For most architects, the process of a construction project is divided into 5 discreet phases:

  • Phase One – Project Understanding and Schematic Design : First, we listen. What do you need or want?  How will doing a construction project make your life better, your business more profitable, or make you happier? We assess what you have to work with, and figure out how to get you there as efficiently as possible. We can start with an existing structure, a tenant space, or an undeveloped parcel of land. If you don’t have these yet, we can also assist you in assessing properties and their potential prior to purchase.    We’ll  meet to discuss and establish your proposed scope of work, including size, room type, finishes, and desired budget. For additions and renovations, we assess your existing building or space. From this information we will create preliminary (schematic ) design options that meet your needs. At the end of the process you will select the design option that best fits your needs and visions.  We’ll do a preliminary budget and schedule to verify that we are on target.

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  • Phase Two– Design Development and Construction documents: The selected schematic design option is refined to ensure that it meets applicable zoning and building codes, and can be built within the established project budget. Construction Documents: A set of technical construction plans and written specifications will be created in this phase. These documents will be submitted in the next phase to the local municipality for approvals such as planning, zoning, and building permit. They will also be issued to a contractor for final bidding and/or pricing in the 4th phase.
  • Phase Three–  Approvals.  The documents will be submitted along with forms, applications and fees to the local municipality for approvals such as planning, zoning, and building permit. There are usually a variety of municipal meetings needed to explain the project and convince the town elders that the project makes sense. There is usually a sequence and procedure to these approvals but it is not as linear and simple as most would foresee.
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  • Phase Four- Bidding and Negotiation.  This phase includes the bidding process, contractor selection and negotiation.  This is a critical phase and often where the Architect can save the Owner a lot of money by leveraging his relationship with the contractor and ability to provide future work.  The drawings and specs are sent to several General Contractors for their estimates.  The GC in turn will usually go the the project site with several or all of his subcontractors and develop a bid. This process often accompanies many questions form the builder to the Architect seeking clarifications or suggesting substitutions to keep the bids lower. For most smaller to medium projects,  we will write the Owner- Builder contract -just a means to keep everyone’s collective memory on the same agreement and lay out the parameters for scope,schedule, payments, protocol etc.. Larger projects usually require the advice and services of an attorney familiar with construction law.

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  • Phase Five- Construction Observation: , and observation of construction by the architect to ensure that the contractor is interpreting and following the plans correctly. The architect also assists in solving problems that inevitably arise during construction often issuing sketches to clarify certain conditions. Architects often get involved with payment review of the contractor to make sure that the payments are commensurate with the amount of work performed in the billing process.  The end of the project the architect will perform a “punchlist” to identify missing or faulty work, also to help obtain needed sign-offs and warranties.

Now is a good time to call me with any questions that you may have 914 980 5532!

Article by Steven Secon