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6 Tips for Finding the Perfect Custom Home Architect

 

Finding a great architect is not an easy task. Whether you are looking to convert a warehouse into a living space, build an addition, or construct your ideal home from the ground up, an architect plays a critical role.  Knowing the importance of this role, you do not want to leave anything to chance when it comes to realizing your custom home plans.  To ensure a successful project experience, it is important to do your homework.  Rest assured, it is not as difficult as it used to be. The Internet and social media are great resources to begin your search. Architect websites provide visual references and pertinent information about their unique qualifications. However, there are other things you should consider prior to making your final selection.

Finding the perfect custom home architect.

So how do you begin to find the perfect match?

Look for local references. Ask your neighbors, family and friends for recommendations.  Ask the people in your community about their new home design or renovation.  Gather a list of names of architects who provide services in your area.  Because the relationship between a homeowner and an architect is such a personal one, most residential clients and architects find each other through personal referrals.

Qualified to perform design work. Architects are not required to be AIA members.  However, an architect’s AIA membership means that they subscribe to the AIA Code of Ethics and comply with required continued education requirements. In addition, they have access to a range of professional resources, which tend to ensure a higher level of service.

Demonstrates commitment for realizing your vision. What is the firm’s workload? Does the firm have the capacity to take on one more project? Who is your designated home project architect? What is their philosophy on home design? What is their fee structure? What is their project track record for delivering a project that is on time and within budget?  These are all questions to ask when determining whether your prospective firm will be able to realize your dream home vision.

Possesses a body of work you love. Begin your research on your prospective architect’s website and social media sites. You want to see a range of aesthetics.  This range will tell you whether the architect has the ability to adapt to a client’s specific style.  However, there are occasions when you may be looking to hire on an architect who has a signature style or sensibility. Take all of these areas into careful consideration.

Provides examples of effective project collaboration with desired team resources.  A team that works together in a positive, productive manner will help to ensure project success.  If you have an architect in mind, make sure you ask for past client and contractor references to get an idea as to how they interact with other team members.  Ask past clients whether they were accountable for helping to ensure the project was delivered on time and within budget. Find out whether the architect initially responsible for the project was the individual who actually ended up performing the work? Ask whether the client was satisfied with the services and final results. If you are speaking with a contractor resource, ask whether the construction documents were clear and detailed enough to provide accurate pricing and allowed them to perform services in accordance with the design intent.  Ask the contractor whether the architect was actively engaged throughout the project’s duration.  It is important to make sure the architect addresses project issues in a timely manner throughout the construction phase. 

How else do you determine whether you have found the right architect? Architects, what do you do to establish a trusting relationship with current or prospective clients? Please tell us in the comments section below.

Restaurant Project Planning Requires Some Food For Thought

 

There is no shortage of great restaurants in San Francisco and Napa Valley.  It seems like every week, you can find announcements for new and exciting restaurants in EaterSF. If you are a restaurateur, you are thinking about the right chefs, desired location, preferred patrons, menu, pricing, promotion, and other details that will help you to differentiate yourself among the competition and realize your goals for success.  In the back of your mind, you know you need to think about a whole other realm of your dream establishment – planning for the functionality of your space. 

Goose and Gander, Restaurant Construction Remodel

Located in St. Helena, the Goose and Gander boutique restaurant project entailed the interior remodel of an existing building.

As a builder who performs construction management and general contracting services in the greater Bay Area, we have a pretty clear understanding of the unique challenges associated with the construction of a new restaurant structure, remodel, or addition. Knowing there are a number of restaurateurs in our area, we decided to write this post to encourage continued growth of new restaurants and our waistlines!

Here are six key areas when planning the design and construction of your restaurant project:

