The 5 Phases of Architectural Design & The role of Drafters at Every Stage

Architectural drafters participate in every stage of the design and construction process. They work closely with architects, engineers and builders to map out schematics and blueprints—and follow projects throughout construction, ensuring they stay true to the original concept.

While every project is unique, architectural firms typically follow an widely recognized sequence of steps when planning, conceptualizing, and implementing designs.

In this post, we break down these five phases of architectural design, and explain the part drafters play at each stage, to help bring design concepts to life.


Architectural Design Phase 1: Schematic Design

At this beginning stage, architectural drafters will help prepare a few initial sketches or drawings, based on the client's requests.

The goal is to offer several different design options, so the client can visualize various paths and choose the one that best fits their needs.

Although rough, the sketches will illustrate the relationship between different rooms and spaces, and where builders may integrate structural, electrical, and mechanical building systems.

Students in architectural design training learn how to develop these foundational drawings in both 2D and 3D using computer-aided-design software (such as AutoCAD).

After gaining experience, architectural drafters may conduct the initial meeting with the client independently, present design options, and help narrow down a final choice.


Architectural Design Phase 2: Design Development

During this phase, the drafter will work on finalizing the design chosen by the client. Meeting are held to negotiate any last changes, review the client's budget, and begin refining the schematic drawings.

These designs will include more specific details on plumbing, ventilation, electrical, and other building systems.

They will also integrate materials and colours, and include an updated cost estimate. At this stage, the client will sign off on the design, and it will move into the building phase.


Architectural Design Phase 3: Construction Documents

Now that the design is finalized, the architectural drafter will begin creating blueprints and supporting documents.

These detailed drawings and specifications are used for construction, but first, they are required for bidding (to select a contractor for the project) and to obtain necessary permits.


Architectural Design Phase 4: Bidding

Architects will help clients review bids from contractors, and select the most appropriate team for the construction contract.

Drafters may be called upon to participate in these meeting, to clarify and explain certain elements of the design.

It is key that each bidder has a clear understanding of what the project entails, so they can make accurate estimates of overall cost.


Architectural Design Phase 5: Construction Administration

Now that the construction contract has been awarded and building has begun, the architectural team must monitor progress and ensure the structure is being built according to approved design plans.

The drafter often represents the architect on-site, and stays in close communication with the contractor during this entire process.

Site conditions or other variables may make it necessary to modify the approved design, and the drafter will be responsible for making those changes—under the supervision of an architect.

Interested in learning more about the skills and technologies drafters use during the design process? Looking for a reliable architectural design school in your area?

Take a look at Herzing College's Architectural Design program. This diploma program takes just 12 months to complete, and includes an internship at an architectural firm or construction company.

Chat live with an Admissions Advisor to learn more about the program. Or click below to browse courses and get more information. We're here to help!

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