Design checklists made simple

September 6, 2011

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. This delightful saying comes from a rap song by Ice Cube. Mr. Cube’s message urges us all to make use of a verification system (the balance of his message is not quite suitable for this blog). A simple method of ensuring your design specifications are consistent from home to home is to use a checklist.

Whether you perform architecture “in house” or employ an outside architect, a checklist can be a vital tool of the design process. The best way to set one up is to create an outline of categories and start filling in items that correlate to each category.

Here is an example of the beginning of an outline and applicable items:

I.    Foundation
o    All elements dimensioned
o    Underground plumbing located
o    Underground plumbing dimensioned to exterior wall
o    Red zone delineated for straps and anchors

II.    Floor Plan
o    Locate every wall through dimension
o    All windows accurately labeled
o    Attic access clearly depicted
o    Bearing points called out

III.    Elevations
o    Call out all areas of flashing
o    Label Brick/Siding/Stucco areas
o    All window heights established and shown
o    All roof pitches shown

IV.    Sections
o    Structural elements shown
o    Truss heel heights established

Once your outline has been established and you have created the appropriate categories, then the only thing left is to implement the checklist. Doing this in-house is relatively easy. Every time a new plan is drawn, verify it’s completeness with the checklist.

In the case of an outside firm, have them verify the drawings first, turn in their checklist, and then verify the drawings again using the same checklist from your end. The checklist will become a living document. It should be updated every time an architectural variance occurs, the field asks a question, or you think of new items that should be shown on the plans.

So when it comes to home design just chickity check it. You will be surprised how easy it is and how quickly your construction documents will improve.


BONUS: Here's an example of a design checklist...





Todd Hallett, AIA, president of TK Design & Associates has been designing award-winning homes for more than 20 years. He spent 15 of those years working for a $50 million production building company. Todd designed all of its homes but also worked in every other aspect of the company including purchasing, development, land acquisition, product development, and operations, and was president of the company for three years. Equipped with his vast building experience and fueled by his love for architecture he left to form an architecture firm that is second to none in working cohesively with builders. Todd specializes in Lean Design and works, alongside Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development, in the trenches with builders, suppliers, and trade contractors. Todd welcomes your feedback at or 248.446.1960.


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