday again, so time gets away from us quickly.  Being prepared and scheduling the next meeting at the end of every meeting helps to keep the project on schedule.

During this phase of design, what I like to call “Pre-design” I typically meet with my clients every two weeks.

How to Prepare for your design projectUntil next week, I hope you’ll follow along, leave your comments, and if you are another Architect I hope you will share your process and thoughts.  My key to success is continuous pursuit of knowledge – always striving to learn more and do better!

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