PReparing for your Project
The first step in an architectural project, prior to be beginning the design is the development of a program. However, the program is typically refined throughout the design process.
You can prepare the program on your own to save on architect’s fees, or with an architect’s assistance. Building a program might seem overwhelming but you can do it easily if you break it into steps. Don’t worry if you can’t complete any of the following sections; they can be addressed with the assistance of the architect.
- Establish requirements and goals
- Gather information
- Identify relationships of spaces
- Determine sizes of spaces
As you work through the following items, it is important to distinguish between what you want and what you need.
- Types of rooms and numbers of each. For example: 1 master bedroom, 2 standard bedrooms, 1 eat-in kitchen, living room, 2 full baths, 1 half bath.
- Project budget. Consider whether the budget includes the following:
- Property acquisition
- Survey fees
- Design fees
- Construction costs
- Furnishing, fixtures, and equipment
- Sustainable (green) features. What if any sustainable goals are important (for example)?
- Building from local or recycled materials
- Energy efficiency
- Water efficiency
- Miscellaneous needs
- Aesthetic preferences
- Handicapped accessibility
- Water, mountain or other desirable views
Your architect requires certain information prior to beginning the design process. Gathering information is the most technical part of creating a program. To begin, you will need to have a civil engineer survey the site and provide you with the information regarding the following:
- Lot size
- Built features
- Roads, driveways, and easements
- Vegetation and wetlands
After the site survey, answer the following questions. Some may entail hiring qualified individuals or firms to gather the most accurate information.
- Does the site require well water or septic system? If it does, the location and sizing of these essentials need to be determined.
- Provide drawings, if available, of any existing buildings.
- Include any other known legal requirements or deed restrictions of the site.
Your goal here is to identify how the rooms and spaces should connect to one another. A bubble diagram can be a useful tool. You will write the names of each room with a bubble drawn around it, and then draw a line between any rooms that should be connected. Consider the following questions:
- What spaces need to be near or connected to other spaces? For example, do you want the master bedroom to be connected to a bathroom? Do you want children’s bedrooms near the master bedroom?
- What floor would you like the different spaces to be on? Bedrooms on the first or second floor?
Ideally you should have a measurement of square footage in mind for each room. If the square footage is not known, provide a description of the furniture it should contain. For example, one bedroom might only need a twin bed, a dresser, and a small closet, while a second bedroom could require a king size bed, two dressers, two nightstands, a reading area, and two walk-in closets.
The goal of this exercise is to understand how the different spaces should relate to each other. A simple and common means of working on this is through the use of bubble diagrams. A simple way of doing this is to write the names of all of the spaces with a bubble drawn around each, and then drawing a line between any spaces that should be connected.
- What spaces need to be near or connected to other spaces?
- What floor would you like the different spaces to be on?
- Are there areas that should be limited to public or privates spaces?