OUR DESIGN PROCESS
At Studio S Squared Architecture, we provide a full range of services, from master planning and construction drawings to helping obtain permits and selecting a contractor.
Our services can range from advising on initial site selection and helping establish a scope for your project relative to your budget, to complete architectural services starting with design and ending with observing the actual construction.
Our typical full service project is broken down into five (or six) phases of work, as shown here.
Please contact us to schedule a meeting to discuss your project. After meeting with you to learn more about your specific requirements, we will determine the appropriate scope of work.
Phase 1: Schematic Design
We review your initial wish lists and Houzz Ideabooks, budget concerns, and local zoning restrictions to develop multiple schematic design approaches to your project. In this initial phase, we focus primarily on the site plan, floor plan, and exterior elevation design, including the details particular to your chosen style.
We use a combination of freehand sketches, AutoCAD, and 3D software (Sketchup Pro) to develop your design during this phase. To help you visualize the design as it progresses, we encourage our clients to download the free version of Sketchup so that you can explore the 3D models we send you in the comfort of your own home.
This phase is the heart of our creative process, and we will explore many different ideas with you in search of the perfect combination of floor plan and exterior design that feels like “home” to you.
Phase 1A (when required): Planning Department Submittal
Many locations require a “design review” permit by the local planning department, often times requiring neighborhood outreach and public hearings.
When this is required, we can help navigate what can often be a complex and stressful process. We have an excellent track record with planning departments throughout the Bay Area.
Phase 2: Design Development
Once the floor plans and exterior design have been approved by you (and the Planning Department, if applicable), our focus turns towards developing the interior design.
During this phase, we will discuss your interior preferences using Houzz or other images you may have collected, then develop CAD drawings, 3D images, and virtual walkthroughs showing the millwork design, lighting and electrical plans, trim package, and preliminary floor and wall finishes for your review and comment.
At the end of this phase, we will incorporate any comments you have on the new design elements in one iteration, and solicit a follow up cost estimate from the contractor(s) who assisted us in Phase I to validate we are still within your targeted budget.
Phase 3: Construction Documentation
Once you sign off on the Phase 2 design, we will develop the drawings required for construction, bidding, and for submittal to the local Building Department for your construction permits.
During this phase, we will also finalize coordination efforts with the other members of your consultant team, which may include: geotechnical engineer, civil engineer/surveyor, structural engineer, landscape architect, truss fabricator, fire sprinkler contractor, green building rater, Title-24 Energy consultant, and interior decorator, a/v consultant, etc.
For a list of recommended consultants, see our list of trusted Colleagues.
Phase 4: Contractor Selection / City Plan Check
We will help you create a pool of pre-qualified bidders with contractors who have built past projects of ours, as well as builders you introduce to us. We create detailed instructions to bidders and a bid calendar, respond to questions during the bid period, help you select a contractor, and make sure different bids are accurate.
Nearly all of our projects are competitively bid out, with as many as 10 contractors competing for the right to build your home. Our highly detailed plans ensure that all contractors are bidding “apples to apples” and that the design intent will be carried out during construction with minimal risk of change orders due to incomplete plans.
While the contractors are bidding on your project, we will be working with the Building Department to obtain plan approval so that you can start construction soon after you have selected your contractor.
Phase 5: Construction Administration
We remain at your service and completely accessible to your contractor during construction on an as-needed basis. We believe in a team-oriented approach during construction and will do what we can to help your builder keep the project moving, while protecting your interests and the integrity of our design.
If requested, we will visit your project site during construction to confirm the contractor is meeting the intent of the design and to answer questions that may occur. The travel and meeting time for these construction site visits would be billed to you on an hourly basis, but all other design clarification questions during this phase are part of our fixed fee.