The success of a construction project hinges on so many things coming together, but a positive relationship between the architect and contractor has a significant impact. Both play a crucial role in the project. The contractor brings the architect’s vision into reality. To complete the job successfully means building a good relationship that includes respect from both parties and an agreement to communicate clearly.
Today’s article is being brought to you by Steve Wright at Whirlwind Steel.
Steve Wright works for Whirlwind Steel, a manufacturer of pre-engineered steel buildings and components. Whirlwind Steel metal buildings are manufactured and designed to meet the highest quality standards.
The Benefits of a Good Relationship Between Architects and Contractors
Because the contractor is one of the last people involved in the building project, it’s important that the architect, who has been with the project almost from the beginning, take care to bring the contractor up to speed and prepare to listen respectfully to the contractor.
In such a complex undertaking, there are bound to disagreements. Professionals who are prepared to remain calm and discuss the different sides of the issue and come to a consensus, if not an agreement, will bring the project smoothly to fruition.
The architect’s design may not be possible due to budget restraints while contractors are concerned with completing construction on time, which may not occur if changes are made to the original plan. If the architect and contractor have a good relationship, the issues stemming from delays and budget shortfalls can be worked out easily and with little drama.
The Risks of a Poor Relationship between Architects and Contractors
With a poor relationship comes conflict. Conflict, if severe enough, could cause the project to fail before completion. Delays and cost overruns created by mixed messages or the lack of communication can doom construction. If the relationship sours completely, it’s possible the contractor will leave the job.
Both the architect and contractor risk their reputations when they cannot deal well together. Defensiveness and blame are the order of the day. Hiring a new contractor or paying for constant changes can blow up the budget of the most well-funded building project.
How to Build a Great Relationship Between Architect and Contractor
First and foremost, a good relationship will not happen without respect. Open and honest communication runs a close second. Keeping each team apprised of progress, setbacks, and needed changes can make all the difference between success and failure.
- Contractors must keep the design team in the loop throughout the project to minimize error and confusion.
- Architects must consider times when their vision may not be possible within the constraints of the environment, materials or budget.
- Asking for clarification is the best road to understanding for both sides.
- Quick responses to queries keep the project on the move.
Bring the contractor into the project as early as possible to create feasible timelines and scope the project correctly. The delivery method has a significant impact on project completion. Defining the roles and communication lines can create a smooth working relationship between the architectural and construction teams. Teamwork is the key to a complex project’s success.
Bringing your best problem-solving skills and most diplomatic demeanor can help you forge a relationship that will withstand the test of time — at least for the duration of construction and perhaps into the future.
The Impact of a Positive Relationship
Not only will a positive relationship streamline the project and minimize additional costs, but it could also result in the opportunity for future work between the two companies or one putting the other into a good situation.
Having a reputation as a professional who can discuss issues reasonably and without defensiveness will spread through the industry and expand the business opportunities of each person and company.
What Contractors Want Architects to Understand
Many times the conflict between contractors and architects is due to the difference in the way they view a project. An architect’s ideas may look great on paper (or on screen) but be difficult to create at the jobsite.
On the other hand, the contractor needs input from the architect if changes are necessary in material or plans. What should an architect bring into considerations during a project?
- Newer doesn’t equal better. It’s fun and exciting to find a new product or technique and put it into action. However, not every advance is beneficial to the industry or the project. We can’t always know how a material will react over time until it’s too late.
- It’s OK to ask for advice from experts. Nobody knows everything and a jack of all trades is a master of none. Professionals respect their limitations and take steps to shore up weak areas by speaking with someone who knows the terrain.
- Details and precision are vital. The architect in charge of designing the project must include all the pertinent details when creating plans and specifications. Contractors are expected to execute the plan flawlessly but if details are missing it won’t be possible.
- The most important relationship is between the architect and the contractor. These roles are two sides of the same coin. One brings forth the design; the other creates it in the real world. A poor relationship results in poorly executed plans and potentially brings the project to a complete halt.
- Contractors are not a commodity. They are professionals with a specific set of skills that will bring the architect’s plans to life. Choosing the least expensive contractor, regardless of experience or reputation, can bring the old saw, “You get what you pay for,” to life instead.
The architect and the contractor have the biggest impact on building construction. Each brings a different set of skills and aesthetics, but when they come together, the project that results from a positive relationship will shine.
Thanks again to Steve Wright and the folks over at Whirlwind Steel – make sure to check them and their services out!