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Commercial Process

Preparing for your consult

The first question we often get is, when is a good time to hire an interior designer. The answer to that question is, about as soon as you’ve acquired the funds to start your project. Here’s some other helpful advice in preparing for your first consult so that we can more quickly provide you with an accurate estimate and scope.

  • Decide your budget
  • What a typical budget should include:
  • XXX
  • Talk to a GC to get an initial bid on the project. This will ensure the project is being designed with the budget in mind and minimize Value Engineering efforts after the bid is received.
  • Find Your Space
  • Assessing the space (maybe pull some good questions from the programming questionnaire?)//Things to consider?
  • Do they have as-builts?
  • Can they provide a deferral period to build out the space before they charge rent?
  • Will they pay for TI? If so, how much?
  • Is there parking?
  • Know your timeline
  • A typical schedule for:
  • A gut remodel
  • A new build/shell/full build out
  • Light touch remodel (minimal or no permitting required)
  • A note about permitting in Harris County
  • Need it faster? (The Fast Track Process)
  • Get your plans and keys. Take reference photos
  • Prepare any branding decks, concept imagery, logos, etc. in a file for review*
  • Q: What if I don’t have a logo or brand yet? A: [Link to branding services/sub page: We can help with that!]
  • Assemble your Team
  • List of potential consultants?

The Initial Consult

Step One: Intake Call

We’ll set up a preliminary call to review all the information you collected on your project. If you don’t know everything, that’s okay. It’s best to set up a call sooner than later and we can help you through the process.

Step Two: Initial Walkthrough

If possible, one of our designers will come out to walk the space, take photos and ask any additional questions about your space that will help us draft the perfect proposal for you. You don’t need to know all the answers we might ask during this walkthrough, that’s what we’re here for! But if you have a GC or Architect assigned, it may be good to have them to join in case there’s anything they can answer.

Step Three: Proposal (We’re Almost There!)

We will develop a proposal for you based on all of the information you’ve gathered and the walkthrough to determine the scope and size of the project. Several factors play into the fee for your project, including the condition of the existing space, the amount of remodeling required (full, gut or light touch), the size of the space and the level of detail required to complete the job.

  • Types of Projects
  • Full Scope - Best for gut, new builds or major remodels, this package includes all of our Basic Services (outlined below) to ensure you are completely covered for every phase of your project.
  • Partial Scope - This package may be an option for those who have a GC or Architect who the client would prefer to complete the Construction Document phase. For most clients, this is not the most cost-effective option unless you have a GC or Architect who is already scoped for this aspect of the project.
  • FF&A - For light touch remodels, we can offer a more basic version of our existing scope, focusing mostly on FF&A (furniture, finishes and accessories) if the majority of the space will remain unchanged structurally. This option is more limiting in terms of design, but is an option for clients who come to us at a later stage in their project.
  • Hourly Consulting - Want feedback on your space plan? Don’t know if a location is going to work for your concept? Want us to work with you to pick out paint colors and finishes? We are open to working with clients on an hourly basis as our availability allows. Reach out and we can see how we can help.

Step Four: Sign on the Dotted Line

Once we’ve sent over our proposal to you, we’ll usually set up a call or meeting to review in case you have any questions. From there, we’ll make any adjustments and send over a formal agreement for you to sign. Finally, we can begin the fun part.

Pre-Design and Programming

1-3 Weeks


We’ll start by sending over a questionnaire to gather any important details that we may have missed during our initial conversations. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers, the goal is just to start with as much information as possible. This is especially important for operations and bar managers to ensure all our needs are met for functionality.

Project Site Evaluation

Within the first week, we’ll set up a walkthrough of the space and discuss site conditions with you to understand how they affect long-term operations such as deliveries/waste removal/valet/parking/circulation etc.

If you need as-built plans or base drawings, an Architect will begin conducting field measurements in order for us to create a space plan.

If you have a kitchen, a Kitchen Designer will calculate square footage needed and create early kitchen layouts to ensure all desired equipment will work within parameters. This is imperative to begin early if you have an expedited Permit set, so that you can get MEPs started immediately.