  1. Navigate your restaurant project with an experienced team:  Owning and operating a restaurant requires familiarity with the area’s building codes. Building codes tend to be very specific and subject to regular changes.  You will find that there is a level of sophistication in these codes and you’d be best served by hiring design and/or construction professionals with restaurant experience. Identifying your team early on in the planning process with help to eliminate the hiccups that occur during the plan review and construction phases.  A qualified team will help you move through the challenges and allow you to open your doors on time.
  2. Describe the desired project scope: Are you planning a new restaurant?  Or, are you considering a remodel, addition or both? Each project type creates different design and construction scenarios for consideration.  For example, if you are thinking about a restaurant addition, do you plan on remaining operational during construction? If you are planning a remodel, will you close your business for a period of time? Thinking about the details of your required scope will help you and your team to carefully plan for needed activities.
  3. Identify what’s in your kitchen: What equipment do you need to ensure restaurant operations will run smoothly? From heavy kitchen equipment to the table top, look for suppliers or dealers who have the equipment you need. In some cases, you may not be able to receive the equipment for a few months. Make sure you identify the equipment which may not be immediately available and include these dates into your project schedule. Make sure your contractor works with these vendors to ensure proper installation.  Inquire about any available training, operational instructions, and equipment warranties. Organize and gather equipment information for your reference.
  4. Consider the construction site: Building in the greater Bay Area requires careful evaluation of the planned construction site. Narrow roads, vehicle congestion and the sheer mass of people provide a range of challenges.  Get a clear picture on where your construction team will stage and sequence their operations. Make sure the team has logistal plan that specifically addresses your restaurant project site.
  5. Identify and communicate your schedule requirements. A lot of times, project scope definition involves discussion about the project’s duration. If you are working on a complete restaurant remodel, you may require an accelerated schedule to make sure your business does not endure prolonged downtime.  Maybe you want construction to occur during a slow time during the year. You may be operational during construction; how will your team reduce the impact to patrons?  Whatever the circumstance, restaurant project schedules require a sharpened focus on schedule and activity sequencing.
  6. Ensure a safe work environment.   Make sure your building team has a safety program in place. The program needs to be understood by all personnel working on your project. If your restaurant will remain in operation during construction, make sure the team has a plan to ensure all employees and patrons have secure passage in and out of your establishment. In addition, the Building Inspector will assure construction meets the minimum standards established by the State of California so that patrons enjoy a certain level of safety.  Work with the Building Inspector and get an understanding what they are looking for prior to construction.  Schedule job site visits with your Building Inspector to make sure your project remains in check. 

Are you currently planning a restaurant project? Maybe you’ve been through the process in the past. Share your experience!  Your insight is helpful to our readers!

Surfing and Sharing Custom Home Ideas Via Pinterest

 

Are you spending the dog days of summer dreaming about your custom home improvement?  If you are starting to get serious about making this dream a reality, you can gather these custom home ideas with Pinterest. Pinterest is a website community where members can upload, save and sort and manage images, known as pins, and other media content through collections known as Pinboards. Accessing the Pinterest app via smartphone or tablet is a great way to assemble an archive of home interior and exterior design ideas. 

If you enjoy browsing through Architectural Digest, Sunset Magazine or interior design blogs, you will love surfing Pinterest.  Similar to perusing content from your favorite design magazines, you have easy access to the ideas that you love and the ability to compile these visual references in an easy organized format.  Another added benefit is the ability to easily share your home ideas while you are on the go. It will not be long before you have a sizeable reference guide to share with your interior designer, architect, builder or landscape designer.

Visit Centric General Contractors's profile on Pinterest.

Let’s imagine you are poolside and you have an iPad in hand along with the Pinterest app fired up and ready to go. So what’s next?

Take the plunge and create a personal Pinterest account. Saving all of the home design ideas that inspire you is free and easy. Simply go through the steps to join.

Soak up some rays and create a collection of custom home project boards: When you become a Pinner, create a series of category-based Pinboards where you will eventually pin articles and media.  Areas for categorization may include: interiors, exteriors, landscaping, hardware, bedrooms, bathrooms, doors, etc.

Surf and pin your favorite images or video for reference: When you see an image or article on the Internet or Pinterest community that inspires you, simply pin that visual reference to one of your home project boards. Did you see a great YouTube video? Pinterest is not just for images or articles, you can also pin a video on a Pinboard. 

Snap a picture and pin to the desired home design Pinboard: If you are taking a summer trip and see the ideal landscape design for your home, take a picture with your smartphone or tablet device.  This picture can then be easily placed on your Pinboard.

Look for environmentally friendly building materials. A traditional home is typically built with wood, steel, and concrete.  Today, there are a number of natural building materials to construct a home with minimal environmental impact. Pinning natural material options to a Pin board is a great way to gather ideas for reducing home toxins and share them with your home design team.

