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How to Guide for Architectural Services


With unique knowledge and varied expertise, architects can offer valuable services to clients. If you are wondering what architectural service entails, this post is for you.

Five Basic Architectural Services

Here are five essential architectural services.

1.      Programming Services

Programming service helps you determine the scope of design for a project. There is no actual design developed at this stage. You will ask clients specific questions to understand their needs, problems, and desired outcome.

Your decision-making and research process will start during this service. In other words, programming is a consulting service, and by the end of it, you must fully understand what a client expects from you.

Male Architect checking structure

2.      Schematic Design Services

This service develops the fundamental building model and involves lots of formal drawings and sketching. The purpose is to build floor plans, building elevations, and site plans. A schematic design gives you a detailed description of the entire building, including

  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Structural overview
  • Interior finishes
  • Exterior finishes

In short, you will have an inside-out overview of your building site.

3.      Design Development Services

You can begin to refine the schematic design during this phase. You will be considering specific materials to use by evaluating them for durability, price, and aesthetic appeal. At this stage, the client and the architect will discuss selecting suitable materials for shower tiles, countertops, etc. It is vital to have a  full design of how the finished project will look.

4.      Construction Documentation

This phase provides a product, i.e., two detailed sets of drawings. In addition, a construction document will contain all the details and elements of the project’s architectural design.

Architectural drawing living room

5.      Construction Administration

This service typically involves an architect acting as a client representative during construction. The site visits, inspections and material testing is all part of the client administration, which ensures that the contractor is working as per specifications.  

Additional Architectural Services

Architectural services have additional domains for every architect and client.

6.      Biddings and Price Negotiations

Often an architect has to use his experience in construction to help the owner select the right contractor and material. Therefore, architectural services also entail bidding and price negotiation services to help the owner save money wherever possible.

7.      Project Management

This architectural service involves any aspect of the project that owners cannot deal with independently. For example, project management includes coordination with the vendors, suppliers, and contractors and selecting different materials. An architect can also provide a project management service as an add-on, charged separately.

8.      3D Renderings

Thanks to technological evolution, 3D versions of the building can be created, which are almost lifelike. Architectural services also come with 3D models of buildings to promote upcoming multi-family residential projects.

This gives potential property buyers a precise feel of what they can expect. Architects can also put together short videos giving a 3D virtual tour of the entire project from the inside and outside. However, 3D designs are not a part of basic architectural services, and you would need to pay extra for these services.

9.      Feasibility Studies and Audits

A feasibility study determines if a project will be a worthy investment for the owner. An architect will inspect the proposed location and consider various factors to determine if the outcome of the project will be as per the desires of their client.

A feasibility study will also take a closer look at all the legal aspects of the building and ensure the security of the owner’s investment. If the building codes prohibit the owner from building the project, a feasibility report can help them make the right decision.

On the other hand, an audit of a building’s condition is also a part of architectural services. An architect can also help you look for any structural issues and building elements that may be in violation of code.

Things to Consider When Hiring Architectural Services

If you are an owner thinking about hiring architectural services, consider these aspects before signing one up.

1.      Knowing Your Budget

One of the major factors on what type of architectural services you should select is the financial constraints. It is your budget that will decide how many additional services you will be able to afford.

2.      Knowing the Expertise

Not all architects have expertise in all types of projects. For instance, some architects specialize in commercial properties, while others are experts in residential properties.

What if you are a commercial builder looking for architectural services for a high-rise building. Certainly, it would not be a good idea to hire an architectural service provider specializing in residential properties. Therefore, know the expertise of the service provider before hiring them.

3.      Timelines Desired Vs. Timelines Offered

You have to find an architectural service that can promise to deliver the project within your desired timeline. If they are asking for more time, then it is best to look elsewhere. Sometimes opting for cheaper architectural services may come at the cost of longer project timelines. This can be due to the limited resources of the service provider in terms of labour, equipment, etc.

Additionally, you must also discuss with the architectural services provider about the cost of delays (for whatever reasons) and who will bear the extra charges. If you agree to the terms, the service provider proposes, get it in writing to avoid future arguments and hassle.

4.      Referrals are Best

Asking for referrals amongst family and friends is the best source to find the right architectural services. It gives you peace of mind recommendation is coming from a personal acquaintance who will always have your best interest at heart.

5.      Contingency Plan

Architectural projects can go sideways for various reasons. For instance, the time delay due to bad weather, or a natural disaster can result in your project coming to a screeching halt for an extended period of time. This can add up to the cost, especially if you are renting elsewhere while your home is ready to move in.

Similarly, if you are hiring equipment and machinery to carry out architectural work, it will add up to the rental cost. Therefore, always have a plan b in place and consult the architectural services to determine the possible estimate of such predicaments.


If you are an aspiring architect thinking about offering freelance architectural services, the information in this guide will help cover the basic services you must offer. For clients looking for architectural services, the basic understanding of the services in this project will help choose the right architect as per your desires and budget.

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