design process
    I. Introduction
II. Phases of the Design Process: Remodels and Additions
III. Phases of the Design Process: New Homes
IV. Design costs


Madson Design provides complete residential design services, from the first rough sketch to the finished, permit-ready plans. Because we see construction as part of the design process, we also include construction oversight from the first budgetary discussions to the completed home. In addition to residential design services we provide consultation on site design and interior design.

The design process—the process of bringing your hopes and wishes into physical reality—is built around a few commonsense principles that have had a proven record of success. Those principles are:

  1. Homeowner involvement and input: The development of the design itself must in large part be informed by the homeowner’s thoughts, wishes, and practical needs. A designer working simply with their own ideas, with little input from the outside, may be hard pressed to bring a profound uniqueness to each project; but a designer who can take the raw data that a homeowner provides, and truly hear what those needs and wishes are—verbal and nonverbal--will have endless opportunities to transform and deepen his/her aesthetic, and bring that expansiveness to bear on the project at hand.
  2. An affordable home: There is little purpose in creating a beautifully drawn set of plans if those plans cannot then be implemented--used to build your new or remodeled home. At every stage of the design process, from the first sketch onward, the homeowner is encouraged to share the plans with a qualified builder to get real costs. The builder’s input will help define the project’s scope, and should help guide the development of the design from start to finish; by taking this approach, the finished set of plans should be in full compliance with the homeowner’s budget.
  3. Design philosophy goals: Incorporated with these above requirements, and informing the whole, the final design should include those goals of the designer, as described in the design philosophy. A careful, multi-phased design process allows for the integration of the homeowner’s, designer’s, and builder’s contributions in the final product: a buildable set of plans for a beautiful and unique home.

Phases of Design Process: Remodels and Additions

Phase 1: As-built Reference plans.
The necessary first step, before any design can begin, is to measure the existing house and parcel and create ‘as-built’ CAD drawings of the property, including floor plan, exterior elevations, and site plan. These drawings will be used as ‘background’ in all subsequent design sketches and drawings.

    Phase 2: Programming
Homeowner and designer meet to discuss design scope, budget, and priorities. Homeowner shares photographs, drawings, etc., that depict their vision and hopes for the remodeled home.
    Phase 3: Preliminary design sketches
We provide three or more alternative schemes, based upon previous discussions with the homeowner. These will include floor plans, at least one exterior elevation, and diagrammatic sketches of the interior, as required. The intent of these schemes is to provide an extensive selection of design options, which the homeowner can then use to make decisions and set priorities. The sketches are comprehensive enough to allow for rough or “ballpark” construction cost estimates early on in the process.
   
Phase 4: Design Development
After the homeowner has had an opportunity to review the preliminary designs and come to some decisions, the various design elements chosen may be incorporated into one scheme, in CAD, including, at minimum, a floor plan, all four elevations, and a site plan. The goal is to have a package of drawings that will further articulate the design and provide a point of discussion for greater detail and fine-tuning; these drawings should also provide enough information for more specific construction cost estimates. At the end of design development, the design should be fully defined and in line with the estimated construction costs.
    Phase 5: Construction Documents

In this final phase the plans are prepared for permit. Provided typically will be:

  • Site plan
  • Floor plan
  • Exterior elevations
  • Building section
  • Window and door schedule
  • Reflected ceiling plan
  • Electrical plan
  • Construction details
    Items not required for permit, but supplied per client’s request, would be:
  • Interior elevations
  • Interior design plans
  • Landscape and hardscape plans
   

Phases of Design Process: New Homes

Phase 1: Design Programming & Proto Design
To start with, a site visit is necessary to ascertain the restrictions, practical requirements, and general ‘character’ of the new home’s context. I meet with the clients to discuss their needs, both practical and otherwise, for the new home, working out the number of rooms, their basic arrangement or relationship with each other, and how they may be situated on the site. Basic square footage is defined.
Following this, I come up with some proto-design sketches that provide a variety of room layout options, evaluating these based on flow, function, orientation of the sun, and landscape elements such as trees and views. Also discussed are room sizes and area optimizations that can reduce square footage and therefore cost. One goal here is to create a floor plan that is as economical—as efficient—as possible, so that there is a reserve for both future construction ‘unknowns’ and for architectural ‘treats’ that make the home a unique and personal work of art.

   

Phase 2: Preliminary Design
With the client’s choosing of a proto-design, we move into the early stages of design development. A CAD drawing of the floor plan is created, delineating basic room sizes and further articulating flow, composition, and character, via discussion of window and door locations and connections between spaces, both indoor and out. We would also talk further of the general aesthetic character of the home and the site, and begin to conceptualize the exterior elevations and how the floor plan may be tweaked to accommodate the exterior composition. By the end of this phase, a site layout, floor plan, and at least one exterior elevation are agreed upon as the ‘direction’ for the design’s further development.

   
    Phase 3: Design Development
With the design direction now settled, the design will be further refined and articulated, per revisions and discussions, until we reach a “final” design that is acceptable to all parties. At the end of this process the design should be fully defined and in line with the estimated construction costs.
    Phase 4: Construction Documents

In this final phase the plans are prepared for permit. Provided typically will be:

  • Site plan
  • Floor plan
  • Exterior elevations
  • Building section
  • Window and door schedule
  • Reflected ceiling plan
  • Electrical plan
  • Construction details
 
   
Items not required for permit, but supplied per client’s request, would be:
  • Interior elevations
  • Interior design plans
  • Landscape and hardscape plans
 
Costs:

Madson Design provides adaptable fee structures that allow the homeowner the ability to sculpt our services and costs in a manner that meets their budget and needs.

Typically, the first two phases of the project are charged per a flat fee, as the time invested for these phases is fairly predictable. When it comes to Design Development, however, the time investment in this phase depends upon the particulars of the project, the homeowners themselves, and the local municipality's zoning regulations and permitting process. The decision-making process for each client is unique, and is usually the key factor defining the hours spent in this phase. Consequently, Design Development can either be billed hourly or can be based on a per square foot cost (of area affected only), or some combination of the two. The final phase, Construction Documents, can also either be billed per square foot or by hour, depending on the project and the homeowner's needs.

This approach has proven to keep our design costs down to very competitive level. In addition, at each stage of the process the fees are revisited with the client to verify that we are all in accord with the progress and costs thus far. As with the design process itself, our individualized fee structuring is collaboration-based and customer-focused.

For more information, please feel free to contact me.