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Phase I: Project Research (PR)

Goal: research and determine the owner’s criteria for the project.

Fee Breakdown: 5-10% of the total fee


Simply put, Project Research is the stuff that is done before starting, and in preparation for design. Project Research services can vary greatly depending on project complexity and the experience of the client. Clients may have done some of this research in advance. Together we refine and organize this information into a program to guide the design.


Programming: establishes a narrative documenting detailed requirements for the project relating to but not limited to; design objectives, space requirements, spatial relationships, flexibility and expandability, special equipment and systems, site requirements, and construction phasing.

Budget: The budget should have estimated costs for both the hard costs and soft costs for your project. Hard costs are construction-related costs, like materials, labor, and the contractor’s overhead and profit. Soft costs are non-construction related costs including architect’s fees and expenses, consultants fees and expenses, municipal fees, bank fees and interest, and insurance. It is also important during this phase to generally assess if the budget is adequate to complete the project given the project type and quality.

Schedule: The following are just a few of the factors that contribute to the project schedule:

  • Owner’s schedule
  • Owner’s decision time
  • Architect’s schedule
  • Consultants’ schedules
  • Project complexity
  • Permit process
  • Municipal conditions
  • Contractor’s schedule

Because of all the various factors involved in the schedule, it is important to continually evaluate and adjust the schedule as the project progresses.

Code Analysis: Know the rules of the game before you play. Building and zoning have different rules governing many aspects of your project. Our experience interpreting codes is critical to preventing costly code errors.

Space Schematics: We often produce space schematics to bring form to the program. These may include diagrammatic studies and descriptive text, conversion of program requirements into net area requirements, etc.

Existing Conditions Surveys: Remodeling projects require a record of the existing structure. Most clients do not have drawings of their existing buildings, we work with them to create “as-built” drawings. We will measure and create accurate CAD drawings of your building for use as a base for the new design.

Site Analysis & Selection: Whether you already own a site for your project or would like our assistance in finding one that will meet your needs, we are diligent when it comes to the site analysis. It is our belief that great design comes from a building’s relationship to its site. We analyze a project’s site to identify its assets, its liabilities, its opportunities, and the municipal boundaries and limitations. Consultants Needed

Aside from our services in the Project Research phase, most projects require that the owner hire consultants to prepare the following two documents:

  • •Site Survey: A map depicting the boundaries, topography, utilities, and existing buildings on a particular site.
  • •Soils Report & Geotechnical Investigation: Soil borings and laboratory tests are performed to determine the strength, compressibility and other characteristics of the soil conditions of a site. This type of report is more frequently required in hillside or coastal areas.

We are happy to refer our clients to surveyors and soils engineers that we have used in the past.

End of Phase

The Project Research phase officially ends when the client signs off on the approved program, budget, schedule, and code analysis.