Follow your favorite home design Pinners: When you see a pin that inspires you, take a look at who Pinned it.  If you like what they are pinning, follow them to access their latest discoveries so that updates are delivered right to your home feed.  You have the option to follow one, two…or all of their boards.

American Society of Interiors

Dwell UK

Architectural Digest

Haven’s Kitchen

Architectural Digest Home Design        

Home Adore

Architect’s Journal

Illustra

BAR Architects

Lauren Santo Domingo

Buildology

Lightopia

California Home + Design

Lunderg Design

Centric General Contractors 

materialicious

DesignEast

Modo Bath

Design Milk

Narona Design

Dezeen

Sunset Magazine

Domaine

What Wilson Wants

Domaine Home Design

Yatzer

What are you waiting for?  Not unlike reading a great book by the pool, gathering home ideas on Pinterest will bring you on a new adventure of building your fantasy abode.  If you found yourself inspired by this article and decide to give it a try – tell us. We want to know how it worked out!

Room For Improvement: Planning Your Custom Home Addition

 

Look around your home.  Do you see room for improvement?  Are you thinking about a new home addition? Envision what it would be like to have a little extra space, a new bathroom, home office, or some added distance from your crazy teenagers – whatever the case, the motivations for your home addition seem endless.

custom home addition guide

Your dream is possible.  Using this post as your guide, let’s get started on planning your domestic sanctuary:

  1. Make a wish list: Gather pictures of custom homes and make a wish list of features that you love. Describe how this extra space will meet your needs.  Do you need the space to work from home?  Do you want to create an entertainment space for family and friends?  Now that you’ve gathered a series of ideas, you have some references to share with your designer and builder. For another great reference on home planning, also check out Awaken a Dream Life with Custom Home Planning Tips.
  2. Research buildable space: So you want to take advantage of a sweeping vista. Just know, it may not be possible.  Investigate whether there are factors that may prohibit your ability to build on your property.  Areas to investigate include sewer systems, drainage, power, land grade, etc.  You may come across a few challenges; realize that most of these hurdles can be overcome with a little engineering.
  3. Play by the neighborhood rules:  Make sure to educate yourself on the neighborhood building codes and any legal restrictions.  There may be setback restrictions that dictate how close a structure may be built on property lines. Other areas to investigate include building area ratios, historic preservation ordinances, height restrictions, and design covenants. Be a good neighbor by taking the time to familiarize yourself with the neighborhood building rules.
  4. Keep an open mind:When you come up with your wish list and share these references with your designer and builder, know that they may have a few creative ideas up their sleeve that may add greater value to your home project. These ideas may come in the form of a design solution or a reduced cost alternative. Develop an open exchange with your custom home addition team so that you don’t lose out on the latest means and methods that will exceed your expectations. For more on this subject, check out our post, 8 Steps to Optimize Your Next Project With Creative Value Engineering.
  5. Be consistent with the existing structure:  When considering your home addition, make sure the exterior matches and/or compliments the existing structure.  The interior space should also consider the style of your existing home. For example, if your home is a Tutor style, a modern addition may not be a good match.  
  6. Think green! When you decide to add new materials, appliances, and casework consider all the environmentally friendly options that can be resourced locally, and recycled. There are so many great products to consider, including: radiant-heat flooring, instantaneous hot-water heaters, window shades, solar hot water and photovoltaic, certified sustainability harvested wood, natural fiber carpet, formaldehyde-free cabinets, cellulose or cotton blown-in insulation made from recycled paper, natural ventilation, metal siding, low-flow toilets, energy-miser light fixtures, and lighting controls and occupant sensors. Making a series of small eco-friendly choices can make a dramatic impact. If you like thinking green, you may also want to read, Get Turned On with Energy Efficiency Options for Custom Homes.
  7. Look at the surrounding landscape:  Consider the area that surrounds your home addition. Observe the location of the trees, any outbuildings (barns, sheds, shacks, etc), sweeping vistas, areas of screening, and sunrise and sunset.  Think about things you’d like to preserve, remove or relocate.  Identify areas that need work around including any power lines, utility poles, underground fuel and septic tanks.
Hopefully, this post gave you a great start toward making your domestic sanctuary a reality. 
Good luck!

5 Practices for Effective Project Team Collaboration

 

Agree or disagree?

