During the research and preparation phase, the designer is “getting ready.” Necessary information required later as background information in the design phase is collected and evaluated during research and preparation. This phase includes the following steps:

• Meeting the clients

• Signing the contract

• Preparing the base map

• Conducting a site inventory and analysis

• Developing the design program

Meeting the Clients

The design process for a residential site design project commonly begins with a meet­ing between the clients and designer. It is a time when both parties can get to know each other and discuss the prospect of preparing a design for the site. At this meeting, the clients typically convey information about their needs, desires, problems, and budget. The designer may ask a number of questions to learn important information about the clients. In turn, the designer describes the types of services that can be of­fered, the process used to prepare a design, and the general costs for the design work. A detailed outline of this first meeting with the clients is found in Chapter 5.

Signing the Contract

If the two parties are in agreement, the designer prepares, signs, and submits to the client a written “Proposal for Design Services” that clearly specifies the scope, schedule, and costs for intended design services. This is sent to the clients a few days after the meeting. If the clients agree with the proposal, they sign and return it to the designer. At this time, the Proposal for Design Services becomes a legal contract for design serv­ices to begin. This step of the design process is discussed further in Chapter 5.