The Architectural Design Process for Home Building

architect, architectural design process, house plans, home designs, home building, Plandeluxe

The Homebuilding Process

According to Aristotle, Anything worth doing is worth doing well. So, building a home without an architect is tantamount to sub-standard results and disappointment. If you don’t hire a professional to help establish the house designs, how will you achieve your goal? Moreover, nothing beats an architectural design in homebuilding. That’s why you need an architect who knows his field. He/she will help you to bring the home of your dreams to reality.

Working with an experienced architect can also help to minimize costs and optimize available income. Once he draws the house building plans, all other parties will fall in line and work accordingly.

architect, architectural design process, house plans, home designs, home building, Plandeluxe

But, does it end when you hire an architect? The answer is no! There is a process that architects follow to arrive at the best house design. Our aim of sharing this is to help you understand what to expect from your architect. Also, we want your knowledge to serve as criteria to check his/her expertise. So, let’s get to it!

What is the architectural design process

An architectural design process is a step-wise guide to perfect home design. It follows the activities of an architect from the time a client hires him until he designs the house. Sometimes, architects also help to monitor the project until the end, but it depends on the level of commitment and professionalism.

So, a good architect is expected to follow the professional design process to ensure that he/she meet a client’s expectations in the house building plans.

Other benefits of the design process are:

  • It helps the architect to cover the essential parts of the house
  • The process simplifies the design ideas and helps the homeowner to be involved in developing the building plans

Now that we understand the need for the architectural design process let’s check the steps.

Architectural design process

Phase One: Pre-design/ Architectural Programming

Many architects in the industry call it the data sourcing or data collection phase. In academics, we call it architectural programming because when it is done right, the design will mirror the owners’ intention. This is the stage where the architect asks questions, collects relevant information and tries hard to understand the homeowner. This stage ensures the cohesiveness that must exist between an architect and a homeowner.

If your architect doesn’t grasp what you aim to achieve, his designs will tell a different story. At this stage, discussions on purpose, scope, features and functionality of the new home will come up. There must be a meeting between you and the architect to discuss your desires, your needs, and your values. On the other hand, the architect will ensure that he gathers relevant information from the homeowner to guide his designs by asking the following questions:

  • How do you want the house to be in terms of the aesthetic appeal and function
  • When are you planning to move into the house
  • Do you have any space requirement for the indoor and outdoor
  • What’s the nature of the interaction between the proposed occupants of the house

Once you provide the answers to these questions and others, the architect will understand your lifestyle better. That way, he/she can create a home design that’ll suit your family perfectly.

Another discussion that arises at this programming stage is the budget. You need to tell the architect what you intend to spend or the limit which you have set for the project. He/she will also give you an insight into the costs of achieving the home you envisage. At least, you’ll know what to expect for different house sizes, building sites, specifications and structures. All this information will guide your decision as the process continues.

architect, architectural design process, house plans, home designs, home building, Plandeluxe

Phase Two: Schematic Design

This is the reason for all the questions, investigations and information collection. Your architect needs the insight to go ahead with designing your home. Once you make your needs and requirements clear, he/she can bring your vision to life with drawings and sketches. These schematic design drawings will illustrate the building project. Bear in mind that what the architect will show you here are the rough sketches of the plan. It will incorporate the site plan, the schedule and the construction budget requirement. You are going to review these drawings with the architect and make inputs if any.

We advise a careful perusal of the schematic design. It will inform your decision to search for a builder or to kick-start the review process. If you select a builder at this phase, he/she will present a cost estimate of building the house.

Phase Three: Design Development

After the schematic design, the architect goes ahead with the design development to translate the ideas into a physical form. Your architect can’t continue with this phase without your approval of the schematic design. What he does here is to create a detailed version of the rough sketches and drawings in the schematic design.

Also, your design team will detail every part of the project to enhance coordination and avoid revisions during documentation or construction. It is also at this design development stage that the architect prepares to scale elevations and floor plans in preparation for the first review and approval.

The architect may not work alone in this phase. He may consult other professionals who have a role in the building project such as the engineers, interior designer etc. The first parts of the project he completes or refines will be the layout, size, and site. Afterwards, the architect moves to design the stairs, fireplaces, built-in furniture, cabinetry, etc.

Once he’s done with these feature elements, he’ll continue with the technical details such as the elevations, plans and different sections of the house. He will also create a floor plan where every room will appear in their shapes and sizes.

One very important thing that will also happen is to review the design development against the cost estimation of the project. Your architect will expect you to join in the review and afterwards, make inputs. If everything is acceptable, he/she can conclude this phase and move over to the next.

