When you want to build a dream house, an office building, a vacation home, or another type of building, one of the first questions is "What do I start with?"/"How do I start?".
Once you have decided to build, the first step is to discuss with a specialist, the architect, and dedicate the needed time and resources to this project.
The conversation with and the guidance offered by the architect are helpful for making informed decisions. With the architect’s help, you can define your true desires and needs and you will obtain an overall picture of the project, from the initial idea to the final touches on the constructed building.
Below are the main stages of a construction project, explained in 6 main steps.
There are many choices concerning real estate, including issues related to historic areas, existing buildings, or land, with each choice presenting pros and cons. To have a starting point for the first meeting with the architect, it is useful to prepare a wish list (for example, those regarding the atmosphere, surface, preferred materials, function, the purpose of the project, etc.).
The architect analyzes the information provided by the client by taking into account the current legislation, the existing regulations, and potential risks during the project.
As a result, the client can find out about the urban planning regulations that apply to the respective area (the PUZ - Zonal Urban Plan), the provisions of the general urban planning plan (PUG), the permitted functions, the maximum built-up areas, the urban indices (POT - percentage of land occupation & CUT), if expropriations are expected in the area, and the risks and hindrances that may occur during the project.
On a case-by-case basis, it may be advisable to carry out additional studies such as those for protected areas, or an evaluation with the structure expert, as well as request consulting for infrastructure matters (electrical, water supply, and sewage connecting pipes).
During this stage, it is useful for the beneficiary to provide the Urban Planning Certificate to the architect, a document issued by the authorities overseeing the area in which the land or building is located.
The general design theme is decided by the end of this phase, and it will serve as the basis for the next stage, the architectural concept.
The architecture concept phase is the creation phase during which we transition from ideas to shapes and geometry. The concept phase is essential for a successful project. This is the stage during which important decisions are made, several options are analyzed, and the house is "designed".
The architect studies the design theme in relation to several criteria: the beneficiary’s wishes, the laws in force, size and land placement, the orientation of the rooms according to the sun, the size of the rooms, the flow or the course through the building, the proportions, perception, materiality, the important perspectives.
The architect's vision is shaped by his open communication with the beneficiary and it is based on the adequate understanding of the project’s theme and purpose from both parties.
The story takes shape through sketches, plans, sections, facades, models, renderings (photorealistic images), and 3D simulations – BIM (Building Information Modeling).
The building permit application process can begin once the concept phase is complete. After this phase, it is also possible to issue an estimate (build-out) for the project.
Urban planning certificate - Approvals - Building authorization – The OK for the construction site
Once the concept phase is validated, the authorization process can begin by submitting the documents required for obtaining the Urban Planning Certificate for construction.
In most cases, the urban planning certificate is issued within 30 days. The document will include the issuing authority’s details on the approvals and the agreements necessary for construction.
Several permits/approvals are required, depending on the complexity of the project: the approval to connect to the utilities (water, sewer, electricity, telecommunication), environmental approval, the approval issued by the Inspectorate of Emergency Situations (also called the Fire Brigade approval), an approval from the Ministry of Culture and one from the Traffic authorities, as well as others, as applicable.
The architect draws up specific documentation for each of these permits, with the help of specialized engineers, experts, and verifiers.
To obtain the building permit, it is necessary to receive all the approvals and consent from the relevant authorities.
In addition to these approvals, the architect, the structural engineer, and the installation engineer will also prepare the specialized studies required by law. These studies make up the Technical Documentation for the Construction Authorization (DTAC) which is submitted to the competent authority.
The architect is the leader of the entire team of specialists. For example, in the case of a house project, the team is composed of more than 8 specialists: the architect, the structural engineer, the surveying engineer, the geotechnical engineer, the installation engineers (electrical, sanitary, ventilation & heating) to which we can also include the verifiers for each specialty. Depending on the theme, the team can also include the landscape architect, the engineer attesting the compliance with the passive house standard, etc.
"God is in the details", as architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) said.
Based on the tasks received from the architect, each specialist develops the execution project. Every element is detailed and defined during this stage: the material requirements, layers, build-up instructions, jointing materials, stereotomy, details, lighting, etc. These are the building blocks and assembly rules for the giant puzzle that is the construction project.
Additionally, quantity calculations are centralized for each specialty (BOQ- Bill of Quantities), and the budget can be calculated and tracked based on these.
This is a phase that requires time and patience and which, unfortunately, is often omitted from the documents. In the long run, the lack of detail causes far greater risks than granting additional time for this stage. For example, the problems that can appear over time include mold, heat loss, infiltrations, lack of comfort, and even certain health problems for the inhabitants.
The lack of detail causes bigger problems than the time and costs associated with this phase.
In order to issue the building offer, the constructor will require the technical project and, once the contract is signed, the construction phase will begin. Quality projects are needed to ensure proper execution, as these offer clarifications to all of the involved parties, from the beneficiary to the suppliers, to the builders.
During the construction phase, each part of the project is ordered and put into operation according to the specifications. The architect and engineers provide specialized technical assistance to ensure quality control and compliance with the project.
If clarifications, additional information, or modifications are required during execution, the constructor consults the design team to make suitable decisions and remain consistent with the vision. The construction phase is usually the longest because there are many elements to assemble, there are mandatory execution and drying times, the delivery time for the materials is also taken into account, etc.
Step by step, all of the ideas come into existence during this stage: the concrete is poured, the structure is assembled, the installations become operational, and the finishing touches are made.
We do not recommend making major changes to the developed project during the construction phase. On-site changes cause budget increases, and delays, lead to additional stress, and are difficult to manage. If important changes are made, for example, in the case of the facades, it will become mandatory to restart the authorization process and to postpone the reception phase, which takes place in the presence of a Town Hall representative and marks the completion of the works.
Our advice is to measure several times and cut only once. For construction purposes, this means allocating adequate resources for the architectural concept, the technical design, and budget planning phases, and only then commencing the construction phase.
The duration of each stage depends on the complexity of the project. Nonetheless, with patience and determination, each construction phase reaches its end.
The greatest satisfaction comes after the project is completed successfully, when, in the end, everything lines up and the puzzle is complete.
This is when the life of the building starts and it is also the moment when the life of the beneficiaries becomes better and more beautiful than it once was.