PHASES OF DESIGN, can you identify them?

You are ready to work with an Architect and you want to know when the project will be ready to build. The process is fun and exciting, but it's also long, so it takes several steps that it could be good for you to understand if you want a great project, which as I'm sure you do, you will have to go through those steps.

Mainly there are 4 major phases:

1. Programming

2. Schematic Design

2. Design Development

3. Construction Document/Permits

Let's explain what you should expect from every step.

Let's explain what you should expect from every step.


Architectural programming is the thorough and systematic evaluation of the interrelated values, goals, facts, and needs of a client’s family and the surrounding community. A well-conceived program leads to high-quality design.

Programming is when you’ll meet with your architect to discuss all of your needs and desires for your new home. During programming, your architect will gather information on your building site or existing home (if you are remodeling). At this time, the owner and architect will begin to form a cohesive relationship and a shared concept for the final building.

Here the scope, features, purpose, and functionality of your home are defined. Together with us, we'll develop and refine a “vision” for the project. Our responsibility is to lead you through a “programming” exercise to help you explore the needs of those who will live, work or play in the space you create.

You will be asked to consider what you want both aesthetically and functionally of your home. What is the time frame for occupying your new home? What are the indoor and outdoor space requirements or the likely movements and interactions of those who will be living and visiting your home? The answers to these and other questions will provide insight into uses and living conditions; insights your architect will use to design a home created specifically for you and your lifestyle.

This is the point where the budget for your project will be discussed. It is helpful for you to understand the costs of constructing a custom home that can vary from $150 per square foot to $300+, depending on the variables of location, site, size, structure, but mainly finishes, exterior, and interiors.


Once the requirements of the project are determined via the programming process, the design phase begins. Your architect gives shape to your vision through drawings. RT Studio provides a preliminary evaluation of the program, schedule, and construction budget developed in the pre-design phase and prepares schematic design drawings illustrating the project to review with the owner.

The schematic design phase begins with rough sketches

The designs layout the program on the site and address schedule and construction budget requirements. Your input into this phase is vital, as you get the first glimpses, and then a more defined look at how your home will take shape. It is important to establish a clear decision-making process with your architect during this phase.

As you move through the schematic design phase, your home will become more defined. We use 3D walkthroughs and Virtual Reality to make sure you understand the project

Once approved by the client, drawings at this stage are usually sufficient to initiate any neighborhood review process. If you are working with a builder at this point in the process, they will discuss a preliminary estimate of construction cost (we encourage the selection of a builder early in the process).


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.


Continuing the design process, the architect prepares drawings suitable for permit submittal and construction, which are referred as construction drawings (CDs). These drawings are an instrument of communicating the project to those who will be involved in the construction of your home; the CDs set the parameters for the building process CDs are produced on a larger scale and describe, in detail, the components of your home that need to be fabricated and assembled for it to be built. Tasks include developing the remaining elevations and beginning structural analysis as it relates to the architecture. During this phase, the architect will coordinate with consultants (engineering, interior design, landscape, lighting, HVAC, etc.) ensuring a complete coordinated set for construction.

Once all the drawings are finished, based on the contract we take care of the permit, a professional expeditor, or the client and/or contractor will take care of it. This process if required can take from a month to a longer period based on the location, size, and scope of the project. Lately, we have found that is taking longer and longer due to increased requirements for the jurisdictions.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Thank you

RT Studio

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