Explaining the Design Process: The Sketch Plan

During the Data collection stage, an initial site investigation & survey is done, and the info gathered in that stage is used to create a series of sketch plans. We generally allow for 1 – 2 options, but this can differ depending upon the individual project. It’s called a Sketch plan or Space plan, because at this stage we’re only looking at the space taken up by the design.

The Sketch Plan phase is a critical element in the design process for your project. It does the following:

  • Allows you to determine if all your must-have requirements established during the briefing will fit in the space.
  • Lets you explore different layout options
  • Provides a Preliminary sketch plan for your Project Manager & Builder to develop an estimate of the project.

What the sketch plan does NOT do:

  • The sketch plan does NOT provide a finished design. A lot more work will need to go into the design to develop what the overall design looks like in the Concept Design & Documentation Stages
  • At this stage we DON’T know what the final design will look like
  • No finishes, furniture, ceilings or other design elements have been considered.
  • It is NOT the final layout: after the sketch plan is done, all the stakeholders such as the engineers, building surveyor, building manager, other consultants & builder for the project provide input during later stages which will influence and alter the layout.
  • It does not consider what may be currently non-compliant in the existing space or building.
  • It does not provide a plan that can be built from.
  • It does not give all the information your Project Manager & Builder need to establish a budget; a lot of guesswork is done at this stage, as there are lots of unknowns that won’t be decided upon yet.

The sketch plan you are presented with is the result of us experimenting with different ideas for your design. The video below shows some of the ideas that were explored for the Absolu Hair Salon before we arrived at the finished sketch plan.

After the brief is taken & the initial site investigation done, we examine all the information available, and explore different layouts, considering the entry and exits, circulation space, will all the different rooms & areas you need fit, will all your staff fit? We will also take a preliminary look at accessibility (access for wheelchair users) in the new layout.

We make the assumption that you have reasonably accurate & good quality existing conditions plans that we can use as a base plan for the sketch plan; we don’t allow to do a full site measure at this stage.

At this stage, any furnishings, fixtures, finishes & feature elements shown in the sketch plan are indicative only. Furniture is almost always shown, as it allows us to make sure every thing fits, and paths of circulation & exit paths work well. We may also begin to indicate where feature wall treatments (ie wallpaper, wallpanelling), custom made joinery, a feature ceiling or a rug will work well in the overall design.

Any estimates that may have been done by your Project Manager & Builder during earlier stages would not have allowed as they only have the sketch plan to work from. In our experience, they generally allow for entry-level (read low-budget here) fittings and fixtures at sketch plan stage.

If you want a particular level or quality finishes, furniture & fixtures, these need to be determined & communicated to the team; in the Brief & Moodboard, we communicate the look & feel, and types of finishes to your Project Manager & Builder. For example do you want laminate bench tops (low-budget), man-made stone bench tops (mid-budget) or natural stone (high end)? You may have a preference for natural stone, but do you want to invest in the cost? Here is where we begin to discover that.

During the Concept Design phase more detail is developed in the design to get closer to a more accurate estimate.

Our standard project timeline below illustrates where the Sketch Plan fits into your overall project.

  • Information Gathering: Initial Site Investigation, taking the Brief & Sketch Planning & the Moodboard

  • Investment estimate (by Your Project Manager & Builder)

  • Concept Design, schematic illustrations & sketches, FF&E Preliminaries & Joinery Preliminaries

  • Update Investment estimate (by your Project Manager & Builder)

  • Detail Design & Documentation, drafting plans & elevations for permits, detail design of Joinery, scheduling of FF&E, coordinate with consultants

  • Permit Application (by your Project Manager

  • Construction Documentation, Tender stage RFI’s, revisions to documentation in preparation for construction

  • Tender (by your Project Manager)

  • Construction Stage Design Services, Site meeting & inspections, site instructions & responding to RFI’s, materials approvals, Shop drawing review, Defects Inspection & report, As Built documentation, Handover attendance.

  • As Builts

Related Case Study: Absolu Hair Salon

Why is the design process broken down into stages?

The design process is divided into stages intentionally to ensure we get from that first meeting & brief-taking step to your sign-off of full construction documentation while ensuring that the design evolves along the Design Process path to meet your expectations, whilst also taking your level of investment into consideration. It’s a strategic step-by-step formula that delves into what you want & need, and each stage along the path from sketch plan to moodboard to finally interpreting it into an overall design.

If you are planning a refurbishment, please explore our flexible Design Package Options designed to serve you for more information.

Lisa is a very dedicated professional with a keen eye for fine detail and accurate documentation. I have worked with Lisa on more than 10 airport lounges and I can highly recommend her work. Lisa is also good a reviewing and coordinating services drawings.

D. Johnson

(please pin the below graphic to your pinterest board for reference)

(please pin the below graphic to your pinterest board for reference)

(please pin the below graphic to your pinterest board for reference)

So, why Hire an Interior Designer?

Unfortunately many people get confused or intimidated by the idea of hiring a professional Interior Designer for their project, and might be concerned about the process of working with a designer & the costs of doing so.

A lot of people I meet feel that they can hire a builder and do the design themselves, selecting materials and fixtures in dribs and drabs, often at the last minute (leading to less choice) with poor planning & lack of an overall vision. This will lead increased costs due to changes, additions and variations that the builder will not have allowed for.

You will save money & time. Your designer will plan functional and appealing spaces, provide drawings, visualisations & material / furnishing selections in a strategic manner so you can get competitive quotes, and you know what the design will look like & cost right from the start.

You require a Qualified Interior Designer & Registered Building Practitioner for any commercial project or residential project that requires a building permit; a proper interior designer is a highly trained & experienced registered professional, not just someone with ‘a good eye for colour’ and a knack for picking furniture.

Let’s make something beautiful together, book an appointment to explore your dream project.

Image: Omar Rodriguez @ormphotography