Dan Joseph Architects Awarded AIA Honors

AIA

Dan Joseph Architects Awarded AIA Honors #djawest

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Awards program recognizes achievements for a broad range of architecture in order to elevate the general quality of professional practice, to establish a standard of excellence against which all architects can measure performance, and to inform the public of architectural practice, its breadth and value.

Recently, the Montana Chapter www.aia-mt.org solicited submissions from all Architecture firms located throughout the state. Completed projects were sought from 2009 to present and could include out-of-state commissions.  Colorado’s Fentress Architects www.fentressarchitects.com of International Fame, most noted for the Denver International Airport was selected as an impartial jury in blind review to all works gathered.

The Highest Achievement and Recognition attainable is the AIA Honor Award for Excellence in Design; and was bestowed upon Architect – Daniel J Turvey of Big Sky, Montana for the year 2014.

Principal and Owner of Dan Joseph Architects www.djawest.com, Daniel Turvey states “Recognition at this level in particular as acknowledged from such an acclaimed jury of practicing professionals is both substantial and noteworthy; and serves to illustrate that even a sole practitioner or small office can accomplish wonderful things.”

Thinking of Building? Think “Design/Build”

Thinking of Building?  "Think Design/Build"

Pierce Lake Professional Center by Dan Joseph Architects

Thinking of Building? Think “Design/Build” #djawest :  Construction delivery is changing before our very eyes. Design–Build previously known as just another option to the built solution may now be the most preferred method of the built response. The old method in the separation of design and construction is not the standard in many other more complex and cost driven industries. Why then has there been a separation in building design and the construction process?

Well, formally and until just 1978, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct suggested that architects should not be allowed to participate in the construction process of any project, including design-build project delivery. Now repealed, owners are now choosing design-build for a number of good reasons (see attachment link below), including: Single Source for Design and Construction, Quicker Project Delivery, Guaranteed Project Pricing, Minimized Claims and Damages, Extended Product Warranties.

Further, Design-Build keeps the appropriate stake holders involved in the process from concept to turn-key, by formally integrating all entities into a simplified contractual agreement of “Single Source Accountability.”

ARE ALL ARCHITECTS CAPABLE OF PROVIDING SINGLE SOURCE DELIVERY SERVICES?

The standard prerequisite is experience, capacity and diligence; therefore it is fair to say that not all Architects are equal in delivering a Design-Build service. However, the risk of taking on a professional practitioner that lacks experience in the built response can be greatly diminished by insisting that the Architect pre-qualify and collaborate with a well respected and capable Construction Manager.

WHAT QUALIFIES A CONSTRUCTION MANAGER AS CAPABLE?

As in any endeavor a successful track record over a number of years is an important benchmark; but no less important is the utilization of a proven process and the comprehension to a number of related topics including:

Costing of Preliminary Design, Design Development and the final Construction Document (Uniformat, WBS, Master Format), including Request for Information (RFI’s), General Conditions, Allowances, Equipment Rentals, Estimated Costs, Solicitation of Bids (RFP’s), Self Performance, Cost Plus Work (T&M), Pay Applications, Change Orders, Wavier of Liens, Sworn Statements, Project Scheduling, On Site Supervision, Safety Program, Owner Review Documentation-Disclosures, Insurance, Bonding Capacity and other similar relevant matters.

VERIFY, VERIFY, VERIFY

Long gone are the days of Cost Plus Services (commonly known as Time & Material Agreements), when it was sufficient to enumerate a list of activities that equaled an owner proposed budget. Project expenditures can equal millions of dollars and each listed item of service or expense must be verifiable in both quantity and unit cost modified to equal regional norms.

Believe it or not there are still some contractors in the industry that will start with a proposed budget under a “Cost Plus” and will quickly allocate by percentage to multiple pages of cost, with no verifiable means in which to support the data of expense shared. Simply stated, if the line item is not quantified, it is not valid, should be held as suspect and is likely erroneous!

Engaging a process that is not verifiable results in one of two outcomes; the first is in the proclamation that the final cost is under the overall budget. Such a declaration is meaningless; with some diligence in review, it will be revealed that while some line items are much less then anticipated, many more are over….either way the owner will likely have paid much more then the value of the total work provided in a game of pushing numbers to match an inflated, unverified, misrepresentation of expenditure.

The second possible outcome of an unverified process of project delivery is a long parade of Requests for Change Orders. Change Orders can either be for deductions (reduced scope of work, substitution of means, methods or materials), or for adds. The emphasis here is Change Order Adds or a Request for Change Orders that inflate the final contract amount. If the unverified sum proposed is undervalued, say due to an error of not pumping the number high enough for a safe outcome, the result will be in the form of a dreaded Change Order.

