Our Design Process

Grouparchitect brings a wide range of expertise to your project. We specialize in everything from preliminary assessments to feasibility studies to full design services and interior design. Even large projects start small – we can support your dream no matter how big it is. This section explains in more depth many of our standard services and how we can help you.
The process begins with an initial meeting to discuss the requirements of your project. This stage will consist of establishing overall scope, goals and budget. We will thoroughly investigate your requirements, wants, needs, dreams and budget. This will mainly be accomplished by filling out our questionnaire and by interview. In conjunction with this, we will do the zoning/building code review and a site analysis. A preliminary budget for construction and design services will be established. The end result from this phase is the establishment of the overall parameters that will affect the design. This stage usually takes up about 5% of the total fee.


The schematic design is the conceptual design phase of the project. The “product” or “deliverable” of this phase will be sketches of the design, which typically include a site plan, floor plans and drawings showing the exterior character of the house. Depending on the project, alternative design concepts could be presented. At the completion of this phase, the basic design direction, size, shape and form will be established. Drawings at this phase are rough in nature are are usually only accurate to the nearest foot. Schematic design is typically 15-20% of the total fee.


This phase builds on the schematic design. The design is refined, modified and sizes are clearly established. In schematic design room sizes are resolved to the nearest foot; at the end of this phase they are accurate to the nearest inch. Decisions on mechanical and structural systems, building materials, interior and exterior finishes, cabinets and other essentials will be made. When this phase is complete these drawings will be used as the basis for the construction drawings from which the house will be built. Depending on the project we use a variety of techniques to convey the design intent: these include sketches, cardboard models, 3d-computer walkthroughs, and retouched photos. Design development, like schematics, is 18-20% of the total fee.


This is the detailed phase of the project. This phase will yield the drawings and specifications that the house will be built from. Dimensions are now done to the fraction of the inch. This is typically the largest portion of our work, but it is the phase where you see us the least. Normally we spend about 40% of the project time in this phase.

A typical set of construction drawings contains 20-30 sheets of drawings. Included would be a site plan, foundation plan, floor plans, floor and roof framing plans, elevations, sections and details. In addition the following would also be included: cabinet elevations showing the major cabinets in the kitchen and bath areas, interior elevations showing each major room in the house with finishes and trim, plus electrical, mechanical and lighting plans. These plans are all computer generated, which facilitate greater accuracy than other methods.

The specifications are the written portion of the construction documents. They are typically 50-100 pages and would identify all products, materials and finishes that will go into the construction of the house. These are very detailed and include everything from the type of concrete, nails and wood, to interior finishes, paint colors and plumbing fixtures. By the time we are done, everything that is permanently attached to the house would be documented.


Selecting the right contractor will be a key to the success of your project. There are a number of ways to choose one. Grouparchitect can assist you in your search, and will discuss what type of contractor would be most appropriate for your specific project. You may already have someone you want to work with. You might choose to negotiate directly with one general contractor from the start, having them on board early on in the design process, almost as an extra consultant to verify costing assumptions. This gives the contractor more time to become familiar with the subtleties of the project before any construction has begun. Alternatively, you may prefer to have a number of general contractors bid on your job to give you one extra level of confidence that you are being quoted a fair price.

Equally important is determining the type of construction contract that is most appropriate to your specific project. Grouparchitect has experience with numerous construction contract methods and types (fixed bid, time & materials, variations of both) and can assist that a fair construction contract is negotiated.


This phase also includes the following services; updating construction documents and supplying supplementary drawings as needed, preparing change orders covering authorized changes in the work, periodic site visits to determine if the work is proceeding with the quality and timeliness set forth in the contract documents and evaluating the contractor’s payment requests. The number of visits will vary with the stage of construction. Generally there are 1-4 site visits per month. As important as the site visits is constant communication with the contractor and the owner. During some phases of construction, it is common to be in constant contact by phone, fax, and e-mail. This phase is usually around 20% of the total fee.


