Putting Together a Dream Team


The point guard—otherwise known as the playmaker—is my favorite position on a basketball team. Why, you ask? Because I, as an architect, can relate.

SEE ALSO: A Kumbaya Moment for Pre-Planning Landlords With Tenants

When working with a tenant or in tandem with a landlord, architects often take possession of the metaphoric ball, assuming a role that resembles that of any point guard. One way we do so is by obtaining construction cost estimates so that the broker can take on the position of coach.

Armed with a realistic projection of the budget, the broker can advise his or her client of costs per square foot and factor that number into negotiations. Then it’s up to that team to deliver—in this case, to make the deal happen.

Providing that critical support is the name of the game, and it often involves tapping the expertise of several general contractors or construction managers with whom the architect has relationships and from whom he or she has received accurate bids in the past. This process can take place before a lease has even been signed or while the deal is being manifested and negotiated, but preferably before any detailed drawings are done.

This leads to my next point: it’s not just about dollars and cents. Sure, all tenants want the space of their dreams to fall within the perfect budget, but that’s not to say there’s not more to consider. Just like with any winning team, chemistry between all of the players is an essential element—the architect, owner’s rep, landlord, tenant, subcontractors and construction manager should all be able to work together harmoniously.

Many buildings, for a variety of purposes, also ask that the contractor be on their list of approved vendors, so that’s another factor we take into consideration. From there, fees can be worked out and a fair deal can be negotiated, particularly when there’s an ongoing relationship. However, that’s not to say that non-preferred contractors can’t be used—we’re always open to looking at new, talented builders—but their qualifications would have to be vetted and they would have to be approved by the building beforehand.

Knowing when to pass the ball—and to whom—is critical, particularly when you only have a few days to put together a budget, a common occurrence in our industry. Managing the estimating process is just as important as supporting the brokers in other parts of the deal, such as measuring square footage for accuracy or discussing layout options. Doing that due diligence saves plenty of headaches for the broker and his or her client. Coordinating bids to put together the perfect team—the one that delivers on time and within budget—can then be a real “win” for us and for our clients.