As soon as schematic design has been approved of as indicated by initialed documents approving the design idea, we are ready to move into Design Development.
By the end of Design Development, the design should be complete. But.. there are still two more design phases, so how can this be? Well, designers document EVERYTHING so that every detail can be determined by the designer. Without these details, the cabinet shop may not know how deep the drawers behind cabinet doors need to be, how the door on an appliance garage is meant to open, whether the base molding is a continuous color throughout the home or maybe it changes to a new color in the bathroom, and so on. The design is complete because all these decisions have been made. Most of these decisions have been documented.
What this means is that this is the phase where all these decisions must be finalized. It is typically this phase where we do any shopping trips. A trip to the appliance store, the granite yard, the tile showroom, the plumbing showroom, etc. will help us see the preliminary ideas we have developed and determine whether they work as well in person as they did conceptually. Sometimes, samples need to be ordered and other times there is no way to view the item in person, so we work with what information we must ensure the finishes match and/or complement one another.
I like to then take these finishes into the space, if possible and view them on-site. This confirms that the finishes will work well with any existing finishes that are to remain and allows us an opportunity to verify any measurements that we may have missed the first meeting.
Before we ask you to sign off on the drawings, we will meet with the contractor to be sure that the design is feasible and we have considered buildability as well as to check in on the budget side of things.
If consultants are a part of the project, the end of this phase allows the designer to share all needed design information with the consultants so that they can put their final touches in as well. Smaller projects that do not require consultants allow the designer to have a conversation with the contractor about any potential issues that may need to be accounted for in the construction documents.
The completion of design development can feel so finished, but the heaviest work tends to follow in construction documents. It is this final set of detail work that ensures the drawings are complete, ready for permitting and for the contractor to use as an instruction manual to craft the design.
The next phase is construction documents, where the drawings are reviewed with a fine-toothed comb and finalized.
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