Have you ever compared the process of designing and building to the process of pregnancy and child-bearing? It may sound like an extreme correlation, but it’s an analogy I came up with and often share with my clients. In my opinion, it’s an easy way to understand the importance of continuity throughout a design project and I’m excited to share it with you.
Phase One: Pre-planning (Thinking about having a baby)
You’ve decided it’s time to start a family! It’s a big decision, certainly not something to be taken lightly. There are all kinds of emotions stirring: excitement, fear, apprehension, joy and maybe complete panic. You imagine what life will be like with this new human-being in your world. The decision to have a family will impact you physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially; but you’re ready, and you commit to moving forward.
You’ve decided it’s time to build or renovate! It’s a big decision, certainly not something to be taken lightly. There are all kinds of emotions stirring: excitement, fear, apprehension, joy, and maybe complete panic. You imagine what life will be like living in your new, beautifully designed home. This decision will impact you physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially; but you’re ready, and you commit to moving forward.
(Similar comparison so far, right?)
Phase Two: Conception (Working together)
I don’t think I need to go into detail about how this works on the baby side, but let’s just say that two people come together and the process begins.
When the client and the design team come together to discuss ideas and wish-lists, the design process begins. It’s exciting to see goals & dreams turn into concepts.
Phase Three: Pregnancy (Development)
As the months go by, the baby grows and develops into a more recognizable human. It takes shape physically and it starts to move its limbs; you may also get the sense that it has its own special quirks and personality traits. Some parts of pregnancy are hard, like morning sickness and feelings of worry like, “Is my baby healthy?”; other moments are of pure joy, like feeling the kicks and hiccups.
As the months go by, the design baby develops. Ideas and wish lists turn into plans, often taking shape in unexpected ways. Your space is being designed with unique features and it’s developing a personality of its own. Some parts of the process are hard, like finding out that your dream features are above budget; other parts of the process are of pure joy, like seeing your vision come to life in 3D and touching the material finishes that were selected to transform your space.
Phase Four: The Delivery (The Baby is Born)
After 9 months of anticipation, it’s time to meet your new family member. The baby is fully developed and ready to leave the womb, to grow into a unique individual.
After months of anticipation, the design work is complete. Every detail, measurement, and specification have come together into carefully written & drawn documents. Your fully-developed design has been birthed and is ready to grow into a unique space.
Phase Five: Raising (Bringing the Baby up)
In this phase, the work of guiding and shaping this individual begins. A vulnerable infant needs constant attention, care, and direction. Ideally, the birth parents raise the baby. They have been with it since its moment of conception, so they’ll likely have a vested interest in raising it.
Now the work building your design & managing your project begins. The countless hours of thoughtful planning must now be brought to form or “raised”, if you will. Ideally, the designers are the best people to manage the construction because they’ve conceptualized the design, so they have a vested interest in seeing it become a reality.
If you’ve stayed with me through all the phases, the analogy works. It’s not perfect, but it makes a point – consistent action from conception to building is the logical path that should result in the optimal raising of the “baby”.
The process that most closely resembles these phases is called “Design-Build”. The design team and the build team work closely together from the beginning. A successful Design Build process encompasses the following:
- Developing a cohesive team consisting of designers, trades, and consultants. Cohesive means each team member is committed to working collaboratively and respectfully with one-another for the good of the client and the success of the project.
- This team is brought onboard as early as possible in the design process. With expert input, issues can be flagged and budgets can be reviewed, leading to a smoother construction process.
- One of the team members must take a lead role and act as the Project Manager (PM). The PM’s role is to ensure that everyone understands the requirements, coordinates the process, and keeps the clients informed along the way – for a truly exceptional client experience.
Another commonly utilized process is called “Design-Bid-Build”. With this method, the design team and the building team are completely independent from one another. The design is completed, then bid on by multiple builders until, finally, the project is awarded to one bidder. If you consider my analogy, this means the design team conceptualizes and grows the “baby” then hands it off to strangers with only hope that it will be raised well. In my opinion, this is a big risk to take.
With 20 years in the industry, we have worked with both processes and we believe that the Design-Build process is the superior option. We also believe that the team who conceived and created the design is the best choice when it comes to bringing it to life, and why we manage projects from beginning to end whenever possible.