The Process

Designing and building a building is a long and complex process. It can be exciting and fulfilling if you know what to expect. The process described below will give you a sense of the sign posts we aim for along the way, to help you better understand how we work.

Pre Design

We usually start with a series of meetings aimed at creating a Design Program. The design Program is a shared vision for what we aim to design and build together. The first of these meetings is an informal introduction, usually at our shop, where we start to get to know one another.

Design Intake

If we appear to share enough interest and chemistry to merit a second meeting, we begin with our Intake Interview which is usually a 1/2 day conversation loosely aligned thematically with our design questionnaire. Starting with Site, we ask questions about the Size, Space, Use, Architecture and Energy considerations you have for your home.

Site Visits

If we have time after the intake, we include a site visit or two to buildings we’ve done that resonate with you. Later, if its possible, we visit your current home. If not, we learn about it during our interview. We usually do a number of site visits to your land.

Design Program

From the intake and the site visit and the intervening conversations along the way, we create a shared vision of what we are attempting to create together.  We call this a Design Program. In addition, we do a Schematic Budget that gives you a rough sense of what you want might cost.

Design Agreement

When we have a consensus on the Design Program and the Schematic Budget, we move forward on design by signing a Design Agreement that spells out what we hope to design what we think it’ll cost and when we’ll have it completed. The notion is that Garland Mill will build the building we have designed but we don’t have enough information yet to sign a construction agreement.


During the design phase we meet as needed to review the schematic design and design development drawings and to check them against our program. End products include isometric renderings, floor plans, elevations, mechanical schematics, window and door schedules, foundation plans, structural plans and the like. These drawings help you envision your building and provide us with a road map for building it. We aim to answer as many questions as possible in design before construction begins.

Budget Narrative and Schedule of Values

When design is complete, we create a budget narrative which specifically addresses the design. This narrative describes the scope of work illustrated by the design and puts a budget number on each item. The condensed version of the Narrative is the Schedule of Values. These two documents and the plan set define the scope of work that we bill against and review together along with our monthly billing during construction.

Construction Agreement

When we’ve agreed on the design and the budget we sign a construction agreement that spells out the schedule, the billing rates and other areas


Permitting and Insurance

Before Construction begins all pertinent permits must be acquired; wetlands, septic, town building permit etc. Construction insurance for the project will be purchased at this point.

Begin Construction

Construction generally begins with the dirt work required to rough in a driveway, foundation and underground and temporary power. Projects are usually complete within 7-9 months of the foundation being poured.


During Construction we meet at least monthly with owners to review the budget and schedule, progress to date and to make decisions necessary to move the project forward. Paint, tile, roofing and cladding selections all fit in this category.

Complete Construction and The Book

When Construction is complete we do a walk through with the building owner and hand over the keys and an owners manual we call The Book. The Book is an operational manual that gives the names and contact information of all key folks working on the project, the operating manuals for all appliances, pictures of roughed in mechanicals before the drywall goes on and maintenance regimes. The Book also includes a set of as-built plans for the building.

Post Construction Site Visits 

After you’ve moved into your new building we like to come back to visit and kick the tires. We typically schedule a visit at 6 months, 12 months and 18 months. These visits give us a chance to review the work and touch up or adjust any items that need attention as the building dries out and settles. It also affords us the opportunity to help you understand the mechanical systems and learn about how the building has affected your lives.