After working with the home building community for 30+ years in the residential design/build process, what I've witnessed as being a major concern for owners,
designers, suppliers and contractors alike is the lack of a complete set of drawings, specifications and conditions.
These documents are needed to clarify the schedule, budget, resources and people needed to get a project completed.
The drawings are a graphic description of the building's dimensions, elevations and layout. The specifications are a written description of the products to be utilized. The conditions clarify the rights and obligations of owner, designer, suppliers and contractors by mutual agreement.
READ ALLEN SEALE'S "WHAT ARE CONTRACT DOCUMENTS?"
I'd like to present my thoughts on the necessity for a complete set of these documents as a way to avoid glitches on your project. For those of you who may feel inept because you keep tweaking your schemas, let me assure you the creative process occurs in successive phases from your original idea to project completion. There's nothing wrong when you're doing revisions when planning and organizing the job. What I tell folks doing a project is that the design/build endeavor for home building or remodeling occurs through a process of "progressive approximation."
What this means is that, at first, we're not certain of the product/service mix necessary to complete a project; but, after a series of revisions and collaboration with the building community, we finally arrive at a point where we understand what resources are necessary to get the job done. Best results are achieved when these drawings, specifications and conditions are in place before the first shovel of dirt is turned, not afterwards.
READ JIM MONTGOMERY'S "10 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT" http://www.jamesmontgomerylaw.com/Article_TenTips.html
After the initial epiphany regarding 'why' a building or remodeling project should occur, the process of progressive approximation launches itself, eventually leading folks to a point where they understand the product/service mix that'll suit them best. We need to be comfortable with this creative process. It's very rewarding, both in terms of project management and personal achievement.
Ultimately, what's required is a complete set drawings, specifications and conditions describing scope of work. These documents just don't fall into one's lap because the design/build process enjoys the presence of a variety of professionals with whom the owner must collaborate. There's no single best way; and, there's more than one way to get the job done correctly.
There's an ensemble of players on the home building stage, all of whom are reading from their own scripts, depending on their occupational orientation: realtors, lenders, designers, engineers, contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, inspectors...and on and on.
READ ROB COOK'S ARTICLE "THE CONTRACT DOCUMENTS"
To keep all the players on center stage, and reading from the same script, requires a dialog to occur leading toward a common set of documents so all participants come to agree on how best to accomplish the project. Sometimes this can be a struggle, other times the process just seems to fall into place. Either way, we need a complete set of documents so we can properly direct the cast of players.
There are legal, technical and managerial reasons why the drawings, specifications and conditions need to be in place. Putting them into place will be part of determining who and what will become part of the means needed to accomplish the end
result. This occurs by progressive approximation as we meander through the marketplace finding the right product/service mix to fit a situation. It takes time to accomplish results, but we need to take this time so our jobs go smoothly.
READ HENRY GOUDREAU'S ARTICLE "5 KEY ELEMENTS OF EVERY CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT" http://www.hgassociates.com/article_contracts.html
What we end up doing is planning and organizing around the schedule, budget, resources and people necessary to achieve our goal based on these three documents. Once decisions are made, and the right product/service mix is configured, the drawings, specifications and conditions are then useful to implement and control our projects. This is how we remain in schedule, on budget, making best use of products
and remaining on good terms with the people doing the work.
FURTHER READING: R.S.MEANS "BUILDING PROFESSIONALS GUIDE TO CONTRACT DOCUMENTS" http://www.rsmeans.com/about/pr-67261A.html
Article contributed by Mr. Tom Landis of Owner-Builder.com.