The Mountains of Montana
Big Sky, Montana
Well the moment finally came. I had postponed the dreaded walk since the very day I had arrived early last week. My discomfort in taking a quiet trek near the origins of the Gallatin River by way of the Headwaters Camp trail wasn't due to impossibly deep snow; where only a couple of inches had accumulated that in the heart of winter would have easily equaled several feet. No, the real crux of the problem was that I had saved this one remaining experience over a week long visit in review of completed works for my last day, and now that day had come all too quickly.
Words cannot possibly begin to convey a feeling or emotion well enough to be shared or understood by others. How does one capture the sense of place, song, passage or remembrance that moves the heart or soul? Such things are often deeply personal and occur in a moment of silence; the kind of silence I had experienced while in the palm of Lone Mountain, the Pioneer Range and Cedar located deep within the confines of the Yellowstone Club located in Big Sky, Montana. I was once again humbled and pretty sure that it was a hapless snow flake that had caused my eyes to blur in a swell of appreciation, admiration and respect for this magnificent place.
Front page news and paying the bills have been too much of a distraction for all of us in recent days and during this final walk of solitude the mountains gave me pause, perspective and demanded my full attention in a way that only this kind of place could.
No matter where you may live, may we all think of the Mountains...for our walk in life can sometimes be too brief and may pass all too quickly; be grateful for family, friends and distant places. For true value resides in such things. Events and circumstance will change by the day, however may the things that matter most to you and yours remain forever like the Mountains of Montana!
Daniel J Turvey, AIA
Bar BC Ranch
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Greeted with warm smiles and hardy handshakes, I was recently welcomed as a visiting Architect and well received guest at a Ranch House BBQ hosted by Hillwood; a Perot Company and Tom Evan's Sotheby’s International Realty of Jackson, Wyoming.
To say that I felt at home and among friends would be an understatement; this group of top-notch professionals shared in conversation and aspiration as though I had been a valued acquaintance that could be measured in years. But then again the Bar BC is no stranger to camaraderie, laughter and the simple enjoyment of people gathered at a magnificent setting. Fact is...stories of Bar BC Cowboys and Cowboy want-to-be’s began in 1912 and by the 1920’s was known as one of the most famous Dude Ranches in the region.
Embracing a rich heritage and the significant remembrance of place held within the hearts of generations, Hillwood concluded that all ranch improvements would be rooted in stewardship and an absolute appreciation for the land. Roads and trails would blend with natural scenery, scenic overlooks and majestic views. The dual mission would also conserve wildlife corridors, while also providing for private use and enjoyment of this one-of-a-kind setting.
Upon leaving and thanking my hostess for a good time had by all, a small herd of elk was seen grazing in the lush grass found in abundance surrounding a larger pond located interior to this unique community.
When you have the time, contact me and lets walk the Bar BC Ranch together to discuss your vision, hopes and aspirations. www.djawest.com/djacontact
www.hillwood.com tomevansrealestate.com www.barbcranch.com
U.S. Green Building Council
Big Sky, Montana
Montana State University School of Architecture, College of Engineering and Licensed Practicing Professionals were recently extended an opportunity to view and experience a best-in-class, LEED Platinum residence located in Big Sky, Montana. A well-known, picturesque, iconic Cabin has transformed how people view our natural world and construction practice everywhere, and was the focus of an exclusive one day event hosted by Mr. Thomson.
Todd S. Thomson is the Chairman of Dynasty Financial Partners, accomplished global practitioner and adviser of mergers, acquisitions & investments; serving as a Board Member of the World Resource Institute, and advocate of strategies and practice that have a real time impact on health, while promoting responsible, clean energy use.
Project Architect, Daniel J Turvey of Dan Joseph Architects states “It is befitting that America’s most admired, small home is also located where environmental responsibility is advocated above all else”.
What must an Architect possess?
Recently, I was interviewed by two women who had traveled far; while also daring a long, unfamiliar, narrow and winding canyon road and arriving under cover of darkness on a Montana mid-winters eve. Our nearly 2-1/2 hour conversation was unique; unique because 99% of the topic was about me rather than about project programming, budgeting, architectural styling and alike. What a rare opportunity in my profession…to be given the ears of others who wanted to learn something more about an architects mind, inspiration, the art of architecture and the importance of integrity, devotion and yes…even passion.
