Guest post by Sarah Grey
What sets one construction company apart from another?
With so many builders competing for your construction contract, finding the right one for your job
can be a real challenge, especially if you don’t have any direct experience in construction. From
the perspective of a professional Architect, here are some things to look out for when comparing
partners for your next big project.
A strong commitment to budget
Budget overruns are so frequent in the construction industry that they’ve almost become
a standard expectation, particularly when it comes to large commercial and civil projects.
Whilst there will always be unpredictable factors that can blow out your construction time, it’s
not unreasonable to expect that the final cost will be within 5-10% of your original contract.
Reputable construction companies will provide guaranteed fixed price contracts so you can rest
assured that your project will stay on budget.
Awards, but not just any awards…
Every industry has their own respected body that recognises and rewards industry leaders. By
the same token, there are also plenty of less knowledgeable bodies who are only in the awards
business to promote their own business instead of the industry as a whole. In the Australian
building industry, HIA is the premier industry representative. If the builder you’re considering
can show off recent awards related to your specific project, you can be quite confident that they
know what they’re doing.
The law can only go so far to protect you from dodgy workmanship. It’s worth spending more
of your budget to secure a builder that offers a more extensive warranty. Be sure to check the
details thoroughly, it’s not just about the length of time, it’s also about their process for arranging
repairs or replacement of material.
Local project management
A dedicated Project Manager who regularly visits your site and is always on call is an absolute
must. Don’t settle for anything less.
The most reputable home builders are equally liked by their mum and dad clients as they are
by architect clients. Whilst industry colleagues can provide valuable recommendations, it’s
easy to forget that many home-owner/builders are eagerly sharing their own reviews of building
companies online. Browse building company reviews on product review websites to see if there
are any client horror stories waiting to be discovered.
An increasing number of builders are now offering ‘design and build’ services to their direct
clients. While there’s no doubt that this service offering is an inferior substitute for a professional
architect, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid working with them. The greater the
understanding your builder has of the design process and of the latest developments, the easier
they will be to work with.
I often compare working with adults to working with children. Here is a list of suggestions to getting something done, whether it is other colleagues at work or your kids at home.
Please share your comments and feedback below this post.
1. SHARE THE VISION
It’s never easy getting someone else to just “buy in” and do something — at least not unless there is some big reward at the end. So share your vision and get “buy in” from your team. If it is possible, allow the team to shape the vision of the project, task, or event.
Find out what motivates your team. My wife and I have been procrastinating about swapping out the kids play room with my office. By engaging my team (my kids) while my wife was out, I was able to have them help us jump start the small but arduous task ahead of us (since the two rooms are separated by two flights of stairs).
3. BREAKING DOWN A BIG TASK INTO SMALLER TASKS
Looking at all that needs to be completed is daunting, but when you break down the overall tasks into smaller, manageable tasks it appears doable. As things get done it is easy to keep the momentum going to complete the project and move on to the next one. Do not overwhelm the team — break down the activities into manageable tasks. Be realistic with the schedule to keep them motivated and on track.
Asking for and receiving continuous feedback helps the team see that their ideas matter. Integrating the team’s ideas into your overall project makes them feel vested in the project. It is easier to get things done when your entire team is on board with where things are headed. In my case, I asked my kids where they wanted to relocate some of the toy “stations” so they could be involved in the decision making process.
5. TAKE A BREAK
OK, playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and “Mickey Mouse Built a House, How Many Bricks Did He Use?” (throwbacks from when I was a kid), might not go over well at work. However, taking a break from a task will help recharge and refocus the team. Take this opportunity to encourage and bond with the team. Remind them of the vision.
6. TEAM BUILDING
Use the break to bond. Whether or not this project is as successful as you envisioned it to be it is a learning opportunity (try to “break the eggs” and learn on the smaller or less important tasks, if you have to). Having a solid team will help with the success of future projects. We can grow from our challenges and experience and learn to work with our strengths (and the strengths of our team).
Keep giving the team positive reinforcement (and yourself too). Telling the kids that mommy was going to be “so happy” when she saw what we had undertaken, kept the little troops motivated walking up and down those stairs carrying office supplies and toys on those countless trips up and down stairs.
8. OFFER REWARD
Ice cream after dinner worked in my case. Again, see what motivates the team and offer a reward. It doesn’t necessarily need to be money or a promotion. Something small like a gas card or tickets to the movie or ball game would be a nice token of appreciation for having your tea, finish the job. It makes them feel appreciated and keeps them focused on completing the tasks expeditiously.
9. NEXT PROJECT
Go back to the team and see what ideas they have for the next project. Also remember to ask what the best and worse parts of the project were so that the next project is even more successful. Make a list of “Lessons Learned” so you don’t forget!
10. MANAGEMENT & PASSING THE TORCH
If you can, avoid being a micro-manager; Next time be part of the team instead of being the leader. Let the others take the role of the committee chair, project managers, etc. What better way to teach leadership then to give someone else a turn to manage a project, task, or event? You can mentor each other (if you are willing to be reversed-mentored). They get a seasoned team member with a wealth of knowledge and experience. It’s a win-win for both and a fantastic way to build a strong, versatile team. It’s also humbling and a great way to see the project from the eyes of the guys in the trenches, which in turn, will make you a better leader for the next big thing.
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.
If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
Have a great weekend!
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook
FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.
In the United States, we are Internet dependent. Our financial systems, power grids, telecommunications, water supplies, flight controls and military communications are all online – making them vulnerable to countless attacks by cyber criminals. The goal could be a 10-minute blackout, an attack on our national security, a stock trading glitch or the theft of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property. The FBI has recently made cyber crime a number one priority, one that costs the U.S. an estimated trillion dollars a year. CNBC’s “Code Wars”, hosted by Melissa Lee, takes you onto the frontlines of the war on cyber. Cyber attacks are almost impossible to trace, making cyber crime and acts of cyber warfare the ultimate anonymous crime. So how do we protect our systems whose components are largely manufactured abroad? Can our nation’s infrastructure be protected from cyber attacks? And how can the U.S. win a war in which conventional rules of combat do not apply? CNBC tackles the tough questions in “Code Wars: America’s Cyber Threat.” Click here to watch the Preview.
BUSINESS WEEK – In the early morning hours of May 24, an armed burglar wearing a ski mask broke into the offices of Nicira Networks, a Silicon Valley startup housed in one of the countless nondescript buildings along Highway 101. He walked past desks littered with laptops and headed straight toward the cubicle of one of the company’s top engineers. The assailant appeared to know exactly what he wanted, which was a bulky computer that stored Nicira’s source code. He grabbed the one machine and fled. The whole operation lasted five minutes, according to video captured on an employee’s webcam. Palo Alto Police Sergeant Dave Flohr describes the burglary as a run-of-the-mill Silicon Valley computer grab. “There are lots of knuckleheads out there that take what they can and leave,” he says. But two people close to the company say that they, as well as national intelligence investigators now looking into the case, suspect something more sinister: a professional heist performed by someone with ties to China or Russia. The burglar didn’t want a computer he could sell on Craigslist. He wanted Nicira’s ideas. Click here to read the rest of the story by Michael Riley and Ashlee Vance.
The Pentagon, the IMF, Google, and others have been hacked. It’s war out there, and a cyber-weapons industry is exploding to arm the combatants