Our Design Process

Collaboration is where great design happens. We want to work closely with you to explore various design ideas and develop the layout, form, materials and sustainable features to create a beautiful ADU tailored for you.

We believe that everyone deserves to live in a space that was custom designed to fit their lifestyle. Everybody has different values, goals, and patterns to their day-to-day lives. Our goal is to create designs that directly respond to how you live. This means we work very closely with our clients in a collaborative way that builds off their ideas and then manifests them into an inspiring piece of architecture. Before we put pen to paper we gather information, do background research, conduct precedent studies, document the original house and site, and understand the context. All of this front end work provides a foundation on which we build our architectural design ideas. We share this information with our clients so we are all on the same page as we begin the actual schematic design phase.


  1. Pre-Design: Background Research & Programming
  2. Schematic Design
  3. Construction Documents
  4. Permitting
  5. Construction Administration

Once this foundation is built we use hand sketches, physical models, computer renderings and other methods to explore various design ideas, floor plans, and building forms. We make sure clients are tied into this process and can add their ideas and filter through ours as we narrow in on a solution to further develop. Once a concept is agreed upon by all parties we proceed into Design Development. Here we take the schematic design and start working on the details, how it will be built, refine the spaces, and reconcile the design ideas with the set budget. At this stage we are working closely with the structural engineers, contractors and other consultants to ensure the project is buildable within the schedule and budget. When everyone is comfortable with the developed design we proceed into construction documents. Here we get into the nitty gritty details that describe exactly how the building will be constructed. Along the way we continue to update the clients on the progress, the cost estimates and the construction timeline.

It is a lengthy process but ultimately delivers a high quality ADU that is custom designed for your specific needs and the unique aspects of each site.

Recently Propel Studio participated in the Build Small Live Large conference that focused on Accessory Dwelling Units. Sam Sudy moderated a panel discussing and firm principal Lucas Gray participated on the panel. You can watch a video of the discussion below:

Build Small Live Large Summit 2017: Design Matters

Design plays a significant role in the creation and development of individual accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and in the development of the entire ADU market. In this session, leading ADU designers will share practical approaches for the unique design challenge of doing more with less. What are the benefits of attached and detached ADU designs?