What Is an Architectural Feasibility Study and Why is it Important?

In the complex world of property development, making informed decisions is crucial. This is where architectural feasibility studies come into play, offering a detailed assessment of a project’s practicality and suitability. For instance, in a recent commercial project, an architectural feasibility study revealed that the proposed site was prone to flooding, leading to a decision to relocate the project. By examining site conditions, regulatory requirements, financial considerations, and design constraints, these studies provide a comprehensive overview that helps mitigate risks and optimize success.

Architectural feasibility studies are fundamental in both residential architecture and commercial projects. They balance desired outcomes with practical realities, ensuring that every aspect of the proposed development is thoroughly evaluated. These studies are essential for property developers and clients like you, providing clear information to move forward confidently.

Understanding Architectural Feasibility Studies

Architectural feasibility studies assess the practicality of proposed property development projects. Architects conduct these studies to evaluate site conditions, regulatory compliance, projected financial requirements, and design constraints. They help developers and clients like you reduce risks and improve the chances of a successful project.

Here are the key components of an architectural feasibility study:

  1. Site Analysis
    A thorough site analysis considers location, topography, access, and environmental factors. It identifies potential challenges and opportunities related to the site. This tool allows clients to compare multiple sites. 
  2. Regulatory Review
    This component ensures the project complies with local zoning laws, building codes, and other relevant regulations. It helps avoid legal issues and delays.
  3. Financial Assessment
    Accurate financial calculations estimate project costs and potential returns. This analysis includes construction costs, operational expenses, and revenue projections.
  4. Design Evaluation
    Architects review design concept proposals to ensure they meet functional and aesthetic goals. They consider factors such as layout, materials, and sustainability.
  5. Risk Analysis
    Identifying potential risks, such as site contamination, unforeseen conditions, or market fluctuations, helps developers plan mitigation strategies. Early detection can save time and money.
  6. Market Feasibility
    This element examines market demand, competition, and economic trends. It assesses whether the project aligns with current and future market conditions.
  7. Sustainability Assessment
    Evaluating environmental impact and sustainability practices is crucial. This assessment includes energy efficiency, solar orientation, water usage, and waste management.
  8. Stakeholder Consultation
    Engaging with stakeholders, including neighbors, local businesses, and regulatory bodies, builds support and addresses concerns early.
  9. Operational Feasibility
    Assessing how the project will operate post-construction ensures practicality. This study includes maintenance and personnel requirements.
  10. Technology Integration
    Integrating advanced technologies can improve efficiency and user experience. This step includes evaluating cutting-edge smart building systems and energy management tools.

The Process of Conducting a Feasibility Study

Initial Site Analysis

Architects start the feasibility study with a site analysis. They observe the location, noting access points, topography, natural attributes, and existing structures. They evaluate utilities like water and electricity availability. They consider environmental factors to identify historic and natural features that require conservation and potential constraints, such as flooding risks.

Market Analysis and Demographics

Market analysis helps developers understand the target audience and current demand. This includes assessing local demographics, income levels, and lifestyle preferences. Competitor analysis reveals market gaps and highlights opportunities. Developers can tailor the project to meet market needs, increasing its value.

Regulatory and Environmental Considerations

Regulatory compliance is essential. Architects review zoning laws, building codes, design covenants, and environmental regulations that might impact the project. They consider potential ecological impacts and consult with regulatory bodies. This step ensures legal compliance and helps avoid future liabilities.

Financial Analysis and Budgeting

Financial analysis determines the project’s viability. Architects and consultants estimate costs, including land acquisition, construction, and potential operational expenses. They compare these costs to the projected revenue to assess profitability. Budgeting and appropriate contingencies ensure the project stays within financial limits, reducing risks of cost overruns.

This structured process provides a clear path, helping developers navigate complex factors effectively.

The Role of Professionals in Architectural Feasibility Studies

Planners and architects play a crucial role in architectural feasibility studies. They assess zoning regulations, design preliminary layouts considering factors like Gross Floor Area Ratio (GFAR), and determine the project’s compliance with local laws. They focus on land use, density, and efficient space utilization while ensuring adherence to minimum setback requirements set by governing bodies.

Architects, engineers, and surveyors offer essential technical evaluations by identifying site constraints such as geotechnical challenges, infrastructure needs, and environmental issues. Surveyors provide precise land measurements to aid developers in understanding the site’s dimensions and topography.  Structural, Civil, M.E.P., and Soil Engineers assess construction feasibility, required resources, environmental impacts, and infrastructure needs such as electricity, plumbing, and road access.

