Well, what your fee includes is mostly up to you. But I will share my experience with fees.
The only benchmark I know of is ’Basic Services’. This is the architect’s level of involvement in the project that the standard national agreements assume, especially those developed by the American Institute of Architects [AIA]. Basic Services usually include five phases of work - Schematic Design [SD], Design Development [DD], Construction Documents [CD], Bidding [B], and Construction Administration [CA]. The only one of these five that I feel is fully detailed is Construction Administration. No doubt the design phases are too variable to describe in detail. To oversimplify, the result of each phase is to:
Every project faces 6 key issues. They are Needs, Character, Context, Constraints, Schedule and Budget. You will need a good understanding of these six because the goals for your project lie in these six areas.
Needs encompasses spaces and the types of spaces you require. Part of this issue is also the relationships that these spaces should have to one another. Specific functions that you need to accomplish are part of this issue:
- area of spaces
- types of spaces
- relationships among spaces
- special functions
Character includes non-spatial issues and some of these are immaterial as well.
- appearance of exterior and interior
- green initiatives
- building systems
Context considers the environment in which your project takes place. Whether you are considering a free standing building, an addition, or a remodeling project, there will be issues arising from the surroundings of the project.
- location /access
- availability of utilities
- orientation (solar and wind)
- shape and size of site
- available transportation
Constraints are the limitations and restrictions that you will encounter. Some are universal, but most are specific to you and your context.
- building code
- environmental regulations
- permissible contract styles
- parent organization processes
- source of funds
- stakeholders' desires
The schedule issue is part of many endeavors. However, most projects have schedules that consist of innumerable tasks within four broad phases before occupancy occurs.
The issue of budget is the most crucial issue for the majority of projects. The budget has income and expense sides to the issue. In a general way the whole project is usually an attempt to match the sources of funds with the expenditures that the other five key issues prompt you to make. The costs fall into 2 categories - hard costs and soft costs.
Hard costs are:
Soft costs are:
- other services
- interest expenses
You will find that you return to these six issues over and over. Some resolve themselves fairly early in a project, but others, for example Schedule and Budget, will require attention right up to occupancy of the project.
The graph showing contingency plotted against the amount of scope that is known came from a RedVector course on estimating. I like the way the size of contingency is related to the level of scope that has been developed. What I don't like is the amount of contingency that is suggested as being needed. Surely as architects we can come closer than 35% contingency at the end of Design Development.
Contingency is very helpful in preparing construction or project estimates for a client. My experience is that if you give a client a range of potential cost, they immediately forget the higher number and begin acting as though the lower number is a fact. Including a contingency for "what we don't know yet" tends to work better. In my mind the goal is to prepare the client for reality rather than tell him/her what they want to hear.
It is very rare that a client is unhappy about a project coming in under budget. The the opposite almost always creates a serious problem for everyone.
The contingency amounts that I am comfortable with at the start of various phases are:
I find that explaining the purpose of the contingency and how it becomes lower as the project progresses is accepted as logical. You will want to develop your own list of contingencies for use at different stages of the work.
orig post date Oct 2012
If you have watched the TV program, A Person Of Interest, this concept will be familiar to you. The program is based on a city-wide surveillance system that ties all independent surveillance systems together, analyses the data, and outputs "security issues" for the stars of the show to resolve. (Supposedly NYC actually has something similar up and running.)
In the more mundane world of the individual facility something similar is possible. By adding computer analysis to your new or existing video security system, you can receive live alerts to the presence of anomalies without anyone watching the camera feeds, or without risking that the watcher is distracted or simply misses the event. Further, there are some events, like the 'package left behind' that are very difficult to notice in a busy space.
The definition of video analytics according to Honeywell, a major vendor in the field, is "cutting-edge software that uses algorithms which detect, track, analyze and classify behaviors and objects, vehicles and people in a live or recorded video system".
The main applications are detecting incidents that are difficult for conventional sensors; detect, track and alert on incidents that threaten operations; monitor more cameras effectively with less labor; and collect data for operations.
Two key benefits of video analytics are the elimination of storing vast amounts of irrelevant data and of 'inattention blindness'. A military study of surveillance demonstrated that, when monitoring two or more sequencing monitors, the operator will miss as much as 45% of all scene activity in a two minute period. Over a 22 minute period the percentage missed goes up to 95%.
Here are some ways that video analytics can be used.
Video Analytics can provide better security, improve the efficiency of your system through alerts and searches, provide the additional benefit of counting, and reduce costs of personnel, data storage, and data collection for management use.
Costs vary significantly based on what you want to accomplish. However it is not hard to imagine that video analytics will become standard in more and more facilities in the near future.
orig post date NOV 2012
A Detail Library is a good thing to have, and it is never too late to develop one. The advantages of a Detail Library are:
If the lookup and retrieval processes for your Detail Library are off-putting, or if they rarely result in helpful info, then your system won’t be used and lots of effort setting it up will go to waste.
So the main issue is how to catalog the contents of your library to describe what is on file and to guide you in retrieving what you select. That issue was solved over a century ago by Melvil Dewey. A customized version of the Dewey Decimal System is just the thing you need. The best system out there for this purpose is UNIFORMAT II. UNIFORMAT provides the overall framework for storing and retrieving re-usable detail files. At the same time, like the Dewey Decimal System, new additions are easily incorporated into the system.
Now that we know how organization will work, start clipping details in whatever convenient format works best - JPEG (e.g. phone camera), PDF (scans), HTML (web pages), DWG; and txt or doc to record instructions and experience. Even an audio file can be saved. Give each of them a name in the format: Uniformat ID - detail number* - descriptive name; i.e. A2020-A-Masonry Basement Wall. Let the file extension convey information about content or add a word or two to the “descriptive name”. Use the files to store information that will help the next user; and consider a procedure that logs which projects used the detail and anything new that is learned.
