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Phase III: Design Development (DD)

Goal: refine and develop the design such that most of the major design decisions are made. Implement the various systems into the building.

Fee Breakdown: 15-25% of the total fee

Finalizing the Design

The Design Development phase typically includes finalizing the size of the various rooms & spaces, refining the look of the project, selecting exterior and interior materials, determining the project’s systems, and deciding upon door and window types and locations. This phase may also include several owner/architect meetings which are critical to finalizing design decisions so that the detailed documentation can commence in the next phase.


One common question that arises is what level of interior design do we provide as part of our basic services. Simply put, we will design everything that is typically built-in to the project. This includes basic cabinetry and finish materials such as tile. This does not include furniture or stand-alone light fixtures. If you would like detailed interior design services, we are happy to provide these for you at an additional cost or collaborate with the interior designer of your choosing. We are also happy to share our list of trusted interior designers with our clients.

Systems Consultants

It is during this phase that the systems consultants begin to design and draw up their portions of the work. For a list of potential consultants, see the consultant coordination section of this guide. It is our job to coordinate the work of these various consultants, implementing their drawings into the overall design of the project.


At the end of the Design Development phase, the previously listed documents from the schematic design phase should be updated in further detail. In addition, it is common to also have the following documents:

  • Outline Specifications:
  • Interior Elevations:
  • Reflected Ceiling Plans:
  • Interior Schedules:
  • Window & Door Schedules:
  • Details:
  • Systems Consultants’ Drawings:

End of Phase

The Design Development phase officially ends when the owner signs off on the drawings, indicating approval of the design up to this point.