Design Phases

design process

1. Planning

During this stage, we conduct a high-level assessment of the project’s feasibility and potential impacts on the surrounding environment and community. The team also identifies potential stakeholders and engages in early consultation to identify concerns and opportunities for collaboration. In the conceptual phase, the project idea is further developed, and a concept is created that will guide the project’s development. This phase helps to refine the project’s goals and requirements and create a clear vision for the project. In the ideation phase, new ideas are generated and explored to enhance the project’s value. This phase can occur multiple times throughout the project’s lifecycle as new features or functionalities are identified.

The feasibility study is conducted which is a preliminary analysis of the project’s potential to determine if it is viable and worth pursuing. The study includes an assessment of the project’s technical, economic, legal, and operational feasibility. It also includes an analysis of the market demand, competition, and potential risks associated with the project. If the project is deemed feasible, securing funding for the project can begin. This may involve identifying potential sources of funding, such as grants, loans, or equity investors, and preparing a detailed project proposal that outlines the project’s scope, objectives, and expected outcomes. The proposal should also include a detailed budget and timeline for the project, along with a plan for how the project will be managed and monitored.

2. Preliminary Design

We develop a design concept that meets the project goals and objectives. To achieve this, the team explores various design options and presents them to the client for feedback and approval.  This information is used to establish a clear scope of work and set expectations for the rest of the project. We gather information and develop a plan that outlines the basic parameters of the project, including site analysis, user requirements, zoning requirements, project cost estimates, and preliminary schedule. The scope, goals, and priorities of the project are also defined during this phase to ensure that everyone involved in the project understands the project’s objectives and constraints. Obtaining records from the property owner and local city/municipal authority, such as building permits, site plans, zoning information, property records, and utility/infrastructure information, helps us understand regulatory requirements and site constraints.

3. Schematic Design and Programming

Once a design concept is selected, we develop preliminary drawings, which include floor plans, elevations, and site plans, to convey the design intent. Additionally, the team provides a budget estimate and terms and conditions that outline the project scope, cost, and schedule. This involves developing a high-level concept for the building that takes into account the client’s needs and goals, as well as any site and regulatory constraints. The output of this phase is typically a set of drawings and diagrams that illustrate the design concept.

4. Design Development

We synthesize the program requirements to create well-defined design drawings. All significant areas of the design are carefully considered and involves refining the design concept into a more detailed and coordinated set of plans, elevations, and sections. This phase may also involve developing specifications for materials and systems to be used in the building. At this stage, a preliminary cost estimate and schedule is typically provided. The plans, specifications, calculation booklets, and reports that are developed during this stage form the basis of the construction contract. LEED certification and value engineering can be provided to add additional value to the project.

5. Construction Documentation

This phase involves creating comprehensive drawings, specifications, and other documentation, along with a final project budget and schedule, that will guide and be used by contractors and subcontractors to build the project. This phase typically involves extensive coordination among the design team to ensure that all aspects of the building are well-coordinated and integrated. This marks the beginning of the permitting process with the city planning department. To obtain an approved permit set, we carefully address the city’s plan check comments, and deliver the drawings in three stages (30-60-90 issued for construction (IFC) design process). Once this is completed, we proceed to the more detailed 100% Construction Documents/ Design Drawings (CDs/DDs) necessary for construction bidding and permitting. These drawings include specific design details, shop drawings, and specifications outlining the materials, equipment, systems, installation methods, standards, and expected workmanship quality.

6. Bidding & Negotiation

The project is put out to bid, by issuing bid packages to potential contractors, and we evaluates bids to select a contractor to perform the work based on their bid proposal. Our procurement process for construction services involves a Design-Bid-Build fixed-price competitive bid. We typically solicit bids from at least three prequalified General Construction Contractors (GCs)/bidders. After selecting a contractor and negotiating the contract terms, a construction contract is drawn up between the contractor and owner. To ensure the integration of different products and construction methods are optimized, we consult with the supplier who sells the materials, the fabricator who crafts them, and the sub-contractor who installs them. Once the GC sources the necessary materials, construction can begin on the project.

