Working with an Architect: Building Your Home

By on February 6, 2014. Posted in , .

Making Your Dreams a Reality:

As a residential architect this is absolutely my favorite part of the job. Even though “making your dreams a reality” sounds a little corny, it’s true. Building your home is not something that happens every day- this is usually something that, at a minimum, you think about A LOT, and, more likely, you dream about for years before it happens….Designing your home should be a fun + exciting process. Watching it get built is even better!

So for the final post in this series — Working with an Architect, we finally get to talk about Building Your HOME!

In our previous post we discussed the Design Development Phase of Working with an Architect. Once that DD Phase of the project has been completed, we move into the final phases of Basic Architectural Services – the Construction Document Phase, including Bidding for Construction and Submitting for a Permit, and the Construction Administration Phase.


Working with an Architect: Building Your Home

Building Your Home: The Construction Process #Architecture

Residential #Architecture: The Construction Process - Studio MM

The VALUE of Working with an Architect

From creativity and problem solving to leadership and collaboration, Working with an Architect adds VALUE to your design and can save you time and money. Your architect leads your project through the construction process. When (not if) questions come up during construction, your architect will be there to ensure that your design becomes your home.

Most of the design decisions are made during the Design Development Phase, but some details will continue to be refined and modified during the Construction Document Phase and into the bidding and construction phases of the project. Our goal is to have all design, details and materials represented in the Construction Documents before construction ever begins. However, we are always aware that questions do come up, and at times an alternative solution could be a better one for the project and the client. The success of our projects depends largely on communication and collaboration.

“Most important is working closely with the client throughout the entire design and construction process. But almost as significant, especially for a small firm, is establishing a collaborative approach with the engineers and builders, utilizing all of their experiences and knowledge, in order to create the best design and most cost effective solution for the client.” – in an interview with Novedge.

This collaborative approach is one of the main reasons that we strongly recommend bringing a builder into the project as soon as possible. We have done many projects where the contractor is on board very early in the process- even before Design Development is completed. The contractor or builder can provide valuable insight into materials and methods of construction. Including the contractor as part of the team early in the design process will create a more integrated project and can help to save money.


Construction Document Details for the Creek House
Working with an #Architect: Building Your Home - Studio MM

Construction Document Phase

Based on the approved Design Development drawings, Studio MM creates a set of drawings and specifications which describe the scope of work for constructing your home. These drawings and specs – the Construction Documents – are used not only by the contractor to build your home, but also are submitted to the local building department for application for a permit.

Submitting for a Building Permit: Studio MM assists the owner in preparing the permit application for approval from the local building department. The submission package will include an application for permit, the building permit fees and multiple sets of construction documents signed and sealed by the architect. Often the contractor will be the one who actually works with the local building department to obtain the permit for construction. In New York City it is customary for an architect to work with an expeditor to prepare the submission package and submit it to the Building Department for approval.

Bidding for Construction: We also help our clients with “bidding their project” to contractors for construction. To “bid a project” is to invite a select number of qualified contractors to provide a total cost for constructing your project. For bidding, Studio MM assembles a package of drawings and specifications, distributes these to the contractors and coordinates a meeting with all of the contractors to “walk through” the project and answer any questions. Once all of the contractor bids are in, we go through them with our client to evaluate each. Remember, the lowest bid is not necessarily the best one!  When all bids are considered and the client is comfortable with selecting which contractor will build their home, Studio MM also assists the client with awarding the contract for construction.

Construction Administration Phase

Studio MM is a full service architecture firm, meaning we work with our clients on designing their home from concept through completion. From initial planning and defining the scope of work, we remain closely involved in the project through construction to Final Completion. During construction we meet with the client and contractor for coordination meetings and visit the site at regular intervals to observe the progress of the work.  The architect’s main role during the Construction Administration Phase is to make sure the construction work is in accordance with the Construction Documents.

During this final phase the architect will also review submittals (drawings and material and product data which verify that the correct products and quantities will be installed on the project) from the contractor or subcontractors, provide clarification drawings if necessary, and review payment applications from the contractor. After the project is substantially complete, the architect prepares a Punch List of work to be corrected and reviews the work through Final Completion. In other words, we are there through the ENTIRE process of building your home!

Below is a video we put together showing the entire construction of the Creek House from dirt to home… Studio MM had a lot of fun creating this home and we had a great team building it! We hope all of that fun + success shows through:

Our goal at Studio MM is to exceed our clients’ expectations and leave them happy beyond their wildest dreams.

This is the final post in a 5-part series about Working with an Architect.

For more from our Working with an Architect Series please follow the links below:


Part 1: Working with an Architect: How to Get Started?
Part 2: Working with an Architect: Making Sense of Services and Fees
Part 3: Working with an Architect: The Design Process
Part 4: Working with an Architect: Design Decisions + Details


Find out more about Marica McKeel and Studio MM on our Studio page and more about our Approach to Design on our Design Process page.

Do you have any questions about how this whole process works that I’ve not answered here? Please feel free to email me with any questions or if you would like more information on all things residential architecture: