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Basic Services of an Architect

Over the past 10 years of my career, I have found that much of the basic services of what an architect performs for clients remains unknown to the general public. It can be understood that almost a century of architecture has created an image of an architect drawing plans over a drafting board. But what is really known of how those plans get developed in collaboration with a client or a consultant? What is really known of all the effort and time spent before the plans become inked? The architect is trained through academia, and the profession is to provide five basic services to any client. These include schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding and procurement, and construction administration. The general public really only imagines based on what culture has epitomized of an architect, which is only 20% of the actual services that we provide.

The following is a list of those services, and a basic understanding of what they mean if you see them in a contract. I know that not all architects will provide these services for every project or for every client and that it is important to understand why and when they are required. The definition of being 'required' is flimsy, but know that if your project should have one of these services and does not, then the quality of that project could be in jeopardy.

Schematic Design is one of the first basic services an architect can provide on a project. It is the initial phase where architects explore and develop conceptual ideas for the project, translating the client's requirements into rough sketches and diagrams. 

Design Development follows Schematic Design and it involves refining these concepts into more detailed plans, incorporating structural, mechanical, and other essential systems into the design.

Once Design Development drawings have been approved by the client, an architect will move into Construction Documents. Construction Documents involve creating comprehensive drawings and specifications that serve as the blueprint for contractors to execute the project, ensuring accuracy and adherence to building codes and regulations.

Bidding and Procurement is a phase that comes after Construction Documents are created. This is a phase dedicated to assisting contractors and owners in the bidding of the project. Architects assist in answering questions and comparing bids after contractors have been asked to get involved.

Lastly, when the project is under construction architects will provide Construction or Contract Administration for the owner. It is the stage where architects collaborate closely with contractors, subcontractors, and other stakeholders to ensure that the project is executed according to the design intent and specifications.

Interested in learning more about the basics of architectural services? Be sure to check out our Youtube channel: for more details.

Written by Andrew Goodwin

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