All projects, large or small, should begin with an assessment of the Owner’s functional and aesthetic needs: What do you need to accomplish? We can help you through a two-step exercise that records these requirements in a written document called your “program”. You’ve already realized you need to make a change, we use the program to collect and organize all the parts and pieces that need to be accommodated. This allows us to determine the scope of work and become intellectually (and emotionally) invested in your vision for the finished project.
Schematic Design, Design Development & Bid Documents
The design process moves through three phases: 1) As the initial layout comes together in the schematic phase, the quantity of the project is defined by developing the plans which may be complimented by elevations and sections. At the end of the schematic phase, there’s enough information for a preliminary cost estimate. 2) The design development phase determines the quality of the design by defining materials and building systems. 3) The bid documents are the coordinated drawings and notes used to solicit a bid from one or more contractors.
We collaborate closely with our Owners and other project team members throughout the design process. We require Owners to review and approve each design phase before we proceed to the next so our Owners have control over the development of the project.
Kitchen & Bath Design
Kitchens and baths typically have the highest level of fit and finish of any room in the house. Since the per-square-foot cost for these spaces is so high, you should take a holistic view of your project before you begin. You can trap your equity by investing in your kitchen or bath before you address other issues like plan changes in adjacent areas, building system upgrades, structural work and other related issues.
Once the issues are settled and it’s time to begin your project, there are three key components: 1) Staying within the budget! 2) Delivering the desired look. Relatively inexpensive components that are well-coordinated can look great. 3) Making sure the space is functional. It’s easy to make a space that looks great even though the flow and function is awful. By understanding your needs, we can balance these three concerns to create a space that performs for you every day.
Showing furniture on our floor plans gives them an immediate sense of scale. Furniture comes in standard dimensions so it’s common for us to show expected furniture in a room to be sure the spaces works as expected. This helps us avoid rooms with poor flow and garages that aren’t wide enough to open the doors of your vehicle.
Since it’s relatively easy to measure your furniture, you can forward dimensions for your pieces so they can be shown on the plans rather than generic sizes. Please be sure to let us know if you want to include furniture plans in your scope of work!
We typically assist Owners with negotiated or competitive bids. The process usually involves finding and evaluating potential bidders, preparing an invitation with instructions to bidders, administering the bid by answering any questions submitted by the bidders, evaluating the bids and awarding the bid to the winner. We’ve been through the process numerous times so we guide you and work to make sure the bid documents are being properly interpreted by the bidders. We prefer to have a pre-bid meeting with all the bidders to explain any significant issues and answer questions so you get more accurate bids.
Contract Negotiation Assistance & Contract Documents
Once the bid is awarded, the Owner and Contractor (the winning bidder) sign an agreement for services. We can provide agreements and assist you in negotiating the agreement with the Contractor. Our agreements are properly licensed, in an electronic format that’s easy to prepare | publish and the agreements are flexible so they accommodate any special requests or unique conditions. We can provide a detailed description of the standard agreements (Guaranteed Maximum Price, Cost-Plus, etc.) and suggest an appropriate format (standard, abbreviated, custom, etc.) for your project.
The negotiation with the Contractor often changes the scope of work for the project because the bid is not exactly the Owner’s budget: the scope may be increased or reduced. These changes must be recorded before the agreement between the Owner and Contractor is signed. When the bid documents are amended to record the change in scope, they are referred to as contract documents because they’re included in the agreement.
Contract Administration During Construction
Administration of the contract means we serve as your advocate during construction to interpret the documents, answer questions, make scheduled site visits, conduct coordination meetings, address unexpected conditions, assist with jurisdictional challenges, process applications for payment, etc.
When your project moves from design into construction, the project team grows significantly as the contractor, subcontractor, vendors, inspectors, etc. are included. This makes all issues of contract administration dramatically more complex so we don’t abandon you at the end of the bidding phase. It’s common to spend more hours advocating for an Owner in the construction phase than it took to design the project.
Close Out & Commissioning
The end of the construction phase typically requires a series of actions described in your agreement with the Contractor. We can administer these responsibilities and performs supporting services such as the final site visit, coordination of punch list items, collection of lien waivers, administration of warranties, the final cleaning and release of the final payment to the Contractor. These services add a substantial value at the end of the construction process by protecting you from liability that is often unexpected.
You’ve survived the construction phase and the Contractor is preparing to turn over the project. How do you know all the building systems have been installed and work as designed? Commissioning is the act of inspecting and testing the systems during operation to confirm they’re working properly. This can be as simple as putting a new oven through its self-cleaning process though we’re typically more concerned with complex systems like your air conditioner (and related systems) that will control indoor environmental quality.
There is often an unplanned series of actions necessary for you to occupy your finished project. In many cases, Owners take these actions during the design phase in an effort to control or reduce the budget. Typical examples including deciding you’ll select, purchase and install window treatments; select and install new furniture; select and install artwork; manage the installation of appliances; etc. It’s not uncommon for this work to require additional skilled labor above and beyond what you can or have time to provide.
We’re sensitive to these requirements and we can work with you to coordinate these final issues that really make a house a home. We prefer to include these issues in the contract documents to ensure a strong finish rather than having you move into the space only to realize the substantial amount of “little things” left to be accomplished. We’d appreciate a chance to discuss how we can ease your transition into your new space and include the often overlooked items in your project budget: you might be surprised by the cost of window treatments alone!
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