Construction Biz 101 – Billing Unmasked

The design is complete and it’s time to solicit bids. The client receives a bid summary that lists major line items and sums to a total amount. A second bid similarly lists major line items but not necessarily the same items or total. It’s the same project but the competing bid numbers are different. What the …?! Are there hidden project costs the Owner pays? The short answer is “No, there are no hidden costs, but a bid calculation combines several tangible costs with different labels such as Hard Cost, Overhead Cost and Profit. read more →

11 Oct 2018
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Archi-scar – That Will Leave a Mark!

There’s a scar on my right external abdominal oblique where a set of 6-pack abs should be. It’s a lazy L-shaped mark with less pigment than the surrounding skin and a distant reminder of an injury sustained when a 5-year old me slid fireman-style down a swing set pole. A rusty bolt slowed my descent. Skin vs. metal? Yes, metal wins. The scar is neither ugly nor noticeable unless you search for it. When I notice it, I remember the incident and most importantly what I learned from the incident – look before you leap! read more →

Choices — It’s Everything!

You have to love a buffet. A full buffet offers countless options. You don’t have to know exactly what you want, but you have so many options you can try everything. What a joy to have so many choices. You have to hate a buffet. A full buffet contains so many options it provides no discretion so you overeat attempting to try everything. What a mess to have too many choices. Maybe the best choice is a well-developed menu with the right blend of food and quantity, like the detailed design phase in an architecture project where it’s not too much, but just right. read more →

Eureka! — Things That Suck

Kleenex, Xerox and Coke are marketing terms that are so successful the general public uses the brand name to identify a specific product. It’s common for a consumer to request a Kleenex instead of tissue, a Xerox instead of photocopy and a Coke instead of soda. My family is guilty of the same affliction but our brand/product confusion was the Eureka instead of vacuum. Our ancient Eureka was loud, durable and sucked up everything — dirt, throw rugs, toys and small pets. Nothing sucked like the Eureka. So in our household the Eureka became a synonym for things that suck. read more →

ARE — The Turnstile

You flagged the day in your calendar, booked the flight, reserved the hotel room, procured transportation … all in time for the big game. On game day, you packed your bag, but you aren’t there yet. You outfitted your game gear, but you aren’t there yet. You arrived at the stadium, but you’re still not there yet. The scheduling, the transportation, the gear and even the arrival is all preparation, it’s hype, but you aren’t there yet. The hype becomes reality the moment you traverse the turnstile and enter the stadium. The experience is no longer hype, it’s reality. The passage through the turnstile makes the experience real. In the architecture world, the Architectural Record Exam (ARE) is game day and the beginning of the professional experience. read more →

Ugly is in the Details

Enemies are the factions that want the opposite of your best intentions. Your right is their wrong. Their action is your reaction. This polarity is especially true regarding your friends-in-survival, air and water who ironically can be a building’s worst enemies. I call this gang The infiltrators, most notably the air assassins & wiley water who lurk in the environment ready to attack your building nooks and crannies. When infiltrators attack they leave mayhem and destruction in their wake. Air and water damage is ugly. What can you do to prevent damage? Ugly is in the details! read more →

Then-Now: A Schematic Story

There is a universal truth all architects share. An architect, every architect, methodically, randomly or unknowingly marches, plods or stumbles through a design from the beginning or “The Then” where (s)he knows nothing more than there’s a design problem to solve to the end “The Now” where (s)he solves the problem. Along the way, the.. read more →

14 Nov 2016
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What’s This GREEN Stuff?

I’m an architect and I’m green! Well, I think I’m green or at the very least I like what some people in the construction industry call “green behavior”. By “green behavior” I don’t mean new or inexperienced. I mean earth-friendly, but I didn’t always think this way. It was my perception of the biggest problem in the industrial world that inspired my environmental awareness. Like many people who have nothing better to do, I think about nothing and a wandering mind dangerously analyzes problems — at least mine does. Anyway, my perception of the industrial world’s biggest problem is a theory called — the generation gap. Some behavioral historian (this is casual writing no credible references available) defines the generation gap as “the time it takes from the moment we realize we have a problem to do something about it”. And I think it’s this perception that the world has an environmental dilemma that drives this green stuff. read more →

20 May 2010
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