Grand Haven Architect, Commercial Architecture Services and Architectural Design Services

Preparation of Construction Documents

"Schematic Phase"

At our first meeting, drawings will be done by hand on paper, preferably face to face. After that, everything will be drawn on DataCAD. I will email you drawings to review and clarify details and ideas during the process. I can stretch room sizes, move things around, try different ideas and even flip the entire project if necessary. If you think of something, you forgot or want to add spaces, I make those changes in the schematic phase. I will also perform a code study before we go any further to see if the building needs to be sprinkled, how many bathrooms and drinking fountains will be required and all that fun stuff.

I will ask you to think about what you want the space to feel like (like a lodge or like a high-tech smooth and shiny office). If you can spend some time on Pinterest, that is always helpful. I will, of course, bring my ideas to the table but I'm not going to jam them down your throat

If you are building a building, this is where we talk about and draw what it will look like from the outside. Bring ideas to the meeting if you want.

A Word About Civil/Site Engineers

YES, use them. If you are building a building, they need to be involved before you talk to me. Setbacks, Zoning, Storm Water Detention, Parking requirements, on-site vehicle circulation including truck traffic, fire truck access, easements, deed restrictions. All of that and more (contaminated sites testing), required landscaping/fencing/buffers. Survey, existing utilities, topography. Most jurisdictions require site plan review, which can be a 3-6-month process. A good Site Engineer is worth having. A poor one can quickly wreck the project. Get references.

Rockwood Design, PC 3D Rendering

"Design Development Phase"

In DD, we will talk about a hundred details such as door types, floor finishes, window types, and where you want plugs. This is also where we get Engineers involved for your Mechanical. Electrical and Plumbing, the "MEP." If we've communicated well in the schematic phase, the DD Phase will be quick.

The building's overall condition

We closely examine all aspects of the buildings infrastructure to determine its current condition.

Let's talk about your MEP Engineering

Here is the question. Can we use contractors to design the MEP or should we hire Engineers? There are several factors involved.

  1. Will the jurisdiction having authority, the JHA, allow the sub-contractors to design the project? This was not an issue until the State enacted the Michigan Uniform Energy Code, since changed to the Michigan Energy Code. In my opinion it's a waste of paper. Architects and Engineers are trained to design energy efficient buildings and you don't want a leaky building either. That's oversimplifying the issue and there are literally only a few JHA's that enforce the MEC. Those CAN require load calculations, certifications, testing submittals and documentation that most sub-contractors either do not have the staff or software to provide or they are actually performing construction and do not want to deal with it.
  2. If the project is large and complicated with equipment (especially industrial or kitchen equipment) or requires special MEP for the process, you should use an Engineer every time. Please don't ask me to do it!
  3. If your project is "going out for bids" use MEP Engineers. You will not get good, tight bids without good MEP drawings. Instead of "going out for bids" to several General Contractors, I always recommend using the Construction Manager method which allows your chosen CM to put together a team of MEP contractors who know what they are doing and who work together at a fair price. Best case: friendly JHA, CM and design/build sub-contractors. Unfortunately, that combination is becoming rare.

Therefore, having established the need for MEP Engineers, I can use my favorite people, or we can work with Engineers your CM prefers. In either case, I will provide drawings in their CAD format to get them started quickly.

"Construction Document Phase"

No more changes, PLEASE! This is where we fill in the blanks and add details, structural design, building sections, lots of notes, interior elevations and coordinate the MEP Engineering. If you have a Construction Manager, we will have them heavily involved with selections and recommendations.

When this phase is done, you are ready to submit for pricing and permits!

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The State of Michigan requires any construction performed in a commercial building to be prepared and sealed by a licensed Architect or Engineer. This applies to all jurisdictions in the State and for all projects. If you decide you want to do the work without a permit, be prepared to pay fines. And it has been my experience that if you get caught, the building department and fire safety will make it twice as hard to get permits, tougher on inspections and it will take longer to get occupancy. Don't make them mad.

We both understand that taking the proper steps and waiting for plan review and permits takes more time and time is money but a few of the codes are there for your safety (the rest are to satisfy some special interest group or lawyer). Let me help you through this process.

In addition, I have been called to dozens of projects during the construction phase and discovered items which do not meet code and have had to be removed. I recently had to instruct the contractor to remove everything they had done because they were using wood studs in a building that required non-combustible framing. You might think you can use your uncle because he has built a hundred houses, but the codes are DIFFERENT, and the code book is thicker for commercial construction. Call Rockwood Design, PC first!

For more information, give us me a call at (517) 290-6780 or email us me at