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Architects & Contractors: Rather Than Talk About Each Other, Let’s Talk to Each Other

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This panel discussion, representing the perspectives of both architects and contractors, will explore the challenges and opportunities of collaboration by engaging in a transparent conversation about issues commonly experienced through the design and construction process. Panelists will begin by describing their own respective roles and their perception of the other. The course will cover milestones throughout the typical design and construction phases where both parties interact and/or should interact, including design,pre-bid, bidding, scope review, and construction. Construction will be further explored with areas of interest for both parties, such as schedule, scope changes, and responsibilities. Both architects and contractors will present their perspectives and then expand the discussion with solutions, suggestions, resolutions, alternative approaches, and/or compromises.

Execution without design or design without execution falls short of what could have been! Simply put, we need each other and should want to help each other succeed. The discussion will encourage participants to rise above the challenges that divide us, while encouraging empathy towards our respective professions, reinforcing that architecture is the result of both design and execution, and suggesting improved collaborative processes.

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Architects & Contractors: Rather Than Talk About Each Other, Let’s Talk to Each Other

  1. 1. AIA PITTSBURGH A217 Architects & Contractors: Rather Than Talk About Each Other, Let’s Talk to Each Other AC:4-1 Eric Starkowicz - Master Builders’ Association of Western Pennsylvania Rob Sklarsky - RJS Construction Consulting, LLC Rick Avon, AIA - Avon Graf Architects, LLC DATE: 4-12-18
  2. 2. Credit(s) earned on completion of this course will be reported to AIA CES for AIA members. Certificates of Completion for both AIA members and non-AIA members are available upon request. This course is registered with AIA CES for continuing professional education. As such, it does not include content that may be deemed or construed to be an approval or endorsement by the AIA of any material of construction or any method or manner of handling, using, distributing, or dealing in any material or product. _______________________________________ ____ Questions related to specific materials, methods, and services will be addressed at the conclusion of this presentation.
  3. 3. This panel discussion, representing the perspectives of both Architects and Contractors, will explore the challenges and opportunities of collaboration by engaging in a transparent conversation about issues commonly experienced through the design and construction process. Panelists will begin by describing their own respective roles and their perception of the other. The course will cover milestones throughout the typical design and construction phases where both parties interact and/or should interact, including Design, Pre-Bid, Bidding, Scope Review, and Construction. Construction will be further explored with areas of interest for both parties such as schedule, scope changes, and responsibilities. Both Architects and Contractors will present their perspectives and then expand the discussion with solutions, suggestions, resolutions, alternative approaches, and/or compromises. Architecture is the result of Design and Execution. Execution without design or Design without execution falls short of what could have been! Simply put, we need each other and should want to help each other succeed. The discussion will encourage participants to rise above the challenges that divide us, while encouraging empathy towards our respective professions, reinforcing that Architecture is both Design and Execution, and suggesting improved collaboration processes. Course Description
  4. 4. Learning Objectives 1. Encourage empathy between Architects and Contractors through the appreciation of our respective roles; Understanding who we are, what is important to each of us, and why/how we do what we do. 2. Reinforce the premise that Architecture is the result of both Design and Execution, not one without the other. 3. Analyze current working relationships throughout the various phases of a project and reinforce collaboration towards our common goal. 4. Identify methods and techniques to arrive at solutions, suggestions, resolutions, alternative approaches, and/or compromises to improve the design and construction process. At the end of the this course, participants will be able to:
  5. 5. 1.ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES (In order to assign responsibilities, you must understand one’s role.)
  6. 6. Architect: The Original Role of the Architect was one of a “Master Builder” An Architects role can be traced back to the 16 century. The ancient Greeks used the term arkhitekton which in Greek translates Arkhi = Chief + tekton = Builder “Chief Builder or Master Builder” Architect Defined in Current Dictionary A person who designs buildings and in many cases supervises their construction. Quite a change from constructing buildings to designing and just supervising their construction! Our role can be summarized in just a few words. When asked what we do to fulfill that role, our lists go on and on and vary depending who you ask.
