A construction project, like any project, requires going through different phases. From the analysis of the needs to the receipt of the work, by way of preliminary studies, the request for building permits, project management (the client) and project management (the architect) must collaborate in order to complete the architectural project. It is important to respect all stages, especially as the construction sector is highly regulated.
1- Before the work
Before laying the first stone in any architectural project, it is necessary to go through a certain number of steps designed to gather the requirements for the client, to ensure the feasibility of the project and to design the future building in detail.
Meeting with the architect
This is the first contact between the client and the architect. This is an opportunity for the client to explain his or her needs to the architect and to develop the construction programme. The objective of the programme is to gather as detailed a description of the requirements as possible. It includes both the final purpose of the building (housing, public hospitality, school establishment…) and the surface areas and volumes contemplated, the regulatory constraints (accessibility, sanitation, etc.) and urban planning (limitation on the number of floors, facades, etc.) or the budget contemplated and the desired completion dates.
Other information will also be added to the construction programme, such as soil surveys (to ensure that the construction will lie on stable ground), plans for existing roads and networks (traffic, electrical networks, connexions to gas and to the water distribution system, etc.) and climate studies (area subject to local weather phenomena, for example).
Feasibility study and sketch
From the information gathered, the architect will carry out a feasibility study and a sketch of the project. This sketch will give the client an idea of what the future construction could look like taking into account the various constraints (technical and financial) and the needs expressed. It will show the implementation of the construction on the ground as well as the organization of outdoor and indoor spaces. This is an opportunity to confirm the surface areas, the volumes and the way in which the various sections are articulated. This is also the time to ask for modifications that could be incorporated into the project.
The goal of the feasibility study is to verify that the objectives are realistic with respect to the contemplated construction, the existing terrain, the constraints of implantation and orientation, the environmental impact and of course, that the budget planned for the project is compatible. An initial cost estimate will therefore be carried out on this occasion, taking into account the various options considered.
The preliminary design
If the project management is satisfied with the sketch, the preliminary design phase can begin. The various options selected are detailed, the construction materials as well as the technical services are chosen in accordance with regulations.
An accurate calculation of project costs is made and finalised. All elements are grouped formally in order to constitute an agreement detailing all services and benefits provided.
Colour plans, sections, facades, virtual views, 3D modelling or a model are made to better understand the final appearance of the building.
The application for a building permit
The architect will gather all the information collected, the plans, descriptions and technical documents in order to make up an application for a building permit file which will then be taken up by the administration. He or she will take care of filing the application with the competent authorities and follow up the file, until the building permit has been obtained.
2- The implementation phase
Once all the studies are done and the building permit obtained comes the implementation phase itself.
The technical design
The architect will handle the technical design of the construction, in other words, the implementation of all plans, sections and elevations. All the detailed plans will be made, for all levels of the building if there are several, as well as different sections, elevations, facades and perspectives. The objective is to provide all necessary documents so that the various stakeholders have a detailed and optimal understanding of the project.
For important projects, the architect will not be alone but may call on one or more engineering firms that will work simultaneously on the areas corresponding to their specialty. The architect will then be responsible for the synthesis of the various elements and their integration into the project.
Choice of companies and planning of the implementation of the work
Now that all the technical plans and documentation are ready, it is necessary to find the companies that are capable of carrying out the work. The architect develops a request for tenders (RFT) consisting of all available technical and administrative information. The estimate of the overall budget is attached to the file as well. On the basis of this file, the companies consulted will be able to offer quotes.
Often simultaneously with the consultation of companies, the architect will carry out implementation plans on usable scales to find a location on a construction site, as well as all calculations, installation instructions and necessary specifications.
From the quotes obtained, the architect will assist project management in the selection of companies. He or she may of course use his or her past experience with certain providers to recommend them. Once the companies are selected, an agreement is established with project management, indicating a commitment on costs and completion dates to be respected.
Implementation of work
During the entire implementation of the work, the project manager (generally the architect) ensures the quality of the work and compliance with plans and deadlines. In particular, he or she verifies the compliance of earthworks and connexion with various networks, the structural work (foundations, structure) and the finishing work (waterproofing, appearance, aesthetics, etc.). He or she is also responsible for ensuring that the companies involved are normally remunerated according to their services.
The project manager is also responsible for the scheduling, planning and coordination of the project site. It is the guarantor of the organisation of the operations of the various companies, so as to optimise the construction period and thus reduce costs and delays.
3- After the work
At the end of the work, the architect verifies the quality of the services in every detail. He or she also ensures that all invoices issued by the various companies are honoured.
He or she establishes a certificate of completion of the work and ensures that it corresponds in all respects to the building permit obtained for the building.
A joint inspection is organised with the project manager. Following this visit, if both parties agree, a report of acceptance of the work is approved, possibly accompanied by a list of reservations which will have to be withdrawn thereafter. It is only once the reservations have been withdrawn that final acceptance of the work can be made.
To conclude on the phases of an architectural project
Management of an architectural project includes many complex phases, with various participants that must be managed and whose quality of services must be monitored and verified.
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