Phases of Your Custom Home - Architect's Digital Workshop
Understanding the different phases of your custom home is one important step in a successful project. I this post I explain the basic phases of your home construction project.
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Helping Homeowners Design and Build Their Dream Home

31 May Phases of Your Custom Home

Custom Home




I was talking to a friend of mine the other day.  We were talking about a variety of topics and I mentioned I was working on the schematics for a custom home for a particular client.  He stopped me and asked what are schematics.  I stared at him for a bit and realized that I go about my business designing custom homes for clients and they really don’t know the process we are going through.

Lets change that right now.

What are the Phases of Your Custom Home

  • Pre-Design

    • Pre-Design is the investigative and research phase of the project.  Some times there are restrictions and limitations placed on the property by City, State & Federal Agencies, depending on where the property is located.  The architect will research all these aspects and factor them into their design.
    • Pre-design is also where the programming will occur.  Programming is when the architect quantifies your home, writing down all rooms and puts a size to each room.
  • Schematic Design

    • Schematic design phase (schematics) is where the architect puts the custom home design all together.  They have done their research.  Schematics are like the pencil drawing part of the design.  The architect may have the designs on a computer – I love to layout the house on the computer as I develop a 3D design of the house, but I will have gone through wads of trace paper for the initial design ideas.  The plans are loose – not set in stone.  Many ideas may and should be tried and discussed.  You are exploring the designs and your ideas together.
    • The architect will take the planning restrictions and the programming requirements into consideration as they sketch them out in floor plans to see what the custom home will look like.  They will set it on the site plan within the setbacks and easements for the property.  The initial design review should consist of 2 to 3 different designs.
      • Present a floor plan & site plans
      • 2 − 3 designs
      • Many ways to solve the programming parameters
      • Once initial plans are ok’d exterior elevations will be presented in later design review meetings
  • Design Development

    • Where schematic design was the pencil drawing; design development is the mechanical drawing.  Lines and designs are firmly established.  Design decisions begin to build on top of each other.  Changes can become difficult and may cost money.  That is why you spent time with the schematic design.  The architect will now start to work more closely on details that will shape your custom home design.  They will shape the experience of the home for you and your guests.
    • The plans and elevations in schematic design are refined and defined.  Details on the plans and elevations are explored and designed.
      • Details added to floor plan
      • Site plan is developed
      • Exterior elevations are defined
      • Structural requirements are added and refined
  • Contract Documents ( Working Drawings or Construction Documents)

    • Contract Document Phase (or CDs) is called that because the drawings will become part of a contract between the General Contractor and the Homeowner.  CDs are the guts of your custom home design.  All items are define and quantified so a general contractor can build your custom home.  CDs can included the following drawings:
      • Title Sheet
      • Site Plan
      • Floor plan(s)
      • Exterior Elevations
      • Building Sections
      • Structural Plans
      • Electrical Plan(s)
      • Details
      • Many other sheets
  • Construction Phase

    • Construction phase is the final phase.  All your hard work and that of your team becomes reality.  You should be meeting with your design/construction team regularly to assess progress and prevent your project from becoming a construction nightmare.  Challenges come up and need to be dealt with and resolved.  This is the longest phase of your process.  Patience is the key to surviving this phase.

So there you have it – all the phases of your custom home.  Not every architect will use this exact format on every job – but it will be familiar enough for you to know what is happening with your project.  This is your base for learning and understanding the many aspects of your project.  Check back here for more post where I will expand and explore in depth these phases in future posts.

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