Stages of country house project development and implementation

There are several stages of country house project development and implementation, which differ depending on their focus and level of detail. Based on our experience we divide the whole process of working with the client on the project into the following stages.1

Stage 1 - Architectural design and utility systems

Architectural design of the house

The architectural design of the house determines its appearance and the layout, it is the basis of all further project works. This is the most creative part of an architect’s work. At this stage the architect’s experience in project implementation is very important – some features of the house’s exterior or layout, however insignificant they may seem, could have a huge impact on the cost of the construction.

An architectural design project includes layout plans for each floor, façade designs, plan of the roof, site plan showing building footprint of the house, as well as the schedule of windows and external doors. Normally we develop 2-3 versions of the project. The final version is drawn up in the standard format which you can submit to the state authorities in order to apply for a construction permit.

3D model of the house

As long as the architecture of the house is relatively straightforward and easy to imagine, we normally develop the project in form of flat drawings.

However, if the house has a complex structure requiring non-standard architectural and technical solutions it sometimes makes sense to develop a 3D model (upon the client’s approval). In our experience, people are very different in their ability to imagine a prospective house based solely on flat drawings, so if for some clients it is enough to see the front elevations to picture the house in their minds, for others it may take a few 3D renders.

We develop 3D models of houses using Autodesk Revit software – this is one of the most powerful modern systems of 3D modelling and engineering which allows creating models with any level of complexity. Besides presenting the exterior of a house, models developed in Autodesk Revit can potentially include complete technical information about the structures, materials, engineering systems (ventilation, plumbing, etc.). This way all the information about the project is gathered in a single file which allows developing and implementing the project in the most efficient way, avoiding discrepancies which may come up if the architectural design, engineering solutions and utility systems are developed separately (especially when development is performed by different parties and at different times). Besides, a model developed in Autodesk Revit can serve as a basis for further development of 3D renders of the interiors.

At the stage of 3D visualization of the house’s architecture we develop the model of the external and internal appearance of the house based on the layout plan approved by the client. The complete technical information necessary for construction is not included in the model at this point, since development of the detailed working project for construction is closely related to the actual process of construction.

Construction working project (to be developed within the framework of a contract for house construction)

In cases where the client entrusts us with construction of the house we develop the respective working project.

A country house which has a certain exterior (determined by the architectural design project) can be built using different construction techniques and engineering solutions.

At this stage the architectural design project is converted into technical drawings for construction including all necessary details. The sequence of works is considered, calculations for reinforcing the structures are made. The working project drawn up at this stage serves as the basis for the construction budget estimation.

We develop the working project and the construction budget estimation within the framework of a contract for construction works. Our fee for development of the working project and the construction budget is estimated individually for each project.

If an Autodesk Revit 3D model of the house has been developed at the previous stage, the working project is drawn up based on this model, which makes the process easier and faster. Also, in many cases it allows us to keep down the cost of working project development and, respectively, our fees.

A working project is sufficient for carrying out the construction of a house, but it does not cover in detail the issues related to utility systems and interior design.

Output placement schemes for utility systems

Output placement schemes for utility systems determine the way in which the design of these systems affects the exterior and the interior of the house. Besides, convenience of using the utility systems needs to be considered. Professionally developed output placement schemes allow avoiding mistakes which could affect the convenience of use, ergonomics and aesthetics of the interiors.

At this stage we prepare technical drawings indicating placement of the outputs for all utility systems (lighting fixtures, switches, sockets, low-voltage wiring, bathroom fixtures, under-floor heating, air conditioning and ventilation), as well as developed views of bathroom walls with placement of utility outputs (tiling schemes are not developed at this point).

We also develop the bathroom fixtures schedule, the sockets and switches schedule, the lighting fixtures schedule. These schedules serve as the guidelines for purchasing the respective items, since they contain all the technical information necessary for choosing the specific models.

The technical drawings for installation of utility systems are prepared by us in case construction of the house is commissioned to us. If implementation of the project is performed by a third party, we do not develop such technical drawings.

Stage 2 – Interior design and procurement

Development of interior design project, projects of specific interior items

At this stage we start with an interview and tests for determination of the client's aesthetic preferences. Everybody has an inborn inclination for certain colours, forms and styles. In the course of discussion we aim to determine such preferences and make sure we understand all of the client’s requirements to the interior.

Quite often it turns out that members of the family have different aesthetic preferences, so in order to achieve a result that would satisfy the whole family we have to make sure we understand them all. This way we can suggest the design solutions which would be based on something that the family has in common.

The basis of interior design is the design concept. It should take into account the psychological and aesthetic preferences of the clients, the tasks the clients set for us, and the limitations imposed by the architecture of the house.

