Design Processes and Stages

At various stages of the design process you will be asked to provide certain information. The sooner you can gather this information, the sooner stages can be completed! Here is a general list of things you can expect to be asked for…

Site information:

  • If you or your landlord has drawings for the building this is helpful. Some landlords require that the drawings are completed in conjunction with their initial drawings.

  • If your landlord has guidelines for design or drawings, those should be provided before obtaining a quote or you may be charged extra if specific new components are needed.  For instance – some landlords require that the drawings need to be in CAD – this is important for your designer to know as some prefer to work in other programs. Some landlords require engineering, even if the local authority doesn’t require it for permits.  Some landlords – especially mall or retail settings, have more specific requirements like necessity of flooring changes, entry components etc.

  • Site plan – you should be able to obtain this from your landlord

Branding information

  • Specific company colours if you have

  • Company logo (not always needed)

  • Website and social media platforms

  • Clear brand outline (company colours, fonts, etc.) so that your website, online presence, print media and space all have the same look and feel. You will typically get better results if you have this.

  • If you have pictures, Pinterest boards, Houzz boards, etc. to show the style you like, sharing these with your designer as soon as possible is ideal!

Other Logistics

  • Budget – this is a biggie.  A designer can design the same 1000sq’ space for $80,000 and for millions. If you are expecting to adhere to a tight budget the designer can select finishes out of only cost-conscious options and limit extra features, such as built in cabinetry.  If you are expecting a high end space they need to know they have to freedom to get more creative and look at more options for finishes. You can always specify: “this is my ideal”, “this is my max”. To ensure your level of desired finishing is met, they need to know your expectations.

  • Special equipment needs – How many workstations do you need? Computers? Printers?  Other examples – if you are a dentist or restaurant, what equipment are you planning on using?  Do you have a supplier already? Share your contacts with your designer. For retail – have you already chosen your fixturing or do you want the designer to choose?  If you need the designers help to figure this out, most are able to coordinate it.

  • If you have a current space it is good to go through that and see what is good and what needs to be improved.

  • How many staff work at once?  How many clients do you expect at a given time?

  • Your wish list

  • Access to space to do measurements.

  • Detailed letter of intent including: (needed for development permit)

    • Detailed description of proposed development and use

    • Description of products and services

    • Anticipated on-site operations (indoors and outdoors)

    • On-site storage

    • Transportation details, including size of vehicles/expected frequency of trips

    • Number of employees

    • Hours of operation

Design Stages

  • Quote – based on your questions and the information above, get a detailed quote from them that specifically includes answers to the items above.  Remember: if it’s not in writing, it can’t be proven.

  • Construction Layout and Code Review – this is a bird’s eye view of the space and will show the general layout of walls, doors and key furniture or millwork pieces.  At Rivet, we usually develop anywhere from 1-4 layout concepts with basic details and then present them to you with explanations of pros and cons for each layout.


Sample Layout Drawing
  • Concept Board – generally presented at the same time as layout options.  The digital mood board will show concepts for colours, finishes, furniture style and overall feel of the space.
Sample Concept Board
  • Working Drawings–  the amount of drawing pages and the details within depends on the size and complexity of your project.  Some of these pages would include:

    • construction notes and guidelines

    • furniture layout (including legend)

    • ceiling plan (legend and notes)

    • finishing plan (shows placement of all paint colours, flooring details, special details including tiles, baseboards, etc. as well as legend of details)

    • equipment and appliances plan (includes placement, electrical, plumbing and gas requirements for each item)

    • elevation drawings – shows view as if you are looking at each wall or millwork section. Details each type of cabinet (sizes, drawers or door etc)

    • details on how everything is to be constructed, site plan, electrical layouts, mechanical (plumbing, gas and hvac layouts)

  • Coordinate all consulting engineers, equipment specifications & review their drawings.–  the details will be put into a complete package and reviewed for any possible errors or oversights

  • Finalize your working drawings, issue a set of IFR (issued for review) drawing set–  At this point a complete set of drawings will be issued for your review and a meeting to go through the drawings will happen. This will be your opportunity to fine tune and make any necessary changes. Once amendments are complete you will sign off on the drawings

  • Finalize IFC (Issued for Construction) drawings–  this will include having engineer stamp drawings and getting schedules A and B issued. (Documents that will need to be submitted along with drawings for permit applications. Everything will now be ready for permit applications.

There are a lot of different levels to the design process, so making sure you understand and are staying on top of them from the start of the process will help in the long run!