  7. 7. Question: Do we draw intent or instruction? Documents INTENT INSTRUCTION Bidder 1 bids what he Bidder 2 bids only knows is required what is shown. Implications: 1. Intent documents with Bidder 2 could equate to numerous change orders. 2. Instruction documents with either bidder is good. 3. Contactors should not forgo shop drawings with key components especially with intent documents. 4. Most Architects are somewhere in between intent and instruction.
  8. 8. Contractor: • Responsible for the overall management of the construction on site. • Responsibilities include scheduling, coordinating work flow, minimizing project duration, and maintaining the quality of the construction as described on the drawings and in the specifications. • Ensure materials used on site are the materials specified and submitted for approval. • Schedule work sequence for subcontractors to show up on site and have their scope of work ready to perform. • One of the most important responsibilities is safety.
  9. 9. 2. DESIGN What value can the contractor bring to this phase?
  10. 10. Architect: Pros: Contractor could help with: 1. Realistic cost estimates. 2. Constructability reviews. 3. Taking into account construction sequencing. Cons: Contractor could : 1. Focus on money and ease of building to dictate design, instead of allowing the program to dictate design. 2. Use young inexperienced estimators, which could lead to inaccurate pricing. 3. Pricing known systems and materials cheaper, which could stifle innovative new building materials and systems.
  11. 11. Contractor: Pros 1. Everything that Rick mentioned. 2. Current knowledge of the material and subcontractor market. 3. Involvement of subs in major aspects of the work, like MEP. 4. Tracking budget throughout the design to help eliminate re-drawing. Cons 1. General Contractors not putting in appropriate time on project. 2. Owners expect pre-construction services for free. 3. Architects don’t get enough fee to cover necessary hours needed to collaborate.
  12. 12. Solutions / Compromises: 1. Both sides need to educate the owner of the benefits and importance of this collaboration, not just one side. 2. Inform owner so that they understand there will be fees from both the architect and contractor. 3. There has to be an open sharing of information. 4. Regular weekly/bi-weekly meetings 5. Respect each other’s roles.
  13. 13. 3. CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS What are they to you and what should be on them?
  14. 14. Contractor: 1. Less is not more. 2. The more details the better. 3. Specifications, including front end, are important. 4. Brokers vs builders. No more “Master Builders.”
  15. 15. DIRECTION AND CLARITY = HAVING IT YOUR WAY
  16. 16. Architect: 1. These are the means to an end. The clearer the documents, the better the chance of executing the design as intended. 2. Good documentation is thought out and presented in a way that the next person doesn’t have to think it out in the field. 3. If you can’t redraw your own drawing without scaling it, you did not provide enough information to build it. 4. If something is important to you, it must be drawn now or later. Later costs more money.
  17. 17. DIMENSIONS ?
  18. 18. PROPER INFORMATION
  19. 19. Solutions / Compromises: 1. Truly complete the documents. 2. Understand who the documents are for: the contractor. 3. Are you graphically communicating what you think you are? 4. If you need the contractor’s assistance, then set the drawings and specifications up to leave an allowance and you both work it through. This is better than placing it all as delegated design and throwing all responsibility on the contractor.
  20. 20. 4. PRE-BID MEETING What should be the purpose of a pre- bid meeting and how should they be conducted?
  21. 21. Architect: This should be mandatory! This is our chance to relay all the pertinent information that we know because of the time we have spent on the project to others. Be informative about: 1. Overall objectives 2. Site and work areas 3. Constraints / restrictions 4. Pertinent owner issues 5. Budgetary concerns or factors 6. Schedule 7. Review areas where you are asking the contractor to do something that is not standard
  22. 22. Contractor: 1. Very important especially with a renovation. 2. Timing of pre-bid is important. Give contractors and subs enough time to review docs. 3. Provide minutes from pre-bid meeting. 4. Answer all questions via addendum.
  23. 23. Solutions / Compromises: 1. This is an essential tool to communicate, make it mandatory. 2. Don’t go through the motions. Make it informative and use the time to educate future team members. 3. Consider creating and distributing meeting minutes. 4. Tell them what you want them to know and not just rely on them extracting it from your documents.
  24. 24. 5. BIDDING What are issues that you believe the other does that can have negative effects on the final costs?
  25. 25. Contractor: 1. Lack of info on drawings!!! 2. Lack of response to questions. 3. Too short of a bid period especially when there are many questions.
  26. 26. BID DAY GAMES GC #1 GC #2 GC#3 BEST Excavation 125,000$ 140,000$ 140,000$ 125,000$ Masonry 410,000$ 455,000$ 430,000$ 410,000$ HVAC 750,000$ 705,000$ 725,000$ 705,000$ Electrical 900,000$ 900,000$ 855,000$ 855,000$ 2,185,000$ 2,200,000$ 2,150,000$ 2,095,000$
  27. 27. Architect: 1. No matter how long the bid time, contractor bids in the last 2-3 weeks (proof: that is when most of the questions come in) 2. Contractors have every right to ask questions during this time. What they don’t have a right to do is not ask a question and decide what the answer should be. 3. Not bidding what is on the drawings when there was a distinct reason it was shown that way.