Legal and financial consultants ensure compliance and feasibility in projects. Legal advisors navigate building legislation and zoning restrictions, mitigating risks of delays. Financial consultants perform cost analyses to identify expenses and budgetary constraints, offering solutions like cheaper materials or design changes, ensuring the project remains viable and profitable.

Timing and Costs

Optimal Timing for Undertaking a Study

Engaging in an architectural feasibility study at the right moment is crucial for a project’s success. The ideal time is during the early stages of project planning. This phase involves understanding site conditions, regulatory constraints, and market demands. Conducting the study early helps identify potential challenges and opportunities, guiding informed decision-making and strategic planning.

Estimated Costs and Funding Options

The cost of a feasibility study architecture can vary depending on the project’s scope, complexity, and location. These studies involve detailed analyses, site evaluations, and preliminary designs, affecting the overall cost. Funding can come from the developers themselves or through subsidies from architects if future collaboration is expected. Including these costs in the initial project budget ensures comprehensive planning and prevents unforeseen expenses.

Benefits of Conducting a Feasibility Study

Feasibility studies enable developers to identify and address potential risks early, reducing delays and legal disputes. By analyzing site viability, market conditions, and financial projections, they provide crucial data for informed decision-making. As an integral part of the architecture design process, these studies support strategic planning by optimizing project layouts according to design options and local regulations, maximizing efficiency and return on investment.


Architectural feasibility studies are essential to successful property development. They comprehensively evaluate site potential, regulatory requirements, and financial viability. Engaging professionals early in the project planning ensures a thorough assessment, mitigating risks and optimizing decision-making. By investing in these studies, developers can navigate challenges more effectively, leading to smoother project execution and enhanced returns. The strategic insights from feasibility studies ultimately pave the way for well-informed, data-driven development decisions, setting the foundation for project success.



Emily Warren, AIA, NCARB

Emily is celebrated for her insightful commentary and technical expertise. As a licensed architect with over a decade of professional experience, Emily boasts a rich background that spans high-end design, historic documentation, and sustainable development. She honed her skills with the National Park Service’s Historic Documentation Programs, mastering complex projects completed to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

Emily’s work is distinguished by meticulous attention to detail and a passion for advancing architectural knowledge. Her leadership and teaching capabilities, demonstrated by her guidance of interns and management of multimillion-dollar projects, underscore her commitment to fostering growth and excellence within the architectural community. Emily’s compelling narratives and technical prowess make her an invaluable voice in the field as she continues to inspire readers with her dedication and vision.

more articles

Charlotte R. DeChant



As a young artist, Charlotte tailored her pre-architecture undergraduate degree at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, and completed her Master of Architecture at the University of Colorado, Denver. With her fresh eyes, she is an observer, analyst and critic of our processes, and her imagination inspires and contributes to our creativity. Of the partners, Charlotte’s willingness to raise the children fostered Doug’s ability to focus upon the practice.

She is a lifelong resident of Colorado, skied Vail in the early years as a child and remains an excellent bump skier (if the sun is shining). She was an original teammate of the Vail Breakaways, Vail’s first women’s hockey team. Charlotte’s vision includes an amazing gift for seeing, rescuing, restoring and placing cast-off furniture and other elements, giving the pieces valuable, renewed lives.

Douglas M. DeChant

Founding Partner/Principal


Architecture is more than a profession for Doug, our principal designer; it is a calling, understood since childhood. While a modernist at heart, his work reflects the necessary context of each setting and the voice of each client. He trained in the program of modernist and former Bauhaus Director Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, at Illinois Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture in Chicago. After working throughout the nation and overseas, Doug settled in Vail in 1985, where he met his wife, Charlotte. Together they founded the practice in 1989 and have enjoyed raising four amazing children.

Doug’s service has included the Eagle County, Colorado, Planning Commission; the faculty of the Byron Fellowship, an annual sustainable communities conference; panelist at the Summit for Creativity in La Jolla sponsored by The Design Futures Council; participation in local design review boards; youth sports coaching; and various lay-leadership positions in his church. In 2004, he conceived ‘Benevolent Architecture’, a proprietary service offering low-cost or no-cost architecture and consulting to worthy ministries and non-profits.  In 2005, Doug began to develop an intimate, artistic retreat and conference venue, Wellspring Ranch, LLC, relocating and restoring several historic Colorado structures upon a remarkable property outside of Buena Vista, Colorado.

