Building Chicago New Construction: Working with the Architect

If you’re looking to build a Chicago new construction home, it’s important to find an architect who has the same expectations that you do. You likely want to work with a detailed, client-oriented architect that will personally see the new construction project all the way through to completion.
A crucial piece in the new construction process is the architect’s drawings. These help to obtain permits, communicate objectives to a builder for pricing, and act as a guide for carpenters and other professionals who are working on a new construction project. Chicago architect Allan J. Grant gave some insight into what can be expected from an architect at this point in the process.
Architect Drawings for Permits
What will be delivered in terms of drawings depends on the architect. There are permit drawings—the bare minimum required to obtain permits—and highly detailed drawings, which are produced by client-oriented, residential architects.
Permit drawings are a minimal drawing set and include only the required information for obtaining permits. While it may seem like a wealth of information to the client, these drawings aren’t enough for a builder to accurately estimate construction costs (a huge disadvantage to the client) or for additional trade professionals to have their questions answered before they begin work on the project.
On the other hand, Grant says, the set of drawings produced by a custom residential architect for the client and builder include all of these details and specifications. That information is organized in drawing details, light fixture schedules, plumbing fixture schedules, door schedules and specification notes, separated into each trade.
Drawings from a Custom, Residential Architect
The drawings show everything that will be built into every part of the space, allowing the client to see how each room and area will appear. These types of drawings also feature:

  • Every built-in cabinet so that a client can see and understand where the drawers, doors and shelves are located, as well as heights for components and counters.
  • Every room door or closet door, along with door trims, crown mouldings, chair rails and base mouldings.
  • Any tile patters or inset borders within wall or floor tile.
  • Heights of every wall-mounted plumbing item, such as shower controls, heads, body sprays, etc.
  • Specific custom details like concealed doors, tubs set in decks, and curbless showers.
  • All interior elevations are drawn on a scale suitable for planning and understanding what is occurring on each wall, and so the architect can ensure there is room for every wall-mounted outlet, light fixture, towel bar, door trim, etc.
  • Structural details generated by the engineer are incorporated to include detailed framing plans.
  • HVAC, plumbing pipe diagrams and electrical information as it relates to mechanical equipment may also be included on more extensive projects.

During the construction process, the client-oriented architect regularly observes the construction (“supervising” is the builder’s responsibility) and documents any changes, additions or deletions that come up. A complete set of drawings that incorporate all of the client’s product and material selections benefit all involved in the process, as well as addressing functionality and aesthetics.
The Role of the Realtor with a New Construction Purchase
Throughout the process of building your Chicago new construction home, it’s important to keep your realtor in the mix. Have him or her review drawings with you along the way so that there are no floor plan issues from a design standpoint. Such issues can negatively affect future resale value of the home, and the realtor can help guide you through what works and what doesn’t, as well as up-to-date home trends that will benefit you if you are to sell the home down the line.
To learn more about working with an architect to build a Chicago new construction home, give me a call at 312-264-5853 or email me at, or contact architect Allan J. Grant at 312-943-5522 or at We’ll both be happy to answer any of your questions or conduct appropriate research to help with your new construction project.