At Interior Alchemy, our fifth phase is to document everything required to communicate our design to the contractor.  After the design has been approved by all agencies and stakeholders, and you are satisfied with the design reached at the end of the DEVELOP phase, we begin producing Construction Documents (also known as CDs) which which will guide the contractor in every on-site decision made and will become the supreme authority on what will or will not be included in the final built product

At the start of this phase, no further design changes can be made without significantly affecting the project costs.

The goal of the DOCUMENT phase is to produce a written record of every design decision made so that the contractor can accurately price and build the project during the next DELIVER phase.

Document Phase Steps

How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things, but how well we are understood.

– Andrew Grove

Draft and Finalize Construction Drawings

Construction Documents is a term which refers to the set of drawings that an architect, draftsman, or designer creates which shows the entire collection of final decisions made from the previous Phases of the Design Process.

We begin drafting the Construction Documents after we receive all internal project team and external stakeholder approvals that we need so that we ensure there will be no more changes to the design.

Generating a complete set of Construction Documents is typically labor-intensive as tens of thousands of details that were formerly discussed verbally, loosely drafted, or sketched our in our minds will need to be transcribed and illustrated such that contractors and installers understand your final expectations for the project.

Oftentimes, the contractor will purchase the building elements of the design (doors, windows, framing, etc.). When the contractor goes to purchase these materials, they will need to know every detail about the components we selected, all of its options, how and where it will be installed and how to finish it so that they can price and purchase the right materials and install them properly, and according to our design.

For example, when installing a new window in a wall, the Construction Documents will need to communicate the following to the contractor:

  • Window manufacturer name
  • Collection name
  • Model number
  • Sizes (height, width, depth)
  • Color
  • Quantity
  • Material (aluminum, steel, vinyl)
  • What type of window (casement, fixed, awning, etc.)
  • Details about how the window operates (e.g. for casement windows, are the hinges on the left or right side/for sliders, does the window slide to the left or right)
  • What type of glass (tempered, double paned, etc.)
  • Does the window require a screen
  • Reference symbol of where the window can be found in the plan and elevations drawings
  • The location in which it should be installed
    • The room
    • The sill height above finished floor
    • The distance from the nearest wall
  • Any special instructions on how to install the window
  • Window finish – drywall wrapped or finished with trim
  • Sill details – wood, stone, etc.
  • What kind of window moulding/trim should be installed (MDF or wood)
  • What size of should the window trim be
  • What profile of window trim should be used
  • What color or stain should be applied to the window trim
  • Type of finish sheen (glossy, satin, eggshell or matte)
  • Does the screen need to be painted or stained (if so, what color, sheen, etc)
  • If the window coverings require hard-wire installation, details about what kind of voltage is required and where the wiring should be located
  • Any other notes as needed to convey the final intended result

You can now understand that, if that level of documentation is required such that the contractor can purchase the window that you and I agreed upon, how multiplying that by thousands of components of the design can be laborious and why switching out just one window after the details are written will be a time-consuming task resulting in additional design fees .

A second reason that we ensure the design is final before we begin producing Construction Documents, is because, prior to this, we will have been working from a single floor plan.  Before this point, every time a change was made, typically, only one drawing needed to be changed.  But, during this step, we expand the drawing set to include any drawing which may be deemed necessary to communicate our design to a builder.  This will undoubtedly require at least 6-10 drawings per room (depending project scope).  In a single home, making one change to the width of a tall kitchen cabinet, for example, can result in the need to make the change in 3-6 drawings in order for the communication of the change to be consistent. So, easily, a change at this late in the process will incur additional design costs.

In a full house remodel, the following is a list of drawings that typically are generated during the Construction Documents phase.

