Avoid Costly Mistakes in Your Building Project —
From the Outset

In our last post, we identified the phases of a project. To finish a project the most economically and efficiently, start with a good foundation. This is true of the building, but it’s even more true of the planning process. The beginning of a project will determine the outcome and have impacts proportionally greater than almost any subsequent activity. For that reason, we spend a great amount of time up front in what’s called the “Pre-Design Phase”, particularly assessing the needs and opportunities to be answered by building or altering a structure. 

Some need or opportunity compels businesses and individuals every year to begin a construction project. Naturally, the first impulse for some is to call a builder and "just get started", though in truth this type of rash action costs thousands of dollars lost and wasted due to poor decisions. (In fact, we regularly get referrals from knowledgeable builders who have received such calls, where no architect had yet begun the planning process.) Planning a project ahead of time identifies your needs clearly and clarifies most issues before they arise, helping you budget more accurately and reduce unexpected costs.

Your architect is uniquely trained and experienced to assist you in this through services called the "Pre-design Phase". This is part of your project when information is identified, collected, assembled, and organized — before the Design Phase can begin.

Over the years, we have seen, firsthand, the disastrous results of those who failed to go through these simple, low-cost steps early in the project. We've often assisted folks in getting back on track after such a misstep, but it's always more expensive than doing it right the first time. By then, some hasty drafter and under-qualified builder are long gone with the project owner's funds. That’s why we’re writing this series — to help business owners and homeowners anticipate what may be encountered in a typical project.

The main parts of the Needs and Options Assessment are:

  1. Pre-review of property survey by email;
  2. Pre-interview with owners by phone;
  3. Property visit and review;
  4. Identifying authorities having jurisdiction;
  5. Researching applicable regulations;
  6. Code assessment of proposed improvements;
  7. Identifying other professionals that may be required to perform certain services on the project such as engineers lighting designers landscape architects and others;
  8. Determining if other codes, covenants, or regulations may affect the property;
  9. Summarizing findings and suggesting next steps for the project.

Look for future posts, where we will break each of these down into the simple steps we take with our clients. Then, read on and find out the process for getting it right.

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