JOHNS GETTING A KITE, WAIT WHAT
Remember the telephone game? When you were younger, did you ever sit in a circle and pass information around. The first kid starts with some secret. He might say something like.
Today is john’s birthday and he is getting a bike.
This phrase gets passed around the circle. Each kid whispers it to the next and around it goes. The last person has to tell the first person that started the secret what they actually said. After going through so many different channels he might say something like Today John’s bird died so he is getting a kite.
So John is still getting something but he’s getting the wrong thing entirely. And also his bird died. Which might be news to John.
My goal is to keep the bird from dying (first and foremost) and making sure that communication is clear so that what you think you’re getting is what you’re actually getting.
So how do you make sure this doesn’t happen with your construction project. As long as you can keep these following things up to date, as well as keeping a running task list, or meeting notes then you will be fine. You might not capture 100% of the communication on the first attempt, but you will have checks and balances to ensure that you catch it if something tries to slip.
In every construction project there are 4 key elements of record keeping that can ensure your project is communicated clearly.
These don’t mean much if you don’t know what is in them or what they mean. So the first are the construction plans. These are the drawings that have been evolving over the design process. You’ve had many opportunities to look them over and most architects will walk you through the drawings to ensure you understand what they represent.
There have been occasions when I have met with clients and we ended up with tape all over the floor representing each room to see how the size felt to them. There have also been occasions when the client have not invested the time to look through the drawings and understand them. This usually leads to surprises. Not that things are being designed or specified under your nose, its just that if you don’t take the time to sit down with the architect to go over your drawings, you might not get a full picture of the project. Everything that has gone in to it and all the decisions that had to be made at some point along the process.
Communication will be happening constantly. How do you organize it all? How do you keep track? There are several project management programs out there, but I’m using one called Asana. You can assign task to people and see what gets done and by whom and when. It creates a story of the process. A history of decisions and choices made along the way that develops into a picture of the final design and construction.
Every architect has a process for design. Every one will be different and one of your decisions you have to make when selecting your architect is to understand and decide if you want to come under their process. If you’re interviewing an architect and you ask them what their process is and they have no answer for you, you need to move on. You need to know that they’re going to bring guidance and order to your project. They can’t do that if they don’t have a process. The best architects in the world. Frank lloyd wright, Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid, Santiago Calatrava, and all the rest. They all have a process and they bring their clients under that process. That’s what makes their projects and their designs so memorable and why they function so well for their clients. Their process allows them to fully understand and question their clients goals and needs.
One day I will get into my process and let you know how I progress through a project. I have a system I used to approach design and construction. This is not related to the design itself, it only is a framework that the project goes through. Almost like a checklist that ensures nothing slips through the cracks.
A large part of the my process is to maintain and foster communication with you about your project. At the beginning of each project, my clients are given an iPad that they can use for the course of the project. This iPad’s preloaded with all the project tools for your project and is set up to communicate with me.
Clients love this because it gives them a place to keep all the communication and ideas they discover along the way. At the end of the project, I compile all that information for the client and give it to them as a record of their process.
Architects walk a fine line of exploring history and utilizing current technology. As construction method and materials advance, more and more of our work is being done in the computer. But the design and the need for the ability to hand sketch is needed now more than ever.
Another thing that I wanted to mention is to get out of your email. Projects should not be run with email. There are too many discussions back and forth that get lost or pushed aside. Our inbox is flooded with email. Just the other day I heard an architect mentioned that he missed a meeting because the request was buried in an email. He skimmed the long email and missed the request.
The great thing about getting out of your email and having the tools to properly communicate is you can stay organized and have a direct link to me. FaceTime me. iMessage me. chat or just insert a note in asana. All this stuff is great and helps us to stay organized. This in turn is communicated to the contractor. So it is the architects job, as a professional, to communicate the ideas to the contractor and that is done through the drawings and specifications. Just to bring it back to those 4 key elements. Construction Plans or drawings, Specifications, Schedule, and Contracts.
But the guys in the field. How do you make sure that they know what the decision was? This falls back to the contractors job. He communicates to them, and the best way for him to do that is with the up to date plans and specifications.
If its not on the plans, then someone does not know about it. Someone is in the dark and there’s one person that doesn’t know that what he is doing is was revised. Directives get made. Decisions are changed.
We have to keep the plans and specifications updated. Allow instant access to them and keep a good history in the plans of what changed and where.
For managing drawings I am exploring using a program called Plan grid. It allows a number of cool features that I will not get into today, but its a nice plan management system. They have made a lot of progress over the years. When I first used it several years ago it had too many glitches, but things seem to be running smoother now.
The last thing I wanted to say is and this is very important
“After each conversation no matter how small, keep notes of what was discussed. Take notes and keep records or something will be miscommunicated.”
I hope that you are having great success with the planning and construction of your home. If you want to get in touch with me please reach out to me on twitter or google plus.