Phases of Architectural Design


When you begin a new design-build project, it can be difficult to learn the lingo between all of the professions and trades working on your project. One of the best things you can do to ensure your build runs smoothly is research what to expect in the phases of architectural design , so you can have a basic understanding of their work and minimize the chance of getting lost in translation. 

When working with an architectural designer, you find a basic overview of the phases of architectural design in your contract. Typically, it will look something like this:

  • Pre-design
  • Schematic Design 
  • Design Development
  • Construction Documents 
  • Building Permits 
  • Bidding 
  • Construction

If you are wondering what each stage entails, we will give you an in-depth look below.


What is your vision and what are your goals? This is the stage where we get to know you and your specific needs and scope for your project. Often we will tour your future space, look at the existing structures and the area around the build. We will research the local building restrictions and zoning before we submit our bid for the project. 

Schematic Design 

This is the basic start to your plans. Schematic designs are meant to be a broad overview of the project that lays out the systems your building will use. Your vision and building systems come together in the form of:


  • Drawings 
  • Sketches 
  • 3D renders 
  • Preliminary site plans 
  • Floor plans 
  • Building elevations 

While you will definitely get a good idea of what your build will look like at this stage, you won’t get the full scope before you choose your finishing materials. That’s where you will get a better idea of project costs. 

Design Development 

Get your detailed plan including interior and exterior finishes, room sizes, and material selections. These finishes will determine the true cost of your construction project. Make a list of your wants and needs, and stick to that list when determining any cuts that need to be made to stay on budget. 

Construction Documents

Every detail is laid out on these plans. There will be two hard copies:  one to be submitted for permit, and the other set of plans will remain on-site throughout construction.

Building Permits 

Your local permit office will review the plans submitted to confirm your plans meet:

  • Zoning laws
  • Building codes
  • Structural integrity

It’s common for this stage to take the longest in the construction process. 


When you hire Iris Construction Management for a design-build project, you can cross this step off of your list. We vet trusted contractors within your price range to meet your goals and remain on time and on budget. We also provide you with a detailed list of transparent pricing, so you know there are no hidden costs in your build. 


Our team will monitor the construction to ensure construction is on schedule and following the construction documents. We will also work closely with the contractor to answer any questions and keep your project on schedule. 


The Iris Construction Management team takes pride in meeting you where you are and getting to know our clients on a personal level. If you have questions along the way we are happy to guide you during the process. Get in touch today to start your design-build project!