Store all of this in the cloud, e.g. an Evernote notebook, or a Dropbox folder (both support sorting by name, which is crucial), where you can easily add to and retrieve from anywhere. Dropbox has the advantage of being free and allowing sharing of the Detail Library folder with everyone on the team. The advantage of Evernote, although the keeper of the Detail Library notebook will need a Pro Account ($50/yr), is that it is simpler to add information to the one note - additional comments, photos, files or even audio files.
Concentrate on gathering useful information; then, as you use it, create, clip and store the CAD file in the same folder in Dropbox using the same name for the CAD file; or add it to the note in Evernote. Having a usable CAD detail is the holy grail of the Detail Library, but having a ready solution to a condition is a major help on its own no matter what format.
Architekwiki has about 50 details so far and plans to add many more. Take advantage of these to start your Detail Library.
* If you think it is likely that you will have more than 26 details in each group, then use 00, 01, 02, 03 etc as the detail number to accommodate 100 details in each group. There isn’t any point in storing unique details. Go for archetypal. Also bear in mind that UNIFORMAT II has additional levels, whose numbers you could implement. This (link) reference sheds light on the system.
The National Concrete Masonry Association [NCMA] is a valuable resource for technical information about concrete block. Their e-Tek articles are industry standards for every concrete masonry topic you can think of.
A PDF of the NCMA e-Tek table of contents is embedded below or can be downloaded.
The e-Tek articles are accessed through one of the member websites. So, to access these e-Tek articles follow these 6 steps.
When you find yourself working with a Building Committee, you will normally find that they do not have any particular experience of serving on building committees or managing a building project.
There are exceptions - public schools, higher education, hospitals and organizations with a facility manager - but your first step is to determine what work they have done so far.
You want to know if they have a documented plan for the project as most Owner/Architect contracts state. So, if they have a documented plan and program, budget, and schedule, and they all seem realistic, you are ready to start designing.
If they do not have a boni-fide plan, and if you begin designing in order to 'stumble upon' a solution that works for them, then you will almost certainly have some re-designing to do sooner or later. You and the building committee need a coherent plan for their project - a plan that will require little or no re-design.
If there is no plan, or if it doesn't make sense, then you will need to back them up and take them through the planning that they need to do. The engineers and contractors on the committee will balk at this. This is where you point out that you are being asked to go 'off-script' and to proceed in a way that is unpredictable and that is not anticipated by the contract. So either way, planning first or jumping into design, you will need a larger fee than has been proposed because the scope of your work has changed.
If you are asked to begin designing anyway, you should try to get the fee for Schematic Design changed to an hourly basis to compensate you for the inevitable redesign that you will have to do. You might consider spending some time, in that case, doing the planning that needs to be done so that the redesign doesn't come back to haunt you after Schematic Design is approved and you are back to a standard fee for Basic Services.
If you are given the chance to help them with the planning, here is an outline of how you might proceed.
orig post date Nov2012
Here is List “B” of Software Tools.
As I said when introducing List "A", my favorite articles in Architekwiki are usually about “Tools”. I like gadgets. Although these are not tools in the traditional sense of physical objects, they serve the same purpose. They are tools of the Knowledge Age.
The Best Calculator
Scalar is really useful - part calculator and part spreadsheet.
Small Firm Accounting - Part 6 - Software Comparison
We compare 14 accounting systems to help Kickstart your search.
You Probably Need Trello - Lucky Its Free
Trello offers a lot of the features you will find in Basecamp, but free.
How To Hack Basecamp Personal
If you have a Basecamp account, even an old free one, 37signals’ new offering is a really useful project management tool.
Vittle The Presentation App
This App is a little hard to explain but its features are in a new class.
Note Taking Apps Inkflow Plus VS Notability
Note taking on the iPad is much more powerful than it used to be.
If you missed it, here is List “A”.
My favorite articles in Architekwiki are usually about “Tools”.
(I like gadgets.)
Although these are not tools in the traditional sense of physical objects, they serve the same purpose. They are tools of the Knowledge Age.
Here is List “A” of Software Tools.
Gmail Tasks Revisited
A tool you may already have with some unique features.
Useful Mobile Apps Updated
A list of apps that make things easier - better - funner.
Field Measuring Theres An App For That
Field measuring just got more interesting.
When you need a bubble diagram, org chart, or process flow chart, Lucidchart has you covered. Free.
Basecamp - Nozbe Comparison
Two great ways to manage all the projects and their tasks.
Five Handy Photo Apps
It is absolutely amazing what you can do with these apps and your phone’s camera.
Favorite Sticky Note Apps For iPad
There are a million uses for sticky notes. Now coming to your tablet.
Every project needs a building permit. Jurisdiction doesn't change the code that you must comply with, but it often changes the process of obtaining a building permit. I like to apply for the permit before going out for bids so that any changes that are required by the plan review can be included before the bids are received.
The components of a permit application are jurisdiction, the application paperwork, the printing of sets of drawings / specifications, delivery, and the response to the inevitable corrections letter.
Building Permit Application
Corrections Letter Response
You will almost certainly want to modify this process for your circumstances. But the point is to have a plan that you work toward implementing while you are completing the drawings and preparing to go out for bids. We have found in recent years new code-related requirements are cropping up. Two that come to mind are:
Having a documented process makes it easier to hit all the compliance bases without losing your momentum or encountering delays.