Contemporary renovations and beautiful, modern residential architecture

Contemporary renovations and beautiful, modern residential architecture

Oversharing and the importance of Architect's Role at Construction Project Inception

There's an old adage in the Construction Industry:

You can tell how well a project was designed and executed by the size of the change order binder.

What does that mean?

That means, that a well-planned and executed project has few changes. Where does this begin?

It begins with the relationship between the Architect and the Client.

You gotta OVERSHARE at the start of the process!

Some new clients underestimate the importance of the Architect and his/her expertise in the project delivery process. Their "blueprints" are a "necessary evil" toward the "real" work of construction.

How?

We had a café client. She came to us AFTER signing an agreement for a commercial space without understanding how the Zoning or Building Permit process worked. (It is not the one with the zinc bar and the beautiful birch featured on the website.) The space was formerly a hair salon. She had been advised on a budget and had settled on this number. Changing the use to a cafe required bringing everything up to code including ADA and electrical.  (For instance, she was unaware that a 400 amp service was typical for the loads she was running. The existing was a 200 amp service.) She had not negotiated this into the lease and was on the hook for the whole thing. What was the solution? To hire the architect in the pre-leasing phase and negotiate any contingencies into the lease. If the owner balks, then the client understands that they maybe exposed to more work than they can afford or have time for.

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In another case, we worked on a nursing home. The owner had worked with a large architecture firm and came to the table with a detailed set of drawings that were contrary to code. He told me that they had been rejected by the Village Building Authority. The client insisted that they the plans were sound. I took deep breath, smiled and then spent an hour with the client explaining why they were rejected. He was still skeptical. We made a conference call with the Building Official and he was able to convince the client that they needed to be rethought as you could no longer use a drop ceiling as a forced air plenum to heat patient rooms.

Once we got to that point, the project went smoothly. We got out our ductulator and went to work. (Have you ever seen one? Everyone should have one!!!!) The client got their loan and the building's HVAC system was brought up to code with our help.

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Getting the advice of an expert architect is something that should happen sooner in a project than later as it can save time, money and make construction a more satisfying and happier process. A happy satisfied client is what we are all after. Next time, we will talk more about change orders that happen after a set of drawings has been approved and tactics and strategies that can help reduce and minimize them.