Custom Home Design Process

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Preliminary Design Meeting

We meet with clients to discuss the project in detail to determine the size of the home, rough budget and challenges and opportunities of the site. Photographs and magazine clippings can be extremely helpful for the client to convey the spirit of the proposed design. Language can be an imprecise way to describe architecture… open to different interpretations. A picture can convey the desired intent instantly. Often it can even be useful to have pictures of what you don’t like.

Architectural Programming

We work with the clients to develop a program for the project describing the required rooms, their rough dimensions, location in the home and the overall size of the project. Programming is a critical step that serves as the road map for the project to create a home that’s functional and efficient. Using a spreadsheet to analyze the square footage the program should require we can determine whether the program will fit within the desired size of the home and to make adjustments before any drawings are done.

Site Analysis

We analyze the site to determine the factors that will affect the home considering all environmental conditions such as prevailing wind direction, snow, rain and solar access. We also analyze the topography to determine the best placement for the house, garage and access to the lot. Proper placement can save thousands in excavating and site improvement costs and make the home fit naturally into its environment.

Conceptual Design

Based on the program and the site analysis, we provide hand drawn concept plans at 1/8″/ft scale. Conceptual design drawings generally includes floor plans, roof plan, site plan and one elevation or rendering. Occasionally a hand made model will be required for architectural review.

Design Development- 3D Computer Modeling

Design development is the initial phase of producing the drawings that the builder will use to bid the home and eventually build the home. Summit Studio develops a detailed 3 dimensional model of the home and the terrain and primary trees of the site. In addition to the exterior features, I also begin to place cabinetry, design fireplaces and other significant architectural features.

The computer model helps the client to fully understand the design and how the home will look and feel. I place furniture in the model to make sure the rooms will accommodate the required furniture without compromising circulation and flow.

Using the computer model we can also do sun studies and solar analysis to fine tune the orientation of the house and the proper size for roof overhangs to allow sun in the home in the winter and keep it out in the summer.

Working Drawings

Working drawings are part of the contract documents the builder will use to price and build the home. They will also be used to apply for the building permit. We lay out a preliminary framing plan for the structural engineer to begin engineering work. The plans are noted and dimensioned thoroughly and all the relevant detail drawings are drawn. The final working drawing set typically contains the following:

  • Site plan
  • Floor plans
  • Landscaping plan if required
  • Building elevations
  • Specifications and general notes
  • Building sections
  • Foundation plan and details
  • Interior elevations and architectural details
  • Framing plans and details
  • Electrical plans

For most residential projects, plumbing and mechanical plans are not required. The sub contractor will typically do a design build contract, providing the required design of the system.

Final Plan Check

After coordinating with the structural engineer and completing all the required drawings, we thoroughly check the plans for inconsistencies, errors and omissions. The plans are corrected then printed and stamped with the architect’s seal in order to be an official building permit set. By Colorado law the plans for single family residences are not required to be prepared by an architect or structural engineer, but if they are, they must be stamped by the architect and structural engineer.

Percentage of time required for complete design process

Phase Percentage of Architectural Fee Cumulative
Preliminary Meeting, Programming and Site Analysis
Conceptual Design
Design Development
Working Drawings
Final Plan Check and Coordination