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Pre-Site Design Basics for Architects

Site design decisions are extremely important to the overall success of a project. As an architect or design professional you are heavily relied upon to steer the developers as well as the engineering professionals in the right direction. Before sitting down at your drafting table or opening your design program, there are some pre-design considerations that must be taken into account.

The Scope of the Project

The first task when undertaking a new project is to gather any and all information that will have an impact for you as the designer or the client. You need to have a crystal clear understanding of what the client wants and the overall goals associated with the project. Determining the client’s goals is not always as easy as it should be, and you need to be very clear as to your role in the construction process and what services you will and will not be providing. Making a detailed list of the project goals as well as your services will always serve you well, and it will keep you and the client on the same page.

Determining the Initial Budget
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Once you have a firm grasp of the project scope, it is time to talk turkey with client. As an architect it is your duty to be honest and frank with your client. Make sure that the budget for the project is realistic as it pertains to the clients goals, and if the ends are not meeting it needs to be brought to the clients attention. When talking budget with the client, it is also a great idea to make sure he understands your fees and pay structure.

Assumptions and Responsibilities

Every contract and agreement should have a list of assumptions and responsibilities. At a minimum you need to include sections on soils and soil boring logs, typographical surveys, and permitting when creating your assumption and responsibility sections.

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As an architect you cannot guarantee that the client’s project will actually gain approval. In the agreement between you (the architect) and the client it needs to be made very clear that you will assist the client in applying for permits, but you cannot guarantee their approval.

Without having a clear pre-design plan many projects can get out of hand way too fast and become less profitable or worse a liability to you as a design professional. Upon completion of these pre-design tasks, you are ready to start securing information for the project itself.

Upcoming Article: Securing Information for Design

Our next article will cover the steps involved in securing project information, subscribe to our blog or follow us on social media for more great articles.

Information and graphics for this article are sourced from Wayde Hoppe’s AIA Approved Continuing Education Course : Successful Site Design For Architects. This great course and many more are available through Architects Training Institute.

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