Developing the design concept means finding a comprehensive vision, creating the right atmosphere and determining the principles and criteria for making the decisions regarding all design issues. Normally we have two meetings with the clients where we discuss the requirements and preferences of the family, go through our interim suggestions for the design project, and a third meeting where we discuss the final version.

The design concept is presented in the form of a project book including description of the design ideas and mood boards illustrating suggestions for interior style, colour palette, aesthetic qualities of finishes and interior items.

Based on the design concept approved by the client we suggest specific models for the key interior items (sofas and chairs in the living room, key lighting fixtures, dining table with chairs, kitchen furniture), which create the structure and the mood of the interior. Besides, we design the key architectural elements of the house interior – the staircase and the fireplace, prepare the necessary calculations and technical drawings and provide recommendations for the choice of materials. For the fireplace we recommend a particular model of the insert.

At this point we do not specify all the items and finishes, since choosing concrete models is an integral part of the procurement process. However, if the client asks us to take care of the procurement as well, we source and order them (see stage “Selection and procurement of finishes and interior items”). Sometimes the clients choose to take care of the procurement process themselves, so it does not make sense for us to prepare complete items and finishes schedules with particular brands and models, as in reality they are unlikely to be followed through. We believe that in cases where the client is taking care of the procurement a design concept is more useful as it provides the general guidelines which set the overall approach to choosing finishes and interior items.

In order to make the procurement process easier for the client, at this stage we prepare a generalized finishes schedule with calculations of all areas and volumes, internal doors schedule and the furniture schedule with recommendations for dimensions and other technical information (recommendations for the choice of specific brands and models, apart from the key items, are not included).

Visualization of the interior design project

Upon the client’s request we may develop 3D render images of the prospective interior. Normally we provide 4-5 views of the living room, 1-2 views of the staircase hall, 1 view of each of the main rooms (kitchen, bedrooms, etc.).

Selection and procurement of finishes and interior items

Upon the client’s request we may carry out the whole process of sourcing and procurement of finishes and interior items.

This stage includes drafting a presentation with a selection of suggested finishes and items, making purchase requests, identifying the suppliers, negotiating the supply terms with the suppliers and the client, following up on the orders for:

- facade finishes and windows,

- tiles, wooden floors,

- wall finishes – tiles, decorative plaster, paints, wallpaper,

- doors,

- bathroom fixtures,

- sockets and switches,

- lighting fixtures,

- staircases and railings,

- fireplace and finishes for the fireplace wall,

- mouldings,

- kitchen furniture,

- home appliances,

- other furniture,

- textiles (curtains, bedcovers, cushions).

The procurement process requires certain preparatory work.

For example, in order to make the decision on the wall finishes we often have to order samples, check if the materials are compatible in terms of colour and texture, consider their appearance with specific lighting. Sometimes we have to test the paints on parts of the walls in particular rooms. This is done to ensure that the resulting visual effect is the one we are counting on. Also, we need to perform certain calculations for placing the orders for wall finishes.

Next, we organize visits to respective showrooms, order the necessary catalogues, specify the acceptable options. After the suitable suppliers are chosen and preliminary calculations are made, the options are discussed with the client.

Sometimes we need to prepare additional technical drawings for specific finishes, for example, tiling schemes or schemes of wooden flooring.

It is often necessary to recalculate the volumes and areas for purchasing specific chosen finishes. For example, different types of tiles require buying different volumes of spare pieces, and the total volume of the purchase will also depend on how many tiles are supplied in one box.

After we get the client’s approval, we place the order with the supplier, follow up on the order, perform acceptance of the delivery (it is crucial to check if all the ordered items have been delivered, if there are any damages caused by transportation or unloading). If necessary, we handle claims for replacements and arrange additional deliveries where there was a mistake or damage.

Stage 3 - On-site supervision

On-site supervision of the architect/designer is necessary in order to address the ongoing issues related to implementation of the project, and also to ensure that the decisions taken by the builders are in compliance with the architectural and design project.

If the client has additional requests formulated at the project implementation stage, it is necessary to make sure that the changes are in line with the principles set by the design concept, and check if the changes can actually be technically implemented at the current stage of construction/finishing works.

Usually, proper supervision of an architect/designer requires at least 1 site visit per week.

In cases where construction / refurbishment of a country house is commissioned to us, we guarantee the quality of the works and accurate implementation of the project. In this case our on-site supervision fee is discounted.

Stage 4 – Decorating

At this stage we help the client to choose the décor which adds a personal touch to the interior and does not ruin the overall impression.

The right décor makes a house a home – a place we love. It is the ultimate fine tuning of the interior aimed at evoking associations, memories and feelings.

We help the client to put together an individual collection of items which bring coziness into the interior and make it look complete. We suggest accent items (sculpture, vases, candles and candle holders, carpets, tableware), art work (paintings, photographs) and mirrors, provide recommendations on choosing the house plants.

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