We always advise homeowners to participate fully during design development. You may not be the architect, but the project is yours. So, you have to ensure that the schematic design, material selection, detailing and the structure reflect the concept in the initial schematic designs.

It is better to spend more time at this stage, reviewing everything the architect presents in his design. If you get it right, it can reduce the potential costs of changes later because changes that come later will increase costs and exceed your budget. So, the best strategy is to point out anything you don’t want at this stage. Speak your mind so that the architect can incorporate your requirements without fail.

Phase Four: Construction documentation

architect, architectural design process, house plans, home designs, home building, PlandeluxeAll the processes before now culminate into the construction documentation stage. This is where the architect prepares all the documents containing construction information. These documents will go to the contractor and every other subcontractor to your project. The focus here is no more on the designs but producing the final construction documents. Your architect will ensure that he includes all the critical details that’ll facilitate a smooth construction in these final documents.

There will be a detailed description of every component that will be assembled and fabricated to complete the building project. These documents will enable contractors to understand the allocation of materials. The architect will also carry out some designs at this stage if the need arises. He will also assist the client in selecting light fixtures, finish materials like paint colors, tiles, carpet, etc.

The common name for this design document is the blueprint. Even though this project is your first building, you may have heard other builders mention the blueprint of a building. This is the stage where an architect creates the blueprint that guides contractors on how to build a house.

After the documentation, your architect will submit the building plans to the relevant authorities for approval. If the authorities review it and finds everything satisfactory, the next phase can now begin. But if there are some issues, your architect will sort them out and resubmit the plans for approval.

Phase Five: Bidding & Negotiation

Many people think that after an architect presents the blueprint of a building project, his/her work ends. That’s far from it. If a homeowner checks the blueprint and everything looks good, he and the architects will move to bid. This is when they’ll ask contractors or builders for bids.

If you are working with a professional architect, he/she will help you to send invitations to qualified contractors, instructing them and evaluating their bids. The architect will also create the contract and state the conditions. He will also go farther to create the agreement form that the contractor and homeowner will complete.

Other areas where the architect will assist you to include:

  • Prepare and distribute drawings and specs to contractors.
  • Answers all the questions which the contractor may have
  • Interprets the design documents
  • Prepare further revisions if any to the drawings or project specifications
  • Receives and analyzes the bids
  • Prepare a contract which the homeowner and winning bidder will sign for the project.

Phase Six: Construction

Here is the conclusion of the architectural design process. By this time, the contractor has taken over the project, but the architect’s work is not over yet. He/she will continue to supervise the job as the builders try their best to translate the drawings into a home. He will be visiting the site and observing the processes to ensure compliance with the house building plans and other specifications.

Your architect will answer the questions of the contractor, review every submission from him/her and even process every change orders. He will not be there to do the contractor’s work or tell him what to do. No! He must ensure that the builders get everything presented in the blueprint. Even when the project has been completed, the architect must run a final check to ensure total compliance with what the homeowner required.

How to get a good architect

Every profession has the good, the bad and the ugly. Searching for a good architect amid thousands claiming to be the best can be daunting. This project was once a thought, a vision, a dream and now about to become a reality. You can’t afford the mistakes of a half-baked professional who would put his/her interests over your project.

The good news is that you can get the right designer who will translate your dream with his sketches and drawings. So, follow these pointers and select the best:

  • Communication

The design process starts from listening to your voice and making sense of what you want in your project through a design. Any architect who can’t listen and understand that is not worth your time.

  • Versatile

Hire an architect who knows his profession in and out. Don’t work with someone who knows only one style. He/she may fail to understand your requirements and lead you to disaster. What if the designs fail to describe the home you planned to build, what will you do? So, work with a versatile architectural designer.

  • Team player

We’ve emphasized the importance of knowing everything that’s happening during the design process to avoid rework. If your architect refuses to take you along the ride, all your plans will be for nothing. So, avoid the standalone players and look for an unselfish player.

  • Good Reputation

This is one factor that’ll tell you about an architect way before you meet him/her. A little investigation will save you from loads of crap later. So, dig a little and uncover the history of the architect through questions and references.


There are many benefits to building your home with an architect. Since it is a profession that people spend years pursuing and learning, you may gain more than you thought. Our reason for discussing this process is to help you understand the many things you stand to gain by hiring an architect to design your new home. Also, we want you to be informed of what they do and what to demand if your architect is not working as he should.

Bear this in mind; the architectural design process may not follow the same sequence for every designer or project. The architect you hire may have a different approach from what we’ve discussed. But one common thing is that your ideas, inspirations and views will always be the goal.

Every good architectural designer follows the vision of the homeowner, his needs and specifications. All we ask is that you participate whenever or wherever necessary to ensure that your dream house comes out perfect. Don’t forget to select the best builder too.

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