During an interview with a potential client, I answer many questions. Most are very similar: How much will it cost? How long will it take? Are you available to start right away? Do you have any references?
Another question that I’m often asked is, “Do you build the project too?” And like a good architect, I explain the difference between architects and contractors and politely say, “No. Architects design the project. Contractors build them.” Until now!
Let’s talk about that…
Architect-Led Construction Management Services
Align Design Group is a full-service firm. Our basic Professional Services Agreement includes managing the bidding process and we provide Construction Administration on every project. During the construction phase, as the architect, we meet weekly on site to review progress and observe the contractor’s workmanship. We assist in resolving unforeseen conditions and are available, as needed, to answer questions between project meetings. All applications for payment from the contractor are delivered to our office for review and certification, and any disputes are quickly resolved by our ongoing presence during this phase.
Offering construction management services was no great leap. In fact, it is one of the preconceptions held by many owners, and it actually works to our favor. Before meeting with an architect, many owners already assume we provide construction services. When we confirm that this is a service we offer, there is often little surprise and no 'sticker shock' so to speak.
Construction Management for us internally is simply an extension of the basic services we have always provided.
During the design phases, we provide additional cost estimating services and manage the owners budget throughout the process of development. We often provide this in conjunction with a consultant who is billed at an hourly rate already agreed upon by the client.
During bidding, rather than managing invitations and proposals we take on the responsibility of selecting builders and offer invitations to each trade. We typically divide the scope of work into four sections: plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and general trades. We then select three or four contractors to bid each section and assemble the best construction team for the least cost.
During construction, we provide two separate roles. We continue to provide full construction administration services as the architect: reviewing progress, reviewing payments, and consulting as necessary on any design modification. As construction managers, we manage the construction process, schedule contractors and coordinate the scope of work among trades.
Providing construction management does require more time on site and more focus on the construction of those projects being managed. When things go wrong (and you know they will), as construction managers we are positioned at the apex of the crisis and are in a position to respond quickly. Being involved, allows us to see these issues coming and manage their resolution before crises occur. We work as a team with the contractor, with the same goal of completing a quality project in a timely manner without dispute. We are all working from the same side of the table toward the satisfaction of the owner.
As construction managers, we essentially replace the services of the general contractor, so we have established our fee for construction management commensurate with the profit and overhead typically proposed by a general contractor. Our total fee for these additional services is based on a percentage of the total cost of construction. We are paid as a percentage of each invoice from contractor to owner. Each time we process a payment to a contractor, it is accompanied by an invoice for our construction management services.
We have learned to pick and choose the projects for which we provide construction management services. It is a serious commitment and the additional responsibility can be fatal to our business’ reputation if not managed well. With the right client and the right project, offering Architect-Led Construction Management Services benefits our best architectural projects and is very beneficial to our bottom line.