  • Dimensioned floor plans
  • Dimensioned interior elevations
  • Lighting plan
  • Reflected ceiling plan
  • Switching and electrical plan
  • Interior details, plans and schedules (as needed: door, window, finishes, paint, drywall, furniture, and/or lighting, etc.)Optional, depending on the project scope:
    • Millwork/cabinetry details (as needed)
    • Detailed wall sections and details (as needed)
    • Building sections (if the project involves an addition or makes interior changes involving more than one floor/level)
    • Building elevations (if the project involves an addition or makes exterior changes)
    • Site Plan (if the project has an outdoor element)
    • Landscape Plan (if the project has an outdoor element)
  • Provided by other project team members:
    • Structural drawings (foundation, framing plans and details, typically provided by your architect, engineer, or GC)
    • Mechanical, electrical and plumbing (typically provided by your electrician, plumber or HVAC installer)

Finalize Specifications Documentation

Before sending the project out to bid or for final quotes from installers, trades, and other suppliers, we will need to prepare not only the drawings which show how and where everything in the project will be installed, but the specifications document is a detailed list of all of the components that will be installed during the project.  It is important to know when bidding the type, brand, model number and size of everything that is going into the project.  For example, if your project plans on using a smart home programmable, bluetooth, lighting system, it is critical that the electrician understands this before bidding.  The electrician must understand not only the skill level required of the installation, but also because the system will take more time and cost more to install than a standard on/off switch at each light.  When this depth of information is communicated to the installers at the time of bidding, you will normally receive a more accurate quote which requires less costly change orders during the installation.

  • Specifications outline
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Appliances
  • Flooring
  • Surface coverings (tile, wood, paint, wall paper, countertops, etc)
  • Cabinetry (style, color, hardware, glass, interior fixtures, etc.)
  • Glasswork
  • Railing

Green Certification Documentation

If you are pursuing a green design certification, we will also draft a separate set of documents related to the project to communicate how our project strives to meet those design requirements in order to achieve the designation.  All certifications have a different set of protocols. But typically, this is the stage at which we also submit the final documentation in support of our meeting the required protocols.

Revised Estimated Project Cost

Once we have all the bids back, we will finally have a realistic idea of the the final cost of the project. We will update this with all of the new bids. You should always make sure that you set back 20% this amount for a contingency.  This will help keep the project moving forward when surprises happen.  It is not uncommon to remove the floor during demo and find some areas where the subfloor may nee dot be replaced or perhaps there was a leak that needs to be addressed inside the walls.  Setting aside a find to quickly remedy these kinds of discoveries will help keep the project schedule on track.

Revised Project Timeline

With the permits issued, the design complete, and lead times quoted on custom components like cabinetry, the project timeline will be turned over to the contractors and suppliers to fulfill.  Your contractor will now understand exactly when you are ready to proceed with the demo and construction of your project and will know which crew is available for your project and when.  They will be able to give you a demo start date and completion date.  Do keep in mind that certain timelines do slip due to some of the surprises that may come up during demo which are no fault of the contractor.  It is impossible to know exactly what is behind your walls or under your finished flooring until the contractor uncovers theses spaces.

Procurement of Furnishings, Fixtures & Equipment Initiated

Depending on how we divided up the work of the design components which do not affect the construction, someone will be responsible for purchasing items which will be installed into the built environment but which do not necessarily need to be installed during construction.

  • Furnishings (not necessary for construction, but necessary for quoting the final budget and procurement):
    • Furniture
    • Rugs
    • Window coverings
    • Accessories
    • Art
  • Fixtures (plumbing and installed listing fixtures are include in the specifications)
    • Art Gallery Hanging System
    • Speciality Closet systems
  • Equipment
    • A/V equipment

Upon completion of the Construction Documents and Specifications, the contractor(s) can now prepare their final bid for the project and being construction – the DELIVER phase of the project.


Percentage of Designer’s Total Project Work

The Document phase typically comprises approximately 25% of the designer’s total project work and, at the completion of this phase, the designer’s role in the project will be approximately 85% complete.


Percentage of Design Work Completion