Note: This is the third article in a 6 part series explaining the services of Bureau Xavier David. Previously a general overview of Construction Management and an explanation of the Xavier David Method™, today an overview of Feasibility Analysis & Pre-Design Planning followed in upcoming weeks by three more articles on the various phases of a project:
- Feasibility Analysis & Pre-Design Planning
- The Design Process
- The Construction Process
- Post-Construction Maintenance and Management
Saint-Barthélemy April 2020 — Before beginning the detailed design or construction of a building, there are several preliminary steps that can vary with each project. But Pre-Design typically always has the same goal : to establish a Building Program that meets a property owner’s needs.
Perhaps the most obvious place to begin is the completion of a full survey of the property and any existing buildings. An official survey from a licensed professional will be necessary as part of any design proposal submitted for Building Permit. Additionally, the survey of existing terrain and buildings provides the architectural designer with the accurate foundation that they need to develop their work. Although it is possible for an architect to begin designing without a complete survey, that scenario includes the risk that the architect will need to alter his work later, possibly wasting valuable time in the process.
Having just stated that a survey is necessary, there can be exceptions. For example, if one does not already own a property but rather is comparing severals different parcels of land for possible development. In this case, it can still be useful to enlist the help of an architect who would probably begin with a code review in this scenario. By reviewing the local building codes and zoning maps, an architect can present very valuable information to a property developer before he invests large sums of time and money. Aspects of a code review typically include maximum size of building allowed in terms of surface area (square meters or square feet), permissible uses based on location, building height allowed, historic district rules, accessibility for disabled users, and minimum requirements for fire & safety concerns such as how much access is necessary for emergency vehicles. On St Barts, the rules can vary greatly between Gustavia and Grand Fond, for example.
Code reviews are a large part of any feasibility study, however, an architect may also be able to combine it with a programming study of potential building volumes that can be very useful for visualizing a project at its earliest stages. Although a full survey is helpful here, that may not be practical if multiple properties are being compared. In this case, an architect may make a few working assumptions and proceed with some draft design proposals that illustrate potential but without investing too deeply in detailed planning.
Just as an architect can sketch out the design potential of a property, often additional professionals are also useful early in the process of a project’s conception. Depending on the challenges of the specific property, it may be wise to enlist the help of lawyers for dealing with easements, liens, deed restrictions, etc., bankers for financing, and real estate agents for arranging purchase. Architects and Construction Managers such as Bureau Xavier David are often involved in the early phases of project conception and thus are very skilled in communicating design potential with these other professionals. In fact, it is often the case that we can recommend specific lawyers, bankers, real estate agents and other consultants as needed based on our experience. Depending on the project, even marketing of the finished building should be considered at the earliest stages. For example, the name of a rental villa may feel random or whimsical, but given the power of modern internet SEO it can be a crucial decision in future rental success…as well as setting a design tone for the entire project.
In all aspects of analyzing the feasibility of a building project and pre-design planning, Bureau Xavier David has the experienced professionals to insure success in finding a Building Program. In our next article, we will take a closer look at how the Design Process builds off of this foundation.