considerations that help a project run smoothly
In building and renovation, few rules hold true all the time. However,
a number of useful notions lead to predictable out-comes most of the
time. Unfortunately, many of these notions are forgotten when we
concentrate on making ideal decisions throughout the course of the
work. We lose sight of how each decision relates to the bigger project
The following is a list of some common-sense ideas that almost always
have a posi-tive impact on a construction endeavor.
Maintain the right
- Building anything is an act of joy and optimism.
It's also a learning experience. Anxiety is a normal part of that
experience, but anxiety must not control the outcome of the work.
- The only adversarial relationship that is
productive on a building project is the one hat everyone should have
with the artistic, technical and financial challenges that the Work
- Excellent people make mistakes. Expect that they
will continue to do so.
- Building a house is not an industrial process. It
is hand labor, at a site, involving hundreds of components that have to
work and fit together as well as possible. Expec-tations for the
quality of the work should reflect these characteristics.
Choosing a design
consultant and a builder
- When selecting a professional with whom to work,
the first criterion should be character; the second, competence; the
- Clients are in the difficult business posi-tion of
dealing with people who know more about design and construction than
they do. In this vulnerable situation, the best strategy is to choose
professionals of unquestionable integrity.
- To secure the greatest benefit from the knowledge
that consultants and builders possess, allow them do their work in the
manner that their training and experience have shown will be most
About project costs
- Clients who receive the best service are those from
whom trust is ample, enthusiasm is overt, information is complete and
payment is prompt.
- Accurate cost estimates are based on facts;
inaccurate estimates are usually the result of guessing. Financial risk
in building is reduced by developing as much specific design
information as possible before construction begins.
- Comparisons between seemingly similar projects
often lead to incorrect expectations rather than provide useful
- You get what you pay for, applies to
building. Designing and building quality take care; care takes
time; time costs money.
- When a project’s costs exceeds its budget, it is
usually because (1) the budget was optimistic and not realistic, (2)
the changing cost of the evolving design was not monitored, and/or (3)
the client’s needs and preferences were not fully articulated before
the start of the work.
The design and
- There are three interconnected variables in every
building project: quality, quantity and cost. If any one of these
variables is held constant while another is changed, the third must
change as well.
- The complexity of both design and construction work
is often underestimated.
- Many people believe that they know a good deal
about architectural design. What they do not realize is how much more
they need to know to do design well, with distinction, refinement and
- Architects have the patience to plan. Builders have
the savvy to improvise. Improvisation, however, is not a substitute for
planning. The purpose of planning is to achieve predictable results.
The purpose of improvising is to maintain work progress.
- For construction to be done efficiently, most
design decisions need to be made in advance of building. If made during
construction, these decisions can interrupt the work flow and increase
its cost. Late design decisions are also more difficult to in corporate
into the rest of the design.
- A construction project involves people with wide
variations in skill, experience, intelligence and desire. Effective
project management optimizes the conditions that allow people to
perform at their best.
- Frequent, candid communication is vital to minimize
- Good people care. The end result usually shows why.
McLean, AlA, practices architecture in San Francisco, CA
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