Building the Right Team: How to Work With the Architect, Subs & Designers
As a contractor, you know that building a custom home or doing a major remodel is not a one-person job. You need to work with an architect, an interior designer, one or more sub-contractors and any number of laborers—and, of course, the homeowner. Getting everyone on the same page can be the difference between an amazing house and a patchwork disaster.
Who’s the Boss?
The buck stops with the owner. The one who is paying for the work is the top dog, even if it doesn't always feel that way. Hurricane-torn Florida has some of the strictest construction laws in the nation, so let’s use it as our model. A full construction team may consist of an architect or engineer, a building contractor and an interior designer. The contractor may hire subcontractors. All of these people are, in some ways, like employees of the owner.
At the top of the chain is the architect. Since he or she is the one who has taken the owner’s ideas and turned them into schematics, all significant changes need to go through him (or her). These changes are done via a written document called a change order. The use of a change order is important and often costs money, so get agreement from the owner and interior designer before you issue one.
The Social Aspect
In a study about collaboration, students from the architecture, interior design and construction schools of Mississippi State University were blended into different collaborative groups, ranging from highly engaged to mainly separated. The findings showed that the groups with the most social interaction had the most creative outcomes, though not the fastest completion rates.
Bring your construction team and your interior designer together for coffee and make them talk. With construction, speed is not necessarily your friend. Some jobs take time to do them right. If your people cannot find the time to sit and understand the project, then they will not have the time to do the job correctly. For example, a designer working with a contractor on windows and lighting might meet at a Shade Store showroom to point out ideas as they discuss them. They do not need to become fast friends, but they do need to work together on a creative level.
Most contractors do not have a licensed person on their team who can handle all the components of a construction job. For roofing, foundations, plumbing and electrical, they will usually subcontract to a licensed professional and or expert. In many cases, the interior designer may be a subcontractor of the lead contractor, making him the designer’s de facto boss. Whichever way you structure the construction process, you have some legal issues to handle. Make sure to meet with and manage your subs since, at the end of the day, you are responsible for paying them.
Guest Blogger: Paul Reyes-Fournier has served as the chief financial officer for social service organizations, churches and schools. He created his own marketing firm, RF Media. Paul holds a BS in physics and an MBA.