The 5 Stages Of Architectural Design Process

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The process of doing an architectural design is quite an exciting thing. To most people, it’s not something fascinating because they don’t know anything about it, but the process is the very thing that makes the entire space of business establishments incredible. Today, designers compete as demand for sustainable building rises.

Phase 0 – Before the Work Begins 

Everything begins with a plan. Without it, the entire project will not have any foundation. At this phase, studies and investigations happen. This phase is referred to as pre-design since it occurs at the initial stage. The importance of this stage is critical because it dictates the direction of where the project goes.

This stage will include both the land owner’s and the architect’s preliminary study. Clients should not often employ an architect to handle this part of the project. It’s common to do a zoning study during the pre-design phase to decide what to build. Pre-design includes land surveys and location review. A professional land surveyor, not an architect, conducts the property survey.

Pre-design would include evaluating the data required to begin the design process. Here are some things to mull over:

Site Analysis

  • Geotechnical, Survey, financial, etc. 
  • Hazardous materials investigation for existing buildings: lead testing, asbestos testing, etc.

Code Analysis/Zoning Analysis

  • Code issues that could affect the project.
  • Determine what to build in terms of usage and scale.

Project Scope

  • The client must determine the project scope of work to the best of their abilities.

Project Objectives

Building Program

  • A building program is a compilation of potential uses for a structure. 



Selection of Project Team

Phase 1 – Schematic Design

The primary aim of schematic design is to use a basic plan to develop the form and scale of the building. During the schematic design phase, the designers figure out more or less how the building will look and operate. The schematic process entails a lot of sketching, a lot of client meetings, and simple design. 

It is, in general, the most enjoyable aspect for the customers. Designing utilizes schematics to create an available design without going into too much detail. The designer and the owner will plan to finalize the next step of planning after the Basic Design, and the architect has provided the client with sketches.

Phase 2 – Design Development Phase

In Design Development, the owner and the architect will work together to select materials, including interior finishes and doors, windows, appliances, fixtures, etc. In comparison to Schematic Design, the architect will update the plans with greater precision and information. 

The foundation, plumbing, electrical, heating/ventilation systems, energy analysis, and all other project-specific systems would all begin through the efforts of Engineering. A significant amount of product selection and device architecture should be advancing by the end of design production. The owner and architect lock in the internal and exterior design of the building at this stage.

Phase 3 – Construction Documents

The architect and engineers complete all technical planning and engineering in the building document process, including structural engineering and detailing, adding access doors and panels, heating, air conditioning, ventilation systems, piping, electrical, steam, and power calculations selecting and scheduling all items and materials.

Phase 4 – Bidding

At this stage, the owner is preparing to hire a contractor and sign contracts to begin construction. It is self-explanatory, with many vendors sending bids on the job or the customer hiring a contractor precisely without receiving competitive offers. The architect’s job would be to assist the client in this situation. 

This stage will begin right at the start of the project. You don’t have to wait until all of the building papers are completed, but doing so would ensure that the price is more precise. If you have a budget in mind at the start of the process, a good suggestion is to hire a consultant to advise early on.

To ensure that the project stays under the budget, the General Contractor may review the schematic plan, design production, and construction sketches from the start. A contractor can only guarantee a building price. Budgets provided by architects and cost estimators cannot promise such costs, but they can offer an informed budget price.

Phase 5 – Construction Administration

The final step of architectural facilities is Construction Administration. Although this is the most prolonged period, it typically does not account for the bulk of the architect’s work. The architect will regularly visit the worksite to monitor progress and ensure that the contractor implements the plans.

Change orders often appear during this period, necessitating additional resources for the architect. The architect will work on the project until its completion. The owner receives a Certificate of Occupancy after all final checks finish. The architects will conduct the inspection, and in case there are issues, call in a third-party inspection agency for special assessments with specialized licenses.


A lot of meticulous work goes into a project because there’s a lot of money involved and at risk. The phases only simplify the process, but one must note that it’s not the full detail. Make sure to consult a professional who can give you the best options and great advice.

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