This phase is where your ideas, Tom’s ideas, the documentation, research, and everybody’s creativity all come together to create the initial design. No two projects are alike, but typically some or all of the following steps are involved:
Site Analysis — gathering information about the property and determining the best way to proceed. Often a property survey is required—if the client doesn’t have one, Tom will recommend surveyors. Zoning issues, geotechnical issues, and other site parameters (hillside district regulations, historic district regulations, homeowner association guidelines, etc.) will be examined, as well as site topography, stormwater drainage, utilities, vegetation, etc.
Documenting Existing Conditions in Detail — photographing and measuring the existing conditions, then creating computer-generated drawings of the existing building utilizing AutoCAD software. This step is very important, and Tom takes care to do it as accurately as possible. Inaccurate existing conditions drawings will lead to problems down the road, so time spent during this stage is well worth it. Measuring and drawing the existing building allows Tom to fully understand the structure and mechanical systems, which is important in determining the best ways to alter or add on to the building.
Preliminary Design Meeting — a meeting with the client to go over the project again while looking at prints of the existing conditions. This solidifies the project parameters for everyone, and unforeseen problems or possibilities are often discovered at this point.
Design Sketches — rough sketches communicating one or more ideas in order to determine the best way to proceed. There will typically be one meeting to make sure all parties are in agreement on the general design direction before proceeding to design development. Sometimes this step is completed before documenting the existing conditions in detail (only basic dimensions of the existing building are taken) if the client is unsure whether to proceed at all or if the project lends itself to many extremely different interpretations.