Designing a new home or remodeling your existing home should be a fun and exciting time! You, along with your Long Beach architect, are designing the home of your dreams—quite possibly the home you will live in for the rest of your life. So, while the design process can be exciting, there can also be a lot of pressure to get the details right.
At M. Grisafe Architects, we approach architectural design as a collaborative process. We welcome and encourage any and all feedback from our clients, and fully anticipate that there will be multiple changes made during the design process. We certainly don’t expect our clients to come to us with a completely fleshed out idea of what they want in their new or remodeled home.
At What Point Should Clients Ask for Changes to Their Architectural Design?
Technically, changes to the design or scope of a project can be made at any time. If your plans have already been approved by the city, but you wake up one morning and decide you want a two-story modern farmhouse instead of a one-story mid-century modern home, we can make that change, but it will obviously be a very costly change. Our architects would basically be starting from scratch.
This is an extreme example, but there have been occasions when clients came to us with major design changes late in the game, and then struggled to understand why their project’s timeline had to be extended and their budget increased.
We wanted to take the time to explain a little bit about our process from beginning to end, in order to give you a good understanding of the various stages in the architectural design and building process. We hope that by doing so, you can get a good idea of what types of decisions you will be expected to make at the various stages, and what types of changes will cause you to incur additional charges or extend your project’s timeline.
Phase 1: Schematic Design
This phase is the beginning of the architectural design process, when you will make the major design decisions related to your project. That isn’t to say that you have to know exactly what you want when you start working with our Long Beach architecture firm. Part of our job is to guide you through all of the decisions that need to be made and help you land on a design that meets all your needs and fits your aesthetic.
We’ll start by getting an understanding of your spatial requirements. Are you looking for a new master suite? Do you want a new home for entertaining? Is an older family member moving in? Once we understand what your spatial requirements are (and your budget), it can help us as we begin to consider how much square footage will likely need to be added to the home, and whether a two-story or a single-story project is more appropriate.
Also in this phase, we’ll work with you to determine your aesthetics. Are you a fan of the Craftsman style or are you going for more of a modern look and feel? Maybe you have your own unique style that you want to bring into your home. Whatever style direction you choose, there will be details associated with it that help our architects bring the spatial and aesthetic requirements together.
We expect that many design shifts will happen during the schematic design phase, but by the end of it, most of the major decisions affecting your project should be made. Once the schematic design is completed, we will submit the plans to the city for a preliminary code review.
Making changes after this phase, either to square footage or overall aesthetic, will likely have an impact on the project’s schedule, and can cause you to incur additional charges from your architect, as he or she will have to redraw the plans and re-submit them to the city.
Phase 2: Design Development
In this phase, you and your architect will start to hammer out some of the finer details. By now, you should have a good sense of the look and layout of the floor plans, as well as the building elevations. Smaller adjustments not affecting the size of the building can still be made at this time, without affecting the project’s budget or timeline much. Details like the sizes and locations of doors and windows, the height of the ceiling, or even small adjustments in the sizes of the interior spaces can still be changed at this point.
At the end of the design development phase, plans will be sent off to a structural engineer.
Phase 3: Construction Drawing
When we reach this phase in the project, plans, elevations, modeling, and engineering have all been fused into a cohesive design. At this point, any changes to the decisions made in Phase 1 or 2 will be costly and have an impact on the schedule. Even though the project has not yet been permitted, changes will require the project to be disassembled and rebuilt on the computer. The plans will then have to make an additional trip through engineering.
Some of the changes you still can make in this phase include things like changes to cabinet configurations, interior finishes, and exterior refinements, such as patio covers.
Phase 3 ends with the completion of preliminary construction drawings that are then handed off to contractors for bidding.
Phase 4: Project Construction
By the time your project reaches the construction phase, it has been permitted by the city and a contractor has been awarded the project. At this point, even seemingly minor changes can be costly, in terms of both money and time. For example, a change to the size or location of windows, doors, or walls will mean the plans have to be re-designed, re-engineered, and re-permitted. In addition, contractors no longer have the pressure of bidding against other contractors, since they have already been awarded the project, and as a result, they have little incentive to offer competitive pricing on the changes you want.
Happy Clients Are Our Ultimate Goal
We want every client to be thrilled with their new or remodeled home! Whenever a client comes to us with changes, even in the later phases, we are happy to make them. We will do our best to come up with creative solutions that will satisfy our clients’ wishes, without completely blowing their budget or timeline out of the water. However, we also make sure that our architects do their due diligence in the beginning phases by asking lots of questions and communicating regularly with our clients, so changes in the later phases are kept to a minimum.
We hope this information has been helpful. If you’ve never undertaken a major remodel or a new home build, we know the process can feel daunting. But we’re here to help everything go smoothly and to make sure that you end up with your dream home.
Have you been thinking about taking on a new build or a home remodeling project in Long Beach? We would love to talk to you about it! Contact our Long Beach architecture firm to get started.