The Client-Centric Contractor Partnership

What is this wizardry we speak of?

We want great partnerships with the construction managers and contractors we work with. Why? Because we all work to the same goal, to deliver value to our customers and to get the most impressive end result possible with the resources available. Just this week, it came up in conversation “We don’t want to get in bed with a contractor on a project and then find out its’ trouble”. You know what we mean.

We believe that our contractors are a valuable contributing partner in figuring out how to build “the thing” with us! And we actually WANT the contractors design input! We are not fans of grinding contractors down at tender. We think ‘value engineering’ is an oxymoron. We know that our clients don’t want to dream and put themselves out there only to be told that life is a compromise. After months of consideration and possibilities, clients are forced to choose between limiting factors that taint and diminish their expectations. Cost, time or quality? Too late in the game clients find out they can only have 2 out of the 3, so which are they? Who wants to make that call? Not our clients.

“Bidding is an antiquated process with no relationship value.”

The value of the partnership is many fold, as a construction manager you get to hear first-hand the goals and reasoning of the customers, of the architect and of the consultants. Contractors get to develop a relationship with us where we share in the criteria and aspirations of the project. We know that through the early process they will add value to the discussion, buy into the vision and anticipate the construction requirements of what the design sets out. This is far more valuable than later being perceived as the adversary or naysayer.

As partners, we want to learn about their business and their core values and believe it or not, we tailor our drawings to dovetail into their methodologies and construction management practices. What’s the point of a detailed drawing or a plan drafted in a certain way if the trades or your estimators don’t work that way? Why do work that requires interpretation and alteration?

“Ultimately, we as a team need to convey, evaluate and plan the project so that it realizes the vision, is on time, is on budget and is nothing less than amazing.

We believe that not only is it possible to set design guidelines, but it is also possible to set future revision guidelines against which decisions can be evaluated. What are the sacred cows that the design and the management of the project need to manoeuver around? What are the table stakes? As partners we need contractors to draft that path with us, yes – we think they need to be given a chance from the very onset to work towards a goal with us as design partners, instead of being handed over a project and being forced to promise an outcome without being involved in the ‘buy-in’. The whole point is to make it happen!

How can a project be planned and executed if those involved in the execution and delivery are not involved from the beginning? This is how we like to work if we can help it and we hope to find construction partners that are looking for the same experience.

Richard Davignon, Principal, Architect
Davignon Martin Architecture + Interior Design

Categories: Architecture, Business of Design, interior design

Tagged as: , , , ,

2 replies »

  1. Hi David,

    My name is Paul Rivington and I am the Director of Sales at Alberta Hardwood Flooring. I was fortunate enough to have this blog post forwarded to me by a colleague this morning and I have to say it was a very refreshing read. Too often, as a supply contractor I prepare tenders for projects large and small that begin with well thought, interesting and exciting materials only to be re-engineered with lower priced, lower quality product that don’t seem to fit the original vision of the project. I have always believed that a more 360 degree collaboration at the onset of a project, between all parties (Design, Owner, contractor) discussing all variables (look, quality, price) ensures that the end user is getting their desired vision without compromise.

    It is great see others in this crazy building industry with similar values.

    • Hi Paul,

      Sorry for the late response, but just want to say thank you for your comments and we agree about the importance of a collaborative project. Not only is it more rewarding for those involved, but it more often than not results in the most successful, appreciated and worthwhile efforts. It really shows.

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