Design Process

The guiding principle at Paul Weber Architecture is all about respect for the client and the client’s vision. It is a fundamental premise, and it informs every step we take in the development of a scheme. The design process is a blend of collaboration and coordination, of poetry and pragmatism, of empathy and aesthetics. We make sure that the client’s personal objectives are vetted, appreciated and fully engaged. Our team of designers and craftsmen makes the best use of your time, ensuring that you understand and participate in decisions that point to the very best outcome for you. Our goal is to exceed your own expectations.

DISCOVERY: We listen intently to learn about you and understand your vision.

EXPLORATION INTO SOLUTIONS: Through a process of inquiry we confirm the right approach, then present a range of schematics to outline viable options before deciding on the best solution.

DELIVERY: We adhere to a detailed and dedicated system of delivering your documents and fulfilling your requests before, during and following the completion of a project.


STEP 1: Fact Finding and Developing a Program

We begin a project by getting to know the client and evaluating the site. We analyze the property and location, then catalogue every nuance in an effort to anticipate where the views lie, identify topographical features and come to terms with general conditions. In addition, we learn about relevant local zoning codes and legal site parameters and, if necessary, we conduct research on any wetland or coastal issues that may come into play during development of the project.

​What are you thinking and what sorts of ideas support your vision? Have you organized images to illustrate those ideas? What style of aesthetics and what types of buildings inspire you? These are among the questions we ask a client during this critical initial phase. It is important that we know not only what you need in a programmatic sense, but also what your creative sensibilities are and how they shape or inform the features that will end up in the final design. In short, we try to form a complete picture of you the client and the physical setting that your house will dignify. (Download Client Questionnaire here)

STEP 2: Site Strategies

During the second phase of the design process, we distill the information gathered during the initial round of fact finding and study more deeply and more deliberately how our design objectives can be integrated into existing site conditions. Taking into consideration the client’s requirements, we identify a site’s challenges and opportunities. We look at options for driveway layouts. We contemplate various locations for house placement. Generally by now we have begun to formulate placement in terms of how well it will aid and abet the projected interior agenda of the house, leading us to develop loose programmatic diagrams that later will evolve into schematic floor plans.

​Are we in a densely packed residential neighborhood contingent on screening? Or are we on a generous parcel in more natural surroundings, perhaps with long views and an ocean horizon in the distance? Considerations such as these begin to tell us how to think about exterior elevations, how to configure interior spaces, how to orient rooms and anticipate window placement. Site strategy is key to laying the groundwork for how a house will be used, which in turn informs the path to its design.

STEP 3: Schematic Design

During the Schematic Design phase we drill down even further and begin to turn the wealth of information gathered thus far into a roadmap of sorts with a clearer sense of direction. We present the client with strategy options as potential schemes and we discuss how these ideas can be translated into a comprehensive, successful design. We may start off with conceptual drawings rendered freehand and let them evolve as input from the conversation shapes and clarifies the issues that arise when we move from one layer of design to the next.

​Using all the information at our disposal, we are able to develop preliminary elevations and floor plans for review. In the attempt to explain and hone our design, we generate three-dimensional massing studies, two-dimensional drawings and color renderings. Additionally, at this stage in the process we begin to develop a construction budget. Schematic Design gives us the opportunity to see where our thinking has brought us in a visual, palpable way. At this stage we give our imagination free reign, allowing creativity to flourish and flow unconstrained by the mathematical realities of cost and construction to be addressed in due course.

STEP 4: Construction Documents

Once overall plans and elevations for a given project are approved by the client, we advance our drawings into a bid or pricing set. We develop construction details for custom items such as interior millwork and gather specifications related to materials, hardware and finishes. As it is with every phase of the design process, we encourage input from the client as these various components begin to gel. Input now has moved from the purely creative to the deliberately rational.

​During the Construction Documents phase, structural and mechanical systems contemplated previously are detailed, coordinated and finalized. Our consultants provide trade drawings to be incorporated into a comprehensive architectural package with specifications clearly outlined. We work with engineers to address technical details related to the structural integrity of the design. We work with HVAC contractors to map out heating and air-conditioning systems. We arrive at detailed schedules for windows and doors, for bathroom and kitchen fixtures.

STEP 5: Bidding

In the Bidding phase we assist the owner/client in selecting at least three contractors to bid the construction documents and provide detailed pricing for the project. Our firm then develops an itemized bid analysis to help flesh out and make sense of these bids. We use the bid analysis to streamline the process of selecting a builder by outlining all the information we receive and comparing the details one-to-one on a level playing surface. The goal here is to help the client make the most informed decision possible.

​It is in this stage of the process that value engineering becomes a vital tool for identifying and controlling costs. The bid analysis shows us exactly where major expenditures will occur and where there are opportunities to save money. The objective is to stay on budget without conceding the essence of the design.

STEP 6: Construction Administration

With Construction Documents completed, bids reviewed and a builder selected, actual construction can begin. Members of our team will visit the site as necessary to evaluate progress, monitor construction and answer the questions that invariably arise as the design physically takes shape. Site meetings and ongoing communication between the general contractor, subcontractors, architectural team and owner serve to keep everyone engaged and on common ground.

​From preparation of the site, to building a foundation, to framing and fabricating the many components that will become the finished product, what we see in the field represents a whole new dimension in terms of our perception of the design. We work closely with the client in this phase to ensure that what we meant to convey on paper is what we are getting in real time.