Seven Foundational Actions for House Construction without Failure

Not Knowing What You Don’t Know can kill you. It can also wreak havoc in the design of your building. If you aren’t that familiar with the process of architectural design, this post will help by walking you through the process by way of describing seven critical steps to insuring the house construction goes well.

When it comes to adding on to your house or building a new one, the greatest enemy you have is ignorance. Here are seven critical things you must know about the design process:

  1. You meet with the Architect or designer you have chosen and communicate the three big priorities to them: What you want, When you want it, and How Much you want to pay for it. If you have a building program, you are able to clearly communicate to him the vision you have for your work. The architect will then be able to tell you by way of a generalized rough cost analysis if your project is feasible or not, and how you would need to change it to bring it back into the realm of possibilities.
  2. If generally determined to be feasible, the Architect will then get to work on the creation of the plans for your house or addition. He will do this by first of all creating a master list of the rooms that you want to change, the changes you want to make, and specific requirements for each room. This master list is called the Architectural Program.
  3. If you don’t have existing plans of your house, the architect will need to complete them; often, this process of completing ’which documents every relevant item that can be seen or accessed. These drawings then serve as the basis for the completion of the design work that will come afterward.
  4. The architect will check out the zoning and any special requirements complete the project in the way you wanted because you have to maintain a certain perimeter of yard space around your house. Your expansion options are thus limited, unless you want to challenge the ordinance. This process can become long and involved and thereby cost much money, but it is possible to get ordinances overturned so that you may be able to accomplish what you want to accomplish.
  5. Should there be no major legal obstructions, your design kicks into overdrive. If structural work will need to be done, the architect will hire a structural engineer to perform calculations to insure that the new construction fits with the latest seismic codes and will hire mechanical, electrical and or plumbing engineers if your work warrants them.All the while, he is busily at work researching aspects of the construction, seeing if there are ways to decrease cost, increase efficiency, creating details and coordinating the work of his consultants.Your design will go through four distinct phases: Schematic design, Design Development, Construction Drawings and Contract Administration. At the end of the first three phases, the Architect will have meetings with you in order to insure that the three fundamental priorities are being met. However, as each phase progresses, there are increasing difficulties which surround changes to the overall design. These changes are more expensive later in the process than earlier; therefore it is critical that the time you spend in understanding the work the Architect has done on your behalf measures up to the reality of your aspirations. At the end of the first two phases, the Architect should submit your work to a licensed general contractor for constructability review and analysis of costs. At the end of the construction drawing phase, the architect should submit the drawings to not only a general contractor, but also a third party code compliance institution as well as peer review. Though adding to the time that the entire process will take, these submissions insure that the work is as much of a ‘slam dunk’ as possible.After Schematic Design and Before each phase begins, you need to ask the Architect to come back out to the jobsite and verify, for his own purposes, the dimensions that he has indicated and ask him to insure that his drawings match up. During the design process, things can get busy and decisions can be made that later require a lot of reconstructing of the circumstances in order to rediscover why decisions were made.
  6. You should document major decisions and alterations of the plan along the way, always looking back to the 5 original reasons why you wanted to start the work, as well as the 5 optional things that you want the work to possibly accomplish. Make sure that the Architect shows you where and how the design fulfills your criteria.
  7. Finally, the plans are finished and are submitted to the applicable governing agencies. Usually, there are some changes that are required in order to receive the building permit stamp, which allows the general contractor to begin the work. After those changes are made to the satisfaction of the governing agencies, the building permit is issued, and work may begin. However, if you are prudent, and before work begins, the wise thing would be for you to go over the approved drawings one more time with the architect. Your primary question at this point is, “What did you have to change in order for the building do be approved?”, because usually, some things have to change.

These items, when followed, will put you on solid ground in terms of considering the various aspects of the project you are about to take on.

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