The Process of Architecture?

At Fivecat Studio, our process of delivering architectural services includes a very highly developed set of construction documents. Every possible decision is made. Every product is specified. Every fixture is scheduled, ready for purchasing.

Our intent is to obtain very competitive bids from general contractors, minimize change orders and reduce construction time by eliminating delays caused by slow or incomplete decisions. Most of the time, this focus on detail pays off in an appreciative client and a healthy relationship with the construction team.

Sometimes though, when the well developed design and thoughtful decisions are second-guessed, changes are made during construction. A tight construction schedule does not allow for a fully developed and scoped out process of decision making. Sometimes this leads to a “snow ball effect” of interrelated elements requiring modification. The desired time or money saved by the change is, many times, counteracted by the additional time and money required to handle the unexpected consequences of the innocent (or not so innocent) change.

So, here is my question to you, the Entrepreneur Architect. What does your process look like?

Do you prepare detailed, highly developed drawing sets for construction? Or, are you a member of the camp that believes the preparation of a basic set of “guideline” drawings are better, with the details and design decisions determined during construction, in the field?

Which process makes for happier clients? Which process makes for a most efficient construction schedule? Which process is most profitable for the architect?

Please share. I would love to read your thoughts…

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5 Responses to “The Process of Architecture?”


  1. 1 lavardera December 4, 2009 at 1:12 AM

    Actually I find an intelligent balance is needed between what must be specified and what may be left to the builder with little consequence. Too much info can be counter productive and hard on the budget, too little can make bids stray and construction as well. The balance depends on the project, the client, and the builders you expect to price it. Something you always have to tweak.

  2. 2 Evan G. December 4, 2009 at 7:35 AM

    I am in the same mode as Fivecat Studio. When a well detailed and specified set of construction drawings are produced by a knowlegeable team of professionals, the end results of bidding and construction time can be minimized. The cost variable must be part of the design professionals scope of work with full disclosure to the client in order to meet estimated budgets, which we all know are estimates.

  3. 3 swinburne December 8, 2009 at 8:54 AM

    You have such a different clientel than me Mark. My clients want a flexible framework to smooth the process but all of my client relationships have been very collaborative when it comes to decisions and the design process. Typically around here, bidding is rare and most builders wouldn’t even know how. It is a small community and the relationship between the builder and the client is extremely important. I stress that when trying to match a builder to a client if the client didn’t come with a builder already. My clients are usually drawn to the process of building a home and want to bargain shop, brainstorm, design and be completely involved in the process from start to finish. I think this process is an important part of what I’m becoming known for. Naturally costing would be impossible with this method. I try to leave that between the builder and the client as much as possible.

  4. 4 NC February 7, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    I am using a mixed bag approach depending on client’s understanding and expectation of the process and project. This is a time for me to interview the clients too and if I smell trouble i would not take on the job.

  5. 5 marya February 15, 2010 at 11:28 PM

    can u describe to me about the ways of Entrepreneurship in Architecture for women architecture?
    thanks a lot


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