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This is essentially an information gathering and processing phase – what we do before we start designing. We collect all of the information about the project to use in schematic design. This includes information about the site, any existing structure(s), codes, deed restrictions, septic information, site utilities, access, budget, and schedule.


The property, or site, is a strong generator of ideas and building forms for us, so we begin all new projects with an analysis of your site. we look at the local conditions - climate, wind patterns, solar angles, topography, and other significant features - particular to your property. We overlay any local zoning restrictions (setbacks, etc.) on this plan and create a site diagram. This diagram usually begins to suggest candidate building sites and opportunities, which together, we’ll begin exploring in the next step.


The program is a designer’s way of saying, “list of rooms”. What will we be programming into your home? Chances are this has been percolating in your head for some time, but we need to get it on paper and make it real.

We’ll ask you to make an exhaustive list of the spaces you’d like in your home to include. Treat it as a wish list of sorts (for now). For the major spaces, it’s also useful to describe the character of those spaces (wood ceilings, cozy, formal, low light, etc.) If you have particular needs regarding sizes or adjacencies of spaces, i.e., “the main bedroom must be at least 30ft by 40ft”, it would be great to know that up front. Otherwise, we’ll develop and assign appropriately scaled spaces to your list of rooms as a starting point.

We’ll apply square footage estimates to this list of spaces and assign estimated dollar values to the total project square footage. Together we’ll compare the estimated cost of the home with your budget. If the two don’t align we’ll revisit the size + number of spaces for as long as it takes to reconcile the two. It’s much easier to align your budget with the size of the home before beginning the design process. The schematic design will follow, fixing ideas and expectations into an image of a home. Once this happens it’s much more difficult to give things up.


We’ll send you a detailed list of questions to help us find out more about you, your needs for the project, and as part of the search for an architectural idea to build the project on. This will get us all thinking about the specifics of design from the outset.


These drawings are required for all renovation + addition projects and vary with the size and complexity of the existing building.


It’s critical to understand the restrictions governing the subject property or structure before beginning schematic design. This review will tell us what’s possible and what isn’t. We’ll review the zoning, by-laws, and covenants which impact the property, review environmental issues, flood zones, and assess the overall permitting process. We will seek preliminary Planning Board, State Building Department and engineering review as required.


It’s important to develop a basic schedule to make sure we’re meeting everyone’s expectations. The project schedule will be impacted by the following:

• Owner’s Schedule
• Designer’s Schedule
• Consultants’ Schedules
• Permitting Schedule
• Contractor’s Schedule + Availability
The schedule will change along the way we’ll use it to identify any constraints early on.


• Site Survey (digital) - showing property boundaries, roads, test pit sites, utilities, topography, known significant site features, and any existing structures.
• Existing Structure Floor plans (digital) as applicable. If you don’t have these, we will conduct an existing conditions survey for you.
• Soils test/septic design (assuming no public sewer access). we can suggest local designers that will work with us to find a suitable site (for both the building and the septic).
• List of any known restrictions (wetlands, permitting constraints, easements, etc.)
• Copy of your deed
• Client Survey – this is a document we’ll provide for you to fill out. It’s a detailed list of questions designed to tell us more about you, your project and to define the project goals in a very granular way.

This phase is complete when you’ve agreed to the program and budget we’ve developed together. Then we can proceed to the next phase.

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