The architect-contractor relationship and the relationship both of those parties have with the homeowner establish the foundation for a smooth, seamless construction project. The Boston Society of Architects recognized this when it created its Homeowner Recognition Program.
In encouraging homeowners to submit write-ups on their home building and remodeling experiences, the program provides companies with invaluable customer feedback while emphasizing the importance of relationships in the construction process. The BSA plans to compile the customer responses in a case-study brochure for its members.
The customer submissions praise many ideals applicable to design/build. One client lauded Red Hawk Studio Architects in Concord, Mass., for maximizing value and space efficiency through good design.
Red Hawk principal Karle Packard calls a strong relationship with the contractor essential because contractors have firsthand product knowledge, actually build the projects and can make suggestions that an architect might not consider. For example, on the project praised to the BSA, Arthur D. Magazu Building and Remodeling in Stow, Mass., recommended that Packard use a long LVL beam instead of a support column in the garage. The contractor also found a flashing less expensive than the one Packard had specified.
With customers, Packard says Red Hawk builds rapport two ways. First, he has them define the problem by listing what's wrong or what they'd like to change about their existing structure. Second, he observes how the clients use and live in the space to ensure that Red Hawk's design will give them true added value.
"You have to understand what the client needs," Packard says. "People will approach us saying they want an addition, etc., but we like to step back and ask them what they need. 'Do you need more bedrooms? Do you need more kitchen space?' Before you design, you have to know the desired end.
"We're not providing good architecture if we're not responding to the owners' needs, in terms of the finished product and the service we provide in getting to that finished product. The BSA program underlines this and helps owners be aware that this is what architecture should be about. It's a service industry."
|The homeowner gave Red Hawk Studio Architects high marks for designing an addition that kept her house in scale with other Cape Cod and ranch-style homes in its neighborhood.|