Friday 3 December 2021

Pre-project documentation

Pre-design study, which is also called the stage of conceptual design, is not always and not necessarily carried out in the preparation of project documentation. However, practice shows that pre-project preparation carried out by specialists allows saving significant material and intangible resources in the further implementation of the project.

Place of pre-project studies in the system of project documentation

Despite the fact that the staging of design work in the previous sense of the word in the latest standards has been revised, and the working documentation is sometimes developed simultaneously with the design documentation, it is possible to distinguish a conditional stage that should precede all these works - the stage of pre-project study (draft design)

At this stage, the concept of the future object is developed, the main technical and economic characteristics are determined. The draft design gives an understanding of how the object will be "planted" on the ground, how its constructive scheme will look like and how the volumetric-spatial solution is carried out. The presence or absence of a pre-project stage creates constructs that can form a multi-stage nature in creating the entire package of documents for the project:

  • In this case, a one-stage process will be called a process in which there is no pre-project stage, and the development of project and working documentation is carried out in parallel.
  • A two-stage process will be one in which the same simultaneous development of working and project documentation is preceded by a pre-project, as well as a process without a pre-project stage, consisting of the sequential creation of project and working documentation.
  • Three-stage - a process in which design work is carried out sequentially: first, pre-project documentation, then - project and finally - working.


Thus, pre-design studies in the list of design works should be considered as a process of obtaining maximum information about the object of construction or reconstruction. Topics that require clarification include:

  • geological studies,
  • visual landscape analysis,
  • problems of reducing the sanitary zone,
  • maintaining the balance of green spaces,
  • the topic of providing natural illumination and insulation,
  • issues of property and land-legal relations,
  • possibility of parking,
  • when working with objects of reconstruction - examination of the supporting structures of the object itself and neighboring ones (in case of cramped working conditions),
  • historical and cultural research,
  • problems of social culture,
  • the possibility of correlating planning solutions with the requirements of standards.
  • In each specific case of design, the volume of pre-design studies will be individual. The exact composition and content of pre-design work is not established by law.

Objectives of pre-design works and their content

The main goals pursued by the customer of pre-project studies are:

  • assessment of the possibility of carrying out the planned work in specific conditions,
  • identify potential threats and problems that can be encountered in the implementation of the project,
  • determination of the cost of solving possible problems and the approximate cost of the project as a whole.
  • In procedural terms, these goals are reduced to urban planning justification for the construction of a new object or the reconstruction of an existing one in specific conditions, taking into account social, historical, cultural, sanitary, environmental, urban planning requirements.
  • The task of such works is also to establish the investment attractiveness of the project.

To achieve these goals, pre-project activities are carried out, which include:

  • In terms of evaluation and analytical work:
  • study of the territory of future construction or existing facility,
  • monitoring of factors of regional importance (including economic trends in the region),
  • analysis of historical information and archival sources,
  • evaluation of the maximum effectiveness of the project.
  • In terms of working with documentation:
  • collection and preparation of initial permits (projects of territory planning and land surveying),
  • support of land surveying and their cadastral registration,
  • obtaining urban development plans,
  • coordination of master plans, etc.
  • In terms of engineering and technical support - analysis of requirements for gas, heat, electricity and water supply and sanitation networks, telephone networks, ratification, television.

In addition, the pre-project study, most often, includes:

  • creation of sketch designs, layouts and 3D models and their coordination with the customer,
  • calculation of the cost for design and construction and preparation of calculations for the engineering and technical component of the project,
  • development of business plans and tasks for design and survey works.

Since the legislation does not oblige to create and send for examination pre-project documentation, customers sometimes immediately conclude a contract for the development of project documentation, assuming that after that it will certainly be agreed, and if the authorities identify shortcomings, the documentation will be finalized and receive a Permit. In practice, about 80% of the packages of documents are "wrapped" for reasons that could be foreseen and prevented during the initial pre-project study. 

Among the systemic causes of such failures, practices call two main ones:

Narrow specialization in the development of "project" specialties without a separate study in full of the legislation in terms of SNiP and SanPin. 

As a result, for example, planning decisions do not comply with regulations, and designers create initial design projects that contradict the standards.

Restriction of available (or used) information. For example, design organizations are limited to information provided by the customer in the amount specified in the contract and no more. Or, for example, the design of facade works is carried out without taking into account the location of underground communications in the work area.

Since such cases are quite widespread, often at the expense of the customer, a complete redesign or partial revision of the project documentation is carried out, which could be avoided during the pre-design study.

Questions on pre-project documentation

Since there are no clear requirements for the composition of pre-project documentation, this raises some questions about pre-project studies, which practitioners respond to on the basis of their own experience.

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