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  • Writer's picturer2leigh2 .

Value Engineering? Really?

I've been in the architecture and construction industry since 1992. In those years I've seen this scenario play out dozens, if not hundreds of times: Your perfect home is designed just the way you want it. It has all the rooms you need, it's the perfect style, the lot is perfect and you couldn't be happier with the design as a whole. Now you put the home out to bid, to perhaps two or three contractors. Then it happens, the home is 25% over budget. This is when the scramble begins. You send it to several other builders, including some with a reputation of building cheaply. In the end, reality dictates that you start cutting out square feet and compromise on materials and finishes. The only way to really reduce square feet is to start cutting out entire rooms. What do you give up...what can you live without? This is when reality eats a sizeable piece of your dream and you may even end up with something that doesn't look much like the home you grew to love during the design process.

As I said, I've seen this time after time. It's the old way of the project...worry about the cost later. Back in the olden days, architects were builders. They would design and then build the entire project, and budgets were figured out along the way. Some of that mentality has carried over to this day. However, in today's fluctuating building market, this approach to building is quickly becoming outdated. It cannot keep up, and architects simply don't know the cost of construction from day-to-day. That's the builder's job.

The solution? Well...there may not be a perfect solution, but there is one that seems to work a lot better, and it's this: Find a builder to join the design team from day one. Some would call this "design / build" but it's a little different. The true design / build model incorporates the builder and architect in one company. What I'm suggesting is that you choose a builder that is known for quality and integrity, and has a reputation of staying on-time and on-budget. Any good builder should be able to take your budget number and help guide the design to fit the budget. This gives you the flexibility to use any architect and interior designer you choose.

Now, any good architect / designer should know what building elements and practices raise costs. For example, wall-to-wall windows mean that steel frames will be required for structural shear. Floors that don't stack cost more to build. Sprawl is expensive. Clear cedar siding is hard to find, and it's expensive. This list goes on and on, so designing smart helps hit budgets and eliminate the need to "value engineer". We can help you navigate the expensive design traps and arrive at a design you love for the price you need. In fact, we're really good at it. You don't want to compromise by value engineering do you? Really?

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