So take note…predictable project expenditures will require consistent, verifiable means of back checking; and in the absence of quantifiable measures, your final project cost will most certainly exceed your expectations.

(Please note that some Change Order Adds are legitimate, such as: Owner driven requests for change, unknown below surface conditions, missing detail, etc. and will not be expanded upon during this brief discussion.)

THE PERFECT STORM

By example here is one scenario that you should avoid at all costs.

The contractor is charming, energetic, articulate, they also appear to be competent and have completed a few projects in the area; in fact they may have even been introduced by an acquaintance or friend that was introduced to the contractor in the same unsuspecting manner. Accomplishments are often times exaggerated, as they confidently offer to cost out your project. Within a few days or sooner they will have quickly presented you with an estimate, likely well before any other reputable contractor and at a price that appears to be competitive.

Interested, you invite them back for another discussion. During this meeting you may feel a little rushed; as the contractor talks about pending weather, a backlog of work or perhaps that labor and material pricing is at an all time low…”now’s the time to act” you are told. During your discussion a budget that appears very well organized and detailed, over many categories and a number of pages is pushed across the table. In your review it appears to all be all accounted for, plainly stated and best of all the contractor has offered to perform this work on a cost plus basis.

Cost Plus you are told is by where all work is completed for the submitted cost and a reasonable margin will be added to the bill later for overhead and profit. You talk about the margin of mark-up and settle on a percentage that works well for both parties. During this meeting or perhaps later on you are presented with an agreement where the basis of payment is “Cost of the Work” plus a fee and there is no “Guarantee of Cost”. Wow what a deal…you are only going to pay for cost and a small margin of mark-up to oversee your project!

At this point you willingly sign the agreement, pay the deposit and work commences. However upon the first pay request some of the costs have been exceeded and suddenly you are confronted with requests for Change Orders (a formal document that inflates the contract sum). After several months into construction a pattern of busting budgets and requesting change orders is well established. You are told that while some items have exceeded expectations, many others are under and the in the end it will all even out. You aren’t happy, but you feel stuck…what can you do; you’ve got to finish the project? If you pull the plug now, it becomes just a heap of uncompleted work; you will loose momentum, be distracted from your work and will end up with yet a larger headache. You decide to bite the bullet and sign off on the change orders.

Truth be told…far too many good natured and unsuspecting home owners have been down this bumpy road. But what can you do, how do you build the home of your dreams for a fair and predicable price? Here is some practical advice….

First, I highly recommend that large scopes of work be delivered under a Design-Build enterprise; dollars will be maximized under this arrangement and allows you to be in control of the project every step of the way. Next, if you are determined to work under a separate agreement for the built solution, have several reputable, competent and capable contractors competitively bid the project…per plans and specifications, under a Lump Sum–Fixed Fee Agreement. The price will be competitive, is guaranteed and change orders will be less frequent. Lastly…if you are determined to work under a Cost Plus arrangement be forewarned….

Under a Cost Plus agreement profit incentives invite the following: Less on-site management (reduced overhead for the contractor, more cost to you, shoddy workmanship, mistakes), a buddy system of sub-trade selection (higher pricing, inappropriate gifts or referral fees, no competition), delayed and extended schedules (padding down time between projects, increasing profits, working on other projects), requests for multiple change orders (costs exceeding a poorly estimated and managed project expense), work performed is on your clock not theirs (dramatically increasing labor costs, hiring of incompetent craftsman, inaccurate or false reporting of time, material, equipment, etc.), increased cost of equipment rentals (the longer the equipment is on site the more margin paid the contractor)…the list goes on and on and on.

At the very least…if you are going to move forward under a Cost Plus arrangement despite the many pitfalls and disadvantages, require the following:

i.) That each itemized line of expense be supported with “units of measure” (cubic yards, square foot, tons, board feet, per item, allowance, man-days, etc) and the “price per unit”, that can be compared to the architects take-off and other competing contractors estimates. Remember…in the absence of these “units”, the estimate and thus the proposal or agreement is bogus!

ii.) After confirming all units of measure to the plans, estimates, etc. approve of the amount(s) as an “NTX” or a “Not to Exceed” only. In other words the amount noted is the cap…approval is not granted for sums exceeding this amount. However, this arrangement will not guarantee you a price that will be less then the sum proposed; and in fact will likely equal or exceed the amount noted in the desire to earn all available sums within grasp of the contractor.

iii.) Be leery of work self performed by a contractor that can be competitively bid for less by outside sub-trades.

iv.) Watch for material, finishes, or equipment, etc. substitutions that reduce the cost that are not translated into a savings for you or the project; but rather improve the contractor’s margin of profit only. e.g.: windows, flooring, hardware, roofing, furnaces, etc., etc.

