Project Team Members: The Builder
Continuing our discussion on the team members needed to run a smooth project, today we are talking about the builder. The general contractor is the one who brings the architect’s and designer’s concepts to life. Experienced contractors know how to build intelligently by value engineering, using quality driven and efficient methods of construction and other tools of the industry. Their in-the-field, pragmatic problem solving skills are an invaluable asset when executing innovative design concepts.
To support the contractor, the designer can streamline the vetting and ordering process by providing documentation and an organized list of specifications. This is why the designer draws detailed elevations and floor plans as well as lists specifications for all interior finishes (ie. Plumbing, surfaces, millwork, appliances and even outlet colors). The designer must document and main the specifications of a project with up-to-date information and disseminate that information to the team in a clear and timely manner; communication is key between designer and builder for a successful project. This documentation and presentation aspect of a project is so important in fact that I included it as one of my 5 Commandments for Being a Design Professional a few weeks back.
IMI has taken this documentation, presentation and communication aspect of projects to a new level. We have developed our E-BinderTM platform that provides an efficient and continually up-to-date portal for all project documentation. It is unique in the industry and is the way in which we are able to transmit thousands of pieces of information to all who need it anywhere they need it.
Another vital aspect of the collaboration between designer and builder comes into play during any value engineering that needs to take place. It is only after the designer specs materials for the project and the contractor bids them out that a completely accurate and comprehensive budget can be developed. Of course, both designer and contractor rely on years of experience in the industry to create estimates prior to that, but it is inevitable that something will take them by surprise. When the contractor receives the confirmed bids it is always important to review those bids with the designer. It is natural to try and switch one particular aspect of a design if it comes back higher than budgeted. However, without the designer’s input that has the potential to compromise the overall design integrity. There are hundreds of possibilities for any single specification and, working together, the designer and builder can find a solution to any problem without degrading the project aesthetic and design integrity.
In the end, it is the combination of client, architect, designer and builder that are able to come together and create something beautiful that will serve to uplift the spirit of those experiencing it for years to come.