Effective team collaboration ensures a project’s success.

Of course, you agree!  But, what is effective collaboration?  While it may seem obvious to you, it may not be apparent to everyone. You may take it for granted that each project team member understands they have equally important role and his or her contribution is necessary for a successful project. It may also be obvious that effective collaboration aims to build goodwill and trust among all members. But, is your team knowledgeable or informed on the specific practices that encourage collaboration?

project team collaboration

This post discusses 5 practices that consistently take place when a project team is successfully working with one another. Team members:

1. Demonstrate commitment.  Simply being present demonstrates commitment.  When each member is present and ready to work, they demonstrate commitment. Commitment is contagious and inspires others to unify toward meeting a common goal, i.e. delivering a successful project.

2. Come prepared. Whether you are participating in a project activity or a group meeting, be prepared.  You should be ready to work together with your project team and not be a passive participant. Look at each occasion as an opportunity to get to know your team members better.

3. Actively Listen. Sit back and listen actively to absorb different points of view.  Don’t debate or argue – just consider the ideas. Pausing to listen first then speak will allow for a more meaningful exchange. Expect to receive a little criticism once and awhile – don’t get defensive.  This is an opportunity for the team to solve a problem or challenge together. An effective exchange of active listening and responding can provide numerous results.

4. Participate and exchange ideas. A successful project encourages your participation and thoughts on project’s approach, delivery and performance.  From project commencement, there should be an even exchange of ideas.  A great project needs to adopt a positive environment of open expression where you and your teammates feel free to communicate openly.  When you function as an active team player, you are there to make things happen.  Ask yourself “What can I do to help the team and achieve project success?”

5. Overcome challenges together with flexibility. As discussed earlier, active listening, gaining a complete understanding of the challenge at hand and then responding are steps toward overcoming difficult project challenges together. For sake of conversation, let’s assume your team discovers an unforeseen project situation.  This not a time to get stressed out – this is an opportunity to adapt to the new project reality and work together with the team to develop a new approach.  In effect, be flexible so that you and your team can make forward progress and ensure continued success. 

6. Hold each other accountable. Holding each other accountable signifies respect and demonstrates that the team has high expectations of each other. In a project environment where open expression is encouraged, everyone’s performance is out in the open.  The team will collectively know how each member is contributing to the project’s success.  This knowledge should also include a dialog that incorporates support, encouragement and assistance. When the team is accountable to one another, they tend to strive to a greater level of performance.

When you look beyond your own project role and care about the greater team, you will have a more rewarding experience knowing that you contributed to the project’s success.  Celebrating success together as a team is a great motivator for continued performance. 

What was your best project experience?  Did your team effectively collaborate with one another?  Share your story with us in the comments section.  If you have a story that others can learn from, we will publish your story on our blog. 

Developing Your Eye For Detail and Quality Craftsmanship

 

Living in a time of robotic production and assembly is really exciting.  However, the immaculate detail and finishes of a project can only be achieved with skill and dedication.  A machine does not have an eye for detail; it takes a human touch.  In other words, it requires people who take pride in their workmanship and their ability to manually create a look and finish of true elegance.

As you are well aware, no project is the same.  Quality needs to be addressed at all times and in all areas. You need to consider the casework, must-have appliances, audio-visual equipment, and any other creature comforts.

To ensure your expectations for quality work are met, it is important to draft and then communicate your goals with your project team.  Meet with your team regularly to make sure they cover the key milestones that ensure quality is being met at each phase. Sharing your expectations will allow the team to get a clear understanding of your requirements and allow them to respond with skill, commitment and precision. 

All these areas may sound pretty logical.  However, when you arrive toward the final phase of the project, you need a guide or some sort of list to help you get toward the finish line. 

