Our Process

Process Image

Designing and building a home is a multi-step process that begins with your dreams and ideas. Understanding and communication are our key strategies for a successful partnership in this process. Though there is a lot of overlap in the phases of this process, they do break down into five basic steps: Concept, Development, Documents, Construction and Completion.

Five Steps to Your Dream Home


Whether the project is a new home or a small addition, the design begins with a concept and this concept is the foundation upon which the whole design process rests.

Our clients come to us with a great variety of ideas and dreams about their projects. We sometimes are provided with a very detailed list of requirements which may be accompanied by photos or magazine clippings of examples our clients like and diagrams of proposed solutions. Other times we are simply asked to create a design “that feels right” and meets our client’s needs. In any case we see our clients’ aesthetic and practical requirements as the main driving forces in this process and in this phase we work with them to develop, understand and accommodate their needs.

Meeting with our clients
Meeting with our clients to understand their needs and wishes is the most important factor for us during the concept phase.

Through a series of concept sketches and layouts we then begin to shape design alternatives in our minds and on paper. These initial drawings are based on what we learned about our clients’ tastes and needs, as well as the site and the budget, and are the starting point from which we further develop the design concept. It is rare that a perfect design is realized at the very beginning of this phase and it usually takes several revisions until we have a design concept that meets all requirements.

We have found that this process allows us to better understand our clients’ needs and it also gives our clients the opportunity to understand more about the design process. At the end of this phase we arrive at a concept that everybody is happy with and that accommodates the criteria that everyone agreed upon. Developing the design concept is the first and most important step in a design process which is shaped by the site, our clients, their tastes, needs, and budget, and Crisp Architects.

Computer Generated Image (CGI)
CGI renderings can be very helpful during the Concept phase
3 Sketches
ONE: Very often the design begins with a very loose sketch, which allows us to get a feel for the general layout and look.
TWO: This sketch is usually followed by a slightly more detailed drawing of the project's elevation, which further establishes 'the look'.
THREE: Along the way we explore many variations until we find the best solution.


Detailed color drawing
Color is an important aspect for any architectural project and should be explored early on.

The goal in the Development Phase is to build upon the foundation established in the Design Concept. To that end the plans are refined and their levels of detail are increased. We perfect proportions, explore different materials, develop structural schemes and take the design to a more complete level on both the interior and exterior of the house. Every aspect of the design is looked at carefully.

Up to now our plans have remained 2-dimensional. Much like a composer writing down an orchestral composition first as notes on a piece of paper, we know how our designs will translate into living spaces. Nonetheless it is vital to hear how all the various instruments will harmonize before the big premier performance and to that effect we often create a 3-dimensional mass model of the design at this point. It not only allows us to actually see and touch the building, but it gives our clients the same opportunity. This greatly helps their understanding of the design. If desired we can also create computer models or photo realistic renderings at this point.

Rendering of Exterior
Take a close look because what you see is a photo-realistic rendering of a house. Another great visualization tool we can utilize.

Our clients remain closely involved during this part of the process. The refined designs, 3-dimensional models and personal communication, help them in making and understanding important design decisions. Addressing all these details now, helps us and our clients avoid many design changes later on in the process, when those changes generally are more costly.

By the end of the Development Phase, the designs are firmly in place and we are ready to create the final working drawings and specifications.


In the Document Phase we prepare the project for construction by drafting the construction documents, which are the basis for the contractors’ bids.

Elevation Plan
Most projects require 20-30 pages of construction drawings, containing more than a hundred elements, to adequately describe every facet.

We create a very comprehensive set of construction documents which include drawings and specifications. Each piece of the project is detailed and completely described in a way that avoids confusion and assures a competitive bid.

The areas covered in the construction documents begin below the ground and go to the peak of the roof. Every light switch, every window and door, each mechanical system, from dryer vents to the kitchen sink, is described in our documents.

Reviewing the bids
Once the contractors’ bids are in, we closely review and analyze the bids before making a recommendation to our clients.

Once our documents are complete, they can be sent to contractors for the bidding process. We help our clients choose the right contractor or construction manager for their project. Although we have had first hand experience with many contractors and construction managers and can usually offer some recommendations, it is not uncommon to work with contractors that are new to us and our clients. In that case we carefully review references and follow up by visiting previous work done by those contractors. We also make sure that the contractors fully understand the details of the project, so that their bids will be on target.

When the bids come in, we review them with our clients and offer our best advice. If adjustments need to be made in scheduling or scope of work, again we are there to expedite the process.

At the end of this phase nothing stands in the way for the construction to begin.


After the contractor has been selected and schedules agreed to, the Construction Phase can begin.

In a new construction, the first step may be a meeting at the site between the owner, the contractor and Crisp Architects. Final adjustments to the position of the house are reviewed and the house can be staked out.

For a renovation, the first step can be the start of demolition or laying out of the new construction areas. If the owners are planning to live in a home that is being renovated, careful planning is required to minimize disruption while facilitating the process of construction.

In either case we will be there to facilitate communication and to ensure that the architectural designs are followed.

Hands-on site visit
Perfect fit! We work closely with the contractor to make sure that every detail is just right.

Once construction begins we visit the construction site on a regular basis to review the work and answer any questions that might come up. Minor changes are expected and are managed as part of the process. Construction photos are taken and site reports are sent to our clients during this phase to keep everyone informed of progress.

During construction, final confirmation of colors and materials is often made if the owners want to view those items in the context of the rooms they will be placed. We are always there to make recommendations and follow through with drawings if required.


Finally, completion!

The work is done and you can begin to enjoy your new living space.

At this point we usually complete a final walk through with our clients and we review the home with them. We make sure that they have all the information necessary to care for and maintain their home.

Occasionally a client will discover that they would like to add an accessory building at this point. Crisp Architects has helped add everything from a potting shed, to a barn, to a pool house and much more.

Throughout the Design Process our clients’ wishes and requirements have been the main driving forces and at the completion of this process we find the true measure of our success in our client’s satisfaction.

But don’t just take our word for it. See what clients and colleagues have to say about us on the home design site Houzz.