How to Find the Best Design Firm for a Construction Company to Work With
How to Find an Architect
While controversial among contractors and construction companies, most local building codes require a licensed architect to approve structural changes. If you don't do enough of this kind of work to keep one on staff, it's important to build relationships with local architects. But how can you find an architect who fits well with your firm's style?
Contractors can often be wary around architects. While many talented architects have great ideas for making a building look stunning, they don't always consider what is possible from a practical standpoint. Finding someone who understands a little bit about the limitations of a construction company can be a priceless connection.
Meanwhile, some architects don't have as much respect for builders as they would for another architect. This can be a frustrating bind when searching for an architect you can communicate with.
If your construction company is trying to find an architect who works well with them, follow these tips to ensure you match with one another.
1. Balance Creativity and Practicality
A creative architect can turn your space into something amazing. They also might not know how to utilize the space to work best for a commercial building's design.
You need to find an architect who listens to what you're trying to build and understand the practical underpinnings of a project.
Architects can also be wary of builders who don't see their vision and miss out on key design features. Their buildings will sometimes offer little natural light, strange proportions, or user-unfriendly floor plans.
Their buildings can be unattractive on the outside and on the inside, the exact opposite of what building owners are looking for in Florida.
Aside from these extremes, most builders and architects lie somewhere in the middle. If your construction company whats to find an architect who you can communicate with, look for someone who identifies as a "design-builder".
They will be on the same page technically while having the design chops and architectural license your team is looking for.
2. Be Cooperative
Working with an architect, you'll likely hear about other builders or construction firms they've worked with in the past. If you're still in the bidding process and might need a team to collaborate with, this can be good. If you're ready to get moving with your project, this can lead to endless, uncomfortable comparisons.
In order for projects to run smoothly, the architect and the construction team must share a mutual respect and be willing to work collaboratively. No plans or specs will be perfect. So long as everyone knows and understands that fact, you will be able to work through any conflicts.
Your architect should know that your team needs their space. If the architect is constantly checking up on the project, it can build resentment. The builders could think that the architect is acting like they know more about the building than they do.
With this kind of tension, good suggestions from either party could be rejected for no good reason. You will find this slows down the project, damages morale and adds to an overall confusion on your work site.
3. Good Supervision
Be sure that your supervisors know the importance of strong lines of communication between all parties. After you find an architect you want to work with, the last thing you need is weak communication on the site to lead that architect to walk off.
Your supervisors need to show their interest in building a great product. If your supervisors have the same standards that you and your architect have, you'll see your project completed on time.
Some construction companies hire design-builders for just this task. A strong design-builder with enough technical knowledge could become a site supervisor, playing the dual role of making sure the job is done by code and by design.
Too much supervision can feel like overkill and exhaust your workers who are down at the site. Be sure you've got a strong balance of hands-on supervision and communication so that everyone feels heard and is clear on what tasks will get the job done.
4. A Strong Triangle
The three parts of a project are the architect, the construction company, and the owner. All communications should flow to the other two parties under all circumstances. Unresolved conflicts will slow a project down introduce unforeseen problems into the project.
The owner has the most authority but they should heed the knowledge of the architect and the expertise of the construction company. Everyone should listen carefully to the needs and expertise of each other. The architect should be open to understanding the importance of their position.
As a construction company, you should have alternatives at the ready. After you find an architect, you don't want to send them packing by telling them their ideas are unfeasible. It's your responsibility to meet the plans of the architect as closely as possible.
Also, always communicate any risks or added costs.
The most important thing you want from your architect is the ability to communicate.
When you first meet them, don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions about how they've worked on projects in the past. This could be a long relationship you're both getting yourself into. It's important to lay out as many expectations as possible and get conflict out of the way.
Find an Architect Who Solves Problems Creatively
If you find an architect who throws their hands up at the first sight of conflict, you might want to think about working with someone else. Architects should know that unforeseen issues arise in every project and they should be flexible enough to work with you to look for a solution.
If you're still looking for an architect who will match your construction company's projects, contact us for more tips on how to find the perfect fit.