Design Services

Every house is distinctive and each client has their own needs – so what follows below is a rough trajectory of the design process for a full renovation or addition.  Flexibility is an important part of 4/1’s mission – so please call or email for a free consultation.

Investigation: Each project begins with a conversation, as the client and designer get to know each other, communicate the scope of the project, and find a common language.  My goal is to understand the client’s needs, wants, taste, and budget, while conveying the constraints given by the house, lot, zoning, and historic character of the property.

Documentation: For every project, the existing conditions must be recorded, measured, and drawn.  A small project might be able to be hand-drawn, but for most I use a CAD program, as it helps visualize the potentials as the design process moves along.

Programming: This stage is about function – what does the new or reconfigured space need to do?  Is there some way to use the existing structure in a new way?  Would changing the function of one room or another make the entire house flow better, feel better, live better?  By charting out what functions are needed, then I can be sure we’re only adding the square footage that is absolutely necessary and using the original space to its full potential.

Schematic Design: Pencil meets paper during this stage.  With a good sense of what functions are needed in the final building, we can start envisioning how the spaces fit together, how a roof will cover it, where windows will be.  Trace paper and multiple ideas get batted around the kitchen table until a vision solidifies.

Design Development: We might know generally how the pieces fit together before beginning this stage, but this is where I start to work through the details.  Where would built-ins really enhance a room?  Where did we want to tuck that new coffee bar area into the kitchen?  How big should the window be over the new clawfoot tub?  By the end of this stage, there is a computer model that we can spin around and walk through, looking at how the screened porch sits on the back of the house or how the foyer will feel once the hall is opened up again.

Permit Drawings: In order to do a construction project within the city, you must have a building permit.  The requirements for these drawings are less detailed than a full construction set (they don’t really care what sort of stove you’ll be installing, for example) but do involve working out some of the finer points of construction.  On some projects, this can be a good stopping place.

Specifications: If the thought of figuring out exactly what faucet will be on every sink and exactly what knob will be on the screen door is a little overwhelming, this is where I can help.  All of those little decisions must be made by the time the project is built, and the sooner they are settled, the more you know how much the whole thing will cost.  Many clients find that they care about some of the details (perhaps the bathroom tile) but not others (how about the grout?), and so I try to be as flexible as possible during this stage and provide exactly what you need.

Construction Documents: Once all of the fixtures and finishes are decided, a full set of Construction Documents can be assembled.  These drawings are much more intricate than the permit plans, and have many details worked out so that a contractor can take them and run the job site with very few questions.

Construction Administration: Once a project starts to be built, I really appreciate being able to check in regularly and make sure all is running smoothly.  If there are surprises or changes during construction (hopefully not!) then I can assist in trouble-shooting and problem-solving, as well as helping resolve any outstanding issues.  Mostly, this is the house-keeping stage, as I make sure the builder is actually following all of our well-considered directions.

I recently came upon a wonderful overview of the design process from an architect – I recommend you look at this description if you’d like to hear about it from another perspective.