These are some of the main steps / stages that may be involved in your project.
An onsite consultation is most often the starting point, especially if you want advice, recommendations, or any guidance to help determine if your objectives are achievable.
In visiting your property, I can explain the basic zoning bylaw requirements, we can explore your property's potential, I can explain basic design considerations, we can determine the general design possibilities, and I can provide basic design advice.
Most often I can explain which physical possibilities should be avoided (including the reasoning; a more practical option, problematic rooflines, aesthetic issues, etc.), and I can help you determine where you should concentrate your energy in moving forward.
How long an initial consultation may take depends on how many questions you have & how detailed you want to be. In most cases, 1.5 to 3 hours is often sufficient.
For consulting, I charge hourly. Most often I can often meet within 1 to 2 weeks.
Your site will have a huge influence on what you are able to build, the overall general design of your home or cottage, and your general layout; including the positioning of spaces & rooms.
How aware are you of the various options that a specific site will accommodate?
Before you (1) commit to your project, and / or (2) prior to purchasing property, you should make sure that you are aware of those site-specific factors, to determine the development potential of the property. Will it actually work with your goals, not limit your potential, nor negatively impact your project?
Physical size, orientation, privacy (neighbours, road, pedestrians, etc.), views, amount of natural light/access to sunlight, and so on, are all important considerations.
After discussing your objectives, I can undergo a site analysis to identify any limitations, restrictions, or challenges (design, regulatory, or zoning) that may arise for your potential site(s) to ensure you understand the implications.
Your local authorities have 'zoning bylaws' that dictate what and where you are able to build on your property (unless you are in one of the very few unregulated areas).
These bylaws are investigated to determine any constraints.
Most often bylaws include:
(1) min. and max. areas,
(2) required distances from property lines & highwater marks (called setbacks),
(3) max. allowable building footprint area(s) relative to your property size (called permitted coverage's), and
(4) maximum building heights.
Other Authorities may also be involved, depending on your particular situation. For example, some properties fronting onto water will require input from the applicable Conservation Authorities.
It's not unusual where someone may first want to get additional information as to specific unknowns, so as to be able to determine whether or not they may want to proceed with and ultimately build a particular project.
This could be the case where unknowns could impact or influence your objectives / goals, budget / costs, practicality, complexity, possible outcomes, and so on.
In these cases, a feasibility study can first be undertaken to explore the unknowns, so you can determine if it may make sense to proceed any further.
Design projects that involve renovations and / or addition(s) require that, at minimum, the effected portions of your current home or cottage be accurately measured onsite, & drawn up electronically on the computer.
These 'measured as-built drawings' are then used as 'base drawings' to look at design options.
For your project to be a complete success, I need to know a great deal about you, your lifestyle, and your personal aesthetic style.
This involves listening and asking questions - and sometimes helping you to clarify your requirements.
I need to understand your goals, expectations, aspirations, wants, needs, preferences, & limitations, as well as what appeals to you visually.
Good design can transform the way you live - for the better. Carefully think about ALL of your needs, including how your needs will change over the long-term; your family growing, grandkids, aging with possible future mobility issues, and so on. Get your home or cottage to work as well as it possibly can for the long haul. You don't want to be forced out of your home or cottage, because it doesn't work for you in years to come.
Start to collect images (photos, magazine clippings, online images) of things that appeal to you, and anything else that will help your architect understand what you like (and what you don't).
Your design brief is extremely important. A potential challenge though, is you overlooking or forgetting something.
To alleviate this, I have developed a written 'design questionnaire' - which is extremely thorough.
This document - provided to clients - provides an extremely easy way to see and document all of the particulars & criteria that - ideally - you should think about and determine. This is a proven process. (For those folks that don't like homework, there is an simpler alternative.)
Design is a collaborative back-and-forth iterative process with yourselves, progressively developing and refining ideas, to ultimately produce the best possible design that is tailor fit to you, while engaging and taking full advantage of your building site.
This begins with a clear understanding of yourself (your ideas, goals, needs, preferences, & priorities) and the specifics of your property (size, topography, solar orientation, views, unique features, neighbouring considerations, zoning bylaws, and so on).
7a. Schematic / Conceptual Design
It is extremely important to get a feel for and understand your site. Where is the sun? Where are the nice views to enjoy, and where are the ones to exclude? Are there neighbouring buildings you may or may not want to not see? Is privacy or noise an issue? The wind? Where are the trees?
Conceptual design then begins by visualizing different general possibilities that will work with your site, which are roughly 'sketched', to determine which options are viable and have the most potential. This involves general 'concepts' showing the basic spatial relationships of spaces & rooms to one another, and how they relate to your building site.
Depending on your particular situation, a number of possibilities may have merit.
Together we then look at those general possibilities, to determine what may work best for you, what your preferences are, and which you would like to explore further. We can look at as many - or as few - as you wish.
Your design floor plans will always show your furniture; I need this to properly design (sizes, circulation, window and door locations) - and the furniture will also help you visualize and understand.
Often there are a number of decisions to be made, some of which are interconnected and will influence others. Priorities will have to be made. Often some of your initial thoughts may be further defined and refined.
It is important to realize that big decisions in the early design stages are worth taking your time making, as they will have the biggest impact on the outcome of your project.
7b. Design Development
Once we have determined a general overall design 'concept' that will work best for you, that initial rough design is further explored and developed into working floor plans and elevations.
This stage often involves 2 to 3 iterations, progressively refining, fine-tuning, and finessing - resulting in a cohesive final design.
We can make as many adjustments and changes as you want, until we have created the perfect design for you.
Construction Drawings are the technical drawings that are (1) required for building permit application, & (b) are the instruction manual for a builder to construct your project. They include both Architectural & Structural Engineering Drawings.
It is important to know that the amount of information shown on Construction Drawings can vary greatly; depending on (1) the person preparing the drawings, & (2) the 'reasoning' for the drawings.
For a building permit application, construction drawings can be quite vague, as relatively little information is required. (The authorities concerns are compliance with zoning bylaws, and min. building standards; the Ontario Building Code.)
Conversely, your construction drawings could instead be comprehensive, showing much more information, specifics, and 'detail'.
In most situations (but not all) comprehensive drawings would be in your best interest.
Advantages of Comprehensive Construction Drawings:
1. much more certainty; builders know what you specifically want - they won't have to assume / guess,
2. quotes thus can be realistic and accurate,
3. you will be able to get truly competitive quotes from several builders - for exactly the same thing - & compare 'apples-to-apples'. This alone can save you thousands of dollars.
4. the no. of 'allowances' included in quotes can be greatly reduced (which by their very nature do not provide you with competitive pricing),
5. the construction process will be simplified,
6. you can minimize having to make hasty last-minute decisions,
7. minimize misunderstandings & surprises
8. minimize 'extra' costs for things the builder hadn't realized / included