Implement systems to guarantee project success

Staples takes the pain out of shopping by providing shoppers with its famous Easy Button. Progressive Insurance empowers customers to purchase insurance with its Name-Your-Price pricing gun. Norton Anti-Virus actually has a “fix all button” to remove computer viruses and spyware. So where is the “fix all button” for design and build?

Last month, a past client contacted my office to start the design process of a 10-ft. by 11-ft. one-story kitchen addition. He made it perfectly clear he was not interested in engaging the design/build modular company we had collaborated with on his second floor modular addition. My client explained he enjoyed working with the on-site carpenter and would like to engage his services to build the addition. The carpenter was a subcontractor to the design/build company and is no longer working with the modular design/build company.

Collaborating with a new contractor is like sitting in the front seat of the latest and greatest roller coaster at your favorite amusement park. You sit together on the same ride with great expectations as you wait for the others to board the coaster. The safety bar lowers and the exhilaration and trepidation begins. With every click and rise in altitude, the anticipation builds with excitement and fear of the unknown. What will happen next? Where are we going? How will this feel? Will I be happy, relieved or sick at the end of this ride?

We depend on designers, engineers and contractors to design and build a house, to be fun, exciting and most importantly, safe. Like the coaster’s safety system, our design firm also has a safety system when working with new contractors to ensure we meet or exceed our client’s expectations.

The contractor supplied the required information regarding the rear line setback and qualified the information with the local building inspector, only to find out from the land survey that our addition was 11 in. beyond the rear setback. The builder freaked out. He called our offices and we met for a few hours with our online design team. Using GoToMeeting, the online meeting service, we invited our land surveyor to join us to flush out the problem. Our design team adjusted the building plans and plot plan, qualified the adjustments with the land surveyor, posted the revised plans for the homeowner to review and the contractor was back in business.

The plans and land survey were completed the next day and the contractor did not miss a beat in his schedule. The coaster’s safety bar is there for one reason: to prevent you from falling out. Our design system is like the coaster’s safety bar. Systems help the contractor from falling off schedule and not meeting his client’s expectations.

The contractor should have engaged the land surveyor first. Our design team provided the contractor quick and accurate information at a moment’s notice. Our “fix all button” is our IDB team — Interactive Design and Build. Each member of the team has a specific talent to solve problems when they arise. The most important thing to remember during any type of crisis is to remain as calm as possible. Relax in order to find the solution that is needed at that moment in time.

The contractor was amazed with our real-time design process which solved his problem expeditiously and allowed his building crew to start the project on time.

Like the roller coaster ride, we had some ups and downs during our design and build process. But in the end, we all had a great ride. Like any great coaster ride, people want to experience that excitement over and over again. We look forward to our next design and build experience.