The Preliminary Design Phase is the heart of every design and construction process. In this phase, the design and budget parameters are established, and the client’s functional and aesthetic goals are expressed through the conceptual process of Preliminary Design.
Establishing Design Goals
The project “kick-off” meeting (which, in many cases, occurs during the interview itself) establishes goals for the project. These goals are usually expressed formally through a written list of requirements, informally in conversations, or through the use of photographs and magazine clippings. Design goals are functional and aesthetic guidelines that are used to evaluate design decisions made throughout the course of the project. Compromises between budget, quality, appearance and many other factors have to be made within the context of these project goals and priorities.
Pre-Design work may include site selection assistance, site visits to measure and document existing conditions, research of building code and zoning laws, discussions with local government agencies and consultations with construction subcontractors to evaluate the project’s feasibility.
Schematic (or Conceptual) Design is when the fun begins for the client and the project begins to take shape. The goal of Schematic Design is to illustrate proposed solutions to the established design goals. Design drawings may be sketched freehand or drawn on the computer using AutoCADD software. crbs meets with the client to evaluate the proposed solutions. To insure that the Schematic Design accommodates the many facets and objectives of the project, the plans may also be discussed with interior designers, engineers, landscape architects, financial consultants, construction subcontractors and government agencies. Finalizing Schematic Design often takes several meetings and rounds of revisions to reach the proper balance of the many design parameters.
Preliminary Construction Estimate
Once the Schematic Design is established, crbs creates a preliminary Construction Estimate Worksheet to verify that the project moves forward with a comfortable balance between scope, quality, and price.
In the Construction Documents Phase, the ideas expressed in Preliminary Design are expanded upon, a design vocabulary is established, and the client’s goals are brought together with the technical requirements of the building team and local building requirements. The Construction Documents are detailed drawings which are used to apply for building permits and to obtain bids from subcontractors.
The Design Development phase is when the design itself becomes truly polished. Design Development typically includes fully developed floor plans, interior and exterior elevations, lighting plans and key details. These drawings are used to finalize (as much as possible) the design intent, finishes and other essentials of the project. No major design issues should be left unresolved at the completion of this process.
Once the client approves the Design Development studies and drawings, crbs produces the final Permit Documents - detailed, technical drawings and specifications to be used by the building team. Construction Documents include full dimensions and notes, building sections, construction details, structural engineering, electrical diagrams, and performance specifications for HVAC work as required by local government agencies. The Construction Documents express the design intent and technical requirements of the project together, ensuring that the work flows smoothly throughout the construction process.
Permits & Bidding
Once Construction Documents are completed, crbs submits them to the appropriate government agency to obtain building permits. crbs also submits the documents to subcontractors to obtain final bids for the project. To ensure an accurate bidding process, crbs schedules subcontractor walkthroughs to review existing site conditions as part of the bidding process.
Final Construction Budget
In an ideal situation, the final Construction Estimate Worksheet confirms preliminary budget assumptions. In reality though, there are sometimes discrepancies between the two. In these cases, having comprehensive preliminary and final Construction Estimate Worksheets is extremely helpful in understanding where “scope creep” has affected the design and hence, the budget. Once understood, crbs can work with the client toward reaching a balance and finalizing the construction budget.
Schedule & Contacts
The Construction Schedule outlines the anticipated progress of construction. From time to time, this schedule may be updated to reflect events that occur during construction. Projects can experience scheduling delays for many reasons: strikes, weather, unexpected or concealed conditions, changes in scope, and sometimes due to simple human error. Often, there are opportunities to shift particular items in the schedule to accommodate the unexpected without affecting the overall time frame of the project. As always, crbs makes every effort to avoid delays that would extend the project completion date.
Selections & Shop Drawings
While most selections for fixtures and materials should ideally be made by the client prior to the completion of Construction Documents and Bidding, some selections will surely need to be made during the actual Construction phase. For these items, crbs will determine cost “allowances” prior to the creation of the Final Construction Budget. Critical dates for the final selection of unspecified items will be highlighted in the Construction Schedule to ensure that the project progresses as planned.
Shop Drawings are created by construction subcontractors for items such as cabinetry to insure that the actual built products will meet the design intent expressed in the Construction Documents. Shop Drawings are reviewed and approved by both the client and crbs prior to that item’s fabrication.
During the Schematic Design and Construction Documents phases, crbs invoices clients monthly based on the proportion of work completed to date. Payment is due upon receipt during these phases. Late payments are charged interest at the rate of 2% per month.
During the Construction phase, crbs invoices clients as required based on the proportion of work completed or materials stored to date. Construction Pay Requests or “draws” consist of a Pay Request Invoice that summarizes the current work being billed. In order to insure the continuity of the project, payment is due within five days of receipt during the Construction phase. Late payments are charged interest at the rate of 2% per month.
Every Contractor/Subcontractor who does work on a homeowner’s property has “Lien Rights” - legal provisions to insure that members of the building team receive payment for their work. A Contractor/Subcontractor who is not paid has the right to attach a Lien to the property, which legally requires payment of the debt prior to the property being transferred to another party. As the project progresses and payments are made, the Contractors/Subcontractors give up their Lien Rights on the property through Lien Waivers. crbs (or a Title Company) collects and retains these very important documents for your protection as payments are made to subcontractors. crbs provides the client with an overall Lien Waiver which acknowledges receipt of funds due to both crbs and its subcontractors.
Scope changes, allowance items, concealed, unexpected and/or unforeseen existing conditions may cause changes to project costs. Cost overages are the responsibility of the Client. crbs shall endeavor to document any such cost changes in a timely manner via Construction Change Notifications and/or Allowance Adjustment Notifications sent to the Client. These notices may be generated by crbs for items such as concealed or unforeseen conditions, or directed by the client for upgrades to specifications, increases in scope or other design changes.
For simplicity’s sake, crbs provides clients with a two-stage agreement process. A Pre-Construction Agreement outlines the terms of the relationship for the services to be provided prior to construction of the project, including design. The Construction Agreement outlines the costs for completion of the construction portion of the work.
The Pre-Construction Agreement outlines fees for consulting services, as well as, Schematic Design and Permit Document services. Consulting-type services and Schematic Design are completed on a time-and-materials basis at an hourly rate as outlined in the Agreement. Permit Documents are typically completed on a fixed fee basis reflecting a percentage of the preliminary Construction
Construction Management/General Contracting fees consist of two parts. Overhead is an administrative cost item which covers expenses such as the cost of time spent during the bidding process and on administrative office functions (including billings, payouts, scheduling, collecting lien waivers, etc.), as well as, a portion of office expenses (such as insurance, marketing, supplies and office space). Profit is the portion of project costs that is anticipated to go toward actual profit for crbs. Overhead and Profit are typically calculated as a percentage of job costs incurred.