The Process

Preliminary Design




  • ››   Preliminary Design

    Programming and Site Analysis: The first step in the design process is an initial consultation, typically at the project location.The purpose of this meeting is to identify the goals (program) for the project and to discuss the issues that the owner has identified as being important. After the initial meeting, we will prepare a building program or preliminary feasibility assessment, if needed. In the case of an addition or renovation project, this process includes measuring the existing building as well as drawing floor plans and exterior elevations. For new construction this phase is focused primarily on site conditions. The feasibility assessment will address potential scenarios to meet the goals and describe any issues that have been identified that impact those scenarios. We will also help estimate a budget for the project and will review potential constraints such as building and zoning codes which may influence the project.


    Schematic Design: During this stage the goals for the project will be used to develop alternate design solutions. This process begins with conceptual diagrams created to solicit feedback; these are then developed into more detailed sketches. Views, materials, furnishings, and budget are included among many variables factored into the design process. The work product of this stage is a detailed program, a schematic set of scaled plans and elevations, and a square-footage-based cost estimate.

  • ››   Documentation

    Design Development:  Using the Schematic Design documents, we then develop the preferred strategy into a more complete design. The floor plans and elevations are refined, and interior elevations are developed. The important design features, such as kitchen cabinets, bathroom layouts, built-ins, windows and doors, and selection of materials and finishes are elaborated. The work product at the end of this phase is a set of scaled plans, elevations, interior elevations, sections, a material palette, and an outline specification, which can be used to obtain preliminary construction cost estimates from builders or reviewed with historic preservation, community review, or zoning variance committees.


    Construction Documents: Once the design development is complete and approved by the client, the project is ready to be refined into detailed drawings and specifications that establish exact construction standards. The documents typically include dimensioned plans, elevations, sections, details, and specifications. Technical issues such as structural, electrical and mechanical requirements are resolved and documented. These drawings are essential to precisely explain the scope of work to bidding contractors, and to obtain the most competitive and comprehensive bids. We work with engineers and consultants to produce the necessary drawings as determined by the size and complexity of the project. The completed drawings and specifications will be used to obtain a building permit, solicit final bids, and form the basis of an agreement with the selected builder.

  • ››   Construction

    Bidding & Negotiation: In preparation for construction, we will discuss with the client the option of bidding to several contractors or negotiating with one contractor directly. Contractors are selected based on recommendations and evaluation of their skills and appropriateness for the project. After careful review, a contractor is selected based on several factors including experience, price, availability, understand of (and compatibility with) the owner’s needs, and other sometimes intangible issues.


    Building Permit: When the construction documents are complete, they are forwarded to builders for final pricing and submitted with an application for a building permit. Most projects are reviewed primarily by the local county or city jurisdiction, though some will require additional consideration by design review boards, historic review boards, or municipalities. We will help identify the permit requirements for the project and navigate the application and review process.


    Construction Administration: During the construction period, we make regular visits to the site to verify the quality and accuracy of the contractor's work and their conformance with the Construction Documents. Changes in the work suggested by the client or the contractor are discussed and resolved. Payment requests are reviewed and approved, including confirmation of the completion of the work and approval of final payment.


MacCullough Architects will help guide you through the process from beginning of design to completion of construction.  We work with you to fulfill your desires and needs while never compromising design aesthetics or technical requirements.  We strive to create sensible and livable architecture.


Each of our client relationships takes on its own personality. It is an evolutionary process, at the end of which we arrive at a unique and appropriate solution for that client. The owner, the site, the architect, and the contractor all add information and value throughout. The end result is a project that uniquely answers the needs of our clients.

412 S. Taylor Street, Arlington, VA    703.685.0081