7. Construction Administration

During this phase, the contractor performs the work according to the approved plans and specifications. We perform construction administration to provide oversight and management of the construction process, including quality control, schedule management, and budget management. This helps ensure high standards are maintained throughout the construction process, and that the project is completed on time and within budget. This entails conducting periodic site visits to observe construction for compliance with the design intent. Additionally, handling a range of important tasks, including pre-construction condition surveys, pay applications, schedules of values, change orders, cost estimates, Requests for Information (RFIs), submittals, and as-builts. As-builts, created from redlines, are used as a record of the completed project for future reference. After construction is complete, the project team conducts a final inspection to ensure that the work is done in accordance with the plans and specifications. The team also addresses any remaining issues or deficiencies and closes out the project. Note that the project team typically includes representatives from the owner, designer, and construction company.

Contracting Approaches

Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC)

A turnkey approach where a single contractor, known as the EPC contractor, is responsible for the entire project, including engineering, procurement of materials and equipment, and construction.


A construction project in which the design and construction services are contracted by a single entity known as the design–builder or design–build (DB) contractor. The DB contractor provides the project design with in-house Design Engineering (DE) or a hired Consulting Engineering firm to provide construction drawings and specification documentation from which the building is to be constructed or altered. Specific to HVAC equipment and controls, the DE or CE typically calls out on both construction drawings and specification documentation specific equipment and controls manufacturers to be installed on the project.


A construction project in which, prior to completion of design, a construction contract may be awarded on a best value basis pursuant to which a contractor provides design assistance to the architect or engineer of record through a design professional separately retained by the contractor. Specific to HVAC equipment and controls, typically engineer of record notes equipment and controls manufacturers for dimensional fit and efficiency and/or quality assurance. Contractor may or may not utilize manufacturer(s) originally noted by engineer of record.

Plan and Specification Projects

A construction project that typically goes to bid to multiple contractors. A Consulting Engineer (CE), typically hired by an Architectural Firm or Building Owner designs and provides construction drawings and specification documentation from which the building is to be constructed or altered. Specific to HVAC equipment and controls, CE typically calls out on both construction drawings and specification documents a basis-of-design equipment and controls manufacturers and approved alternate manufacturers.

Construction Management

A construction project approach where a specialized contractor, known as the construction manager, oversees and coordinates the entire construction project. They work closely with the owner, architects, and subcontractors to ensure efficient execution, cost control, and timely completion. The construction manager acts as the project’s facilitator, ensuring all stakeholders collaborate effectively, and manages various aspects, including scheduling, budgeting, and quality control.

General Contracting

A traditional construction method where the project owner contracts with a single entity, the general contractor, responsible for managing the entire construction process. The general contractor takes charge of hiring subcontractors, purchasing materials, and coordinating all construction activities to deliver the completed project according to the owner’s requirements and specifications.

Design-Bid-Build (DBB)

A conventional sequential approach to construction projects. The owner first hires an architect or engineer to design the project. Once the design is complete, the project is put out to bid, and contractors submit proposals. The owner then selects the winning bid and hires the contractor separately for construction. This method follows a linear progression of design, bidding, and building.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)

A collaborative approach where the project’s key stakeholders, including the owner, architects, engineers, contractors, and sometimes even suppliers, work together from the project’s inception. They share responsibilities, risks, and rewards, promoting effective communication and decision-making. IPD fosters a team-oriented environment, aiming for better project outcomes, reduced conflicts, and improved overall efficiency.

Public-Private Partnerships (P3)

Involves a collaboration between a government or public entity and a private company to jointly undertake a construction project. This partnership combines the resources, expertise, and financial capabilities of both sectors to deliver public infrastructure or services. P3 projects typically involve long-term contracts and risk-sharing between the public and private entities, enabling the development of large-scale projects that might otherwise be challenging for the government alone.

Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED)

FEED is not a project delivery method but rather a phase within a project’s development. It occurs before the detailed design and construction phases. During the FEED phase, preliminary engineering and design work are carried out to define the project scope, budget, and schedule. It involves conceptual planning, cost estimation, risk assessment, and feasibility studies. The objective is to develop a clear project concept before proceeding to detailed design and construction.