Understanding What Makes a Construction Project Work: Moving Towards the Goal as a Team
In the rough-and-tumble world of construction, it is often hard to establish a good, working relationship between the constructor and the design professionals. Typically, the owner hires both the constructor and the design team separately; therefore, they each have their own separate agreement complete with its own expectations and goals. The constructor’s goal is to develop a budget and schedule that works well for the owner’s needs. The design team has a more esthetic and functionality perspective of the process, but also wish to meet the owner’s desires. Though, both of these attributes are equally important to the construction of a project, they can also conflict with the final costs and delivery.
Since the relationship between constructor and architect has such an immense impact on the outcome of a project, it is important that we remember to develop and maintain an open line of communication between all parties. After all, owner, constructor and architect alike are all working towards the same goal. So, the question becomes: Is there a way to help guide all parties through the pre-construction and construction processes of a project as a team, while still delivering a successful result? The answer is yes!
Through my experience, projects are carried out more successfully when all the involved parties collaborate, rather than having one entity attempt to lead another. As important as it is for each party to reach the eventual goal, first we must make sure that each person involved fully understands the goals, needs and objectives at hand intimately. Architects may have their particular feelings on materials and designs; owners may be concerned with their program needs and building qualifications; and, as constructors, we are concerned with the budgets and time restraints that need to be worked within. With so much focus on our own plates, it’s hard to consider and appreciate the equal amount of work the other professionals involved must tackle.
Communication is key! The major conflict faced by contractor and designer is that a designer is focused on the owner’s facility and the contractor is focused on the owner’s budget. However, if you develop a line of communication and handle each situation with dual respect, teamwork becomes achievable. Communication can be reflected in different periods of pre-construction and construction by the processes you utilize. The design process follows a series of steps that consistently require the involvement of each party, from estimating, design and construction. Next, the process moves through a series of design implementation and constructability phases. The design phase moves from schematic design to design development. During design development, the design becomes more complete and there is a better idea of cost and other factors. Lastly, construction documents are produced, which would be the finalized design that construction will be based on. This process allows a constant give and take, from beginning to end between the architect and construction manager. By employing processes such as these, you are constantly assuring that each party is on the same page during each part of construction.
If we, whether we are an owner, architect or constructor, can consistently communicate and include each other, we inevitably can bring a project to substantial completion that we can equally be proud of. We each strive to build that perfect building, so when we work together as a team and make sure each underlying element is clearly acknowledged, it opens us up to exceed expectations and developing strong relationships. As EDiS would say, “We build relationships, one at a time, for a lifetime”.