WORKING WITH LAMBERT EZELL DURHAM IN SIX EASY STEPS
DECIDING WHAT TO BUILD
The first phase is called programming and is probably the most valuable time you will spend with your architect. It is at this time that you discuss the requirements for your building: how many rooms, what function the structure will have, who will use it and how. It is also the time when you begin to test the fit between what you want, what you need, and what you can spend.
It's best not to come in with predetermined ideas about your design. Be prepared to explore new and creative ideas. Be very frank about how you want the end result to feel and work. We will ask you questions to get a better sense of your goals and needs and to determine if your expectations match your budget. We may suggest changes based upon our knowledge, expertise, and your budget. After thoroughly discussing your functional requirements, we will prepare a space program defining the scope of our project.
Once we have defined what is to be built, we will then prepare a series of rough sketches, known as schematic designs. These sketches will illustrate to you the general arrangement of the rooms and how your building might fit on your site. These sketches are not construction documents, but are meant to show possible design ideas for you to consider.
We will then refine and revise the schematic designs until a solution is developed that you agree meets the needs of your project. At this point, we will also give you a rough preliminary estimate of construction cost. Please remember there are still many more details to be established about your project and that this cost estimate is very general. It is hard to predict market conditions, the availability of materials, and other unforeseen situations that could drive up costs. Therefore, this estimate should include a healthy contingency to cover cost changes that might arise as the design is developed.
Ask us how the designs satisfy the space program requirements we discussed in the first stage. It is vital that we are clear with you about what you want and what we are intending to design.
REDEFINING THE DESIGN
This phase, called design development, is when we prepare more detailed drawings to illustrate other aspects of the proposed design. The floor plans will show all of the rooms in the correct size and shape. We will also prepare outline specifications listing the major materials and room finishes.
When reviewing these drawings, you should try to imagine yourself actually using the spaces. You should ask yourself the following: Do the traffic patterns flow well? Does each space serve the intended purpose? Do you have a good sense of what it will look like? Do you like how it looks? Do you agree with the selection of wall and ceiling finishes, door types, windows, etc.?
Based on the design development drawings, we will prepare a more detailed cost estimate, though the final costs will actually depend on market conditions. Review every element of your building with us to make sure you are getting the most out of your construction budget.
PREPARATION OF THE CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS
At this point, we prepare your construction documents with detailed drawings and specifications that the contractor will use to establish an actual construction cost and to build the project. These drawings and specifications become part of the contract. When the construction documents are finished, you are ready to hire a general contractor.
HIRING A CONTRACTOR
There are a number of ways to select a contractor. We can give you recommendations, or, if you already have a contractor you want to work with, you might send the construction documents to him or her and negotiate fees and costs. Another method would be to ask several contractors to submit bids on your project. We will help you prepare the bid documents, which consist of the drawings and specifications as well as invitations to bid and instructions to bidders. The bidding documents are sent to several contractors, who, within a specified period of time, reply with bids, which include the cost for building your project. The lowest bidder is then selected to construct the project.
The final step is often the most anxiety-producing part of the whole process. Up until now, your project has been confined to intense discussion, planning, and two-dimensional renderings. When construction begins, your project moves from abstraction to a physical reality.
Our involvement normally does not stop with the completion of the construction documents. We also provide construction administration services that may include assisting you in hiring the contractor, making site visits, reviewing and approving shop drawings and the contractor's applications for payments, and keeping you informed of the project's progress.
While we observe construction, the contractor is solely responsible for construction methods, techniques, schedules, and procedures. The contractor supervises and directs the construction work on the project.
The path to a completed building project is paved with many challenges and uncertainties. There are literally thousands of decisions to be made, decisions which have a strong impact on how the project looks and functions over time.
We not only ease the process by helping you avoid pitfalls, but we can also guide you to solutions you never considered. The result is a unique building project created to meet your needs, express your individuality, and provide enjoyment for everyone who uses your building.