Architectural Process

How We Design

Architectural Process

In collaboration with you, we create architectural solutions that respond to your place in the world and enrich the activities of your life.

Information Gathering

Programming is a time for information gathering, a chance for us to listen, ask questions, and understand your preferences. Often, the process begins with your own creative daydreaming: gathering images from magazines, finding elements that appeal to you, and—most importantly—sharing your dreams for the project. You may choose to outline your family’s daily routines or write lists of necessities and nice-to-haves. Also, remember that the goal goes beyond just listing elements, but to explore and understand the underlying reasons behind those choices. The more you can tell us about your vision, the closer we can come to realizing it.

Thorough programming doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time, but it certainly requires more effort than simply listing rooms and features you want. When done right, it will give you clear criteria to evaluate our work and make it much more likely that your project will fulfill and exceed your expectations. The conversation that starts here is one that continues throughout our engagement, moving from larger, general concerns to smaller, more specific ones.

Before design starts, you will often need a site survey so that factors affecting the building can be analyzed—from orientation to sunlight to the location of views. If you are remodeling or building an addition, we also need to document what currently exists in the form of photos, measurements, and drawings. Even with original blueprints, some verification of what’s there will likely be needed.

Design Sketching

Once you’ve decided what to build, design begins with a series of rough sketches. Known as schematic designs, these sketches capture the overall design by illustrating the approximate size and location of walls, windows, doors, and cabinets and the placement of the building on the site.

Your architect will explore and discuss the designs with you through drawings and models. It’s vital that these schematic designs capture the essence of your project. It’s essential that changes are made at this conceptual stage and prior to development of construction documents—or even later when foundations have been poured.

Despite being required for estimating preliminary costs, schematic designs do not contain the detail required for construction. There are still a number of details to be established about your project and cost feedback at this point is estimated. It’s difficult to predict market conditions, availability of materials, and other factors until your construction documents are complete and actual bids can be solicited.

Next, your architect will prepare more detailed floor plans, elevations, and cross-sections to illustrate all aspects of the design. These include interior and exterior materials and finishes, lighting, windows, and cabinets. Technical matters such as insulation, structural systems, and moisture protection must also be determined. Each design decision is likely to impact the next. For example, the depth of a structural element can affect the ceiling height of a room, light fixtures, and the amount of insulation in the ceiling. These in turn can affect compliance with building and energy codes.

When looking at these drawings and digital models, try to visualize yourself using the spaces. Do the traffic patterns flow well? Does each space serve its intended purpose? Do you like the appearance and the selected materials? Your architect will help you understand, navigate, and finalize these considerations before proceeding.

Your architect will now set down on paper all the decisions made to this point. Working drawings, also called construction documents or blueprints, consist of both drawings and specifications. Drawings illustrate the quantities and relationships of all the project’s components. Specifications document the levels of quality to be met in materials and workmanship.

The contractor will use these documents to determine the actual construction cost and they will become part of your contract with the general contractor or builder. As a result, anything not contained in the documents is left to the contractor’s discretion, which could lead to additional charges for you. The more complete the documentation at this stage, the fewer problems during construction and the more accurate the bid price can be.

Hiring The Contractor

When it’s time to hire a contractor, your architect is an essential ally. Typically, you will ask two or three general contractors to bid the project based on the construction documents. As your architects, we are well positioned to coordinate this process — answering bidders’ questions, evaluating requests for substitutions, and analyzing the bids, which can be complex.

Another way to engage a contractor is to pre-select one early in the process and solicit their input as needed during design. Once construction documents are complete, your contractor will often obtain competitive bids from sub-contractors. This is common, particularly when contractors are busy. You get their early input, get them lined up on your schedule, and still have competitive prices for the majority of the project. While your architect may suggest potential contractors to interview and assist in a selection, the final choice is yours.

Your architect’s involvement typically doesn’t end with construction documents. He or she will act as your representative by monitoring the contractor’s work for conformance with the working drawings and contract. Knowing the intent of the drawings is crucial to proper interpretation. An architect can assist the contractor by answering questions, observing the work on site, providing supplemental drawings, materials and samples, and reviewing requests for changes.

Architects can look out for your interests in other ways too, such as reviewing and approving the contractor’s applications for payment. The contractor has sole responsibility for construction methods, techniques, schedules, and procedures. In this complex process, your architect’s involvement helps smooth the transition from construction documents to a satisfying final project.

