No need to Spec-ulate, Part Two


Last week, I shared three of the most frequently asked questions we encounter out in the field and provided you with detailed answers, based on our experiences. We got plenty of excellent feedback from readers and, this week, we are ready to tackle three more timely topics, all of which address the dynamics of working within a project team:

Do I need an owner’s representative or a project manager? 

SEE ALSO: Early Collaboration Key in Health Care Design and Construction: Forum

The answer to this question is not one size fits all; you have to think about it on a case-by-case basis. Having an independent person makes sense on some projects, but not others.

We often ask our clients a few questions back in response to this one. How much time, as the head of real estate or the CFO or COO, can you dedicate to making day-to-day decisions? And, just as importantly, do you want to be the one to make those choices and implement them?

Someone with no prior experience designing an office may want to pass the baton — and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! Whether they put that trust in their architect or want to hire an independent owner’s rep or project manager to step into that role is generally a matter or comfort. We’ve successfully worked on projects both ways. An involved owner or point person, or architect with the ability to coordinate with the many consultants on a project, is what matters most.

How do I pick a construction firm?

That feeling you have when there are so many options on the table that it becomes hard to make a choice at all — it also happens to many when it comes time to pick a construction firm. There are a plethora of excellent companies in the New York City metropolitan area, so we advise that our clients focus not on the firm as a whole, but rather on the team that would be working on their specific project.

Who are the people and personalities that you’d spend time with each day and do they align with the members of your own project team? Will they be on site and engaged, dedicating the time and effort needed to get the job done? Is their work style similar to yours?

From there, you should look at the firm’s overall reputation, references from others in the industry (go deep into those referrals for the best results, asking detailed questions), and of course, price. A proven track record is a must! The best construction firms are the ones that complete work on time, within budget and have satisfied clients who want to work with them again and again.

Are you okay with working with my…?

Another design firm? Yes. Your family member who has some ideas to offer up based on their own experiences? Yes. Your art consultant? Yes. Notice a similarity in answers here?

That should be the ideal response: We’re absolutely happy to collaborate with the people on your team. And that’s what Spector Group does. While some of our industry peers are willing to do the same (and others are perhaps not), as long as the parameters and roles are discussed up front, all you have to do is ask. Your success is more important than our egos.

Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 2,000 projects.