Atlas, Quality Craftsmanship in Construction

You Need A Punch List

Generally speaking, the punch list is comprised of a list of tasks that must be done before the expected project completion date.  Having a punch list is great way to ensure and sustain quality craftsmanship.  Some of the areas you may want to cover include:

  • Make sure you test everything.  Together with your construction team, go through your project site and test EVERYTHING before you occupy the space.   
  • Make final paint touch ups. It is a good idea to make final paint touch ups after you occupy your space and the rigors of moving are mostly over.
  • Keep extra building materials.  If your builder has extra materials, make sure you keep them. These items are very helpful when you need to do a touch up or repair.
  • Get to know your equipment warranties.  Make sure you have a complete understanding of the equipment warranties.  Place your product and/or equipment into binders and send in all your warranty cards.
  • Compile all project contact information.  Remember that binder that contains your all product manuals?  You should also include all the contact information for everyone who worked on your project. That way, you will know whom to call if something needs special repair. 
  • Learn about proper maintenance.  Along with getting know your equipment and product warranties, you should also educate yourself on how to take care of all of the casework, fixtures, appliances, and equipment. 
  • Make sure you have the required project sign-off.  Make sure all of the project submittals are complete, correct and in compliance with the contract documents.

What’s your take on quality craftsmanship?  What else would you add to the areas to consider on your punch list?  Let us know!

The Scenes Behind An Active Construction Project

 

Have you ever wondered what happens on an active construction site? All projects vary in size and scope. However, they tend to have many activities in common. This post provides a glimpse into the typical events that occur on an active site.

By definition, construction is the process of assembling infrastructure.  Construction is not a single activity; it consists of a series of activities performed by many people.  As you’ve already learned, successful construction of a project requires sound planning.  Professionals involved in the design and construction of projects will engage in (1) site assessment and logistics, (2) public impact planning and communication, (3) demolition, (4) management, and (5) site safety.

Scenes from an active construction site.

Site Assessment and Logistics: Before construction work commences on the job site, an assessment of your site needs to take place. You will find that the location of the project site will provide some advantages and disadvantages. This investigation will also include an assessment of the project’s environmental impact, identify suitable locations for building and prospective challenges that may hinder construction.  

Once an evaluation of the site occurs, the team maps out the logistics.  This process diagrams how site personnel will move in and out of the work site to perform required services. In addition, the logistics plan will consider the management of physical resources including materials and equipment.  For example, teams need to identify where to locate the materials needed to build the structure/s.  Materials are typically transported across the site from their point of origin. Construction vehicles, such as forklifts, may be used for material transport and a plan for site vehicle traffic needs to be in place. Site logistics involves the integration of information flow, material handling, construction, transportation, and security. 

Public Impact Planning and Communication:  Another area involved in construction, is mitigating the impact to the surrounding public.  Often times, construction can be intrusive to local schools, adjacent businesses and homes. Work activities can be noisy and kick up a lot of dust.  An active construction site needs to be sensitive to these issues by developing a plan to reduce public disturbance, and providing courteous communication offering advanced notification of activities.

Demolition: If there is an undesired existing structure or interior space, there will be an effort to remove these unwanted elements to create something new.  Demolition teams will come in to clear out the site in a controlled and safe manner.  During the demolition phase, you may see wrecking balls or cranes.  Depending on the size of the structure, explosives may be used. Ultimately, demolition methods will vary depending on the type of structure involved and desired intent. 

Management: There are members of the on-site construction team who are ensuring daily activities are running smoothly.  Project managers, superintendents, and engineers organize the project workforce based upon the scheduled tasks that need be completed.  They make sure the work is performed correctly, within budget and meets the project deadline. In order for work to be performed in the desired manner, timely communication needs to occur.  Tracking the project’s budget, schedule, and other related documentation helps to keep all team members apprised of the latest developments.

Site Safety: Your project construction managers, superintendents, and engineers make sure the project site is upholding health and safety regulations. There is a tremendous amount of energy involved in providing a safe work environment for everyone on the jobsite and surrounding areas. For example, when it comes to workers lifting and carrying materials, safety procedures must be applied to ensure this effort is performed safely. Whatever the case or situation, safety on an active project site needs to be taken very seriously.

Now that you have a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes of an active construction project, do you have any questions?  Please respond in our comments section!

