The entry of a new custom home in the Dunthorpe area of Portland Oregon.


Designing a completely custom home from the ground up is a exciting and rewarding experience. With some careful planning, you have the opportunity to make every aspect of your new home your very own. But the shear volume of choices, questions, and decisions that have to be made can, at times, be overwhelming. Let Cella Architecture assist you by providing the experience you need so your project is successful one. We work with you to create the home of your dreams and make the process of getting from the first sketch to the driving of the last nail a good one.

Cella Architecture can assist you with all aspects of custom home design including:

  • Program Development
  • Spatial Planning
  • Kitchen Design
  • Bathroom Design
  • Master Suite Design
  • Great Rooms
  • Family Rooms
  • Home Offices
  • Garages
  • Decks / Patios
  • Cabinetry & Furniture Design
  • Lighting Design
  • Construction Specification
  • Material Selections
  • Fixture Selection
  • 3D Visualization & Renderings

Traditionally architectural projects, including the design of a custom home, are  divided into five phases. The focus of the design process is different in each phase. These phases and the scope of work that occurs in each are described below:


The first step to designing a custom home is to determine the needs and desires of the owner or owners. This is the time to think and dream big. We can help you develop a wish list of what you would like your home to be.  This is then overlaid with the possibilities and constraints of the site, the jurisdictional requirements, and budget to develop a program describing the spaces and scope for the design effort. With the scope well determined, the project proceeds to the schematic design phase.

Schematic Design:

This is the step that most people picture should they think about what an architect does. It is at this point that the various options for the design of your custom home are explored. Based on the information derived from the pre-design phase it is common to look at several different alternatives as potential solutions to the complex issues presented by any program. Typically a number of drawings are produced in this phase such as preliminary site plans, floor plans, elevations. Schemes are explored and evaluated, selected or rejected so that by the end of this process you are left with an rough depiction of the design for your future home. Once a suitable scheme is selected that appears to meet all requirements the process proceeds to the design development phase.

Design Development:

This phase takes the most promising of the schematic design schemes and begins to make it more detailed and refined. The discussion of your wishes and goals also become more detailed and refined as well as we delve deeper into the design looking at smaller and smaller elements of the home. By the end of this phase, most of the major decisions have been made. Window and door manufacturers have been selected. Details such as finishes, lighting schemes, cabinetry and even some preliminary construction details have been determined. Preliminary cost estimates are reviewed or refined if done earlier and designed changes deemed necessary for the budget are made. Upon owner approval of the design development drawings, Construction Documentation can begin.

Construction Documentation:

This phase is often the most time intensive period of architectural work for any custom home. It is during this phase that the multitude of design decisions from the earlier phases must be documented in sufficient detail to allow the contractor as well as the subcontractors, vendors, jurisdiction officials, inspectors, and many others understand what it is you want to accomplish and how your new home is to be built. Complete construction documentation includes not only the architectural drawings and specifications, but the final selections of all materials and finishes, the selection of all mechanical systems, complete structural drawings and calculations, as well as detailed information from any and all other consultants. All this information must be coordinated and organized into a coherent package. Upon completion the construction document package is ready to be submitted for permitting to the local jurisdiction, as well as pricing or bidding.

Pricing & Bidding:

In order to have your custom home priced accurately, you must have as much information as possible in your documentation. This becomes even more important if you want to competitively bid your project and expect to be able to accurately compare the bids you receive. During pricing/bidding, Cella Architecture will assist you by responding to any questions the contractor or their subcontractors might have.  Once the pricing or bids are received, Cella Architecture can assist you with the process of interpreting the pricing or bid numbers by reviewing each bid and help you evaluate them relative to one another and to the anticipated costs. This process is much harder than many would expect since individual contractors tend to look at the project in different fashions. Elements that one contractor might include in their steel numbers, another might have in their wood numbers or miscellaneous materials. This means that it is nearly impossible to compare one bid to another at a superficial level. With Cella Architecture’s help you can get the best pricing for your new custom home and select the contractor that is the best fit for your project and your needs.

Construction Observation:

Building a custom home is like creating a prototype, your particular home has never been built before. Once construction begins, Cella Architecture is there to help with any questions that might arise. We are your representative throughout the construction process. We make regular visits to the project site to observe the construction for general conformance to the contract documents, review progress, discuss issues, and provide clarification. Cella Architecture can review requests for payment by the contractor and verify that charges for construction costs and change orders and reasonable and on schedule. Towards the conclusion of the construction process we will observe the construction for completeness and quality and generate a final punch list of items to be completed by the contractor before the release of final payment.  This is a critical part of ensuring the project maintains the highest quality and that the building process is a good experience for our clients.

When your ready to build your new custom home, contact Cella Architecture.