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Architects checklist for final client signoff

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Updated on:
April 30, 2023
April 30, 2023
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As an architect, you have a lot of responsibilities to take care of. From planning and designing a building to making sure everything is up to code, there are many things that you need to keep track of. That's why having a comprehensive checklist can be incredibly helpful. In this article, we'll provide you with an ultimate architect checklist that covers everything you need to know.

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Section 1: Pre-Design Checklist

Before you even start designing, there are some things you need to take care of. This section covers the things you should consider before you start your design process.

  • Conduct a Site Analysis
  • Determine the Client's Needs and Budget
  • Research Building Codes and Regulations
  • Obtain Necessary Permits
  • Hire a Structural Engineer

Conduct a Site Analysis

This involves evaluating the physical characteristics of the site where the building will be constructed. This includes factors such as soil type, drainage patterns, and vegetation. By understanding these aspects of the site, an architect can make informed decisions about the placement and orientation of the building.

Determine the Client's Needs and Budget

This involves communicating with the client to understand what they hope to achieve. In this case, you should also determine the amount of money that your client wants to invest in the project. By understanding your client's needs, you can develop a design that meets his/her expectations.

Research Building Codes and Regulations

Every jurisdiction has a unique set of building codes and regulations. An architect must thoroughly research them to ensure that their design meets all requirements.

Obtain Necessary Permits

An architect must obtain various permits and approvals from local and state government agencies. This can include permits for zoning, building, and environmental regulations. Failure to obtain the necessary permits can result in costly delays and legal issues.

Hire a Structural Engineer

A structural engineer ensures that the building is structurally sound and meets all necessary safety standards. They work closely with the architect to develop a design that is both aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound. Don't hesitate to hire a structural engineer with a proven track record.

Section 2: Design Checklist

Once you have taken care of everything in the pre-design phase, it's time to start designing. This section covers everything you need to consider when creating your design.

  • Sketch Preliminary Designs
  • Create a Detailed Floor Plan
  • Choose Materials and Finishes
  • Determine Building Orientation and Massing
  • Consider Sustainability

Sketch Preliminary Designs

This is where the architect can come up with a range of different ideas for the building. Sketching allows the architect to explore different shapes, sizes, and layouts. They identify which ideas have the most potential. Having a design brief helps to organize your concepts and designs to share with the client in a structured way. This stage sets the foundation for the rest of the project.

Create a Detailed Floor Plan

This involves creating a more detailed drawing of the building. It includes the layout of the rooms and the placement of the furniture. The plan also mirrors the location of the windows and doors. This is the stage where the architect ensures that the building is functional and practical.

Choose Materials and Finishes

This step will affect the overall look and feel of the building. The materials and finishes chosen should not only be aesthetic. It should also be durable. The architect needs to consider factors such as cost and maintenance when choosing materials and finishes.

Determine Building Orientation and Massing

This involves considering the position of the building on the site, and the overall massing of the building. The orientation of the building can affect the amount of natural light that enters the building. Massing affects the aesthetic sense of the building. As an architect, you should consider these factors to create a feasible and beautiful building.

Consider Sustainability

Buildings have a significant impact on the environment. As an architect, you have a responsibility to create environmentally friendly designs. This can involve incorporating green technologies to create an energy-efficient building.

Section 3: Construction Documents Checklist

Once your design is complete, you need to create construction documents. This section covers everything you need to know to create comprehensive construction documents.

  • Create Detailed Drawings
  • Write Detailed Specifications
  • Consider Building Systems
  • Create a Project Timeline
  • Coordinate with Consultants

Create Detailed Drawings

The first step is to create detailed drawings that accurately represent the design of the building. These drawings should include all essential details, such as floor plans, elevations, and sections. Make sure that these drawings are easy to understand.

Write Detailed Specifications

It's also important to write detailed specifications that outline the materials and products that will be used in the construction project. They should include the type of concrete to be used for the foundation and the type of paint to be used for the walls. In this way, you can ensure that the building meets the required standards.

Consider Building Systems

This document includes everything from HVAC and electrical systems to plumbing and fire protection. It is important to ensure that these systems are designed in a way that is efficient, and safe. They should also comply with all relevant codes and standards.

Create a Project Timeline

This timeline should outline the various phases of the project such as the design and construction phases. It should also include deadlines for each phase.

Coordinate with Consultants

It is important to coordinate with any consultants who are involved in the project. They include structural engineers or mechanical engineers. These consultants can provide valuable expertise and input. They can also ensure that the project meets the highest standards.

Section 4: Construction Checklist

Now it's time to start building. This section covers everything you need to know to manage the construction process.

  • Hire a General Contractor
  • Hold Pre-Construction Meetings
  • Monitor Construction Progress
  • Manage Budget and Schedule
  • Conduct Site Visits

Hire a General Contractor

A General Contractor manages the construction project and ensures that everything is done according to plan. It's essential to take the time to vet potential contractors carefully. Check their credentials and references to ensure they are the right fit for the project.

