Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What is Design-Build?

Design-build is a popular system for residential remodeling.  It is a hands on process especially useful in the renovation of the old homes found in the Baltimore metro area.  The builder/remodeler also provides the design services, works with the client on product selections, develops a cost proposal, and builds the project.  There are several advantages to using a design-build system.

·        Design concepts are developed from the beginning reflecting a realistic understanding of construction costs and the budget guidance established by the client. This prevents you from paying for a design that can not be reconciled with your cost and time constraints. 

·        The design-build process delivers the completed project much faster than traditional design and construction methods since the salesman, estimator, building designer, interior designer, project manager, and lead carpenter are all working for the same company, in the same office (in many cases, as at ADR Builders, those roles are shared between just a few people).

·        Accurate pricing is available for any design change, taking into account both product and installation costs.

·        Working drawings are not produced until accurate pricing is available and approved by the client. Again, saving time and money for the client.

·        Construction is managed by a builder-designer, and supervised by a lead carpenter, from the same company, and on the job daily.  This ensures that the drawings are interpreted properly to implement the design intent.

·        The client has one point of accountability because the designer is the builder.  If anything goes wrong, you know where to go to get the problem solved.

      At ADR our specific method of design-build is one of the main reasons we have excelled in pleasing clients and producing superior home renovation projects for over 30 years. In the next blog will talk about some specific style homes and types of neighborhoods specific to the Baltimore area.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Client-Contractor Relationships

One of the most important aspects of my job as owner of ADR is managing our client relationships. A good client-contractor relationship can lead to a better remodeling project and certainly a more enjoyable, less stressful remodeling project.  I try my best to be as flexible and responsive as possible throughout the process.  The following are a few things to consider while picking and working with your contractor.

1.      Clear communication is the foundation of a successful project.  Be honest and upfront with your goals and expectations for the project.  Expect prompt and honest answers and information from your remodeler.
2.      Be realistic and flexible about what you are looking for in the remodel and what you are willing to budget for the project.  Many remodeling projects start with ideal goals and then scale back the design, scope of work, and product selections in order to meet a budget goal.  A good remodeler should be able to help you maximize the return on your remodeling dollars.
3.      The remodeler should provide a realistic work schedule.  If the schedule changes the remodeler should provide a revised schedule.  If the schedule falls behind feel free to ask why.
4.      Certain stages of remodeling may seem to go more quickly than other.  For example during stages that involve more visible work such as demolition, framing, cabinet installation, etc you have a true sense of rapid progress.  During other less visible stages such as installation of electrical wiring, plumbing, or trim work it may seem that the work is going very slowly.  Just because you cannot see it does not mean that nothing is happening.  It is all part of the construction process.
5.      Take the time to make decisions upfront.  This reduces stress and makes the actual work go more quickly and stay on schedule.  Once the project is underway give the project manager the freedom to execute the job effectively.  But feel free to ask questions, and expect answers, for anything you do not understand and feel may not be correct.
6.      If possible avoid making changes to the job scope.  This tends to upset the schedule and can be frustrating for all involved.  If some changes are necessary, and they often are, settle the cost difference up front so there is no misunderstanding.

 Good luck and good remodeling. And remember, a having a great job manager is just as important as having a great carpenter!