What are the stages of the design process? – it’s a question we are often asked.

In this post we guide you step by step through the 4 stages of design – from the initial conversation to the day your new home is ready for you to move in and enjoy.

M+Y PROCESS guides your project from start to finish:

Stage 1: Concept + Strategy

Architecture begins with a conversation about your ambitions, aspirations, dreams, concerns and problems. Together we will discover what a building represents for you and how it fits into your life. The first step is to make a site visit, so we can see and explore your existing building, urban, suburban or rural setting. We gather information about the site and context: existing features, natural and man-made, sun access, breezes, neighbouring buildings, terrain, flora and fauna to name a few. We then commission a site survey and prepare measured drawings of any existing buildings. We work with you to gather information and prepare your comprehensive brief – a detailed assessment of your needs, aspirations and constraints – and set up the principles which will guide the project. We review and summarise the regulations from local authorities and building codes that will govern the project. During these initial discussions concepts and ideas are illustrated through drawings and models, and we’ll discuss a range of options.

A detailed analysis of environmental design opportunities informs what to incorporate as credible solutions into the project. We look at solar access and overshadowing; passive cooling and heating of spaces; rainwater harvesting and recycling; materials and finishes; mechanical systems, solar power and hot water. We’ll assess the costs and benefits of various solutions, so that the systems chosen are economically viable and appropriate to the project.

Concurrently, discussions will centre upon the feel and relationship of interior spaces, sequence of movement through the building, and preliminary ideas about the materials and methods of construction. During this stage we’ll have preliminary discussions about costs, and propose alternatives depending on the overall project budget. The Concept + Strategy stage eliminates assumptions, clarifies your requirements, anticipates roadblocks and proposes realistic options so the project proceeds in the right direction. The design concept arises from our understanding and interpretation of the site, the context, the client and the agreed project principles.

Stage 2: Sketch Design + Council Submission

During this stage of the design process, the initial design concept is tested and refined. Simulations are used to fine tune preliminary ideas while ongoing dialogue with you explores requirements in ever increasing detail. Preliminary models are made to show you both the internal arrangement of spaces and the external massing and configuration. We also carry out sun/shadow studies and 3D views.

We’ll explore and discuss the look, feel and materiality of internal spaces. We’ll also consult our structural engineer and other consultants to ensure their requirements support our design intent. Ongoing input from consultants is incorporated into the project, and we’ll also address the requirements and limitations of regulations.

Helios, the ancient Greek god of the sun, lends its name to the heliodon. This tool is fundamental in understanding the relationship of a building to the sun, which in turn is key in creating energy efficient buildings. We’ll use a heliodon to check sunshading to external glazing, and the effects of landscaping and orientation. This simulation enables us to envision the preliminary quality of light within the designed spaces.

We’ll prepare a preliminary landscape design to explore the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces, and any specific garden area requirements you put forward.

Drawings and reports are prepared to make submissions to local Council to obtain approval for the project. Before we lodge your application, we’ll arrange meetings with planning officers to understand their concerns and ensure we address those in the design process. This saves you time and money by responding to any known concerns in the initial submission. Drawings required by Council are extensive and often include 3D visualisations to demonstrate the impact of the proposed development on your neighbours and surroundings. We’ll prepare shadow diagrams for this purpose, and they will also be used to inform design decisions around orientation, bulk, scale, window placement, sunshading and landscaping

Stage 3: Detail Design + Documentation

After council approval is granted, we proceed to Detail Design. At this stage, the the major elements of the project have been agreed upon and we turn our attention to resolution, coordination and integration. We will discuss detail arrangements and workings of joinery, materials and methods of construction, finishes and colours.

Also in this stage, environmental systems are integrated into the building in conjunction with passive design measures. 3D computer models are used to test and verify solar access and inform the selection of appropriate window and shading products and systems (which require significant lead times in some cases). And, as the name suggests, this stage also involves the detailing of customised elements, finishes, colours, hardware and lighting systems.

At this stage the project is ready to be fully documented. The documents describe every aspect of the project, its materials, construction methods, systems, fixtures, fittings and finishes. The documentation has two purposes. In the first instance it will be used to allow the selected builder to price the project. Without a full set of documents the builder will have to make assumptions, resulting in an inaccurate quote. Once a builder is chosen, the documents are a set of instructions for the builder to follow.

Every decision that you have made throughout the design process must be graphically illustrated for the builder to know what to build, where and how. The documentation also describes the quality of workmanship expected for the project and incorporates the work of all consultants such as engineers into a coordinated set of instructions.

Stage 4: Construction + Handover

During construction, we work with the builder to maintain the integrity of the design. This ensures that what was drawn in your plans is realised on site, and the final outcome meets your expectations. We’ll prepare and issue additional details and sketches to the builder, and answer queries as they arise during the construction phase. We will administer the project and contract on your behalf during this stage, keeping track of the project and resolving any issues as they arise on site. In addition to making periodic visits to the construction site, we will meet with specialist suppliers – such as the joiner and steel fabricator – to review their progress and instruct on any necessary modifications. At the end of the construction phase, we’ll carry out a final inspection on your behalf, noting any small defective or incomplete building work. We’ll work in collaboration with the builder until these defects are rectified. And, once the occupancy certificate is issued by the certifier, it’s time for you to move in and enjoy your new home.

Head over to M+Y JOURNEY to find out what it’s like to work with us.