Architecture Design Services Process

An Architect is a key resource in the Building of a Custom Home

By Mark J. Donovan

When planning to build a new custom home or home addition, it may make sense to work with an architecture firm to develop a quality architecture design. Frequently homeowners, who develop their own architecture design and plans for a custom home or home addition, end up with either an unapproved building permit, or even worse, a home or home addition that does not meet their expectations.

An architect does more than develop architectural drawings of your proposed custom home or home addition.

As part of their job they perform site evaluations, review local building code requirements, perform structural engineering, develop detailed engineering schematics, generate bills of materials, assist in the contractor selection and bidding process, and oversee the project to make sure your home meets the quality requirements as specified in the architectural plans.

Due to the magnitude and responsibility associated with an architectural firm’s effort, one can expect to pay anywhere from 5-15% of the total project cost for their services.

There are several phases in the architectural aspect of your new custom home or home addition project.

Initial Onsite Meeting

The initial visit usually involves a site visit to the property. On site, the architect looks at the lot or existing home and listens to your ideas on a new home or home addition. He will probably provide you with some suggestions to consider before meeting again.

Concept Phase

Once you have decided upon some rough ideas for your new custom home or home addition, you will meet again with the architect to review your ideas and possibly even any plans you may have sketched.

In addition, assuming you want to move ahead with the architect, the architect will draw up a contract specifying what services he will provide for you. Normally the contract will include at a minimum the architectural design phase. This phase will provide you with a set of engineering plans for your custom home or home addition.

Other phases that you may want to enlist his services on include the Contractor Bidding Phase and the Project Administration/Management Phase.

After signing the contract, the architect will take your ideas and develop a set of hand or computer generated, to-scale sketches, with various aspect views of the proposed home or home addition.

This may take a number of days or weeks, pending the complexity of the project.

Once you have reviewed the sketches and have approved of a concept for the custom home or home addition, the real work begins.

Design Phase

During the design phase, the architect will develop a detailed architectural design of your custom home or home addition.

The design phase will initially include a thorough site and environmental analysis, and a Federal, State and local Code analysis to ensure the new home architecture design will meet all state and municipal requirements.

With all environmental and municipal building codes understood the architect will begin to develop detailed schematics of the home.

Home Addition Bid Sheets

As part of the process he will specify all dimensions and material requirements to enable a contractor to build the home. Specifications included both exterior and interior structural framing, component selection, and finished material.

When completed, the architect will generate for you a complete set of Construction plans and Bill of Materials, with costs and schedule estimates.

Bid Process Phase

With the Construction package in hand you will next begin the Bid Process phase. In this phase, the architect if you so elect, will help to identify and interview potential contractors to bid on the project.

Once you have selected the contractors and they have provided bids, the architect will review the bids with you to see which one(s) are the best for your schedule and budget. In addition, the architect may work with you to help negotiate the bid proposals.

Construction Phase

During the construction phase the architect can provide Site Administration/Management services to ensure the custom home project is being built to the architectural plan specifications and local code requirements. In effect, he is your quality control manager.

Whether you are building a new custom home or a home addition, an architect can ensure you get the project built to meet you expectations. Architectural services are more than just providing you with a set of blueprints. They convert your home ideas into reality by providing professional engineering and planning services. When considering your new home or home addition project make sure you talk with an architect before proceeding.

For more help on building a new custom home, see’s New Home Construction Bid Sheet. The New Home Construction Bid Sheet provides you with the knowledge on how to plan a custom home building project, and what to look for when hiring contractors for your new home construction. It also includes a detailed cost breakdown table and spreadsheet for estimating your own new home construction building costs.

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