Architect’s Guide to Building Renovation & Tenant Improvements

Typical Timeline

Site Selection

Broker research to identify potential locations/properties for sale
Tour sites w/ Architect


Real Estate Attorney prepare/review Purchase & Sale Agreement (PSA)

Purchase Due Diligence

Property Survey by Civil Engineer (check for encroachments and easements) + Topography
Soils Testing by Geotechnical Engineer (required for structural engineering)
Architect to research City Planning and Zoning codes to determine New Building envelope (F.A.R.,
[floor area ratio – max size of residence] Height and Set-back requirements).
Determine if any Neighborhood Associations or CCR’s (covenants, conditions, or restrictions) exist
Professionals and Fee Structure
Architect – initial design fee, then once scope is determined prepare a contract - percentage
cost of construction or fixed fee
Professional Engineers and Consultants – cost per sq. ft. or fixed fee
[Surveyor – Soils, Civil, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing Engineers]
[Interior Designer, Lighting Designer and Landscape Architect]
Land Use Consultant – expediate entitlements and permits – fixed fee
Project Manager /Owner’s Rep – consultant to help manage the project – monthly fixed fee

Architect Design and Development


Develop list of need, number, and size of spaces/rooms – “wish list”
Special requirements – screening rms, gyms, office, meditation room
Amenities – lounge, chef’s kitchen, play areas – pool/spa, tennis/rack ball court
Architect to prepare overall project schedule

Conceptual Design

Architect inspiration sketches
Site and Space plans (simple floor plans) – Potential Different Versions
Discuss over all look and feel

Schematic Design and ROM Budget

Floor plans, 3D building renderings and suggested materials palette
Notes and specs for initial construction budget by General Contractor

Design Development

Further building design – Physical Scale Model and interior/exterior 3D renderings
Proposals / Engage Consultants & Engineers
Prepare Initial set of plans coordinated with design team for Design Review

City Planning and Architectural Review Board – Architect to prepare documents

All new buildings need approval by City Planning to make sure they comply with Zoning requirements.
Santa Monica has the Architectural Review Board that includes a public hearing for
approval (presently done administratively due to C19)

Construction Documents & Permits

Architectural plans and engineering for building department submittal
Selection of finish materials, lighting/plumbing fixtures and built-in furniture

Contractor Bidding – Building Permits

Interview or Pre-qualify General Contractors
Bid plans during plan check submittal

Plan Check Corrections

Respond and coordinate city comments back to design team
Re-submit corrected plans. Possible second round corrections.

Value Engineering

Review bids to see what design changes are acceptable to lower price but keep intent

Construction Contracts

Negotiate Fixed Price or Cost Plus a Fee Contract based on final city comments
and value engineering construction documents
“Critical Path” Project Schedule provided by Contractor

Construction Phase

Weekly conference calls and/or site meetings
RFI’s (request for information issued by GC to architect)
Change orders – plus or minus
Submittals issued by GC to architect for final approval (plumbing & light fixtures,
materials, hardware, finishes)
Pay applications – Architect to review and certify work completed (necessary for bank loans)


Fixtures and finishes
Install Furniture
Final Landscaping
C of O and/or Occupancy
Punch list
Close out and Warranties


Architect’s Guide to New Commercial Building Development Architect’s Guide to Building Renovation & Tenant Improvements