Savings and success: these are the top two objectives of every client we work with. After all, who wouldn’t like more of either one…or both for that matter? Below are five of the best ways to enhance a design so that it looks its very best, while keeping the budget at bay:
1. Get real: Nothing squashes success more than an unrealistic budget and unfortunately, I know this from in-the-field experience. We’ve all encountered a client who had a list of requirements that were huge, a budget that was small and no understanding of the reality of balancing them. Looking at the specific parameters you are working with at your present juncture and agreeing on how they will be achieved as a team is the top component of a solid project. This involves working with brokers, contractors, the owner’s representative, the architect and anyone else you are relying on to build out the space. All projected numbers should be spelled out in detail to make certain they reflect a true cost estimate. The budget can be checked again and again as you have more information, more drawings and more time on the project. Through close listening (a favorite topic of mine if you’ve read my last few columns here), your team — even with a challenging budget — can hone in on your needs and help you get to those magic numbers.
2. Stick with a schedule: Much like budget, a schedule needs to be rooted in reality. Aggressive project timelines are the norm these days, but there are still limits. Proactively collaborating with your team of professionals and asking them to chime in with the amount of time each task will take is a good start. Get your broker, contractor, owner’s representative, construction manager and project manager — sometimes the architect serves in this role as well — on board. Then, add a bit of wiggle room and flexibility and you will be on your way.
3. Rally the troops: Having the right professional team in place very early on (a topic I covered back in June of last year in a piece called “Putting Together a Dream Team”) is critical to a fruitful design project. The team can help you outline the budget and schedule we speak of above and be on hand to assist you with any project deviations that arise. An architect can serve in a leadership role here, outlining a plan of attack and successfully navigating the areas in between. A program item may change, a division may need to be relocated or the Department of Buildings may throw you a loop. A comprehensive team will help you prepare for those changes and pivot swiftly, making adjustments without losing sight of the all-important budget and schedule. Simply put, if you have to rush to make a call and select a vendor, that’s valuable time lost.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate: Making sure all interactions are clear and concise is key. So is establishing a chain of command so people know what to expect, when and from whom. Whether you go the old-fashioned route or use one of the many technological tools out there to see tasks through, having an infrastructure will help all of the project’s players stay on track from lease through move-in.
5. Try trust: I’m not talking about blind trust here! By all means, do your due diligence, check credentials and call the references provided. However, once you’ve selected an architect (or any other valuable member of your project team for that matter), it’s time to put some trust in them. Most professional architects these days understand the business aspect of design and will look out for your best interests. Though we may push the envelope a bit and suggest alternatives within reason, we’re willing to take direction and be by your side to achieve your goals.