900 East Main Street, Suite 109

Grass Valley, CA 95945


1250 East Ave #10

Chico, CA 95926


Conversation with Russell Davidson


I recently spoke to Russell Davidson about the design process for commercial and non-residential buildings.

After receiving his degree in Architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Russell initially worked for a boutique architecture firm in San Francisco, followed by a move back to Grass Valley to work for a local firm. In 2018 Russell started his own practice and completes designs for both commercial and residential projects.

What is a commercial project?

For the purposes of this discussion, a commercial project consists of any structure built on commercially or industrially zoned parcel as well as some residential multifamily projects (depending on several factors, could include projects with 3, 4, or 5 or more units).

What are a few considerations for those wanting to proceed with a commercial design?

Russell advises anyone who is considering purchasing a building or land to further develop into commercial space to fully understand the current zoning of the parcel and what types of upgrades will be required for their intended use. These upgrades could include ADA improvements, structural upgrades, restroom facilities improvements, septic or wastewater considerations and many more.

Additionally, the design and planning process for this type of work can take time and should be factored into one’s decision making process.

Smaller tenant improvement (TI) projects can take 1-2 months for the design, plus local jurisdiction review. Larger TI projects typically take 4-6 months to complete. These projects typically consist of adding/removing interior walls, adding restroom facilities within the existing footprint of the building, and/or completing ADA upgrades.

Additionally, projects that require local jurisdiction planning reviews can take 6-24 months.

What does a commercial design project team consist of?

This depends on the extent of the project. However, here’s a list of those typically involved.

  • Architect- Team lead. Completes the architectural design of the project and coordinates efforts of other team members.
  • Contractor- assists on completing construction estimates, sequencing of work, and provides design reviews.
  • Civil Engineer- completes land improvement designs. These typically consist of ADA improvements from the parking area up to the building entrance, storm water designs, parking lot designs, utility plans up to the building, and much more.
  • Electrical Engineer- completes the electrical plans for the project.
  • Mechanical Engineer- Completes the Mechanical and Plumbing plans of a project as well as energy calculations.
  • Project owner or rep- Oversees the project, makes decisions on design alternatives, creates a project budget and scope, and is the main contact for the project team.
  • Structural Engineer- completes structural analysis of building and determines beam and joist sizing and spacing, lateral resisting systems, foundations, and more.
  • Specialties- These can have a wide range of responsibilities and inputs and are only used on specific projects. Some of the specialty type include an interior designer and acoustical engineer.

What are some of the typical milestones for a commercial project?

A project can run through many milestones along the way. Some might include the completion of client design approvals, planning approvals from the local jurisdiction, completion of design, issuing of construction permits, selecting a contractor, and completion of construction.

How can Russell support you on your commercial project?

Russell is a licensed Architect in the State of California and can be your lead Architect for a project. If you are considering purchasing a property or existing structure, Russell can provide consulting services to help determine what the improvement requirements may include to help in making your purchase decision.
Russell is based out of Grass Valley, serving most of the north state, and can be found online at www.davidsonarch.com or contacted directly at or 530-913-2370.

About our “Conversation” series

As part of our conversation series, Jackson & Sands Engineering Inc will be talking with related industry professionals to help provide resources and knowledge for homeowners, contractors, developers, and more. If there’s a specific topic/industry you would like covered, please leave your suggestion in a comment below.


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