4D Architects

Design Process


Initial Meetings, Programming and Budgets
Before we get started on any design, we meet with you to discuss qualities of the building that are important to you, and important details of the rooms, such as specific uses, displays of special items, or any other details that will customize the space and make it more comfortable for you. We also work with you to develop a Residential Building Program, which is a brief list of rooms/spaces and their approximate sizes.

A visit to your site, and walking the site with you, is also very helpful for understanding the view potentials, sun corridors, and any other site issues or features that the design will need to respond to. Ideally, you will already have a topographic survey of the site that you can provide us with before we visit, so that we can come prepared to review its unique features and opportunities. We will also conduct a code search to find out what requirements and limitations are pertinent to your site and proposed building.

Once we have gathered this information, we will talk in detail about the full uses of the various rooms, getting to a solid idea of how the various rooms relate to each other, the view, and the outdoors. Prior to starting the actual design drawings, we will need to be as specific as possible with your Residential Building Program, and we will want to review the square footage in relationship to the overall construction budget.

We can take you through budget issues step by step. The total cost of your home will be the sum of hundreds of variables. Many of the highest impact cost items will actually be in the finishes selected, but some significant cost items may also be found in the bones of the building: the site work, foundation, framing and the heating system choices, to name a few. Our extensive experience has given us a fairly accurate awareness of systems costs and contractor pricing, and we will share this information and our insights with you throughout the design of your home. Ideally, you will engage a builder or contractor early in the process who will be able to help more specifically define the cost impacts of the design choices.

Design Phases
Next we will begin Schematic Design. Our work in this phase includes drawing up proposed floor layouts on the site plan, and at least two elevations. We then meet for an initial review of these drawings and ask you to take them home and take some time to review them closely, then return with your feedback, suggestions and alternatives.

Our focus during this stage is getting the rooms positioned on the site to optimize the site features and to work them into the design. Schematic Design sketches are quick and easy to produce, so if you would like to look at different layouts and different architectural styles, this is the best time to do it. For custom homes, we often find that this Schematic Design stage may involve working through two or three alternate plans before we arrive at a design that you will be excited to move forward with into the next phase. We will work with you in the Schematic Design phase until you are comfortable and have confirmed that you are ready to move forward.

Once we move into the Design Development phase, we will work to further define and detail the design of your home. The following items will be addressed and included in the drawings:

  • Each room layout will be reviewed by developing furniture layouts and verifying that the rooms suit your specific needs
  • Definition of each space and its components, i.e. ceiling heights, framed opening or door alignments
  • Develop a preliminary room by room list of floor and wall finishes, built-in cabinets, etc.
  • Analysis of the relationship of the various rooms to the outdoor living space
  • Definition of outdoor living areas and the details of their design
  • The look of the interior
  • Development of a conceptual structural system
  • Exterior materials will be further defined, we will discuss maintenance issues and cost
  • Review of display and related lighting design issues
  • Discussion of general lighting issues and your personal taste as it relates to the level of light in various rooms

During this phase, you may want to visit material showrooms to investigate the many items that are available. Should you prefer to work with an Interior Designer, we can help you choose a professional that will be a good fit for your project.

We anticipate that we will spend 6-12 hours in a series of meetings and/or phone conversations to get through these first two design phases for your project. If you have already selected a contractor by this time, we will want to include them in some of our discussions. You also might want to have the design estimated for construction costs at this point.

The last design phase is Permit Drawings, in which we take the final design and develop a detailed set of plans that will be suitable to submit for a building permit and will provide sufficient information for your contractor and other professionals to construct your home. The following items are included in our Permit Drawings:

  • Architectural Drawings
    • A site plan, showing basic information as required by the Building Department, grading, driveway, and walkways
    • A framing plan for each floor, showing the home’s structural system, framing members, and connection details, as well as all dimensions required for framing
    • The foundation design and dimensions
    • Deck and terrace outlines and framing plans for decks and porches
    • Door and window sizing, noted on the drawings
    • All necessary construction details and building sections to satisfy the Building Department
    • All exterior elevations, drawn at 1/4” = 1’-0”
    • Basic identification and selection of the exterior materials
    • Interior floor finishes, including generic material identification
    • Built-in and special cabinets
    • Shape and location of interior stairs; identified, but not detailed
    • Code requirement information, such as lot coverage, building height summary, etc.
    • State Energy Code summary information
  • Beam & Footing Calculations
    We are a unique architectural firm in that we include the framing design for the vertical loading as part of the design and permit package. We elect to do this work in-house so that we have an opportunity to integrate the structure into the aesthetics of the home's design
  • Lateral Calculations
    Wind and Seismic loading (prepared by consulting Structural Engineer)
  • Washington State Prescriptive Energy Code Compliance Forms

Permit Submittal & Review and Construction Follow-Up
After the plans have been submitted for permit we will continue to assist with any communications or revisions from the building department until your permit is issued and your contractor can begin construction on your home. We also remain available to your contractor and any subcontractors during the construction phase, should any questions or issues arise in the field.