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Residential Design and Commercial Development

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Our Approach

We start every project with a story. This is how we start to build trust that will last the duration of the project or longer. We understand that building your dream property can be overwhelming or building out your new space for your business stressful, but because we understand this, we are committed to seeing our clients through – guiding them through the process with support from our collaborative team.

While every project is unique and our clientele diverse, the following is a brief overview of our process in getting your project from concept to reality. For more detail on your specific project, please contact us so we can meet to discuss your needs in person.


Our first meeting is all about coffee and connection. This is where the collaborative design starts, getting to know each other through our stories. We want to hear about you, your lifestyle, your business ventures, what you want to achieve with your project. Let’s walk through that existing space, or let’s sit down and share ideas, sketch something out on paper. This is where the creative process starts, how we get excited about the project, and how we in turn feed that excitement with more ideas.

After our initial meeting, a design proposal that outlines services, fees, and estimated timelines for your project will be presented for approval. Our fees vary depending on the scope and complexity of the project. Our proposals also outline any additional costs associated with the project such as engineers, surveyors and interior designers, as well as estimates on permitting fees payable to the approving municipality. If you haven’t selected a builder, Studio Wolf can connect you with one of our preferred builders. While not necessary, it is helpful to have a general idea of your construction budget in the early stages of the design process.

Once we have received a signed copy of the contract, as well as a digital copy of your site’s development survey, we can get started on our site analysis.

01 Site Analysis

Before diving into the design of your project, it’s important to know what constraints the site will apply to the design of your project. These constraints are determined by the physical attributes of the property, such as sun exposure, site slope, vehicle access and the adjacent properties. We also examine how municipal development policies (e.g.: land-use / zoning bylaws and local area plans) will affect impact the design parameters.

For light commercial build outs often called, “tenant improvements” or “TIs”, we begin with the building code review. Looking at the overall existing building, where your space is located within that building and what spaces are adjacent to you - fire separations, egress and other critical requirements will be determined and how your space is to be built out.

The site analysis or building code review can be reviewed together to address any concerns you may have.

02 Schematic Design

This part of the residential design phase allows us to explore the relationships of each space within your home and how you, your family, or your customers with move through that space. Starting with pen and paper, bubble diagrams are sketched out. We focus on key spaces and then link them together. Which each reiteration, the bubble diagrams are refined slightly to look more like a floor plans. Still with pen and paper, we discuss these rudimentary sketches and how each space functions to suit your needs and how you want that space to feel. Don’t forget those outdoor spaces for either.

If you have a particular style that you’d like to achieve, we invite you to share photos from any of the various online sources such as Houzz, Instagram, or Pinterest. This helps to further refine the design and fit your aesthetic.

03 Design Development

Once we have a satisfactory concept, floor plans and elevations are developed. Typically, a few versions of the floor plans and exterior elevations will be created based on the concept. This phase can be completed within a couple of weeks, depending on the size of the project and how quickly our visions align. After you are satisfied with design, a 3D rendering can be created. This helps to solidify the design and provide visual representation of how the design will relate to the community.

The next step in the design development phase is to include additional details and descriptions to obtain approval for the development. This is through the municipality’s development permit (DP) process. Architectural Controls (AC) will need to be approved by a land developer in some suburban or rural areas. Additional site requires such as land-use/outline change (LOC) or a subdivision of the property, can proceed the DP but can often be submitted concurrently with DP.

Simple projects that meet all the contextual rules can approval within a month. Complex projects that require relaxations, increased site coverage and generally do not comply with all the rules, follow the discretionary permitting path, which takes about three months for approval. This process includes at least one Detailed Review (DR) and design revision before the DP is approved. In some cases, additional diagramming and 3D colour renderings of the project are requested by community stakeholders such as planning and community associations, to help clarify the design intent.

04 Construction Documents

Once the municipality has approved the development permit, construction drawings can be started. Both Residential and Commercial spaces will need to engage a variety of individual ranging from engineers to suppliers to ensure your selected builder or contractor has everything need to start your project. During this stage, your budget will be finalized as the build team reviews the materials, assemblies and systems that have been selected; the earlier these decisions can be made, the quicker we can apply for your BP.

Although the design portion of the project has concluded, and the project has been confidentially handed over to your build team, Studio Wolf will remain available to provide any revisions or additional details requested during construction. Once your project is ready for you to take possession, we would love to do a final walkthrough and take photos of the project.

Learn more about development and building permits at the City of Calgary