Wrapping up…many contractors are reputable, honest and deserving of praise and sums paid for their service; this example has been provided in the attempt to help the unsuspecting from becoming victims of tactics by dishonest business practices known to exist in the market place.

CONCLUSION

With decades of construction specific and professional service experience, Dan Joseph Architects http://www.djawest.com/ is ready to assist with your project needs. We have prepared a list of pre-qualified contractors and continue to interview, audit process and capacity to meet the growing list of tomorrows demand. Give us a call and discover the joys and the many advantages of a Design-Build Team for your next project!

POINTS TO REMEMBER

1. A Design-Build relationship keeps all stake holders actively involved as “Single Source” accountable from concept to completion.

2. Not all architects are capable of delivering an effective Design-Build service; qualify experience, capacity and diligence.

3. Design Build is the most competitive, timely project delivery system known, as supported by intensive study (see attachment below)

4. When selecting a Contractor, a successful track record over a number of years is an important benchmark; but no less important is the utilization of a proven process and the comprehension to a wide range of related topics.

5. Most importantly…predictable project expenditures require consistent, verifiable means of back checking; and in the absence of quantifiable measures, your final project cost will most certainly exceed your expectations!

6. Stay away from “Cost Plus” agreements for large scoped projects.

Click on the link below to view Design Build attachment:

http://www.djawest.com/DesignBuildBrochure.pdf

Selecting a Site and Getting to Know an Architect

Selecting a Site and Getting to Know an Architect

Eagle Rock Reserve, Bozeman, Montana

SELECTING A SITE AND GETTING TO KNOW AN ARCHITECT:  You have just purchased the place of your dreams, the views are spectacular and the possibilities seem endless. You want to protect your investment and to fully realize your hopes and aspirations. Perhaps you are ready to hire an architect….but which one, why and what kind of service should you expect? While I could write an entire book on this topic alone, I’ll begin by hitting upon just a few key points; helping you along in a process that may otherwise seem intimidating.

Asking that an architect walk a parcel or two before your final purchase is perhaps one of the most overlooked opportunities that I know of. A casual stroll over a plot of land allows you to measure a number of variables: the architect’s temperament, personality, competency, communication skills, artistic vision, passion, respect for place and a holistic, educated, informed opinion about location; helping you to arrive at that next level of decision.

For larger tracts of land (multiple acres), the best opinions will generally come a few days later; after the many possibilities have had a chance to cook….or reduce to the essence of place. If available, be prepared to offer a topographic plot of the parcel or an aerial illustrating property boundaries, adjacent improvements, etc. before walking the land.

HOW TO COMMUNICATE YOUR WANTS

Architecture is technical competency expressed as art. Competency alone will not guarantee you of a successful solution; however an artistic professional may very well achieve something remarkable. Look for passion, sensitivity, reservation, a quiet soul that will allow themselves to be absorbed by the intangibles. When expressing your project to an architect….think about how a radio works. In other words when discussing a vernacular or architectural vocabulary, dial in on the channel you would like to hear…say Modern Mountain, Western Rustic, Post & Beam, Craftsman, perhaps a mix of two or more and so on. Then think about volume, how loud would you like to hear the music? Just like the volume knob on a radio, you can turn up or down the variables of design and character to suit personal taste and budget.

YOUR ROLE IN THE PROCESS

Once you have decided on which architect to hire, execute your understanding of fees and services with a Standard AIA Owner-Architect Agreement. AIA Agreements have withstood the test of time, are impartial and have proven to be the best document available for defining the obligations of both parties. Have your attorney review the agreement before endorsing the final contract.

Before beginning the first phase of activities with your architect, have a topographic survey for your parcel prepared at 1’-0” increments and anything else your architect may request. Such surveys should include easements, setbacks, utilities, building envelopes, compass bearings of near and distant views, improvements and alike noted and illustrated plainly on the document. You’ll want a “boots on the ground” survey, commonly referred to as a field survey. Do not trust aerials as a sufficient tool for understanding much of anything; other then a rough idea of the property lines. Now is not the time to save a few bucks and an inaccurate survey can cost you big time later on. Do not expect your architect to provide survey services, the liability associated with this practical need cannot be justified.

If you haven’t already ordered a geological survey of the bearing capacity and underlying geology of the site before purchasing the parcel, then you will need to under take this task next. Your architect will want to understand the particulars of the proposed building envelopes and the required built solution response to each unique location. The idea is to avoid differential settlement and perhaps if located in mountainous terrain, the avoidance of below grade obstructions, etc. Again, do not expect your architect to provide this need to service. However in each case (surveys and geotechnical reports), your architect can be helpful by providing you with reputable companies, approximated costs and contact information.

