The beginning of design development (DD) is a logical extension of schematic design. In this phase, the architect will translate the design of a project from the realm of ideas to physical form. DD tasks build on the approved schematic design to reach a level of completeness that demonstrates the project can be built. The schematic design is overlaid with more detailed information obtained from consultants and team members.

Throughout DD, it is important to evaluate how systems, material selection, preliminary structure, and detailing reflect the schematic design concept. The design team works out detailed coordination issues, while enhancing the project, so that major revisions are not needed during construction documentation or, worse, during construction. At this point, your architect will prepare to scale floor plans and building elevations for initial review and approval.

This is an exciting part of the process where dreams get fleshed out into the three-dimensional form of your home. Although your involvement will take time and numerous decisions must be made, working with your architect should be a fun and rewarding experience. You are encouraged to review your plans—to virtually live in them—at different times of day (rings from your coffee mug or wine glass on the plans are welcome).

Spending considerable time contemplating your design now, during the earlier stages of the process, will save time and potentially expensive changes later. As a note of caution, significant changes made after approval of the DD’s, during the construction drawing phase, may warrant additional fees. Once construction has commenced, changes made to the design (especially those involving structural components of the building), can be quite costly; so make sure to speak up and voice your mind before moving to the next phase of design. The process will continue after approval of progress to this point.

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