Live Better!

At Blackwell Architecture, we believe that a well-designed building enriches the lives and experiences of those who live, work, or play in it.  Well laid out, high functioning, simple spaces, wrapped in natural light and connected to the landscape can have a positive impact on the way we interact, move and feel in a space.

  • We help our clients realize their vision by taking into consideration their unique requirements and aesthetic values, as well as the specific site context.
  • We strive to make the design and construction process as seamless and enjoyable as possible.
  • We pride ourselves in providing a prompt and responsive service.

Although our approach is crafted to suit each specific project, it typically proceeds in the following stages:

1. First Contact:

  • An initial consultation is provided at no charge.
  • During this first meeting, we gather information about the scope of the project, including but not limited to:
    • Program requirements,
    • Site location and characteristics,
    • Zoning,
    • Budget, schedule and expectations.
  • We outline our services and additional consultant requirements (often surveyors, engineers, etc).
  • A fee proposal is provided for clients who wish to proceed to the next stage.

2. Pre-design:

In this phase, project requirements are reviewed.  Opportunities and restrictions of the site are identified.  Services include the following:

  • Coordination and review of site surveys or measured drawings of existing structures
  • Assessment of the site and City Bylaws to identify compatible land use, massing, size and siting restrictions, parking requirements, building code, or other zoning restrictions, often including a preliminary discussion with the local municipality.
  • Review of program requirements and scope of work furnished by the client.
  • Completion of any further research required to confirm specific requirements.
  • Discussion of budget, timing, technology, materials, and types of construction
  • Identification of key design issues and imagery

3. Schematic design:

Preliminary design drawings (a combination of hand sketches, and CADD drawings) are used to explore multiple variations of layouts.  This process helps to:

  • Identify and clarify program and design parameters
  • Investigate the design basics: orientation, massing, relationships of program requirements, interplay between the building, the site, exterior spaces, sun/shade, wind, views, and local zoning restrictions.
  • Establish the number of consultants required (ie. geotechnical and structural engineers, quantity surveyor, landscape architects, building envelope specialists, etc)

Technology, materials, probable unit area costs, timing, and types of construction contracts are also discussed at this stage.

4. Design Development:

Refinement of ideas, details and program occurs at this stage:

  • 3D drawings, sketches and massing models are often used to communicate design ideas to the owner.
  • The schematic design concept is expanded and developed.
  • Program, layout & massing are finalized.  Plans and elevations are refined for final client approval.
  • Materials and building systems are identified.
  • Layout and options for lighting are presented.
  • Options for power supplies (gas, electrical, geothermal, solar), fresh air and ventilation, heating and cooling, and home automation are reviewed.
  • Performance, system space requirements, environmental impact and cost are matched to the owner’s needs / budget.
  • Collaboration with the other consultants will also be underway at this stage.

5. Permit Submissions:

  • Drawing packages are prepared to meet the requirements of the local authority. The submission process usually involves two steps:
    • Development Permit submission (which deals with City zoning issues and Conditional Approvals), and
    • Building Permit submission (which deals with Building Code issues).
  • Discussion and design presentations are made to the municipality as required.
  • Final appearance, dimensions, areas, exterior finishes and colours, are identified.
  • Consultant construction drawings are coordinated and prepared.

6. Tender/ Construction Documents:

  • Careful attention to detail helps minimize future construction conflicts.
  • Drawings, specifications, finishing schedules and additional detailing are completed to allow for budgeting or tender.
  • Contract options are reviewed and selected.  A project is either tendered or awarded.  For either scenario we can recommend and help engage a qualified builder suitable to the project.
  • Contract documents are prepared for signing, outlining responsibilities of the Owner, Architect, and Contractor.

7. Construction / Contract Administration:

  • As the owner’s representative, we provide another set of eyes to help ensure quality.  Site reviews are completed to observe if work is in accordance with contract documents.
  • Weekly or bi-weekly site meetings with the client and contractor are encouraged to review construction status or to deal with potential issues in a quick and efficient manner.
  • A more detailed design may be completed on allowanced items.  Clarifications are also issued as required.
  • Review of shop drawings and mock-ups forms a critical part of quality assurance. Our firm typically reviews shop drawings associated with glazing, cabinetry, stairs, railings, canopies, etc. to help ensure that proposed work is in conformance with the contract documents.
  • Contractor Progress Payments are reviewed and processed (if hired as payment certifier).
  • Certificates of Substantial Completions are issued at completion of a specific trade work and at completion of the project in conformance with the Provincial Lien Act (if hired as payment certifier).
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