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A new build, renovation, or addition is a big undertaking! Understanding the process of working with an architect from the beginning will help your project go smoothly and result in a home you love. Read on to understand each step of our process.

Southern style home with double balconies designed by MPR Architecture



In this step, your architect will fully analyze your site, including foliage, drainage, topography, views, prevailing climate, and other site-specific issues. This requires you to provide a recent survey to your architect.

In addition to the natural conditions of the site, the
architect will review all zoning, covenants, and other legal restrictions for the property.

If your project is an addition or renovation, the architectural team will also measure the existing home.

Owner responsibilities: Provide a recent site survey to the Architect.

Architect's deliverables: Site & Zoning Analysis

Bubble sketch showing rough layout for a renovation to be completed by MPR Architecture in a Washington DC neighborhood


The list of requirements for the project is referred to as the 'Program.' The Program is your opportunity to detail everything you want to achieve with your project. This may include things like room sizes, functions, adjacencies, and other specific information. 

In some cases, you may think of the Program as the problem you want to solve with the project.

The Program you provide to your architect will be the basis of the design work to follow.

Owner responsibilities: Provide the Program to the architect.

Architect's deliverables: Review the Program with the Owner to ensure it is comprehensive and complete


This is when the initial thoughts and ideas for the project begin to come together. 

Your architect will formulate two or more potential solutions for your project. Generally, floor plans showing room sizes and adjacencies will be provided by the architect. In addition, exterior sketches of the building will begin to take shape.

Owner responsibilities: Select a scheme from the presented options.

Architect's deliverables: Floor plans, exterior sketches, and initial budgets for two or more concepts

Floor plan for first floor of a Washington DC bungalow renovation


At this stage, the selected scheme is developed more fully. 

The exterior of the building is developed in fuller detail. Windows, doors, and other fenestration are drawn; exterior covered spaces are elevated and
refined. Drawings at this point can be used for historic review by local boards, and an initial budget number can be obtained from a qualified contractor.

Owner responsibilities: Review drawings.

Architect's deliverables: Revised floor plans, drafted elevations (exterior views of the house), interior sketches of areas in the building, refined project budget


By the conclusion of this step in the process, the design of your home is fully complete.

The interiors of the home are developed through interior elevations, building sections (how the interior relates to the exterior), and wall
sections. Exterior materials are selected and manufactured components like windows, skylights, exterior and interior doors, and other materials are selected and confirmed.


In addition, electrical and mechanical systems are
designed schematically and discussed. Lighting and power plans are designed.

Owner responsibilities: Review drawings and release Architect to create the permit, bid, and construction sets.

Architect's deliverables: Finalized floor plans, elevations, wall sections, interior elevations, power and lighting plans; exterior and interior materials specified; kitchen and bath plans reviewed.

Architectural drawing of kitchen wall with large window


During this stage of the process, we may engage other professional consultants (Structural Engineer, Civil Engineer, Mechanical Engineer) to help complete the construction documents (CDs).

The Architect will release sets of drawings for (1) the Owner to obtain a building permit from the local building authority, and (2) for general contractors to bid the project if the Owner has elected to receive multiple bids. Once the contract has been awarded to a GC, the Architect will provide a full set of CDs for the use in the building the project.

These drawings will include dimensioned floor plans at all levels, exterior elevations, sections, wall sections, details (in either plan or section), structural plans and details, and lighting and mechanical plans. In addition to these drawings, all materials will be specified for the project.

Owner responsibilities: Use construction drawings to obtain building permit

Architect's deliverables: Full sets of construction documents (CDs)


We will help you through the bidding and negotiating process with General Contractors. Our services at this stage include qualifying GCs, answering questions that arise during the bidding process, issuing addenda as needed, and analyzing bids from Contractors. 

Owner responsibilities: Take the lead role in selecting a Contractor with support from your Architect.

Architect's deliverables: Availability throughout the process to answer questions and provide analysis; Addenda issued as needed

Washington DC bungalow under renovation - shows new siding going on house


As construction proceeds, the Architect’s role shifts from designer and documenter to administrator and
reviewer. During construction, your Architect will answer questions from the General Contractor as they arise. The Architect will review all shop drawings, window and door orders, and other large component orders that affect the design of the building. Your Architect may also administer payment request reviews.

Owner responsibilities: In partnership with your Architect, monitor the progress and quality of your General Contractor's work.

Architect's deliverables: Availability throughout construction to answer questions and handle other administrative tasks


Your new home is ready to enjoy! The careful planning you did in partnership with your Architect has produced a fabulous result. It's time to relax and begin making new memories in your home.


Fully renovated Washington DC bungalow with blue siding, red door, and bright yellow chairs on the front porch
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