Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Working With Designers - Architect Brains

Learning to work with designers is both challenging and beneficial to your business. The keys to success may be hidden but can open doors of opportunity to builders willing to nurture the relationship.

Design is usually considered to be a right-brain function - the creative side of the brain. However, construction documents need accurate details and organized information; characteristics more common to left-brain function - the analytic side. I can’t deny that some designers possess adequate amounts of both characteristics, but a look at many of the best creative professions reveals this is not usually the case. As a builder given the choice, I choose the one-sided, right-brain, creative designer.

The motivation of this article comes in response to recent negative comments directed toward residential designers, accused of producing less than adequate construction drawings. Since I prefer creative designers, I realize there may be limitations to the documents I receive.

Construction drawings are part of an entire package of information that I use to manage my projects. Additionally, I need contracts, specifications, scopes of work and a construction schedule. I’m extremely good at managing projects my way, hence I like to control all of the information and keep it organized using our typical routines and procedures.

The quality of construction drawings that we’ve worked with over the years have been as varied as the designs themselves. Sometimes we get what we pay for, which may be not much or perhaps more than we need. Keep in mind that great designers may not have a strong aptitude for creating working drawings and this is fine with me.

I want to be the one responsible to ensuring that all of the documents I use have the information that my team needs to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. I need documents that are thorough, complete and accurate, and anticipate the needs of everyone that will be using them. How can I possibly expect an architect or designer or any third party to provide that unless I’ve done a good job of first describing everything I need.

Additional articles will address more thoughts and ideas for working with architects and designers. - Keith Groninger

1 comment:

  1. I'm stirring the pot. No disrespect intended. My intention is to try to get builders to recognize that they need to take responsibility for all of the documents they use as reference to build with: drawings, specs, contracts and scopes of work. Even at the highest level of quality, how can I possibly know that drawings provided by a third party are going to be compatible with the procedures I use in my business? Doesn't it seem risky to enter into contractual relationships with various trade contractors based on information that's provided by someone else?

    Not all designers are as professional as those commenting on this post. Those that aren't probably won't be reading this anyway. I was trying to give the benefit of doubt to the ultra-creative designers that I know, that simply don't grasp the art and science aspects of architecture as mentioned.

    Instead of complaining, I believe builders should take an active role in communicating and coordinating the production of the working drawings. Architects need the feedback loop from builders in order to make consistent improvements to the documents they provide. There's no excuse for a builder to complain about drawings, especially after starting construction. Questions and answers should be addressed no later than during estimating and better yet during preliminary design. Take care.