Design Professionals – Working With A Design Professional

CATEGORY: Nonprofit News
CLIENT TYPE: Nonprofit
DATE: Nov 03, 2023

Under the California Civil Code, a design professional can be any of the following types of professions: a licensed architect, a licensed landscape architect, a registered professional engineer, or a licensed land surveyor. These types of individual professions plan and calculate the design and engineering of a particular construction project.

Nonprofit organizations who undertake construction will need to hire a design professional to prepare the detailed plans for the project.  Once construction starts and the organization provides the plans to the contractor, the organization becomes responsible for any errors and omissions in those plans in any dispute with the contractor.  Organizations may want to consider hiring a design-build contractor or hiring a contractor early on to coordinate with the design professional for a more integrated project delivery approach.  When the design professionals and contractors are able to coordinate with each other early on, the project experiences fewer instances of miscommunication which can lead to costly change orders.  Along with project managers and a contractor, a design professional is a critical component of the team that holds the success or failure of your construction project in their hands.

Generally, design professionals are hired after interviews and face-to-face meetings, as communication and a mutual understanding of the goals and limitations of your construction project are integral to the project’s eventual success.

Design professionals draft the plans and specifications for the construction project and then assist with executing those details.

At the pre-design stage, the design professional will review local zoning and land-use restrictions and assess the project scope, neighborhood, and site conditions.  The formation of design ideas and options arise from this early stage.

Once the organization selects the general design idea, the schematic phase begins. Here, the design professional will develop a design proposal that describes the project and its parameters. This includes floor plans, building elevations, and all structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems.  The organization should also be able to explore a range of alternative concepts proposed by the design professional. This is the phase where the organization will want to provide all of its feedback and make design decisions so that the design professional can revise the design until it reflects a design that the organization wants.  Making changes after this stage can become costly to the organization.

Next, the design professional builds out a more detailed plan during a design development phase.  During this phase, the design professional works with a cost estimator and a structural engineer who provide details, materials, finishes, equipment, fixtures, and cost estimates for the project.  This stage also involves some back and forth with the organization to ensure that the project is within the organization’s budget.

The final phase of the beginning of a construction project is the construction documents phase, wherein the design professional drafts construction documents which describe the quality, configuration, size, and relationship of the components and overall project.   The construction documents are submitted to the city or county for review and to obtain a building permit.  The timing for securing a building permit can vary greatly depending on the specific city or county and the project size.

The design professional will also deliver a construction set of the construction documents to the contractor to use during construction. Once construction begins on a project, design professionals will help oversee various aspects of the construction process. Specifically, a design professional may be tasked with responding to requests for information that the contractor submits when it has questions about the design, reviewing and certifying applications for payment, attending project meetings, certifying the progression of the work, reviewing and responding to change order requests and other submittals, and acting as an initial decision maker if there is a dispute during the project. The key to a project’s success is hiring a qualified design professional with relevant experience and fostering continued collaboration and communication from inception of the design through project completion.

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