Our discussion was effortless as the pair presented many well thought out questions on a variety of topics; and I found myself eager to discuss every aspect of the inquiry. Towards the end of this exchange came the one query that totally caught me off guard; not that the question was complicated, nor even challenged my well informed understanding of a highly regulated profession...rather it was perhaps the most personal question I have ever been presented with.
The question was this….'What is the one thing that an Architect must posses to be successful?' I fell silent for a moment and carefully considered my reply; and within the first breath of my response I felt exposed to the world. Immediately there was a rush of vulnerability and likely my final word on that which resides in the deepest part of who I am…perhaps my most profound truth. It would have been easy to deflect and talk about education, licensure or even my connection to art and love of place…but my new found friendship was pure and deserving of a direct and sincere response.
“Passion” was my reply…and to really understand the significance of this response, you need to understand what the word ‘passion’ means to me. I’ll explain…
In our culture and likely around the world, we sometimes wander without true purpose…expecting that things will just happen; even perhaps that our employer or a big company will take care of us for life. We go to school, receive our diplomas, put in our 10 to 12 hour a day…all in the absence of any true, unadulterated passion.
For example the movie 'The Ramen Girl' is a simple metaphor about the deeper passion I speak of; emphasizing that even when all the right ingredients are plainly there and the steps have been followed precisely, the end result is still just bland soup. In a sentence, it’s about finding your passion and to pour all of it into your daily endeavor; imparting a soul the Japanese refer to as Tamashii.
In conclusion, if all else is equal…find an Architect that demonstrates the ability to solve complex goals with passion; passion for you, passion for the land, passion for the profession…and in this journey or pursuit to perfection, you may, like me...discover something about yourself that is informed by the most intimate of places…your very own soul!
Big Sky, Montana
Based upon utilization of historic Architecture, respect for cultural heritage, outstanding natural beauty and the incorporation of sustainable design principals, a Western States Architect has designed Mountain Living’s 'Most Responsible' Residence of the Year.
Photo insert is of a Guest Cabin as seen from the near side linkage of ponds designed by the Architect. This particular pond is close to 30' deep, providing family enjoyment while serving as a thermal mass for a WSHP exchange loop. The primary axis of the Cabin aligns to this water feature and another towards a magnificent view of the nearby Pioneer Mountain located deep within the Madison Range. Notice how beautifully the architecture keys into the waters edge, complimenting the rustic structure's inseparable connection to the landscape.
The project Headwaters Camp, located in Yellowstone Club - Big Sky, Montana “is carefully cradled in a world defined by the orderly needs of program and the random artistry of nature in the extreme,” says the architect Dan Turvey. Set upon the edge in a series of ponds, streams and falls designed by Turvey, a rustic cabin appears to hover over the sparkling waters of a high mountain alpine lake. “Developing our Master Plan on this 22 acre parcel from among others available was a critical decision made by the owner,” says Turvey. “It wasn't readily apparent that such potential existed on a site that lent itself more to limitations than an envisioned family encampment.”
Designing a structure in the Rockies at 8000 feet, proximate to Yellowstone National Park presents many challenges; including an active seismic zone, annual snow fall approaching 8’-0” and an underlying geology that must be considered well in advance to undertaking any formal response. Within these constraints the Architect looked to the National Park and our collective early century architectural heritage for creative inspiration. “The idea was to showcase and celebrate an enduring, regional vernacular that conveys strength, permanence and a sense of confidence amongst an overwhelming panorama of majestic mountains and weather extremes,” says Turvey. “The added practical benefits of this vocabulary allowed us to seamless integrate moment frames, shear panels and a wide flange ridge beam, while also accenting the dwelling with rafter tails, reclaimed dimensional timber and log assemblies throughout a substantial structure.”
The difficulties of achieving energy efficiency in a rustic vocabulary, which by this example utilizes the appearance of dove-tailed, hand hewn, sand chinked timbers, dry stacked stone and old world planking, was accomplished with an artistic approach of applying materials to a conventional wood framed structure. The final result is a modest sized, 1800 sf, rustic dwelling that reflects sustainable values that have been honored at the highest possible level by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
This LEED-Platinum designated home is the first in Southwest, Montana and the third home in the state to receive any certification from the USGBC. “The vision for Headwaters was to create a family camp that feels and looks like it has existed for 100 years,” says owner Todd Thomson. “I was also determined to build a home that reflects my values as an environmentalist and board member of the World Resources Institute.”
