Projects, Design

Battling Construction’s Biggest Headwinds With Design-Assist Alliances

Architecture and design professionals are expected to be experts in hundreds of products, work under extreme deadlines, and have a crystal ball to predict the future. Fortunately, design consultation support and solutions exist that allow architects to stay focused on the design goals and enlist the support of others to manage and simplify project management.

Incongruent bids and time-consuming value engineering are just two of the ways a project can be compromised. When delays occur, the stress of making deadlines can lead to concessions that push construction outside of the original design.

The design-assist process helps firms preserve design intent while meeting stringent requirements through collaboration to ensure the right products with the right performance in the right application are specified.

Unfortunately, design-assist can sometimes mean directing A/E project managers to download structural analysis software, and the assistance ends there. Effective design-assist that can make a meaningful impact on a project comes through dedicated support that is an extension of the architect’s team, proactively seeking relationships to establish clear communication and deliver reliable, cost-effective, and scalable solutions. Without this base, the tools won’t be utilized properly and won’t deliver value.

It’s important for architecture and design professionals to communicate early and often with design-assist consultants. It’s never too early, and there is no such thing as too many questions.

It begins with a product and performance consultation: A design-assist consultant will review drawings and design intent, then offer suggestions to ensure the two align and therefore the bid process is clear.

The next level of design-assist is a more comprehensive partnership between the consultant, architect, builder, and installer that delivers guidance while helping coordinate the process at every phase, including:

    • Application detailing
    • Structural analysis
    • Thermal modeling
    • BIM modeling
    • Proposal drawing
    • Specification consultation
    • Budgeting and cost optimization
    • On-site consulting

The right relationship will help identify the right tools to help overcome project complications, including:

Delivering more sustainable/code-compliant projects

Choose a consultant that has a technical engineering team that is well-versed in codes and staffed to assist in the region where the project is located. Too often the building team can get caught up in individual product performance. A total systems approach will perform better than the sum of its parts, so ensure that the design-assist program includes a total system performance review.

Coping with supply chain issues

It is essential to begin the design-assist conversation early, especially as analysts expect that supply chain shortages will persist for some time. The right team will connect directly with their operations teams on supply and product costs. It is always important to identify the source and location of materials. Lead times and logistics should be adjusted for materials that are sourced overseas.

Offsetting labor shortages

This is another example of how a team with regional offices and connections that is working closely with the installers on-site can identify this issue in advance. With that insight, they can assist or recommend prefabrication to various degrees to reduce the need for on-site labor. Involving the installer from the beginning is key here, as their capabilities and experience can help or hinder how many options are available to the project.

Staying on budget and on schedule

Take advantage of the design-assist consultant’s expertise by utilizing the multiple pre-construction services available. Early involvement can supply real-time insight needed to avoid budget bust and making compromises that can skew the design vision.

Take advantage of design-assist programming. The right company will partner with the team from beginning to end and leverage dedicated resources to identify and mitigate challenges, all while ensuring successful installation of products that will meet the most unique design requirements, performance goals, and owner expectations.

Learn about OBE360, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope’s dedicated team of experts for design-assist projects, and the suite of tools and services they offer to support architects throughout their design, or click here to connect with an OBE360 expert.

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