The Construction Design  Process

Why It is the Important First Step to a Successful Construction Project.

The construction design process often gets overlooked as the cause of the problem if later in the job, things go sideways, for either the contractor or the client. One common occurrence is that sometime into the job, the client feels there is something that is not being done as he expected, but the contractor does not feel that his was part of his contract. There may be no bad intentions by either party but clearly a misunderstanding that can cause major problem . Either the client will have to get charged extra, or the contractor may need to eat the additional costs to keep the client happy. Sadly, many small time contractors do not have the financial capabilities to absorb too many of these unexpected expenses and if they are too onerous, will simply have no other choice but to walk away from his contractual obligations.

The way to avoid the majority of these types of scenarios is simply to have proper detailed construction drawings right from the start. At Dumaguete PhilX Condev, we follow a step by step process that involves in depth collaboration with the client every step of the way.

Step 1 involves initial discussions with the client to get a feel for the project parameters, including the practical considerations of their proposed building. How many bedrooms are needed, how many washrooms etc. We also want to get an idea of their style preferences, and for that we ask them to do online image searches of different house styles which really catch their eye. Another supremely important topic to discuss is budget. A client needs to be totally up front with this from the start, and the contractor needs to be honest and trustworthy that they will not try and propose “less” house simply to inflate their potential profit. It serves neither parties interests if what the client wants just simply cannot be attained with the budget they have to spend. Lastly, it is imperative for the construction designer to physically view the lot the building is to be constructed upon so he can take full advantage of the property’s natural attributes and not be surprised by potential site condition problems.

After the initial groundwork in the construction design is set, we then move on to step 2. This part of the process will focus on functionality. A proposed floor plan is drawn up and is presented to the client, then we will call them into the office to sit down in front of the computer with a draftsman to make sure that everything is in the right place and will be functional. With Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) software, it is very easy and quick in this day and age to make changes real time without time consuming hand redrafts and back and forth correspondence. Once the floor plan seems to make sense and is to the liking of the client, we then do 3D sketch up modelling. The software we use is called “Sketch-Up” and is very helpful catching functionality issues that might be missed on a two dimensional floor plan.

Once everyone is happy that the floor plan will work, we move into the construction design phase that involves style. Earlier, we had asked the client to provide some images that “pop” for them in the style department, and form what we have learned, we set down to producing a full color 3D photo-like rendering. We ourselves use “Lumion” rendering software and are very happy with the results we get. This is our opportunity to change gears and start putting a vision to our clients dream. We can and do, at the clients request, go even further and take drone pics of the site on which we can photo-shop the building rendering. An added extra step we can take, which is not usually included in our typical design proposal pricing is to do an animated walk around video.

Ok, so now we have the floor plan, the 3D sketch and the photo-like rendering, and the client is happy. A floor plan and rendering just do not provide enough detail to avoid the misunderstanding we talked about earlier in this article, so what comes next? To give an accurate quotation, not a guesswork square meter price which may or may not be realistic, it is necessary to have detailed construction working drawings. We do however at this stage provide a “budget estimate” just to ensure that we are all not wasting our time moving on to the next more labor intensive phase.

The problem is that there is a lot of time that goes into making these detailed construction drawings. What we have experienced in the past if we just go ahead and do them, is several problems may arise. First, if the price we quote for the construction is higher than the clients budget, he may shelf the project meaning that our manpower expenses have been wasted. Alternatively, the client may take the plans he gets from us and have another contractor build. This of course would always be his right, however it would be unethical to use plans that we have provided without compensating us for them. Actually this is also in violation of copyright laws. To avoid being put in this position, we are u front from the beginning. We submit a quotation for the production of the construction drawings,m however we agree to waive that fee should we be given the construction contract. Should the client decide to not use us, then after payment for the drawings, he is legally and ethically entitled to use them in any way he sees fit. To give you an idea, the standard rate prescribed by the Professional Architects board for design is usually 250 pesos per square meter.

Completed construction drawings absolutely need to be highly detailed and accurate. they should include a site development plan, architectural drawings, structural, electrical, plumbing and mechanical. All materials to be used need to be noted, preferably on legends to avoid overcrowding of info. If these drawings are done properly, then they will be akin to an instruction manual , road map or bible and will explain clearly what the contractor is committing to providing, and what the client is expecting to get.

Do yourself a favor and avoid the pitfalls that can make a project go sideways. Hire a company that will take the time and commit to the proper construction design process.