"Really what makes this project so special was the commitment on behalf of all the parties to push Headwaters Camp to a level that currently has no equal” says Turvey. “In the big picture of things, the end product is a reflection of an Owner’s exceptional vision and directive.” while adding “The contractors collective commitment and determination to make the mark cannot be understated; without the teams applied effort, certification would not have been possible.”
Dan Joseph Architects shares the true power of architecture with a breathtaking example of a modest sized, rustic dwelling that reflects sustainable values.
'Green Building' often evokes images of rectilinear like structures with clean, geometric lines. So how is it possible for a Rustic Cabin that appears to have been built decades before, to receive a LEED for Homes Platinum rating: a top designation for residences awarded by the United States Green Building Council?
Consider for one…that the Headwaters Camp - Guest Cabin is an original design and likely the most efficient ever built; for instance eliminating problems of uneven settlement, air and insect infiltration normally associated with buildings of this type, a fully insulated Chimney and Fireplace enclosure and a WSHP- Pond Loop sized for Cabin and Home alike.
Design - Performance Accomplishments
Celebrate the universal capacity of Good Planning and Outstanding Design with Dan Joseph Architects
Regardless of vernacular, the principals of 'Green' building still apply; with DJA…Rustic and Western Design can now share in the same positive attributes that other environmentally responsible buildings enjoy; fostering sustainable building practice as a good steward of our natural resources.
Yellowstone Club's - Headwaters Camp
'Single Source' Professional Services provided by Dan Joseph Architects
Construction Administration and Oversight · Site Master Planning: Building Envelopes, Aquatic Design (Ponds and Streams) · Infrastructure and Site Access Planning · Civil Engineering Coordination · Geothermal WSHP Engineering Coordination · Building Design - Schematics, Design Development, Construction Docs: Cabin, Horse Barn and Primary Residence · Structural Engineering Coordination · Architectural Review Committee submittals · Mass Modeling and all other related Professional Service tasking for this outstanding and unique High Mountain encampment.
Mr. Todd Thomson
Chairman, Dynasty Financial Partners
New York, New York
Yellowstone Club - Big Sky, MT
Architect & Construction Administrator
Dan Joseph Architects - Bozeman, Montana
It all starts with Site Selection
Dan Joseph Architects
You areabout to purchase 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.
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 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.
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).
How do you measure up?
Dan Joseph Architects
Tired, perhaps even a little sore you rise for another morning, one more cup of coffee and a tense commute to the office...the trip home will likely be more of the same. Undoubtedly, the sacrifices have all been worth while; the kids are in college or have transitioned into promising careers, the mortgage is manageable and a little personal time for reflection seems to be more of the norm.
So what will be next in the grand scheme of things? If you are like me, “quality of life” seems to occupy my thoughts more than I’d care to admit.
Pausing for just a moment, go find a tape measure; put your left thumb on your current age and place your right say on 75. This approach provides a great visual for really comprehending the number of quality years remaining as contrasted to say an average person. Now let’s take that number and convert them into summers. And so there it is...if your remaining life was measured in summers, where would you spend them?
For me remote jagged mountains and blue skies speak to my most inner passion and love of life. There are few other places that really affect me as deeply and spiritually as does our unspoiled western landscapes of the Rocky Mountains; and very few that speak as loudly as Jackson Hole’s Bar BC Ranch (see pic inset).
Small describes best how I feel when visiting this very special community; an historical 1,400 acre Ranch located in one of Wyoming’s most scenic corridors and at the confluence of the Snake and Gros Ventre Rivers. It doesn’t really matter what your life’s circumstance may be...the Teton Mountain Range, Teton National Park and blue skies for as far as the eye can see will absolutely command your attention.
In final word, I find it comforting knowing that some things are difficult to measure in years or inches; that there are ridgelines and river bottoms I may never walk, snow flakes and fish I’ll never catch...and just knowing that they exist certainly adds to my quality of life; God willing...the remainder of my summers will be spent in the splendor of our beautiful American West.
