Beginner's Guide to Architecture

You may have an imbalance between what you have and what you want. You know that you have a space problem. You have an idea about how to solve the dilemma, but how do you make it real? Follow along as we explain the basic process of remodeling an existing structure or building new.


A project begins with a simple idea. Working with you, we will create an unique vision—a beautiful custom home, an impressive corporate headquarters, or simply a more functional space. To create this idea in real forms, you need a plan. Using our architectural skills and experience, we will create a detailed plan from your ideas that can be used to craft physical materials into the space that you had only imagined.

We ask that you come into our office by appointment to discuss your hopes and dreams. SketchBring all your ideas, whether they are doodles on a napkin or a pile of magazine clippings. They will help us see your vision. We will explain our phases of work and show you drawings of similar projects. The second meeting is often at your site to see the existing building you want to alter, or to see the property where you want build. Most beginners are surprised at the complexity of the task ahead, but we are here to guide you through each phase of the project, regardless whether you are a seasoned developer or a first-time novice.


Our services can be divided into six phases:

Schematic Design

1. Schematic Design: We start by creating a building concept to determine the size, shape and location of the new building or the addition that meets your functional needs and budget, as well as meeting local zoning regulations. We present our creative design concepts in hand drawn sketches as well as 3-D computer models.

Design Development

2. Design Development: In this phase, we will determine the structure, the choices of materials and construction methods. We often make a preliminary cost estimate at this point to insure that the project is within your original budget projection before proceeding to the next phase.

Construction Documents

3. Construction Documents: In this phase, we produce technical drawings or "blueprints" and specifications for manufactured products such as windows, doors, appliances etc., exterior siding, and interior wall and floor materials. We will also coordinate our work with other consultants, which may include structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers, interior and landscape designers. These documents are intended to communicate to the contractor exactly what to build, assuring compliance with the Uniform Building Code.

Permit Processing

4. Permit Processing: This is the most time consuming phase during which various government agencies review the drawings and calculations that we submit. The actual length of time to process a building permit varies greatly—from a few weeks to several months—depending upon the complexity of the project and the jurisdiction in which it is located. We utilize our experience with local agencies to patiently and persistently coordinate the permitting process in order to achieve all the required approvals necessary for your project.


5. Negotiation: We can refer you to builders and assist you in negotiations with a selected general contractor, or sub-contractors (plumbers, electricians, framers, etc.).

Construction Observation

6. Construction Observation: We prefer to follow through and observe construction to assure that our drawings are being followed, answer questions from the contractor, make changes requested by you, and if requested, review the contractor’s invoices. At the end of construction, we will inspect the construction and develop a “punch list” of items to be altered or fixed to meet your expectations.

The architect can be hired for some or all of these services.


After our first or second meeting, we will write a proposal outlining our scope of work with a fee estimate. If the proposal is acceptable to you, we will write a contract for you to review. A signed contract and a first payment will start the project. Connect to get us started on making your idea real.