LEARN
The process (who, what, when, where & how)

 

 

INTRODUCTION

In the previous Prepare section, you explored some of the internal commitments and motivations you have for the project. This section takes those considerations and starts to look outwardly. You’ll establish a process that works for you and a team of professionals to help you achieve your goals and objectives defined in the Getting Started section.

Selecting the right team of professionals is critical to a successful project. You’ll need to understand the different types of professionals, assess their limitations and skills, and select the right team members based on a variety of factors. Investing time in this selection process is important to ensure the team fully understands your goals and objectives and so that you feel comfortable working with them and ensure a smooth design and construction process.

 

 

KEY PROCESSES

PROJECT DELIVERY METHODS

When we talk about a project delivery method (also referred to as project procurement), we’re talking about how you’ll go about creating your house and with whom. Will you hire a contractor or builder? Will you work with a design-build team? What about managing the construction process yourself?

There are a few different procurement options for residential work and each has a big impact on the sequence and process of the entire homebuilding process. Your project procurement choice affects when to engage other professionals in the process and your time and monetary commitment level for the entire project.

Here are the most popular procurement options and a brief description of how they work:

  • Design-Bid-Build – Your project is designed (by an architect, designer, or yourself). You ask a few contractors to review the design drawings and provide a competitive bid for the job. Then, you select a contractor to create the project.
    • This procurement method is common if you work with an architect.
  • Design-Negotiate-Build –  Your project is designed (by an architect, designer, or yourself). You select a contractor and negotiate a price or payment method with them. Then, you award the job to that contractor.
    • This procurement method is common if you work with an architect.
  • Design-Build – Your project is designed and built by one design-build company. That company has both design and construction expertise and if they don’t, they subcontract out the design work. You won’t have a separate contract with a designer/architect and a construction company.
    • This method is common if you work with a builder to design and build your project.
  • Owner-Build – You, as the owner, manages the construction process. You obtain permits, manage the construction schedule, source and buy materials, hire and manage contractors with the different trades, manage inspections, and manage the budget.

Spend some time to learn about the various aspects and impacts of each project delivery method so you can make an informed decision on the best method that suits your needs.There are various advantages and disadvantages to each project delivery method so pay attention to how each might affect your specific project.

 

UNDERSTAND YOUR DESIGN NEEDS

When you decide to build or renovate a house, you’re making the conscious determination that the existing housing market doesn’t have what you’re looking for. You can’t find anything on the market that meets your needs, wants, or stylistic preferences. What this also tells you is that design is important to you – because otherwise you would have just bought something on the market and settled.

But beyond understanding this basic principle, you must figure out how important design is to you – because this answer helps determine who you work with to design your home.

While determining which project delivery method is best for you, you will also want to start thinking about who you want to work with to help you realize your project. Will you rely on an architect, a designer, a draftsperson, a builder’s designer, a book, or even yourself for your home design?

You’ve probably had this dream of the perfect home for a long time. Chances are, you’ve already been thinking about what it will look like. You’ve pictured the curb appeal, the color of the home, what defining characteristics it has that make it stand out from the rest of the homes in the neighborhood. So, now is the time to think about your project goals, your design aspirations for the project, and who you think will best help you create that perfect home.

How your home is imagined, designed, and drawn on paper, as well as the expertise of who creates the design varies greatly depending on who you work with and so do the design fees. The more knowledgeable and experienced architect will come at a higher price than a draftsperson or design pulled from a book. But at the same time, an architect usually provides top-notch coordinated design services that other designers or draftspeople may be lacking.

The decision of who to work with really depends on how important your design is to you, how complicated your project is, where your project is located, and how confident you are in your own capacities. So spend some time thinking about the type of person you want to work with and start looking for a few people who can provide that service for you. It’s up to you whom you work with, but choose wisely because your decision will forever affect the overall design, budget, and appearance of your home.

Note: Don’t panic if you haven’t figured out your stylistic preferences or what your specific design needs are. We cover this topic in more detail in the next Brainstorm section. 

 

PROJECT TEAM & KEY PLAYERS

The process of designing and building a residential project takes the expertise and skills of many people. Below are the three most important team members on your project.

Owner
You, as the owner, are the most influential player in this entire process. You and your family determine your goals and objectives, your wants and needs, your stylistic preferences, your location, your funding, and many other aspects of your project. A team of professionals can assist you in making some of these decisions but you are the key decision maker in this process.

Architect and/or Designer
Architects and designers work with you to design your home based on your goals and needs for the project. There are some big differences between architects and designers, so be sure you understand your design needs and capabilities before determining which type of person you want to work. At the same time, some builders have designers and architects on staff so if you are more interested in a one-stop-shop service, check with your builder to see if they offer design services that would fit your specific needs. And if you decide you want to design the house yourself, you can work with a draftsperson to create the drawings or if you’re capable yourself, you can do it. Just be sure to check with the building department to see what kind of drawings they require for permitting.

Contractor/Builder
Builders/contractors are responsible for building your home based on the design drawings of your architect or designer. They determine the means and methods, the schedule, the sequencing, and they hire subcontractors to help build your project.

It is always beneficial to get a contractor involved in your project as early as possible. During the design phase, the contractor can provide invaluable feedback regarding cost and constructability that can later translate into a more cost-effective construction process.

Aside from those 3 main players, there may be other professionals and personnel involved, depending on the size and scope of the project. The services provided by the various team players can vary depending on your specific project. If you choose to work with an architect, he or she can coordinate with many of the engineers, construction team, and government officials for you. However, you will still have some contact with most of the players involved on your team.

 

 

ADDITIONAL ARTICLES

 

 

TOOLS & RESOURCES [Coming Soon]

  • Worksheet: Deciding Who Should Design Your Home
  • Guide: Project Team Members (explained)
  • Guide: Project Delivery Methods: Design-Bid-Build, Design-Negotiate-Build, Design-Build, Owner-Build (explained)
  • Cheat Sheet: Project Delivery Methods Comparison, Procurement options chart and bubble diagram (like from con docs class)
  • Guide: Sample interview Questions To Ask Design Professionals
  • Guide: Sample Interview Questions To Ask Builders/Contractors
  • Checklist: Design Agreement Requirements
  • Guide: Design Fees (explained)

 

 

ACTION ITEMS


  • Determine your preferred project delivery method.
  • Determine your design needs.
  • Hire your design team and/or construction team (depending on the delivery method you choose).

 

 

Over To You…

After going through this Learn section, you should have a good understanding of the various pros and cons of each project delivery method and which is best for your particular project. You should have also considered who you want to work with and what their capacities, expertise, and responsibilities will be.

Have you decided which type of project delivery method you want to pursue? Have you decide who you want to work with on this project? If not, start to figure these things out now and as you start the next fun step – dreaming about your project!

Next Section: Brainstorm >