  28. 28. Solutions / Compromises: 1. Use the pre-bid to set the expectations for bidding. 2. Communicate up front that bid time cannot be extended. 3. Help to stop the games. If suppliers will only turn in bids right before bid time, consider specifying others. 4. Clear concise documents not only allow for construction to move forward quicker, but also equate to better bids. 5. All the benefits of good pricing based on documentation can be lost if you decide not to respond to questions and clarifications.
  29. 29. 6. SCOPE REVIEW What do you believe is the reason for a scope review?
  30. 30. Architect: 1. This is an opportunity to review the bid. 2. The estimator with his estimate needs to be at the meeting. 3. Areas where you have concern should be discussed. 4. Materials where you know not all manufacturers could do what you are requesting should be discussed. 5. Drawings should be reviewed to make sure all is included. 6. This is the last chance to identify and add or subtract from the price before an owner makes a decision to procced based on this information. What is not acceptable is to state that you have everything, then add a list of exclusions to the contract.
  31. 31. Contractor: 1. Very important step. Architects and engineers should be involved in this meeting. 2. This many times separates the low bidder from the low “responsible” bidder. 3. Can be used as a tool by the owner and architect to make sure the scope is covered.
  32. 32. Solutions / Compromises: 1. Insist that the owner allows these meetings to happen. 2. Make sure the contractor brings the people who have worked on the bid and can answer questions. 3. Review items that you know could be a cost issue. 4. Make sure any special instruction or material was taken into consideration.
  33. 33. 7. CONSTRUCTION What can each side do or not do that strains the process and relationship during this phase?
  34. 34. Contractor: 1. Respond to RFIs in a timely matter. 2. Return submittals and shop drawings promptly. 3. Regular job site meetings. 4. Address clarifications.
  35. 35. Architect: 1. The architect is not included in the process. 2. Inexperienced personnel in the project manager and superintendent positions. 3. Work is not supervised for quality from the start. “Strive for no punch list.” 4. Poor communication between: a. Field and contractor’s main office b. Superintendent and architect c. PM and architect 5. Schedule is not used as a tool and long lead items are not identified and ordered on time.
  36. 36. Solutions / Compromises: 1. Once again respect each other’s role and rely on each other’s strengths. 2. Just as it is important for the contractor to add to the design phase, it is important that the architect adds to this phase. 3. Architects need to be proactive and answer questions. We need to be part of the solutions for problems or changes. 4. We need to buy into the schedule. You can’t expect someone to commit to a date and give them the information someday.
  37. 37. 8. SCHEDULE What is your view of the schedule as a tool?
  38. 38. Architect: 1. The schedule is a tool, not a promise. 2. It needs to be used as a tool, not something that is created to meet a specification requirement and not looked at again. 3. It needs to be updated for construction meetings and even broken into smaller schedules for critical work phases. Contractor: 1. It has become more difficult to maintain schedules. 2. It needs to be updated on a regular basis.
  39. 39. Solutions / Compromises: 1. The architect needs to help explain to the owner that this is not a promise, it is a target. It needs to be used and updated. 2. Require the schedule to be updated for project meetings. 3. Use the schedule in the meeting as a tool, not just to point out trades that are behind. Discuss why the schedule has changed and what can be done to maintain the schedule.
  40. 40. 9. CHANGES TO PROJECT How do you view changes to a project? CHANGE =
  41. 41. Contractor: 1. Changes only slow down the project and create animosity. 2. Contractors rarely make enough money on changes to make it worthwhile, even owner generated changes.
  42. 42. Architect: Recognize that there will be changes due to many factors; some are understandable, others not so good: Understandable: 1. Products are no longer available. 2. Changes required due to changes in construction sequencing. 3. Mistakes. Not So Good: 1. Changes that must be made due to poor planning to order products with long lead items. 2. A change to save money, but sacrifices quality. 3. Change due to not following the documents.
  43. 43. Solutions / Compromises: Changes are a reality so we can attempt to be proactive with: 1. Working with the owner to minimize changes. 2. Educate that changes in Schematic Design and Design Development phases cost less than in the field. 3. Ask the owner if they are contemplating changes so they can be discussed prior to materials being ordered. 4. Keep the owner apprised of the construction schedule so a change is not being thought about the day they start construction in that area. 5. Contractors: check on product availability, quantities and ship date early in the project.
  44. 44. QUESTIONS?
  45. 45. This concludes The American Institute of Architects Continuing Education Systems Course Eric Starkowicz Director of Industry Relations Master Builders’ Association 631 Iron City Drive Pittsburgh, PA 15205 412 992-3912 Rob Sklarsky Principal RJS Construction Consulting, LLC 226 August Drive Coraopolis, PA 15108 412 855-8023 Rick Avon, AIA Principal Avon Graf Architects, LLC 9800 B Suite 104 Pittsburgh, PA 15237 412 366-0222 THANK YOU FOR ATTENDING

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