In the majority of our projects the contractor (and pertinent consultants) join the project team early on in the process. Instead of until bid documents are ready to obtain pricing, we often recommend to our clients that they start interviewing contractors during the schematic design phase, we issue preliminary budget development drawings sometime during design development, and by the time we issue the drawings for permit a contractor is already under contract, the budget for construction has been validated, and the path to a successful partnership has been cleared. Major design issues are discussed with the contractor early on, he provides feedback regarding the relative cost of the various options, we move forward efficiently with that validation.
In the interest of time, we also separate the project into two main design phases: main building architecture, and finish/fixture selections. Often finish and fixture selections are finalized after the permit has been issued, as they are not pertinent to the permitting process and can take a significant amount of time to finalize. The same applies to custom elements and cabinet selections.
The key to making this work is to design at all scales simultaneous, keeping in mind what we may want the finished project to look like in the end all along so we can ‘plan’ accordingly, but allowing the fine details to be worked out after the complexities of the building have been addressed. Often the construction contract includes allowances for the finishes and fixtures, which are reconciled once final selections are made.
This process is sometimes called design/build, guaranteed maximum price, or as I prefer to call it, and integrated project delivery method (IPDM). Integrated Project Delivery is also the recommended method for projects in which sustainability is a concern, as it often leads to more sustainable, more efficient and better coordinated buildings in the end.
In this particularly project, sustainability is indeed a concern. The house will be heated/cooled by a geothermal system, the new siding will be fiber-reinforced cement board, LED lighting will be provided throughout, and the finishes will be from sustainable or recycled materials. The existing house is also being ‘recycled’ through a deconstruction process via Baltimore Based 2nd Chance. Existing finishes, fixtures, etc, will be carefully removed and donated for resale and reuse.
We will keep you updated on the latest developments, but wanted to share our excitement about how smoothly this project has progressed to date. Stay tuned!