He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, and has been licensed in numerous states, including Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Indiana, Georgia and Pennsylvania. He finds balance in guitar, sculpture, hiking, snowshoeing, golf and crafting various elements of his retreat venue. 

Tom Bashford


Tom, one of our most valued, gifted leaders, passed away unexpectedly in March 2017. Together with his joyful spirit and hilarious dry wit, he enhanced our studio with a wealth of design and management experience. Tom will never be replaced. He was the type of person, father, leader, and mentor to which we all aspire, and the fruit of his efforts will live on, in his son, in us, and in our projects.

Pam, Peraya Mongkolwongrojn


Peraya, Pam, is originally from Bangkok, Thailand, where she first became interested in Architecture from the rich spatial environment.  She explored Canada before moving to the States to pursue her passion for architecture. Pam went to the University of Arizona to earn a Bachelor of Architecture professional degree. During school, she energized a passion for the arts and drawing. 

In her free time, Pam enjoys exploring the great outdoors, hiking through Colorado’s scenic landscapes, and finding inspiration for her designs in nature. With a keen eye for detail and a creative approach to problem-solving, Pam has been involved in many of our custom residential homes. Her passion for the arts and drawing has influenced her design style, which incorporates elements of beauty and functionality. Pam’s commitment to excellence and her love for architecture make her a dedicated professional who strives to make a difference through her work.

As she continues to grow and learn in her field, Pam remains devoted to creating innovative spaces that enrich people’s lives and leave a positive legacy for future generations.

Brett Lehr

Project Manager

Brett is a designer with a unique blend of expertise, holding an undergraduate degree in Media Arts from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and an M.Arch degree from the University of Nebraska. His diverse educational background has ignited a passion for utilizing realistic virtual environments to enhance the efficiency, enjoyment, and overall success of architectural design processes.

Beyond his professional pursuits, Brett finds joy in a variety of hobbies, including snow skiing, biking, fly fishing, golf, and hiking. Embracing the scenic wonders of the Vail Valley, he has found the perfect lifestyle fit, drawing creative inspiration from the surrounding natural beauty.

Laurie Baggott


Our studio is fortunate to have Laurie bring her considerable experience in business and finance to our daily operations. Among her many administrative responsibilities, she manages accounting, payroll and invoicing for us. When not busy here or as a private chef, she avidly hikes in our beautiful summers and snowshoes in the winter.

Patricia Marcine


Earning her Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Houston in 2016 was just the beginning. From there, Trish headed to Europe, to study at the Graz University of Technology in Austria and work at the Aedes Architekturforum. Then she determined it was time to return to the Rocky Mountains. We became beneficiaries of her delightful, collaborative spirit when she joined our studio in early 2018. Her savvy technical support and inspired design voice enhance each project, while her design comprehension and growth demonstrate that she has a future with much to offer the profession. As a lifelong artist, Trish’s search for a practical art form and meaningful profession has been fulfilled by custom residential architecture, where “…not a day truly feels like work.”

Trish grew up in Northern New Jersey, playing club and varsity soccer, enjoying ski club with friends, and learning to snowboard at a young age. As a teen, she competed in various equestrian events, highlighted by working for Frank and Mary Chapot to train Olympic-level show jumpers. Eventually, faster hobbies were necessary, and Trish became a driving instructor for the SCCA and track-day rider on her CBR600RR. She’s also been an enthusiastic racer on our company’s ‘ski team’. When a new project surfaces, she’s pleased to slow down enough to collaborate with the team.

Emily Warren


Emily joined us from the DC area, lured by the mountains, our core values and our creative environment. She earned a Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Architecture degrees from SUNY Buffalo’s School of Architecture & Planning, with a minor in Earth System Science.

Through her wonderfully infectious spirit, Emily eagerly contributes diverse knowledge and experience, having worked on historic National Park Service documentation, and urban high-density residential projects facing strict constraints. She is a productive and dedicated team player who thrives through learning and contributing to the growth of others. Her detail, project management and organizational skills are exceptional. Emily is licensed in Maryland, and nationally accredited by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

Emily is passionate about youth empowerment, with considerable experience teaching and mentoring in schools and camps. She’s an ardent weightlifter, hiker and nature enthusiast, embracing the Vail Valley’s active, outdoor lifestyle.