Client Kick Off/Pre-Design and Visioning Board Review

Our first meeting with you will ideally include anyone else assigned to the project (for example the GC, Kitchen Consultant or Architect) in order to align on the schedule and scope of the project, as well as present and update the team on any work to-date.

For the Creative portion of the meeting, the designer will collect and present overarching mood imagery to evoke the essence of how the space will feel and guide the design process. This board will be reviewed with you in detail to ensure our visions are in alignment.


During this time, you will be working to acquire any City/State permits required for operations: i.e. open flame, occupancy, food dealer, liquor license, health, grease trap etc.

Concept and Schematic Design

For smaller projects, this phase may be shortened and combined with Pre-Design. The scale and scope of your project will determine if this is possible.

2-6 weeks

Concept and Schematic - 50% Review

Concept Boards

The mood board will now be translated into a more defined aesthetic for the Concept phase with the objective of establishing a timeless and unique look. The Concept boards will include early ideas for materials, fabrics, finishes, aesthetic precedent images of possible furnishings, fixtures and accessories (FF&A). This usually includes ideas for art and decor, and may include tabletop ideas (plating, napery, votives) if you request.

Schematic Layouts

The Designer will also begin developing two potential space plans with furniture layouts for the designated areas and will present those schematic options for discussion and approval.

Third Party Review

The Architect will review for architectural modifications, restroom layout, ensure code compliance and provide any necessary revisions and coordinate with MEP as necessary.

If you have a GC, this is a great time to get them engaged for pricing inquiries on conceptual design ideas.


Once you have the early schematic layout, it’s a good time to reach out to your POS/Data/AV contact (if you need one) to discuss the needs and locations with the design team.

Concept and Schematic - 90% Review

We will take your feedback, and the feedback from any consultants involved on the project, and update the boards and layouts for your final review. After the 90% Review meeting we will update with any final revisions and send over a finished deck for final approval.

Design Development

Depending on your project, we may be able to stop here. If so, we will include your FF&A Specifications in this phase if we are not doing a CD phase.

Design Deck - Presented for 50% for initial feedback and 90% for any final revisions.

Upon Client’s approval of schematic design and any adjustments to the program and budget, Designer will further develop and refine the ideas approved in the Concept and Schematic phase firming up the selections for FF&A, finishes and design intent for any approved elements, essential layouts and elevations.

This document will include:

  • Specifications of selected FF&A, fabrics, finishes etc. with space plan as key. (Drawings of custom pieces for approval)
  • Evolved Materials Palette which now informs a color palette
  • Physical examples of finishes
  • If you have restrooms, we’ll include restroom slides with FF&A/design intent
  • Optional: signage design intent, menu, uniforms

3D Model - Proposed finishes for FF&E will be presented in the deck and in a 3D model for review and approval.

FF&A Budgets

50% Preliminary Budget (lump sum based on working internal budget)

90% Final Budget for approval (lump sum based on final furniture selections)

Kitchen Designer: Present Equpiment Budget

Notify client/ architect of any long lead time or specialty items to consider for planning

** Difference between custom and non-custom pricing: Approve any additional services for custom pieces

*Additional Service for FF&A Pricing Exercises (through procurement) for custom pieces - bid out to 3 manufacturers

DD Drawing Set

The Design Development documents shall illustrate and describe the development of the approved Schematic Design documents and shall include:

  • Demo plan
  • Floor plan with keynotes
  • Reflective Ceiling Plan (RCP) with decorative lighting and ceiling treatments
  • Furniture floor plan
  • Finish plan
  • Enlarged restroom plans and elevations
  • Key interior elevations
  • Preliminary finish schedule for Permit

The DD set may also be used in conjunction with the Architect's documentation as a Permit Set if one is required at this time for the purpose of expediting.