Think Design / Build
Dan Joseph Architects
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 forty years ago, 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 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.
With decades of construction specific and professional service experience, Dan Joseph Architects 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.
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.
Often times I am approached by friends and prospective clients that are in need of explanation, direction or supplemental information on how best to engage a contractor. While this topic is much more inclusive than what can be shared within this brief informational, the graph above will help to assist with understanding risks involved relative to the Construction Contract selected.
Basically, different types of construction contracts can be sub-divided into two large groups. One group includes those contracts for which the owner selects a contractor based upon competitive bidding; the other in which the owner negotiates a contract directly with the contractor.
Summarizing, a competitive environment fosters the best price and an efficient construction schedule. Risk of claim or a dispute can be greatly diminished by issuing comprehensive supplemental conditions and by understanding how to control other associated project costs not well defined by the construction documents: weather protection, below grade obstructions, utilities, allowances, and owner driven change orders or extras.
As always, Dan Joseph Architects is available to assist you with understanding the many options possible, implications and risk associated with any preferred method, including: Lump Sums, Unit Price, Competitive Bid, Special Reimbursable, Contractor Fees, Cost Plus-Percentage of Cost, Cost Plus-Fixed, Incentive Fee Contracts, Guaranteed Maximum Price and Design Build.
COMMON METHODS OF CONTRACTOR SELECTION
Competitive Bidding - By where Contractors have been pre-qualified based upon experience, reputation and capacity to serve; award would go to the "lowest responsible bidder" qualified to complete the job in accordance with the terms of the contract.
Negotiated Contract - By where a Contractor has been hand picked based upon experience, reputation and capacity to serve; candidate is assumed to be qualified to complete the job in accordance with the terms of the contract.
Cost Plus Fee Contract - Contracts of the cost-plus-fee variety are used where, in the judgment of the owner, a fixed-sum contract is undesirable or inappropriate. Cost-plus contracts are normally negotiated between the owner and the contractor. Most cost-plus contracts are open ended in the sense that the total construction cost to the owner cannot be known until completion of the project.
Cost Plus or Time and Material agreements should be thought of as "on the clock" arrangements that if used exclusively, may reduce the incentive to manage closely the work at large, resulting in inflated budgets, unexpected cost(s) and extended schedules. However, when used in conjunction with Competitive Bid Contracts, there are benefits to limited hourly tasking that at times will prove to be useful for managing project cost.
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
1. Competition fosters the best price and a timely completion of your project.
2. Limit disputes by making sure that your architect issues Supplementary Conditions with the Bid Set for items not well defined in the General Conditions: weather protection, below grade obstructions, utilities, allowances, supervision, clean up, dumpsters, schedules, equipment rentals, other responsibilities, insurances requirements, safety programs, RFI’s, etc., along with owner driven change orders (adds & deducts).
3. Understand the common methods of Contractor Selection and the attached graph for implications.
Dan Joseph Architects
The works of Dan Joseph Architects stands as a responsible approach to historic interpretation of western dwellings. His energy conscious designs combine a love of form, local materials, structural expressiveness and nature, defining a style that becomes as much of the surrounding landscape as does the dramatic views surrounding his practical solutions.
At a very basic level the Art of Architecture is often about stirring imagination, interest and excitement; to incorporate a twist of curiosity while seeking a new plane of creativity, says Turvey. “My method has been to consider the arts, literature, music, science and history…inspiring a unique architectural response to a perceived or shared need.”
A book later turned movie titled “Cowboys & Aliens” featuring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford has generated inspiration and an exciting new approach for a modern western vernacular. However the movie or story line isn’t so much a source of motivation, says Turvey...but rather the title. For Dan the title “Cowboys & Alien” suggests organic, with site specific queues which are firmly rooted in a western past; while also embracing cutting edge, modern materials and expressions...perhaps best termed as a “Modern Western”.
Dan suggests that it may be helpful to alternatively think about the blending of other extremes like music i.e.: Rock-n-Roll and Country or for instance Mannheim Steamroller’s best selling Christmas melodies; a body of work we all recognize as traditional, holiday standards, which utilize a modern vibe and distinct instrumentation. “Likewise and in the visual world, a Modern Western is about creating a new appearance informed by nature, our past, expressed, mixed and supplemented with a futuristic vision” says Turvey.
