You might draw the conclusion that when you are spending other people’s money, a building committee is the way to go.
My experience is that almost no one on any of the building committees that I worked with had any design or planning expertise. Nor had they ever been through the design process before. In other words your committee is likely to be novices.
Not once in my career did I receive the program, budget and schedule that is anticipated by the standard Owner - Architect Agreement. Chances are good that your Building Committee doesn’t know what you mean by a program.
What got you hired may not be what they need or even want. So you will need to figure that out together.
The engineers and contractors on the committee will balk at developing an actual program so that you know what you are supposed to be designing. They usually say, “Just do it”. Like Nike. And, “We know what we want”.
You will be asked to do things their way or out of sequence at least once. It never seems like that big of a deal, but it is definitely a slippery slope.
There is a tendency for a Building Committee to want to get bids from every contractor they have ever heard of. They want to pay the least amount for the building. They don’t want to disappoint anyone. They want the bid to resolve all their decisions.
The project budget may be set based on a fund drive that won’t start until you have drawings they can use, and the fund drive won’t end for a year from now. Most projects don’t have this large gap, and they will want you to keep working so they don’t lose any time.
If they are lucky enough to land a major donor, there is a fair chance that the donor will be allowed to direct the project. It is hard to imagine circumstances where this goes smoothly or well. I never experienced one that did.
This link to an earlier post that I did will fill in the picture. About Building Committees
Don’t rush into design. Make sure you know the project’s goals and its background before you start. The Mandeville process is intended for Sales, but make sure you know all about the work you are about to do by visiting that process. This past post explains what I mean and the forms are downloadable there. One Sales Tactic You Must Use
Use the kickoff meeting with the Building Committee to explain your design process. You need to make it clear that you are in charge of the design process. When they want to deviate, you will have the basis for disagreeing - or at least getting paid extra to do it their way.
Make a formal request for the Program, Budget and Schedule. Document what the response is. Offer to help them prepare the documents for a fee. At the very least, get paid by the hour for Schematic Design while you figure out the Program as well as complete SD.
As soon as possible prepare a Project Cost and Project Schedule. This is the only way I know of to get everybody on the same Time and Money pages. For Cost include everything that they will have to spend money for. My experience is that no one else will do this if you don’t. If they don’t know the bottom line, there will be a problem sooner or later. Here’s the format that I used.
Stick to the standard design phases and get approval before moving on. You will be surprised at how difficult this is, which should tell you how important it could be. There is always a big change. They will want you to make it without cost. You are a fool if you do.
Most of the time Project Delivery is not an issue. They are thinking Design-Bid-Build. If they are thinking something else, make sure you find out about it early on - and make sure you are comfortable with it, and make sure their parent organization permits what they have in mind.
Try to steer the Building Committee toward bidding the project to three pre-qualified general contractors. That takes the sting out of the ‘Low Bidder’ syndrome. You may still end up with six, but at least it won’t be twenty firms you never heard of.
Make liberal use of alternative bids. On Bid Due Day you want to have a clear path to construction. Having 15% of the project in alternative bids is the best way I know of to achieve that.
The first few times that I worked with a Building Committee, I got killed on changes. Slowly the nature of the beast became clear. Here’s your chance to learn from the mistakes of others.