Owners, especially those for whom construction projects are seldom tackled, may wonder what the most efficient way is to manage their projects from inception to completion.
From a contractor’s standpoint, we suggest the following steps:
1. Clearly define the goals of your project, such as type of area needed, number of employees the space must accommodate, how you want the space to feel, and when you would like to move in.
2. Spend some time looking online at photos of spaces that you like. It may also help to visit a few facilities to see how others have designed their spaces. By doing this, you will enhance the productivity of your initial meetings with your architect/designer, which will save you time and money.
3. Seek out an architect or general contractor (GC) you trust and want to work with. Referrals and references are most helpful at this stage. Interviewing two to four firms should be more than sufficient to find one you are comfortable working with who has expertise in your type of project.
4. Have the company you select assist you with putting together the rest of your team. For instance, if you have first chosen the GC, have him provide you with a list of two to four architects and/or designers. Meet with them to review your needs/wish list. This will give them the ability to start space planning and select finishes.
5. Share your budget range with the chosen architect at the first meeting. Too often, this does not happen early enough, resulting in unaffordable designs and dashed hopes. If you are concerned that your project design may be over your budget, the architect should be able to provide a reality check. If you have already selected your GC, he can certainly provide a realistic budget estimate based on preliminary plans. Realistic schedule estimates can begin at this point.
6. If it has been determined that your budget might not cover your project, now is an ideal time to discuss possible value engineering ideas. Your GC should be able to offer several suggestions and project modifications to help bring the design and material selections in alignment with your budget. This is also a good time to revisit the preliminary project schedule with the GC.
7. Complete finish selections and construction drawings.
8. Have GC re-price project. This time, the price given will be the basis of your contract. Have the GC list out any allowances or assumptions that were made due to lack of information on the initial drawings.
9. Review GC’s final proposal. Make sure to read all of the clarifications as they may have excluded items.
10. Sign a contract with the GC. We recommend using AIA Document A101 (standard form of agreement between owner and contractor). Once the contract is official, your GC can then authorize the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical subs to begin their designs/permit drawings.
11. Apply for permits and let the adventure begin!
Bonus tip: Stay in contact with your GC throughout the project. Determine if regular meetings are required or if emails/phone conversations will suffice. You are the client and the communication should be structured to meet your needs.