I am showing the service below in list form because home owners don’t always want all of it. Historically, I’ve had clients who want me to do all the contractor communication and I’ve had clients who want to do all of it themselves. More typically it falls somewhere in between. A lot of the information below is dependent on the degree of detail we selected for the drawings and how much direct involvement you want. In most cases, I’ll let you know before I say anything to the contractor. Six hours of construction services is normally included with my design contract, but you can have more blocks of time if you are not comfortable with open ended work. My help is billed at 65/hr. and due monthly. Below, the services are listed in sequence of need. You can also refer to the “how to begin” section on my website (FAQ ‐ you need to know). This gives you a general picture of the process and how construction services fit in.
These days, I almost never do this because it takes about 40 hours and the fee is fairly high. However, with larger projects cost is a big factor and budget planning is very important. This is especially true with large houses or commercial projects. The benefit is that we can tailor the project to fit your budget by using the estimate like a menu to dial the cost up or down.
This is normally a part of my design service and takes only a few hours. As you know, I save most of the bids for my projects and plug into a cost chart which converts the project cost into cost per square foot by category, division, and total. I can apply these square foot costs to your project in a one page spreadsheet and give you a very general idea of your cost before the construction drawings are started. Although not as detailed, this estimate can still be a very useful tool to adjust our cost to fit a budget goal.
Distribute the Drawings
Many home owners do this work. It amounts to calling the contractors on the list we prepare and emailing them the drawings. Another way to do it, is to have them pick up paper sets of drawings. When they are contacted, the contractors will have technical questions about the construction and timing of the project. Architects are better at this but home owners can do it too.
After distribution, the contractors review the drawings for a few days. They will usually have questions about possible material substitutions or construction methods. Unless there are complicated options the owner wants, I normally allow for this time in my design fee. The work doesn’t take a lot of time and sometimes it can save money without design compromise.
This is similar to a detailed estimate except that I make a spreadsheet of the contractor bids we receive and tabulate in the same format as my cost chart. The contractors do all the work and I arrange their numbers in columns so that we can compare their bids, and potentially locate any inconsistencies. This work is normally done when the drawings are complete and submitted to the building department. It’s a great help in the contractor selection process and typically takes only a day or two. Also, we can balance the subjective pros and cons of each bidder such as quality, management skills, and financial viability. These are sometimes hard decisions and I can help you significantly here.
Quality Control Site Visits
This amounts to a regularly scheduled visit on a bi‐weekly or monthly basis. The goal is to verify that the work is being built according to the design and generally look out for your interests. If I see something, I can discuss with you or notify the contractor right then. Often this is combined with a payment application review.
If we specified finish materials, trusses, windows, appliances, or other similar equipment, I can review the specific details of these products to make sure they are equal to the items we specified.
I can make regular quality control visits to the site or I can respond as needed to questions. The most common issues come from discoveries when existing conditions are exposed behind old construction. Sometimes contractors need help interpreting the drawings, and sometimes owners want to make changes.
Pay Application Reviews
Although banks provide this service to protect their interests, I do it as well. The purpose of these visits is to determine if the work which is billed is really complete to the percentage billed. If your financing doesn’t require bank inspections, this service can be very useful.
At the end of the project, after final inspections by the building department, and before final payment is made, there is always a final inspection by the owner to determine if everything is complete, in working order, and to the quality specified on the drawings. In many cases, the owner has developed a rapport with the contractor and feels comfortable closing out alone. Banks almost always want a statement from the architect that the work is complete according to the drawings, and owners often feel the same way. At this time, you receive all of the manufacturing warranties, operating manuals, and certificates. There is also a final punch list, which is a list of items for correction or completion.