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what we can do for you

MJ Neal provides a variety of architectural services, from basic design to full services all the way through construction. Learn more about these phases below to see what needs your project has and what we can do to help you through it.


During the first phase, schematic design (SD), we, as your architect, consult with you to determine project goals and requirements. Often this determines the program for the project. The architectural program  includes estimated square footage of each usage type and any other elements that achieve the project goals. During schematic design, we develop study drawings, documents, and other media that illustrate the concepts of the design and include spatial relationships, scale, and form for you to review. Schematic design also is the research phase of the project, when zoning requirements or jurisdictional restrictions are discovered and addressed. This phase produces a final schematic design, to which you agree after consultation and discussions with us. 

Deliverables: Schematic design often produces a site plan, floor plan(s), sections, an elevation, and other illustrative materials; computer images, renderings, or models. Typically the drawings include overall dimensions, and a construction cost is estimated. 

Design development (DD) services use the initial design documents from the schematic phase and take them one step further. This phase lays out mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural, and architectural details. This phase results in drawings that often specify design elements such as material types and location of windows and doors. The level of detail provided in the DD phase is determined by your request and the project requirements. The DD phase often ends with a formal presentation to, and approval by, you as the owner.

Deliverables: Design development often produces floor plans, sections, and elevations with full dimensions. These drawings typically include door and window details and outline material specifications.


The next phase is construction documents (CD). Once the owner and architect are satisfied with the documents produced during DD, we move forward and produce drawings with greater detail. These drawings typically include specifications for construction details and materials. Once CDs are satisfactorily produced, they are sent to contractors for pricing or bidding. The level of detail in CDs may vary depending on your preference. If the CD set is not 100% complete, this is noted on the CD set when it is sent out for bid. This phase results in the contractors’ final estimate of project costs. 

Deliverables: The construction document phase produces a set of drawings that include all pertinent information required for the contractor to price and build the project


A Building Permit is a formal document issued by a municipality providing permission to start construction of a new building, an addition, or a renovation. The architectural plans for buildings must be technically detailed, accurate, and code-compliant. The architect will produce the drawings and permit applications necessary to submit to the municipality for zoning or building permits. This may include formal presentations to review boards or informal negotiation with regulators, zoning/planning administrators, fire marshals, and other officials.


The first step of this phase is preparation of the bid documents to go out to potential contractors for pricing. The bid document set often includes an advertisement for bids, instructions to bidders, the bid form, bid documents, the owner-contractor agreement, labor and material payment bond, and any other sections necessary for successful price bids. For some projects that have unique aspects or complex requirements, the architect and owner elect to have a prebid meeting for potential contractors. After bid sets are distributed, both the owner and architect wait for bids to come in. The owner, with the help of the architect, evaluate the bids and select a winning bid. Any negotiation with the bidder of price or project scope, if necessary, should be done before the contract for construction is signed. The final step is to award the contract to the selected bidder with a formal letter of intent to allow construction to begin.

Deliverables: The final deliverable is a construction contract. Once this document is signed, project construction can begin.


Contract administration (CA) services are rendered at your discretion and are outlined in the owner-architect construction agreement. Different owner-architect-contractor agreements require different levels of services on our part. CA services begin with the initial contract for construction and terminate when the final certificate of payment is issued. Our core responsibility during this phase is to help the contractor to build the project as specified in the CDs as approved by you. Questions may arise on site that require us to develop architectural sketches: drawings issued after construction documents have been released that offer additional clarification to finish the project properly. Different situations may require us to issue a Change in Services to complete the project.

Deliverables: A successfully built and contracted project.

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