The Essential Services Offered by Architectural Design Firms

Architectural Design Firms

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Choosing the suitable business model for your architecture firm can make or break your profitability. Be clear about your goals and choose a model that will work for you.

Marketing is the process of attracting and retaining clients. It involves building relationships with potential customers and strategic partners, showcasing your expertise, and creating a high-quality portfolio.


Programming is converting problem solutions into instructions for a computer to execute. It requires knowledge of application domains, algorithms, and programming languages.

Architects use design software to help digitally model and replicate complex architectural elements. The software also provides features for collaboration with project stakeholders and document control. The design of the architecture can be replicated to verify its feasibility in the actual construction.

This predesign phase is often an absorbed cost of the firm and is not directly associated with a client’s fee. This is because architects usually bill for all services up front, and it would be difficult to bill for time spent pursuing new projects that ultimately need to be awarded. This type of billing is sometimes referred to as an hourly rate. However, firms can also bill the overall construction cost by a percentage. This can be more predictable for clients and staffing purposes. It can also help manage cash flow during periods of slower activity.

Design Development

Design development is the next step in the architectural process, bringing your client’s initial ideas and concepts to life. During this phase, your client will receive more detailed drawings of the project and a specification book that defines materials, components, and details for the design.

Depending on the scope of your firm and your client’s needs, the duration of design development can vary. However, most design projects take less than three months to complete.

Some architect’s in Merion, PA have specific specialties that make them more sought-after by prospective clients. Other firms may focus on a particular type of project or system, such as schools or hospitals. These firms often charge higher fees because of their expertise. For these reasons, it is essential to have a clear understanding of your architectural services so that you can effectively market them.

Construction Documentation

Construction documents are the paperwork that outlines a project’s specifics, turning on-paper designs into building reality. They result from meticulous planning from previous phases and provide a clear path for all specialists involved in the building process to collaborate harmoniously and deliver a safe and aesthetically pleasing structure.

The documents typically include a cover sheet listing project information, including the team members, building type, and drawing list for each CD set. They also typically include a site map with utility locations, a door, window, equipment schedule, and ironmongery and sanitary ware details.

Depending on the size of a project, documentation can also include bulletins or addenda that clarify issues as they arise while providing a paper trail for all changes. These are referred to as architectural supplemental information (ASI). Crew scheduling and human resources (HR) documentation are crucial for tracking personnel’s movement between job sites.

Construction Administration

During construction, it’s easy for changes to occur without clear communication between multiple parties. Having an architect in the loop ensures that changes don’t affect project quality or schedule.

For example, if the building materials don’t meet expectations or get discontinued, architects can navigate clients toward replacements that fit their budget and needs. Construction administration also consists of conducting site visits to monitor progress, which can save on costs for both the contractor and the client.

Additionally, a construction management app streamlines communications so questions about changes are responded to promptly. Rather than bombarding the architect with emails or phone calls, updates happen in one place and are instantly shared with on-site teams via the cloud.