Recently I’ve heard some interesting stories concerning the dynamic between contractors and designers or architects involved in the construction management process. Although many tales emphasize the disparate interests of both groups creating conflict, the expertise from both sides can be a benefit when combined in a project.
This relationship can be strategic. There is a strong potential for decision support and idea reciprocation at any phase of the construction cycle. Contractors can help value-engineer the design so that it’s more cost effective and architects can help contractors interpret the design and ensure sure the work is done with all details considered.
The International Interior Design Association brings to light a point that is a main driver of my newfound perspective:
“On occasion, relationships between interior designers and general contractors can become plagued with costly change orders and destructive communication breakdowns. Those general contractors and construction professionals just don’t get it, right? Not so, say those in the construction field. It’s a misunderstanding on both sides. In fact, many have worked to educate designers and enhance the overall experience for them. It’s more than possible for interior designers and general contractors to work together seamlessly, effectively and efficiently. It’s simply a matter of solid communication, viewing the project from a holistic perspective, and respecting one another’s differences and unique skill sets.”
Contractors can also help architects understand what’s feasible and not realistic within their plans. It’s a good practice to have these groups working together from as early on as possible so that they can consider unique project needs. With the frequent change that construction can require, it is important for a collaborative effort to understand how changes impact the larger picture.
This way, both parties can understand the highest-value elements, but also remain transparent on cost potential. Architects provide a baseline that can be improved by practicality. Working hand in hand without the perspective that interests are separate is the best path for these experts to exceed a project’s goals. To do this, both architects and contractors need to build trust in each other and recognize the value the other brings to the construction equation.
This partnership can be a recipe for consistent success.
Once collaboration becomes a goal, some best practices to uphold in the relationship are:
– Transparency and integrity: Everyone needs to be on the same page. Any miscommunication could represent a huge risk to the timeline or budgeting during a project’s roll-out. With the understanding of other players’ needs, all those involved should be engaged in open and frequent communication to remain aligned on goals and next steps.
– Problem solving skills: How do both groups overcome road blocks to ensure the owner is satisfied? All problems can have planning in place to prevent obstructions once the relationship with architects and contractors is fostered and made as productive as possible.
If this collaboration isn’t perceived as a priority, there are serious risks of a poor architect/contractor relationship. Michael Schoenecker of the Winkelman Blog mentions that “Generally speaking, the greatest risk that comes from a poor relationship between an architect and contractor is conflict. When the two sides fail to communicate effectively, the project can suffer from time delays, cost overruns, and even risk not being completed. Although rare, it is not unheard of for disagreements to become so bitter that contractors walk off the job.”
Given the positive results of this convergence, architects and contractors should explore the potential of this relationship to yield the best outcomes from their involvement. As JH Greene ventures out to meet new construction partners at the Who’s Who Showcase in Philadelphia today, this critical relationship remains a strong priority.
The 2016 Blue Book Who’s Who In Building & Construction Philadelphia Showcase is one of many networking opportunities JH Greene & Son plans to attend this year. With our increased presence within the Philadelphia construction management network, we aim to grow additional relationships to enhance our already strong connections.
If you are interested in learning more about JH Greene, or meeting us at any of our upcoming events, please reach out to Business Development Manager, Heather Grossmuller, at firstname.lastname@example.org.