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May 4, 2021
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Construction Projects | Tips for Assembling a Project Team

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Justin Dubrow
T

he process of construction is complicated, fast-paced, and highly collaborative. To navigate this process with ease and success you’ll need a strong team of experienced professionals. A cohesive team will communicate regularly, anticipate next steps, and thoughtfully challenge one another to achieve the best outcome for the owner. Understanding each team member's role and the nuanced differences between commercial and residential construction will give you the best chance for success when assembling your project team. The professionals on a construction project will fall into one of these three main categories: Design, Legal, and Construction. 

Design

The design team consists of an architect, interior designer, lighting designer, and landscape architect.  Design professionals will bring your vision to life through floor plans, 3D images, and finishes. The architect will design the structure, the overall floor plate and specify the exterior finishes. The interior designer will create the look and the feel of each interior space through finishes and furnishings. If you require a lighting designer, they will specify all the light fixtures and collaborate with the interior designer to achieve the optimal lighting in each space.  The landscape architect will do the design of the grounds outside of the structure. 

Depending on the complexity of the technology required for the building, you may also work with a specialist in automation integration.  This specialist will integrate music, television, internet, telephone systems, lighting controls, motorized shades, and more into the space.

One nuance between residential and commercial construction is when and how mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineers are brought onto a project. In residential construction this work is typically design-build. On a commercial project however you may be hiring an engineering firm to design these systems. 

Legal

The two parties of your legal team are your attorney and perhaps a permitting expeditor. A permitting expeditor will only be needed in certain instances, either due to the city in which you are working or the project's complexity. 

An attorney is integral to the process and will review all required contracts, ensuring the owner's interests are protected. For some projects, the property may require variances due to local codes to achieve the desired outcome. The attorney will develop a legal argument to describe why the building department should approve the variance request. They will also collaborate with the architect for any necessary drawings required to make the argument. 

The complexity of the project or the city the project is located within will determine if the project requires a permitting expediter. The permit expeditor will coordinate with the attorney to make the case to the regulatory agencies to ensure that each agency approves the building plans.

Construction

The general contractor (GC) is one of the most critical project team members you will hire because construction is one of the busiest and most complicated periods of your project. All owner approved documentation flows to the GC for implementation. The GC will supply the majority of the materials, equipment, and labor required to complete the project. Fluid communication and collaboration are essential during this period because many professionals will be installing their portion of work. The GC’s ability to deliver the desired quality of work and meet the schedule will determine your project's true success.

Commercial Projects 

Most commercial construction projects will have Owner’s Representation. This person will be orchestrating all the pre-construction activities, including vetting potential project team members. The process of vetting may include interviews and proposals from multiple professionals within one discipline. Interviewing potential team members can be invaluable in determining the ease of communication with the team members assigned to your project and how well you connect with them. It may be ideal for your project to request that some professionals such as MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineers) or kitchen design be contracted under the architect to streamline the delivery and communication process for your project. If this is the case during the interview process, you will want all team members present to see how they interact as a unit. While reviewing proposals, a few areas to focus on are listed below.

  • Project Type & Scale. Each professional team should be an expert in or have experience within the project type. Examples are; restaurants, workplace, tall buildings, mixed-use, hotel, etc. 
  • Portfolio: Is there anything within their portfolio of work that catches your eye and is reflective of what is wanted to be achieved on this project.
  • Schedule & Workflow. Ask for and review their proposed delivery schedule. How does each vendor plan to meet your overall project schedule? How does this fit with the overall project workflow?
  • Roles & Responsibilities: Who will be the main point of contact for each professional service? What is their communication style?

Custom Home Projects 

Assembling a custom home build project team is one of the places where hiring an Owner’s Representative can be invaluable. An Owner’s Representative has the history and connections to match your project with the right professionals.  If you do not have an owner’s representative, we recommend starting with a review of the various vendors' local reputations and testimonials. After that, there are three main criteria to consider.

  • Style. Select vendors who have worked with the specific style of home you want to build. Whether you’re looking for a Flat Roof Contemporary, Traditional, Modern, Modern Farmhouse, or Transitional your team needs to be familiar with designing and building that style of home.
  • Budget & Project Scale. Professionals should have experience working within your budget requirements and project scale.
  • Schedule. Select vendors who have availability in their schedule to start a new project, and who will be able to meet the project schedule you’ve established.

Dubrow Group Recommends

It ultimately depends on the project constraints. We believe there is a fine balance between utilizing a team that has worked together in the past and bidding out the project. 

For some projects, especially a fast-tracked project, it may be ideal to work with a team that has worked together successfully in the past. The benefits are:

  • They’re familiar with the other team members, which streamlines communication.
  • They’re familiar with the workflows and the technology used to monitor the project.
  • They’re familiar with quality expectations. 

While it may be helpful for the team to have worked together in the past, we also believe it is important to invite several vendors to bid in each category on a project. Bidding keeps the pricing competitive and ensures each selected team member is committed to the schedule and quality expectations.  

If you are starting a construction project and want more information about Owner’s Representation with Dubrow Group, please contact us.


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