Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A construction project can be daunting, how does one start?

It's a common refrain. "I'd like to start a construction project, but I don't know how to start the process."

Often, that means sitting on the project and not seeing it through. It's an intimidating process to contemplate.

- How do I file the job?
- How do I determine the cost?
- How long will it take?
- What are potential pitfalls to be aware of during the process?

One way to get the ball rolling is to discuss with your architect doing a 'feasibility study'

This is a process where the architect meets with the client, discusses their goals for the property, and then executes a short drawing package to provide rough schedule with budgetary pricing (including professional fees, potential DOB costs, etc).

This allows the client to have a rough drawing package and budget in order to make an informed decision on the viability of the job with a minimal initial commitment. Often, this can costs low four figures (or can even be pursued hourly) and if the client goes through with the job, this is credited towards the full project fee.

What does one look like? Below is an example of a residential feasibility study.

The first step is to execute a small drawing set that can be given to GCs in order to get a rough price. For example:
Existing Elevations [ click for enlarged ]
Existing Plans [ click to enlarge ]
Feasibility Option SK-1 [ click to enlarge ]
Feasibility Option SK-2 [ click to enlarge ]
Feasibility Option SK-3 [ click to enlarge ]
The drawings above reflect the following process:
- Measure the existing conditions.
- Design three potential ideas of how the project could be executed.
- Transmit these sketches to contractors for pricing.

Once the sketches are discussed, revised, and noted, then we transmit them to a contractor or two that are trusted and appropriate for the project type. Often a contractor will happily give you a ballpark number and schedule in hopes of winning the job. Once this is done, the next step is to provide a feasibility project budget.


Feasibility Budget - Page 1, GC's budget [ click to enlarge ]

Feasibility Budget - Page 2, GC's budget, appliances [ click to enlarge ]

Feasibility Budget - Page 3, Professional Fees & Total Budget [ click to enlarge ]

This budget reflects:
- The rough budget provided from the contractor(s).
- The budget for items provided by owner
- The professional fees
- The fees and license costs (estimated) from government organizations.

Once the drawings and budget are completed, the client then can rest easy knowing exactly what they're getting into prior to commissioning the entire project.

Removing the fear of the unknown relatively early in the process can make the project potentially more attractive to client considering making the investment.


  1. The first stage of any construction is the proposal phase. The designs must meet the building construction codes, of course. On another note, you have to create adjustments for any delays in the operation. Once everything is set, a notice of completion follows. Hope this helps!

    Lorenzo Hess

    1. Indeed Lorenzo, adjustments for delays in the process is a big part of most architectural projects in case of unforeseen issues, like in this project's case, Hurricane Sandy.

      Thanks for the read!