To infuse this original concept with momentum and notable, significant credibility, Dan has obtained commitments from Cowboys & Aliens co-author Andrew Foley and famed graphic artist Dennis Calero (see pic above) to join Dan Joseph Architects in a collaborative exploration of what it means to be both Cowboy & Alien; or moreover a Modern Western. There is no doubt, says Turvey “that the work product generated by this outstanding team will be worthy of much attention.”
Certainly, this one-of-a-kind collaborative must be informed by site specific solutions and buyer directives; therefore Dan Joseph Architects welcomes a progressive owner, directing personal preferences of final character, project budgeting and schedule.
Cowboys and Aliens Project Concept inquires are encouraged to contact Dan Joseph Architects with any questions or to just simply talk more in depth on the themed project shared.
In closing...Cowboys and Aliens is perhaps the best contemporary Western Movie ever made; the actors are credible, authentic and unforgettable. The various scenes demonstrate the importance of perception, perspective, time and place woven within the fabric of a modern story line captured at its very best moments; the music is appropriate and moving...supporting a theme that gently nudges the viewer backwards in time, when life was simple and valor most admired.
Snap Shop of USGBC Certification - Dan Joseph Architects
The built response has a significant impact on our quality of life, the natural world, health, economy and productivity. Consistently, new building means and methods, technologies and equipment are available to Architects and Owners alike who want to build in a responsible manner; benefiting from economic and environmental performance.
The US Green Building Council utilizing a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification program has rapidly transformed the old way of building structures into a celebration of performance based achievement. Through a process of third-party verification, a long list of completed tasks are assigned a point value that upon tabulation, will recognize the structure as either Certified, Silver, Gold or the highest achievement Platinum. Credits towards certification are earned in each of the following categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovative Design, and others depending on your building use and designation.
So exactly what is the next step for those desiring LEED Certification? It actually begins with a commitment from the owner; in the big picture of things the owner makes all things possible. Next…your architect needs to think critically while delivering good passive techniques, planning and design for high performance standards. No less important are the buildings support systems, including state-of-the-art HVAC, lighting, controls and other technologies that will improve the performance of your structure.
Concurrently and during the design phase of service, your architect will assist you with the selection and engagement of a Certified LEED Consultant or Provider. Providers play a very important role in the over-all process, which unfortunately at times are quickly forgotten upon making the mark. As third-party verifiers, it is very important that the Provider be contractually accountable to the owner only, not the architect or contractor; allowing for unbiased reviews of the completed work that will be documented and shared with the owner and the USGBC. Additionally, Providers offer over the shoulder review of evolving design and later contribute critical direction during the construction process. Lastly, your contractor must competently execute the plans and the various lists of assignments required to successfully meet the objectives.
It is important to note that registration, use and access of the “Final Check List” are controlled by the owner; again…not the contractor, architect or even the USGBC; so make sure that the final registration is in the owner's name exclusively.
While it is easy to over-simplify the process, achieving LEED Certification is a commitment whose thread can be traced from concept to completion, requiring months or years of diligence. As we move towards Net-Zero Buildings, the USGBC–LEED program has cleared a path for sustainable practice and continued reform for much of the built environment. Utilizing LEED criteria, energy codes and modern building efficiency standards, Dan Joseph Architects is ready to assist you with LEED Certification. Give us a call…
POINTS TO REMEMBER
1. Construction means and methods, technologies and equipment are constantly being updated.
2. LEED Certification for new projects is available through a process of third-party verification of completed tasks.
3. Your architect needs to think critically while delivering good passive techniques, planning and design for high performance standards.
4. As third-party verifiers, it is very important that the Provider be contractually accountable to the owner only, not the architect or contractor.
5. Contractors must competently execute plans and the various lists of assignments required to successfully meet objectives.
6. Registration, use and access of the “Final Check List” are controlled by the owner…not the contractor, architect or even the USGBC; so make sure that the final registration is in the owner's name exclusively.
7. The USGBC–LEED program has cleared a path for sustainable practice and continued reform for much of the built environment.