After you hire us to design your house, we begin with the Preliminary Design aka Sketch Design, or Schematic design. First we do the site analysis. We get a copy of the Tree and Topographical survey, go visit the site, take some photos and do a little research. Below is a site analysis for a new project of ours in a neo-traditional development heavily influenced by French Colonial traditions. Before Michael designed this house, we looked through the Mississippi and Louisiana editions of the Architecture of the Old South series, as well as a book about A. Hays Town to get a sense of the vernacular traditions of Mississippi and Louisiana. We got copies of the plans for the neighbors' houses and studied those. We researched the wind directions at the lot to determine where the best prevailing summer breezes come from.
After determining where the best spot on the lot for the house is, we get the program together. The "program" includes everything the clients want for their project as well as the guidelines put in place by the review board, if there is one. We send out a questionnaire, ask clients for ideabooks, and review the guidelines to ensure that what we design suits the client and the review board. Then we design. Michael took the lead on this design, and below are several sketches and floorplans of this project, in no particular order, that illustrate his thought process in the sketch design phase. Throughout the process, Michael "pins up" his designs and everyone in the office gathers around to critique. You can see, there are 2 version of this house. One with the master bedroom downstairs (to fit the client's program) and one with the master bedroom upstairs (which we thought works better). The sketch design for this house took about 70 hours.
Once Michael comes up with a design that he likes that suits the program, he makes more detailed drawings for the presentation to the clients. Below are the two options for the house. The clients take the drawings home, and we like to let them think it all through for several weeks before we move on to the next phase, design development.