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Building design

A Step-By-Step Guide for Designing a Building

If you are a new architect or professional in engineering, perhaps one of the main questions running through the mind is, “How can I design a building?”

Camiel Weijenberg
July 13, 2021
Building design

A Step-By-Step Guide for Designing a Building

If you are a new architect or professional in engineering, perhaps one of the main questions running through the mind is, “How can I design a building?” It is a process that requires a good understanding of building designs, and more importantly, having the right software or tools. In this post, we provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to design a complete building. 

The Building Design Process

When designing buildings or engineering structures, whether for students education or clients, the process can differ depending on how complex they are. For example, will you be designing an entirely new bungalow, a patio, or simply renovating an existing building? Here are the main steps that you need to follow: 

Step One: Preliminary Research 

Every building design has to start with preliminary research. In this stage, you deal with the following items: 

  • A closer review of your lifestyle, including your home setting.
  • Creating the design brief. 
  • Outlining the baseline budget. 
  • Getting expert advice and familiarizing to it. 

Step Two: Select Your Designer

This is probably the most important part when designing a building because you are likely to stick with the professional for the entire project. It is advisable to look for architects who are registered, allowed to practice in your area, and excellent in construction management. Also, you should factor the experience of the architect as well as his capability to deliver the project. 

Do not hesitate to reach to past clients to confirm how effective the architect is in his/her work. 

Step Three: Do a Comprehensive Site Analysis

This is another preliminary step, which will greatly determine how the project will ultimately be. Having contracted a building design professional, this is the first opportunity to work together. During site analysis, you check the following: 

  • Orientation. 
  • Stormwater drainage. 
  • Cool breeze access. 
  • The soil type. 
  • Risks, such as bushfires. 
  • Views. 

After site analysis, the designer will value add by identifying key solutions that leverage the strengths of the site.

Step Four: The Concept Proposal and Design Contract 

With the site analysis complete, the next step is the creation of the concept proposal and the signing of the contract. If you are not convinced to proceed to the next stage after the presentation during the site analysis, this is this s the time to seek the services of another designer. 

If you agree with the designer during site analysis, the next phase is creating a proposal, which should be annexed with the contract. Therefore, you need to look at the project's budget, factoring in the challenges to anticipate along the way during. A crucial point to note at this point is that building design experts work with costs/sq meters. 

Step Five: Development of the Building Concept

To communicate their thinking, architects prepare and present a number of concepts. These can range from a hand-drawn concept to sketch diagrams. These concepts are analyzed in line with the passive designs that apply in your area, such as climate zone or building codes. 

Concept designs in architecture factor the systems of the construction as opposed to locking them except when dealing with a fundamental component. At this point, it will be a great idea to get some input from building sustainability professional. 

Step Six: Building Design Development 

At this stage, the most preferred concept design is selected. Then, the developer takes the selected design to the next level – creating the preliminary layout. This stage is very crucial because it provides the most details of the building, which include the layout of the rooms, preliminary choice of construction systems, outdoor floor, and furniture layout. 

The designer will also visualize the building. For example, cars in the parking might help to provide a better connection. Still, at this stage, the materials that will be used to provide specific finishing are selected. If you want to emphasize sustainability, this is the point to pick the materials that will have a limited or no impact on the environment. 

At this stage, construction and building design software come in handy to help factor every component. Some good software examples to use in architecture are SketchUp from AutoDesk and ARCHICAD by Graphisoft. This stage is also the perfect moment to prepare landscape design, which includes components such as shading, windows orientation, creating delight, water-saving, and diverting breezes. Again, you can extend the focus on sustainability to make your design more eco-friendly. 

Step Seven: Create the Final Design 

This is the design that the building will finally take, and it should have different visualizations for the client to easily imagine every space, both inside and outside. For example, how does the sofa fit in the living room? What about the bathroom faucets? Here are the main components of the final building design: 

  • The building floor plan as well as the building form.
  • The external building finishes. 
  • The construction system of the house. 
  • The air conditioning (heating / cooling).
  • The home’s water system, which should include things such rainwater system and recycling system for sustainability.
  • The building landscape plan
  • The building interior, including finishes and layout. 
  • The main appliances in the building, such as the renewable energy system and hot water network.

During the final design, this is where the budget becomes apparent because most of the finishing products and other aspects of construction management are outlined. In college, trainers insist about it so much in students education because the ability to acquire and use the right materials depends on available resources. However, the designer can help relook at the materials to try and reduce the costs. Note that the changes may increase the building design costs

Once the design is accepted by all parties, it cannot be acted upon before getting approved by the relevant authorities. If your site is in the city, this might fall under the council approval. 

How can I design a building? This post has laid bare the entire process of designing buildings, highlighting the main steps that should be followed. In all the stages, one of the important concepts is stakeholders’ involvement. This will be more crucial if you are designing a commercial building, which will have a major impact on the neighborhood and ecosystem. Therefore, ensure to note the different stakeholders, and focus on the core objectives. Furthermore, you need to have and use the right tools or software for building design professionals at all stages of the project.

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