Your Vision and Program

Every project begins with your vision – whether a simple home remodel, a ground-up new home, or any other architectural project. Using your vision we create a program typically highlighting the requirements and goals of the project in the form of a narrative, list, or sketch.  We welcome and encourage client involvement in each phase to assure program goals are met.

Process Phases


Pre-Design is an information gathering phase, focusing on the site and the applicable permitting agencies.  Tasks in this phase typically include the following:

san francisco richmond district kitchen remodel

ORIGINAL site review.

1.    Review applicable Planning and Building Codes to understand the issues that affect the development of the project.
2.    Create or verify existing site & floor plans (by measuring at the site), and create a CAD file for the project.
3.    Explore areas of the site for development, taking in factors to include or avoid, and loosely prepare for design work.
4.    Begin assembling “team members”:  Surveyor, Structural Engineer, Civil and/or Soils Engineer, General Contractor. 
5.    Clients are expected/encouraged to find images that capture preferred aesthetics to share.


Schematic Design is the first phase of plan development.  It is a loose, exploratory phase meant to provide a variety of solutions that meet the program requirements.  The process in Phase 2 may include the following activities:

perspective sketch kentfield architecture

Concept Perspective Sketch Showing Elevation

1.    Graphically explore design solutions in both sketches and computer generated drawings (shaped by your program and all relevant code and site requirements realized in Phase 1). 
2.    Refine the overall design concept through Client feedback, via emails and/or meetings.  
3.    Consult with a Structural Engineer to work out preliminary structural solutions.
4.    Open up discussions with the Builder to get cost feedback for the design developed thus far. This feedback helps to define the project scope of work, and/or methods of construction.
5.    Clients are encouraged to explore material preferences for exterior & interior aspects of the project (finishes, windows & doors, cabinetry, etc).


In the Design Development phase, we continue developing aspects of the program/design pursued for Permit & Construction.  Activity in this phase includes:

kentfield marin architecture new home

Hand Drawn Eave Detail

1.    Further exploration/study of the project, such as: interior volumes, door/window style & placement, exterior/interior  materials, mass modeling, solar/shadow studies, etc.
2.    Review energy/ green / fire codes and begin applying them to the design.
3.    Review mechanical systems (heating/cooling/domestic water heating, etc) for application to project.  
4.    Continue working with the Structural Engineer and Mechanical Engineers to adjust design as necessary.
5.    Review preliminary construction costs with General Contractor; incorporate any cost saving or efficiency measures.

6.    Determine the final scope of work for permit & construction, based on cost /structural /code requirements; create Master Plan if appropriate to capture & document future work.
7.    Clients encouraged to begin selecting final material & product choices.


At this point, the scope of work for permit has been determined, and we continue working with Client and Consultants to create the documents required for a building permit.  The PERMIT documents consist of several technical drawings which include:

Occidental Garage Addition

Plan Showing Existing Carport with New Work Indicated

1.    All Architectural drawings required for permit: site & floor plans, sections, elevations, details, etc.
2.    Limited specifications describing materials to be used in the project, noted directly on the plans and details.
3.    Lighting /electrical /mechanical plans (coordinated with appropriate consultant information).
4.    Structural plans & calculations (provided by the structural engineer & coordinated with the Architectural design).
5.    Title-24 Energy Compliance report and CalGreen checklists – as required.
6.    Coordination with other consultants as appropriate; Geotechnical, Civil, lighting, A/V, elevator,  etc.  
7.    Submit documents to permit bureau, and respond to plan check comments.


After permit submittal, we typically continue development of the permit documents to create more detailed CONSTRUCTION plans for the client and General Contractor.  They are layered with additional information, such as:

noe valley kitchen elevation

Elevation Plan for a Kitchen

1.    Architectural details  
2.    Interior elevations (i.e. kitchen. bathrooms, built-in cabinetry, etc.) 
3.    Product & finish schedules. (i.e.  windows & doors, finishes)
4.    Specifications for selected products & materials


During construction we advise weekly or biweekly site visits to monitor construction.  In doing so, questions can be answered and mistakes avoided.  Typical tasks in the Construction phase include:

occidental garage

Visiting Site to Ensure Correct Cantilever Detail on Roof

1.    Pre-Construction meeting with General Contractor to discuss permit & construction documents.
2.    Observing /monitoring construction as necessary or required.
3.    Provide sign-offs or documentation as required by the Building/Planning Depts.

Project Example: Remodel

From Pre-Design through Construction Administration, your vision may be continually refined.  We’ve discovered through our experience that all concepts are fluid until finally built.  Opportunities for new options and improvements may be exposed and explored as they emerge throughout the design/build process. Below is an example of one client’s design visualization process for a remodel (left to right).  The progression of increasing refinements allowed the client to explore alternatives for configurations, features and architectural details. The client ultimately realized a vision even better than what was initially anticipated.

Project Example: New Construction

Following is an example of one client’s design process for new construction (left to right).  As discussed in the remodel process, the same progression of increasing refinements allow the owners to explore alternatives and visualize contrasting options.