Traditionally, the architect and owner develop and document a building design before hiring a general contractor. However, with rising costs and shrinking building schedules, many projects use a fast-track method of design and construction in which an architect and builder perform their services simultaneously to shorten construction time. Nevertheless, it is important in all building projects for the owner, architect and contractor to stay abreast of the developing project, and a weekly meeting is the perfect way to do this. For each meeting, you should create an agenda so each party can know which tasks is his or her responsibility.
Things You'll Need
- Meeting location
Create a list of steps your design and building project requires. For example, a traditional project would have the design phases -- schematic design, design development, contract documentation, bidding and contract administration -- follow in succession. On the other hand, a fast-track project would have individual building component design and construction follow in succession, such as site grading followed by foundation design and construction, which is followed by structural design and construction.
Estimate the amount of time each step will take. For example, preliminary design might take one month, foundations might take 28 days, etc. If you are using the fast-track method, define which steps are critical to the success of the building project, such as foundation, structure and enclosure, versus which steps are less important, such as interior veneers and furniture. Of course, all parts of design and construction are important, but making distinctions creates a hierarchy of tasks for the architect and general contractor.
Order the steps. For traditional projects, create a Gantt chart, which is a bar chart showing the project schedule by phase and sub-phase. Each bar of the chart should be scaled to the correct amount of time budgeted. On the other hand, if you are using the fast-track method, create a Critical Path chart, which resembles a Gantt chart but has the critical steps ganged together while the secondary tasks run parallel to the critical step order (also called the critical path). Fast-track design and the associated Critical Path Method (CPM) require the architect and general contractor to multitask, performing multiple steps at the same time and shortening the schedule.
Overlay the Gantt or Critical Path chart on a calendar. You might need to change the schedule to accommodate holidays, as well as other schedule conflicts. Keep in mind that building projects can last anywhere from six months to many years, so you will need to plan well ahead. Some parts of the schedule must be flexible to accommodate unpredictable schedule changes.
Select a time and day of the week for all parties to meet. This should remain constant throughout the building project. Furthermore, select a meeting location. Although you can use conference calling, it is better to meet in person to work through complex elements of the project. To avoid confusion, you should always keep the same meeting location. In addition, it is helpful to have the meeting location near the building site.
Divide the schedule on the Gantt or Critical Path chart into week-long sections and note which steps occur in those individual sections. The steps in these weekly subdivisions will be the focus of each of the meetings, and the steps should be outlined in the agenda for each meeting. The traditional project meeting discussion priority is defined by the schedule, whereas the fast-track project meeting discussion priority is defined by the task.
For the traditional project, discussion on the progress of the architect's design phases takes precedence before construction, and after construction begins, the general contractor's building schedule and task completion take precedence. For fast-track projects, the critical steps take precedence, and the secondary tasks follow. The weekly agenda should take note of the current phase or steps with a list of priorities and parties responsible to be discussed in the meeting.
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