Feasibility and Specialty Studies

Most projects start with feasibility studies to assess the viability of a client’s anticipated project. These studies can be very limited in scope such as when purchasing a new home or investment property, or more extensive to add in additional requirements and design accuracy to support construction costing and zoning code compliance for environmentally- or height-challenged sites. Some projects though fall within other niche specialties which we can also support upon request. The most common examples of these specialties are listed below.


An investment in real estate is usually an exhilarating event, but it can also be stressful. The trepidation of buying something that potentially may not fulfill your dreams can challenge even the most seasoned buyer. Grouparchitect specializes in producing timely and important studies which provide answers to many of your questions, and we offer them in a written format to match your budget and schedule. These studies are ideal for people who want an overview understanding of a particular issue for an economical price within a short time period, or are considering purchasing a home or condominium and want to know if either the project is possible or what the potential problem(s) may be PRIOR to purchasing or leasing property. These assessments are a streamlined version of our typical full scope Feasibility Studies.


Grouparchitect specializes in providing feasibility studies for prospective projects by investigating in detail the requirements for your project as well as the constraints, resulting in a written and graphic documentation of your project’s potential. This service is typical when approaching a project and is much more in depth than our Preliminary Assessment. This is the ideal way to thoroughly evaluate a building or site for your proposed project either prior to or after purchasing or leasing it.


How green is your home? How green do you want to be? How green CAN you be? Grouparchitect’s staff of LEED-accredited designers and Sustainable Building Advisors can take your home or project (current or prospective) and provide a written assessment of the potential for your home to improve your indoor air quality, reduce your carbon footprint, and just plain live better. These studies can be expanded upon further upon request as a Sustainability Study. Our summary recommendations are provided in an overview / outline format for quick digestion for a small fixed fee.


Existing homes and buildings often have an inverse relationship between the age and character of the building with respect to energy efficiency – the older it is, the less energy efficient it is. Our Energy Assessment includes a brief comparison of your building’s insulation levels against current and future codes and recommended upgrades, an overall building envelope improvement summary for energy loss, and highlights target items such as appliances, windows, furnaces, etc for upgrades. This assessment focuses strictly on how you can reduce your energy usage and will give you immediate insight for improving your building. If you need more detail, an Energy Analysis may be right for you.


Wonder what type of architectural style your home is? It’s probably not what the sales flyer described it as when you bought it. If you’re considering a remodel or addition to an existing building, Grouparchitect can provide an analysis which tells you not only what style your home is, but also the characteristics of your style, typical details of the era of construction, and other important aspects if authenticity is important to you. Landmark determinations among other things are included in our typical Historical Studies if needed. Our summary recommendations, along with followup reference resources, are provided in an overview / outline format for quick digestion, all for a small fixed fee.


Accommodating the elderly or someone with disabilities in a home can be a challenge, especially if the home is older or from an era of smaller rooms and/or interior clearances. Extensive exterior sidewalk and/or yard grading can further complicate making a home accessible. Our firm can quickly and easily provide an in-home assessment of feasible recommendations for making life better for those who can use a little more help, all for one low fixed fee. More detailed designs and site planning are offered as Accessibility Improvements and Designs, and our services at any time can be extended to include recommendations from a licensed Accessibility consultant as desired.


Acoustics can allow a beautiful space to be pleasant and enchanting, or it can turn an aesthetic masterpiece into a constant environmental annoyance. The subtlety of acoustics is rarely overlooked in great works of architecture. Acoustical assessments focus on investigating acoustical deficiencies (both perceived and actual) within a subject property or environment at an overview level with the intent of identifying the feasibility of addressing them. This is achieved by discussing the validity of a client’s concerns, discuss their potential impact(s), and propose options for potential remediation. Our Acoustical Studies can be expanded upon further upon request to incorporate complete recommendations and involvement by an acoustical engineering consultant as needed.


Indoor air quality is of paramount importance in our lives as we tend to spend so much of our time indoors. What seem like small details such as the dish soap we use all add up to creating and influencing our interior environment. Our Home Environmental Assessment evaluates the current condition of your home or office and indicates areas potentially in need of improvement. We observe the major influences on your environment, identifying major sources of negative impact, and recommend a priority listing for addressing them. Our Home Environmental Assessment can be extended into a Home Environmental Analysis Study.