THE BUILT RESPONSE

Early on you will want to consider how to manage the built response. Because the many advantages…Design-Build has exponentially become one of the most desired methods for project delivery. Design-Build is by where the architect will contractually provide all services; from concept to completion. Often times the architect will engage a pre-qualified general contractor and provide as “Single Source” accountable, professional services, construction management, project budgets, allowances, progress review and delivery of the final product. As always exercise good judgment; not all architects will be qualified as capable in delivering this level of service. Discuss your architects experience, capacity and understanding of the process. (please see Design-Build link below)

The alternative to Design-Build will be to engage for the built response directly with a reputable general contractor; the architect in return would be designated as the projects construction administrator. Under this type arrangement each entity will report to you directly for the services provided. Again AIA Standard Agreements are available for your use. Either way, insist that budgets be respected and quantified for each level of the evolving design.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE TASKING

Each architect will possess their own way of tasking through schematic design and design development; however each will need to gather the stats: budget, site improvements, square-footage, programming, captured views, building vocabulary, etc. Sketch renderings of elevations and floor plans will assist you with understanding that the tones of the architect’s intention, are demonstrating a working comprehension of your preferences.

Design Development is generally your last chance to direct changes before entering into the preparation of the Construction Documents. Construction Documents are the blueprints of your final built solution. It is the responsibility of the architect to provide all consulting services (structural engineering, civil engineering, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, geothermal, specialty and alike), necessary in the preparation of the construction document. I prefer that consulting fees be separate from the architects, so that when comparing services of another, it is plainly evident what the costs are. Afterwards, a competitive solicitation of supporting services can be shared with you and a simple overhead and profit margin applied upon the final selection. Final selection of consulting service can be made under a joint review performed by owner and architect alike, with preference given to the best qualified respondent. The owner should yield to the architect’s qualified and professional judgment; however the architect must be prepared to make the case as to why or why not a particular consultant is to be considered. An owner should never engage consulting service directly and will be discussed further under “Chain of Accountability”.

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS

The architects Construction Documents (Con Doc) must be sufficiently detailed as to help avoid Change Order extras that may arise in the absence of ones ability to quantify all work entailed. Missing detail is often the reason for escalating project costs and with some effort during the architect’s Con Doc phase of service, building costs can be held in check. Elaborating, while there is no one formula on how much architectural detailing will be enough….too little often means more profit for the architect and a built solution that will be delivered at a premium cost to you.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Now let’s talk ‘Chain of Accountability”…far too often over zealous owners and builders alike are quick to allow changes with substitutions of materials, inferior standards, means, methods or in other words to compromise performance and safety criteria of an approved and specified requirement, for a perceived savings. The very moment of this occurrence, a snowball effect of liability is placed upon the shoulders of the party breaching the architects approved standard. Some changes may result in nothing more then a cosmetic difference, while others could result in catastrophic failure, exponential cost in remedy, or in a worse case scenario…loss of life. Maintain a Chain of Accountability for which the architect is insured. If a change is desired, discuss it with your architect and have a Change Order (add or deduct) issued for the want. This process will keep everyone accountable, informed and most of all protected.

As always Dan Joseph Architects http://www.djawest.com/ is ready to serve your needs; give me a call….I would enjoy meeting you, walking the site and discussing my process of bringing you the best in Professional Services.

POINTS TO REMEMBER

1. Asking an Architect to walk your parcel(s) will help with understanding the potential of multiple locations, while also providing some feed-back regarding the Architect themselves.

2. Architecture is technical competency expressed as art. Competency alone will not guarantee you of a successful solution; however an artistic professional may very well achieve something remarkable. Look for passion, sensitivity, reservation, a quite soul that will allow themselves to be absorbed by the intangibles.

3. DO NOT USE AERIAL SURVEYS WHEN ACCURATE INFORMATION IS REQUIRED.

4. Early on you will want to consider how to manage the built response. Because of the many advantages…Design-Build has exponentially become one of the most desired methods for project delivery. Design-Build is by where the architect will contractually provide all services; from concept to completion. (see link below)

5. Request that consulting fees be separate from the architects, so that when comparing services of another, it is plainly evident what the costs are.

6. The Construction Documents must be sufficiently detailed as to help avoid Change Order extras, that may arise in the absence of ones ability to quantify all work entailed.

7. Maintain a “Chain of Accountability”; require that all changes…on any level, be managed by Change Orders (adds, deducts and even if there is no difference). #djawest

Click on the link below to view Design Build attachment:

http://www.djawest.com/DesignBuildBrochure.pdf