When embarking on a construction project, whether it's a residential dwelling or a commercial skyscraper, there's a meticulous process that architects, engineers, and builders follow to bring the vision to life. This journey comprises several phases, each pivotal in ensuring the project's success. In this article, we'll delve into the intricacies of these phases and explore their key deliverables.


1.1 Predesign

The predesign phase serves as the project's foundation. During this critical stage, the following steps are taken:

1.2 Site Feasibilities and Masterplanning

Determining the feasibility of the chosen site is paramount. Architects and planners assess the site's characteristics, topography, and any potential constraints.

1.3 Review Brief, Requirements, Budget, and Program

A thorough understanding of the client's requirements, budget constraints, and project timeline is essential. This step sets the project's parameters.

1.4 Select/Recommend Sub-consultants and Prepare Design Briefs

Collaboration is key in construction. Sub-consultants are selected, and design briefs are prepared to ensure a unified vision.

1.5 Inspect Site and Assess Conditions

A comprehensive site inspection is conducted to identify any existing conditions that may impact the project.

1.6 Assess Regulations and Authority Requirements

Compliance with local regulations and authority requirements is imperative. This includes zoning laws, building codes, and permits.

1.7 Analyse Functional Relationships and Area Requirements

Efficiency in space utilisation is examined, ensuring that the design aligns with the client's functional requirements.

1.8 Analyse Adequacy of Budget and Program

A critical evaluation of the budget and program ensures they align with the project's scope.


    • Preliminary envelope massing options
    • Site constraint diagrams

2. Schematic (Concept) Design

Once the groundwork is laid, the project progresses to the schematic design phase, where creativity takes centre stage:

2.1 Prepare Sketch Drawings and Diagrams

Architects translate ideas into visual concepts through sketch drawings and diagrams.

2.2 Prepare Preliminary Furniture and Equipment Layouts

Space planning includes the arrangement of furniture and equipment for optimal functionality.

2.3 Undertake Preliminary Selection of Materials and Finishes

Materials and finishes are selected, setting the aesthetic tone of the project.

2.4 Coordinate Preliminary Design Input from Sub-consultants

Collaboration continues as input from sub-consultants is integrated into the design.

2.5 Consider Structural and Building Services Systems

The choice of structural and building services systems is crucial for the project's stability and functionality.

2.6 Obtain the Client’s Approval for Sketch Design

Client feedback is sought and incorporated into the design, ensuring alignment with their vision.

2.7 Coordinate the Preparation of Preliminary Estimate

Budget considerations remain central, with preliminary cost estimates being refined.

2.8 Analyse Adequacy of Budget and Program

Continuous evaluation ensures that the design aligns with the budget and program.


    • Site plan
    • Spatial relationship diagrams
    • Floor plans
    • Sections and elevations
    • Project data (zoning and code considerations)
    • Preliminary finishes boards/schedules
    • Program and assessment of preliminary ‘Cost of Works’
    • Schedule of functional areas

The schematic design phase sets the stage for the project's development, with client approval signifying the green light to proceed.

3. Design Development (Detailed Design)

With the concept approved, the project advances to the design development phase:

3.1 Review and Update Brief

The design development phase refines the project scope, incorporating detailed room data sheets.

3.2 Develop the Approved Sketch Design

The approved sketch design is transformed into comprehensive plans, elevations, and details.

3.3 Prepare Schedules of Materials and Finishes

Materials and finishes are detailed, ensuring a cohesive design.

3.4 Prepare Furniture and Equipment Layouts

Final space planning includes the arrangement of all furniture and equipment.

3.5 Coordinate and Integrate Information from Consultants

Collaboration with sub-consultants continues, with their input fully integrated.

3.6 Prepare Architectural Component for Planning Approval

Documents required for Development Application (DA) are prepared, with specialist consultant input considered.

3.7 Assist in Approval Process

Architects play a pivotal role in the approval process, attending meetings and ensuring compliance.

3.8 Obtain Client’s Approval of Detailed Design

Client approval is sought once again, confirming alignment with their expectations.


    • All floor plans
    • Sections and Elevations
    • Space Data Sheets
    • Preliminary finishes boards/schedules
    • Program and assessment of preliminary ‘Cost of Works’
    • Nett Lettable Areas and Gross Floor Areas

The design development phase crystallises the project's design, paving the way for the next steps in the construction journey.