7 Tips for Finishing Your Construction Project On Time

 

It is always fun to plan a project.  First, you have an idea in your mind.  Then you begin to start to build upon that idea.  As your work through this idea, you find yourself sharing it with your family, friends and colleagues.  Before you know it, you are ready to set this idea into an actionable plan. Then you get that feeling – the feeling that you may not be able to realize your plans within a reasonable time frame. 

construction schedule

Don’t lose the passion – get focused with 7 tips for finishing your construction project on time:

1. Select a qualified contractor.  Before selecting your contractor, make sure to evaluate whether the builder has the right qualifications to realize your project vision or plan.  The following are just some of the questions that should be answered prior to making your selection:
    • Does the contractor provide the services required to meet your project’s requirements? 
    • Does the contractor have green building practices?
    • Has the contractor performed work on similar projects?  Look at the size, scope and duration. 
    • What is the contractor’s track record for finishing a project on time and on budget?
    • Does your contractor have experience working in your locale?
    • Does the contractor have processes in place for ensuring a quality project? 
    • What is their experience working with high-end finishes?
    • Does the contractor have qualified personnel to work on your project?
    • Can you see yourself working with the contractor’s team over a period of time?
    • Do you know anyone who has worked with this contractor? What was their experience?

    2. Develop a project timetable.  Working together with your architect, general contractor, subcontractors and consultants, develop a thoughtful project schedule that considers all key milestones, product and material lead times and coordination of the tradespeople.  It is a great practice to mark your calendar for key milestones and stay on top of anticipated project events. 

    3. Know the lead times for desired products and materials.  Everything that goes into your project requires careful consideration, planning and scheduling.  Your project schedule should include delivery of appliances, equipment, casework, fixtures, and building materials.  All moving parts need to be captured within a master schedule that will be managed throughout the project's duration.

    4. Gain an understanding of how your project will unfold. While you are working through the schedule with your project team, you should have a pretty clear understanding of how your project will progress. If you are a bit foggy on the expectations, it is important to express your uncertainty with your team. Do not commence construction until you feel ready to proceed.

    5. Maintain project funding. To make sure your project is on track and does not suffer from delays, stay on top of paying for your project.  Construction activities take up a lot of resources.  To make sure these activities are on schedule, it is important to make sure that the project has the consistent financial support to maintain momentum.

    6. At all times, monitor the pulse of your project.  Participate together with your team and always stay apprised of the activities, knowing what has been accomplished, current undertakings and upcoming developments. Monitoring the pulse of the project will allow you to make timely decisions to keep your project on schedule.  Remember, you are an integral part of the team – get involved and celebrate the milestones as the team works toward transforming a project idea into a tangible reality.

    7. Trust the wisdom of your hired professionals. There may be a time in your project when a decision needs to be made.  You may not understand the consequence of that decision and hesitating could result in a project delay and increased project cost. If you come upon this hurdle, it is important to remember Tip 1, Select a qualified contractor.  Ask your hired professionals to give you a clear understanding of the challenge at hand and provide clear solutions that will result in the common goal of a successful project.  

    Do you have other ideas that would help readers realize their project vision?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in our comments section!

    Planning to Stick With Your Project Budget

     

    The budget is a critical component to any project planning effort.  The lack in ability to control expenses will most likely lead to cost overruns and, also, other delays, which could easily have a negative impact on the overall outcome of the project.  Without proper planning upfront, you could be venturing into an ugly money pit.  It is critical to understand the basics of effective budgeting so that you can actively work together with your project team to ensure the project is on time and on budget.

    Centric General Contractors Discusses Planning for the Project Budget

    What do you need to know in order to stick with your project budget? 

    It is a good idea to get a sense of your budget requirements through a little information gathering. The following describes a few helpful ways you can gain a clearer perspective on what your project will cost:

    Research projects of similar size and scope.  Do a little legwork and investigate similar projects - look at the different finishes, casework, fixtures, lighting, appliances and/or equipment. You will find some items may go on your "wish list" while others may go on your "must-have" or "need-to-have" list.  It is best to have an understanding of what you are going to be tackling in order to become a more disciplined consumer. All in all, this information will help you be more informed about the overall cost and quality of the finishes, materials and equipment.

    Ask your friends or colleagues for advice.  Reach out for some friendly advice from people you know and trust.  If a friend or colleague has tackled a similar project, ask them about their experience and how they were able to stick with their own project budget.  Ask them about the things that seemed to work and areas where they would have done things differently.

    Communicate your budget requirements with your architect and general contractor.  It is important to communicate your budget requirements with your architect and builder. Regular communication and meetings allow a team to establish a realistic budget aimed to mitigate cost overruns and/or project delays. Make sure you receive a regular report of the project costs throughout the course of the project.