During this time, an Architect will be responsible for reviewing the DD set for the following:

  • Code check / Life Safety / ADA compliance (TAS number for plans)
  • Review any planned architectural elements with designer for details to weigh in on

MEP Plan and Power Plan Coordination

An architect is responsible for developing the MEP plan and power plan, but a Designer will review and redline before going to permit.

It is your responsibility to ensure any MEP equipment is accounted for in design details i.e roof racking, blacking out of windows, logistics to install in different class buildings.

A/V / Security / POS Plan

Owners/Architects typically handle the coordination of the POS/AV/Security vendors and the technical specification of the acoustic items, provided by the AV company. The Client is then responsible for ensuring the rest of the team has the correct specifications and is looped in on any A/V decisions. The Designer will review to advise on the best placement, color, and size for speakers/ equipment.

BOH / Kitchen Drawings + Specifications

Meanwhile, a Kitchen consultant (if needed) will continue correspondence with designer/ architect/ owner/ PM to make sure the equipment list and placement works with design as details are developed, while finalizing any Equipment Drawings.


The Designer will work with the landscape designer, if there is one, to incorporate exterior furniture layouts (and any additional FF&A like pots/art/signage, etc.) with current landscape plans.

Once we have your final approval, we may issue the deck for permit or move into the next phase of design.

Construction Documents

CD Drawing Set

All final construction details will be documented by Designer via the ID set which will be incorporated into the Architect, Civil, Structural and MEP's documentation for permitting, pricing and construction. These drawings include:

  • Floor plan with keynotes / callouts
  • RCP
  • Power/switching plan (in coordination with MEP)
  • Finish plan
  • Furniture plan (for reference)
  • Enlarged plans
  • Interior elevations
  • Interior details
  • Schedules

The Architect is responsible for any code compliance documentation.

At our 50% meeting, the GC will review the CD set and ask any questions to designer/ architect/ third parties before issuing a preliminary bid.

FF&A Specifications Package

A complete specifications package including a proposed FF&A budget will be presented by Designer, including all relevant details of FF&A items for approval and signature.

MEP Plan and Power Plan Coordination

Architect will ensure final mark-ups are updated on MEP set for issue with final construction document set. Designer will review final locations to ensure they do not interfere with any decorative elements.

A/V / Security / POS Plan Review

Designer will review one last time and advise on final placement (if revised), and can provide host stand that allows for POS system specified by client.

BOH Drawings + Specifications

Kitchen Designer will revise plans and Designer will review equipment specifications to ensure all design details at bar work with size/ function of equipment.

Acoustician Coordination

If on the project, the architect will incorporate acoustic specifications in final documentation. Designer will review final finishes to ensure they align with the design.

Final Landscaping package submittal (includes plans)

Designer will review final plans and specify any movable pots or outdoor furniture for procurement.

Branding/ Signage

Designer will provide final design intent and coordinate on restroom signage. Any other signage/graphics/branding/design is typically handled by a branding team or GC, but can be coordinated through gdg if hired for branding.

Bid Review Meeting with GC

We will review the CD set with the GC, who will issue a final bid. At this time, if the bid still comes back over budget, we may have to VE the design before continuing to issue permit. Ideally, having the GC involved and reviewing early in this process will help us avoid this, as it can become costly!

Issue Construction Set to City

Team will answer comments from the city (Designers can answer design-related questions) and will review any permit comments, coordinating with the team on responses as needed.

Project Review

Ongoing Review/answering RFIs

If allowed, it’s easiest for us to coordinate a set weekly time with you to come by and walk the project and meet with the other members of the team to discuss any issues onsite.

Designers/ Architects may not need to be present at initial phases of construction but should be present as plumbing/ electrical/ partitions are going in to ensure accuracy of location.

RFIs (Request for Information)

Designer will be available to review all RFI's, submittals and shop drawings on an hourly basis.

Change Orders

Review as needed or requested by client

Coordinate Purchasing of Furnishings and Installation

[Link to procurement]

Final Site Evaluation/Punch List

Will do a final site evaluation and coordinate punch lists with architects to ensure all information is relayed and understood by GC.