In building and renovation, few rules hold true all the time, however, a number of useful notions will help lead to predictable outcomes most of the time. Unfortunately, many of these notions are forgotten when we concentrate on making ideal decisions throughout the course of the work, we lose sight of how each decision relates to the bigger project picture. The following is a list of some common sense ideas that almost always have a positive impact on a construction endeavor.
1. Building anything is an act of joy and optimism. It is also a learning experience. Anxiety is a normal part of that experience but it must not control the outcome of the work.
2. The only adversarial relationship that is productive in a building project is the one that everyone should have with the artistic, technical and financial challenges that the work itself presents.
3. Excellent people make mistakes; expect that they will continue to do so.
4. Building a house is not an industrial process. It is manual labor, on-site, involving dozens of components that have to work and fit together as well as possible. Expectations for the quality of the work should reflect these characteristics.
5. When selecting a professional with whom to work, the first criterion should be character, the second competence, the third dedication.
6. Clients are in a difficult business position of dealing with people who know more about design and construction than they do. In this vulnerable situation, the best strategy is to choose a professional of unquestionable integrity.
7. To secure the greatest benefit from the knowledge that consultants and builders possess, allow them to do their work in the manner that their training and experience has shown to be the most effective.
8. Accurate cost estimates are based on facts. Inaccurate estimates are usually the result of guessing. Financial risk in building is reduced by developing as much specific design information as possible before construction begins.
9. Comparisons between seemingly similar projects often lead to incorrect expectations rather than provide useful information.
10. “You get what you pay for” applies to building. Quality design and building require care; care takes time and time costs money.
11. When a project’s cost exceeds its budget it is usually because 1. The budget was optimistic and not realistic 2. The changing cost of the evolving design was not monitored 3. The client’s needs and preferences were not fully articulated before the start of the work.
12. There are three interconnected variables in every building project: Quality, Quantity and Cost. If any one of these variables is held constant while another changes, the third variable will inevitably change as well.
13. The complexity of both the design and construction process is often underestimated.
14. Many people believe that they know a good deal about architectural design. What they do not realize is how much more they need to know to do design well, with distinction, refinement and skill.
15. Architects have the patience to plan. Builders have the savvy to improvise. Improvisation, however, is not a substitute for planning. The purpose of planning is to achieve predictable results. The purpose of improvising is to maintain work progress
16. For construction to be done efficiently, most design decisions need to be made prior to building. If made during construction these decisions can interrupt the work flow and increase overall costs. Late design decisions are also more difficult to incorporate into the rest of the design.
17. A construction project involves people with a wide variety of skills, experience, intelligence and motivations. Effective project management optimizes the conditions that allow people involved to perform at their optimum level.
18. Frequent candid communication is vital to minimizing construction problems.
19. Good people care. The end results will reflect this.