Hold Pre-Construction Meetings

These meetings ensure that everyone involved in the project is on the same page. The architect, General Contractor, and any subcontractors should all attend these meetings to discuss the project's scope, schedule, and budget. This is also an opportunity to identify potential issues that could arise during construction.

Monitor Construction Progress

As an architect, you should keep a close eye on the construction site to ensure that everything is going according to plan. This involves regular communication with the General Contractor and frequent site visits. Any issues that arise must be dealt with promptly to ensure that the project stays on track.

Manage Budget and Schedule

It's essential to set a realistic budget and schedule at the outset of the project. Any changes to the plan must be carefully considered and approved before being implemented.

Conduct Site Visits

This is an opportunity to see the construction site up close. You can also identify any potential issues that could impact the project's progress. It's also a chance to talk with the General Contractor and other stakeholders about any concerns or questions that arise.

Section 5: Post-Construction Checklist

Once the building is complete, there are still things that need to be done. This section covers everything you need to know to wrap up the project.

  • Conduct a Punch List Walkthrough
  • Obtain Final Permits and Inspections
  • Train the Owner on the Building Systems
  • Collect and Organize Project Documents
  • Close Out the Project

Conduct a Punch List Walkthrough

This is a final inspection of the project to identify any remaining defects. As an architect, you should conduct this walkthrough with the construction team. This will ensure that everyone is aware of the remaining items and that they are resolved promptly.

Obtain Final Permits and Inspections

It's time to obtain the final permits and inspections. This step ensures that the project meets all the legal and safety requirements. Failure to obtain the necessary permits and inspections can lead to fines, penalties, and even legal liabilities.

Train the Owner on the Building Systems

You should provide a comprehensive training program that covers all the building systems, including HVAC. This training program should also cover the proper operation of these systems to ensure their longevity.

Collect and Organize Project Documents

The next step is to collect and organize all project documents. This includes drawings, specifications, contracts, and other important documents. Organizing these documents will help you and your client to have a clear understanding of the project.

Close Out the Project

Finally, you should close out the project. This includes finalizing all contracts and resolving any outstanding issues. It's important to celebrate the success of the project.

Section 6: Business Software Processes Checklist

In addition to the design and construction process, there are many important business software processes that architects must also manage. This section covers everything you need to know to ensure smooth operations for your architectural practice.

  • Creating Proposals.
  • Managing payments.
  • Creating contracts.
  • Defining the scope of work.
  • Tracking project progress.
  • Managing change orders.
  • Managing client relationships.

Creating Proposals

Use software to create professional proposals for your clients. Make sure they outline the scope of work, timeline, and fees.

Managing Payments

Use accounting software to track payments from clients, issue invoices, and accept online payments.

Creating Contracts

Use legal software to create comprehensive contracts that protect both you and your clients. Ensure that all terms and conditions are clear and transparent.

Defining Scope of Work

Clearly define the scope of work for each project using project management software. This ensures that everyone involved is on the same page and that there is no confusion about the deliverables.

Tracking Project Progress

Use project management software to track the progress of each project, assign tasks, and monitor deadlines.

Managing Change Orders

Use software to manage change orders when a client requests additional work or changes to the original scope of work. This ensures that you are compensated for any additional work and that everyone is clear on the new project requirements.

Managing Client Relationships

Use customer relationship management (CRM) software to manage client relationships, track communication, and stay organized.

By effectively managing these software processes, you can streamline your operations and ensure that your architectural practice runs smoothly.


By following this comprehensive architect checklist, you can ensure that you cover everything you need to know at each stage of the building process. Whether you're a seasoned architect or just starting, having a checklist can help you stay organized and on track.

With Bonsai's architect checklist, you'll be able to:

Keep track of all your tasks and deadlines in one convenient place

  • Ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, even when you're juggling multiple projects at once
  • Stay on top of your budget.
  • Collaborate seamlessly with your team members and clients
  • And much more!

Start achieving your goals with ease and confidence!


1. Why is having a checklist important for architects?

It ensures that every aspect of their project is addressed before construction begins.

2. What should be included in a pre-design checklist?

A pre-design checklist should include site analysis, client needs, project goals, and other important factors that can impact the project's success.

3. How can architects ensure that they create comprehensive construction documents?

Architects can ensure that they create comprehensive construction documents by working closely with the construction team. They should review the plans regularly, and update them when necessary.

4. What are some tips for managing the construction process effectively?

Effective management of the construction process requires clear communication with contractors and other stakeholders. It also requires careful monitoring of the project's progress, proactive problem-solving, and a commitment to quality and safety.

5. What needs to be done after the building is complete?

After the building is complete, architects may need to oversee the final inspections. This is to ensure that any necessary repairs or adjustments are made.

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