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At the beginning of a building project, the designer determines the scope of the work, also known as the design brief. It is in this phase that the key parameters and objectives of the design work are defined. For a house project, the brief would contain information such as the types of amenities the client wants in the house, room square footage requirements, numbers of rooms and construction budget. At this stage preliminary discussions will take place about building systems such as electrical and mechanical, exterior design features and required interior finishes.

The designer will research the applicable building and planning codes that relate to the project location, also known as site analysis. Thorough site analysis is important in the early stages of a building design, as knowledge of the development rules of the project location can determine parameters for the size and layout of the building.

Schematic design is one of the best recognized phases of architectural design, as this is when the designer quickly sketches or models several design schemes. These preliminary sketches and models are then turned into schematic floor plans, elevations, and 3-D images of the building design. Based on the program and site analysis, the designer interprets the information into floor plan and site plan drawings that fulfill all of the client's design criteria. The end of each design phase is marked by a presentation to the client, followed by their approval of the designer's design work. The early design phases require a lot of client feedback, and there are often several changes to the initial schematic design before it moves into the developed design phase.

In developed design, the approved schematic design layout is further refined into a workable building. By the end of the developed design phase, the designer will typically present CAD drawings of floor plans, elevations, sections and site plan. The client may also request 3-D computer renderings of the design to get a sense of the look of the completed building. The scope of work for the developed design phase varies from project to project and can also include physical models, colored presentation drawings and computer animations.

Schematic and Design Development Phases
Working Drawings

With the design of the building complete and approved by the client, the designer focuses on the design and documentation of the details of the project. This phase is known as both working drawings or contract documentation. Design of the ways materials, structure and systems connect is determined. In the working drawings phase, a set of drawings and specifications are completed for builders pricing and building permitting.


This phase normally requires far less involvement from the client and usually only requires a final review by the client prior to drawings being issued for bidding/tender or building permit application.

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