Information Gathering

Programming is a time for information gathering, a chance for us to listen, ask questions, and understand your preferences. Often, the process begins with your own creative daydreaming: gathering images from magazines, finding elements that appeal to you, and—most importantly—sharing your dreams for the project. You may choose to outline your family’s daily routines or write lists of necessities and nice-to-haves. Also, remember that the goal goes beyond just listing elements, but to explore and understand the underlying reasons behind those choices. The more you can tell us about your vision, the closer we can come to realizing it.

Thorough programming doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time, but it certainly requires more effort than simply listing rooms and features you want. When done right, it will give you clear criteria to evaluate our work and make it much more likely that your project will fulfill and exceed your expectations. The conversation that starts here is one that continues throughout our engagement, moving from larger, general concerns to smaller, more specific ones.

Before design starts, you will often need a site survey so that factors affecting the building can be analyzed—from orientation to sunlight to the location of views. If you are remodeling or building an addition, we also need to document what currently exists in the form of photos, measurements, and drawings. Even with original blueprints, some verification of what’s there will likely be needed.

Design Sketching

Once you’ve decided what to build, design begins with a series of rough sketches. Known as schematic designs, these sketches capture the overall design by illustrating the approximate size and location of walls, windows, doors, and cabinets and the placement of the building on the site.

Your architect will explore and discuss the designs with you through drawings and models. It’s vital that these schematic designs capture the essence of your project. It’s essential that changes are made at this conceptual stage and prior to development of construction documents—or even later when foundations have been poured.

Despite being required for estimating preliminary costs, schematic designs do not contain the detail required for construction. There are still a number of details to be established about your project and cost feedback at this point is estimated. It’s difficult to predict market conditions, availability of materials, and other factors until your construction documents are complete and actual bids can be solicited.

Next, your architect will prepare more detailed floor plans, elevations, and cross-sections to illustrate all aspects of the design. These include interior and exterior materials and finishes, lighting, windows, and cabinets. Technical matters such as insulation, structural systems, and moisture protection must also be determined. Each design decision is likely to impact the next. For example, the depth of a structural element can affect the ceiling height of a room, light fixtures, and the amount of insulation in the ceiling. These in turn can affect compliance with building and energy codes.

When looking at these drawings and digital models, try to visualize yourself using the spaces. Do the traffic patterns flow well? Does each space serve its intended purpose? Do you like the appearance and the selected materials? Your architect will help you understand, navigate, and finalize these considerations before proceeding.

Your architect will now set down on paper all the decisions made to this point. Working drawings, also called construction documents or blueprints, consist of both drawings and specifications. Drawings illustrate the quantities and relationships of all the project’s components. Specifications document the levels of quality to be met in materials and workmanship.

The contractor will use these documents to determine the actual construction cost and they will become part of your contract with the general contractor or builder. As a result, anything not contained in the documents is left to the contractor’s discretion, which could lead to additional charges for you. The more complete the documentation at this stage, the fewer problems during construction and the more accurate the bid price can be.

Hiring The Contractor

When it’s time to hire a contractor, your architect is an essential ally. Typically, you will ask two or three general contractors to bid the project based on the construction documents. As your architects, we are well positioned to coordinate this process — answering bidders’ questions, evaluating requests for substitutions, and analyzing the bids, which can be complex.

Another way to engage a contractor is to pre-select one early in the process and solicit their input as needed during design. Once construction documents are complete, your contractor will often obtain competitive bids from sub-contractors. This is common, particularly when contractors are busy. You get their early input, get them lined up on your schedule, and still have competitive prices for the majority of the project. While your architect may suggest potential contractors to interview and assist in a selection, the final choice is yours.

Your architect’s involvement typically doesn’t end with construction documents. He or she will act as your representative by monitoring the contractor’s work for conformance with the working drawings and contract. Knowing the intent of the drawings is crucial to proper interpretation. An architect can assist the contractor by answering questions, observing the work on site, providing supplemental drawings, materials and samples, and reviewing requests for changes.

Architects can look out for your interests in other ways too, such as reviewing and approving the contractor’s applications for payment. The contractor has sole responsibility for construction methods, techniques, schedules, and procedures. In this complex process, your architect’s involvement helps smooth the transition from construction documents to a satisfying final project.

Learn More about HPA Design

What We Offer

Our Services

HPA Design, a mid-sized architecture firm in Milford, MA, offers a complete range of residential and commercial architectural design services. These include custom designs for new homes, home renovations and additions, as well as multi-family homes and pre-designed home plans. Our Commercial Division provides plans for new commercial projects, and commercial renovations, for properties of all sizes.

Planned Communities

Commercial

Multi-Family

Additions, Remodeling & Restorations

Home Plans

Custom Home Design