    Make sure the budget clearly outlines project resources and effectively captures the required scope. Referencing the prior post, Key Elements for Sound Project Planning, once you have a conceptual plan and the scope is pretty well-defined, it is a good time to build out a project budget and a plan to manage cost. The best budgets get down to the details - they incorporate the required resources, materials, appliances and/or equipment.  Some of these materials and/or equipment may take some time to obtain - that time needs to be considered in the project schedule to ensure there are not project delays.

    Plan and set aside funds for unforeseen scope.  Unfortunately, there are times when you begin a project and come across an unforeseen circumstance that may result in an increase in project cost.  For example, if you are working on a remodel and after the project commences, the team discovers mold.  You will want to have extra funds to take care of the mold problem.  It is best to have a percentage of your budget, as a contingency, to address unforeseen circumstances.  This contingency should not be used for additional scope, i.e. indulge an idea to expand the master bathroom.  It should only cover the areas that really need to be addressed during the course of the project.

    After reading this post, do think we missed something?  Is so, please share your thoughts in the comments section.  We greatly encourage feedback!

    Key Elements for Sound Project Planning

     

    We believe effective planning allows projects, big and small, to progress through each phase on more solid ground.  How?  The planning process makes it possible for project stakeholders to apply their specific expertise to flesh out an approach that meets the required scope.  

    But, it’s not easy.

    Before kicking off the project planning effort, it is best to have answers to the following questions:

    1. Currently, who is a part of the project team?
    2. Who will be occupying the building/structure (user groups)?
    3. What is the desired project program?
    4. Where is the project located?
    5. What are the general budget requirements?
    6. What is the desired date for the client to occupy the structure?
    Guide to Project PlanningIt is an early morning in January and the team at Centric General Contractors is kicking off one of their many planning meetings.

    Let’s assume we have answers to these questions – now we can begin work on a well-thought plan. The following are the fundemental elements required for a sound project planning effort:

    • Incorporate Consistent, Timely Communication:  Regular, on-time communication throughout a project’s lifetime will eliminate surprises and create cohesion among all stakeholders.
    • Communicate the Project Vision and Develop a Realistic Scope: Reliable project plans begin at the conceptual planning phase. During this phase, project stakeholders begin to develop the initial vision and scope of realistic plans.  The idea is to break down a project solution in detail and develop a high level plan for milestones.
    • Incorporate a Reliable Value Engineering Effort: Project planning should incorporate value engineering, a method for enhancing a project’s value.  Value is often defined as the ratio of function to cost. In effect, the project team works together to identify ways to create functional improvements and/or provide a reduction in project costs. Also read, 8 Steps to Optimize Your Next Project With Creative Value Engineering.
    • Identification of Qualified Resources: Reliable project planning identifies the right combination of resources to effectively perform the required work for each phase/s.  It is important to go through a qualification process to evaluate (1) relevant experience, (2) past performance, (3) financial stability, and (4) ability to support the project requirements based upon current workload.
    • A Schedule of Project Activities and Milestones: A master project schedule should incorporate deliverables from project inception through to completion.  Some areas to cover include project permitting, design development, agency plan checks, long lead equipment and materials, construction activities, equipment installation, equipment commissioning and final project close-out.
    • Identification of Long Lead Equipment and Materials: A reliable project plan identifies the equipment and materials that will take some time to obtain.  Once identified, this information is then captured in the project schedule.
    • A Well-Conceived Budget and Cost Management Process: Once the conceptual plans are finalized and the scope is defined, it is time to prepare a project budget and plan for managing cost. Together, the team reviews the budget to make sure it meets the owner’s expectations. Once the budget is set, it is important to remain vigilant in making sure the project costs are on budget.
    • Includes Quality Control Activities: A reliable project plan incorporates an effort to ensure the overall quality of work. Regular quality checks, at each phase, will help ensure a well-crafted and high-quality project.

    As you can see, there are a lot of areas to cover in order to ensure a sound project plan.  It is important to mention that the plan is not conceived all at once – rather, it is a gradual process that requires project stakeholders to work together on an ongoing series of activities throughout the course of a project’s lifetime. A good project plan is flexible, manageable and captures the required information when it’s needed.

    After reading this post, do you think we missed something?  Is so, please share your thoughts in the comments section.  We greatly encourage feedback!

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