Cam Frey


Cam was introduced to Colorado’s rivers and mountains at an early age, returning annually from Michigan with his family to fly-fish and hike near the small mining town of Creede. His interest in design and architecture was ignited by his high school drafting teacher, who instilled a balanced approach to design through technology and craft. Cam received his BA from UNC, Chapel Hill, followed by a few years of medical research before heading West to earn his Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon. There he became interested in the interdisciplinary study of Biomimicry; an approach to solving design problems by looking to nature. Not coincidentally, this interest, the stunning landscapes, wildlife, and outdoor lifestyle led Cam back to Colorado in 2014. He joined us in 2017, quickly becoming a central piece of our culture and project management structure.

Cam serves on the Design Review Committee of the Arrowhead at Vail community, is a certified Biomimicry Specialist and licensed Architect in the state of Colorado.

His other pursuits include fly-fishing, skiing, hiking, and a good game of euchre…, and the list continues to grow. He is married to a wonderfully talented children’s book illustrator, and dotes on his young son.

Ben Marion


From an early age, Ben had a pen in hand and a curiosity for exploring both natural and built environments. Much of his adolescence was spent drawing what he observed, balanced with his passions for cross-country skiing the New England forests and playing soccer as far away as Europe. Like many of us, Ben arrived in Colorado as an adult, following a lifelong passion to further pursue the resort lifestyle. After graduating from the University of Colorado, he practiced with some of the finest architects and builders in the region, creating fine homes and other structures. His broad experience includes California mountain resort homes, as well as mixed-use and commercial structures, peppered with an interesting mix of furniture building and construction. In our studio, Ben is a strong design voice and outstanding project manager, leading by quiet example as he mentors our emerging leaders.

Ben remains passionate about skiing and soccer, coaching both youth sports locally. Travel remains in his blood as he and his family explore the west in their vintage 1967 camper.

Bert Willemse


Bert found a home away from home in the Vail Valley while exploring North America’s most beautiful landscapes on a post-graduation road trip…, from his hometown of Bellvale, New York to Wasilla, Alaska. He had completed his studies at SUNY Buffalo and apprenticed with two well-known firms in New York’s Hudson Valley area before joining our studio. As the son of a general contractor Bert gained practical construction knowledge with hands-on experience in the field. His many professional attributes are exceeded only by his wonderful, collaborative spirit.

Naturally, Bert is an active individual who embraces hiking, biking and skiing in our amazing Colorado mountains.

Adam H. Harrison

NCARB, LEED AP / Principal


After graduating from Illinois Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture in 1994 and working as an intern for three years at Fujikawa Johnson and Associates in Chicago, Adam packed his van and toured America to determine where he might settle; he found Vail and Shepherd Resources in September of 1997. After growing from intern to project manager to associate, Adam began transitioning into ownership in 2017 and became a principal owner in early 2020. As a dedicated designer, Adam loves collaborating with his fellow architects and interns while managing a busy studio.

His priorities are rooted in sustainability, strong leadership skills, and staff mentoring to uphold the core values of the practice. He is licensed in Colorado, Michigan, and North Carolina and serves as the chairman of the Red Sky Ranch Design Review Board. Adam enjoys golf, mountain biking, skiing, music, and any activity involving his daughter Bellalee. Adam has been practicing for a quarter century and looks forward to designing and collaborating for another quarter century; the opportunity to doodle a quick sketch, with the future opportunity of walking through such a doodle fuels his creativity and passion for design.

Adam H. Harrison

NCARB, LEED AP / Principle


As a young artist, Charlotte tailored her pre-architecture undergraduate degree at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, and completed her Master of Architecture at the University of Colorado, Denver. With her fresh eyes, she is an observer, analyst and critic of our processes, and her imagination inspires and contributes to our creativity. Of the partners, Charlotte’s willingness to raise the children fostered Doug’s ability to focus upon the practice.

She is a lifelong resident of Colorado, skied Vail in the early years as a child and remains an excellent bump skier (if the sun is shining). She was an original teammate of the Vail Breakaways, Vail’s first women’s hockey team. Charlotte’s vision includes an amazing gift for seeing, rescuing, restoring and placing cast-off furniture and other elements, giving the pieces valuable, renewed lives.