Design Phase Tips to Help Your Next Project Succeed
To the untrained eye, construction may seem like a long, arduous process that can be difficult to follow. The truth is, many of the complications that may arise during a project’s life cycle can be easily avoided. How, you may ask? Just as a cook cannot cook a five-star meal without a recipe, a construction project cannot be completed perfectly without a solid plan. The design phase of a construction project is where this plan is formulated, laying the foundation for the rest of the construction process.
In order to facilitate the design process and mitigate the chances of problems occurring down the line in the project life cycle, it is essential for the construction service consumer to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them at this phase. We’ve also created a useful guide that covers everything a client should know before starting their next construction project, which you can download below.
Now, let’s run through some design phase essentials to help facilitate your next project’s success:
Recap: What is the design phase?
The design phase can be broken up into five sub-phases – conceptual design, programming, schematic design, design development, and construction documents. Conceptual design is typically the first stage of the design phase, where the problem (what needs to be built) is identified and the design intent is established. Here, architectural renders such as these can bring your ideas to life, allowing you to see what the space will look like once built.
The programming process is extremely important, as the scope of work is defined in this stage. Programming is concerned with understanding the objectives of the project, functionality, and user requirements. The schematic design phase translates the programming list into actual drawings of the proposed space. The major building systems are conveyed on schematic drawings and are reviewed for code compliance, functionality, and usability.
In the design development phase, constructability is paramount. Typically, contractors are involved in this stage of the process to ensure that the proposed designs can be feasibly constructed, and the aesthetics are to the client’s tastes. Finally, in the construction documents phase, the architectural drawings are completed and ensured to be code compliant and have the necessary information for the space to be constructed.
Why is this important to me?
Now, you may be thinking “Well this is all great information, but what does this have to do with me?”
That’s a great question. The answer is that you (the client) play an enormous role in the design process! It is your vision that forms the foundation of the design phase, and although you may be presented with suggestions on interior or exterior finishes, for example, it is ultimately your decisions that guide the design process. A good construction firm involves its clients throughout the design process and beyond, ensuring that their needs are consistently met. Therefore, it is extremely important to be knowledgeable in the process and what is expected of you throughout, so that you may make better, informed decisions that get the results that you are looking for.
How can I make the design process better?
As I’ve said before, being an informed decision maker in the construction process can work to the advantage of everyone involved, maintaining schedule and budget requirements. Here are some critical topics you should be aware of in order to aid the design phase, specifically:
The Problem – Why are you contacting a consultant or architect? Every construction project is the result of a problem. It is important to know the reason you need a new space or building constructed. Are their limitations in your current space that need to be addressed? Framing the problem will allow your architect to better understand your goals for the design.
Need vs. Want – In thinking through your new space/building you should start by understanding elements you absolutely need versus elements that you want. Separating the two will ensure that the space is functional to your requirements and allow you to make quick compromises if certain elements cannot be added.
Planned Use of the Space – How will the space be used? Who will be using it? Think through what types of rooms, equipment, and user groups for the planned space is essential. This way, the architect can include all necessary requirements in the design and plan for any special requirements for the space.
Materials – What types of materials/finishes do you like? It can be beneficial to have a few ideas of materiality for your proposed space for the architect to consider. Even providing screenshots or examples of your favorite designs can give your architect inspiration and cater the design to your liking. Architectural rendering allows you to visualize the space with all materials and finishes before construction even starts, eliminating any surprises down the road.
Communicate – Communication is key. Remember, the architect is working for you, and wants to help you realize your vision. Therefore, never be afraid to offer constructive criticism or new ideas that may pop into your head. Engaging in open dialogue with the architect will ensure that the end result of the project is a new space or building you love.