Before proceeding further, architects need to ensure that all relevant documentation aligns with the local council's requirements. This phase may also involve creating physical models and 3D computer renderings to provide a comprehensive view of the project.

4. Documentation

With design approval secured, the project transitions to the documentation phase, where the finer details are meticulously crafted:

4.1 Confirm Type of Building Contract

Selecting the appropriate building contract is pivotal, as it dictates the documentation level provided and the delivery timeline to the builder.

4.2 Review Detailed Design Against Planning Approval

Ensuring compliance with planning approval and any attached conditions is crucial to avoid complications later.

Modifications are made to the design to incorporate any conditions attached to the planning consent.

4.4 Prepare and Coordinate Construction Certificate Documentation

Documentation required for the Construction Certificate application is prepared and organized.

4.5 Prepare Drawings, Schedules, and Specifications

Detailed architectural drawings and specifications are created to guide construction.

4.6 Coordinate and Integrate Information from Consultants

Consultants' input is incorporated into the architectural drawings and specifications.

4.7 Coordinate the Preparation of Pre-tender Estimate

The Quantity Surveyor plays a pivotal role in estimating the project's cost before tendering.


    • Site plan
    • Floor plans
    • Sections and elevations
    • Detailed plans and sections
    • Plan and section details
    • Fittings and fixtures schedules
    • Coordinated consultants’ drawings
    • Specification
    • Pre-tender estimate (by Quantity Surveyor)
    • Schedule of functional areas

The documentation phase is where the project takes its final form on paper, setting the stage for the next critical step.

5. Contractor Selection (Tender)

Selecting the right contractor is pivotal to the project's success:

5.1 Assist Client in Choosing Preferred Tender Process

Guidance is provided to the client in selecting the most suitable tender process.

5.2 Prepare and Issue Tender Set to All Tenderers

Tender documents are prepared and sent to potential contractors.

5.3 Respond to Queries from Tenderers

Architects answer queries from potential contractors, ensuring clarity in the bidding process.

5.4 Review and Assess Tenders

Tender submissions are meticulously reviewed and assessed alongside the Quantity Surveyor and consultants.

5.5 Negotiate with the Preferred Tenderer

Negotiations may be necessary to reach an agreement with the preferred contractor.

5.6 Report on Tenders and Provide Recommendations

A detailed report is prepared, presenting the findings and recommendations.

5.7 Assist in the Approval Process

The architect continues to support the client throughout the approval process.


    • Prepare and issue tender set
    • Additional information and details
    • Site reports and defects schedule

Once the preferred contractor is selected and approved, the project moves into the construction phase.

6. Contract Administration and Post Contract

The final phase involves the administration of the construction contract:

6.1 Prepare and Issue Contract Documents

The contract documents are finalised and issued to the contractor.

6.2 Report Regularly to the Client

Ongoing reporting to the client keeps them informed about project progress, costs, and timelines.

6.3 Visit the Site Periodically

Regular site visits ensure that construction aligns with the contract documents and design.

6.4 Review Shop Drawings and Submissions

Shop drawings and submissions from the contractor are reviewed for compliance.

6.5 Provide Instructions and Clarifications

The architect provides additional instructions and clarifications to the contractor as needed.

6.6 Assess Variations, Extensions of Time, and Progress Claims

Changes to the project, time extensions, and progress claims are assessed and managed.

6.7 Determine Practical Completion

The project is assessed for practical completion, ensuring all work is in accordance with the contract.

6.8 Defects Liability Period

Any defects or incomplete work are addressed during this phase.

6.9 Determine Final Completion

The project's final completion is assessed, and the appropriate certificates are issued.


    • Prepare and issue contract documents
    • Provide site observation reports
    • Provide further details and clarification of the contract set
    • Provide defects and non-compliance reports
    • Issue Practical Completion Certificate
    • Issue Final Completion Certificate


In conclusion, understanding the building design and construction phases is essential for a successful construction project. Each phase plays a crucial role in shaping the final outcome, from the initial predesign and schematic design to the meticulous documentation and contract administration. By following these structured phases, architects and builders ensure that projects are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, safe, and compliant with regulations.