In 2005, before we became a Design Build firm, Building Solutions got a call from an architect we had previously worked with. He told us that he had a project for us to bid on. When I arrived at the modest 3 bedroom, 2 bath, Mill Valley bungalow; he gave us a set of plans that had at least 40 pages to it.
As I started going through the drawings we saw things like anodized metal siding from Sweden and a roof for the master bedroom that was fully retractable like a football stadium so that you could sleep under the stars during a warm summer evening. It was all a wonderful idea and a beautiful design, but of course nobody would ever invest in real estate that way.
With a bad feeling, our firm provided pricing for the project. We were the last of three firms to present pricing, and it turned out that all three of us had come within 5% of each other at 1.5 million dollars, nearly 3 times the value of the property at that time. Unfortunately, the project was never built and they had nothing to show for all their hard work and effort. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see their faces, and we told ourselves that we would never again be a part of a system that could so thoroughly mislead clients like that.
We knew there had to be a better way…
And so, we spent the next several years developing a proprietary system of budget-informed design to serve our clients in the only way that made sense to us – with total transparency and client advocacy at every step of the way.
As you might imagine, this is easier said than done, since the entire sub 3-Million dollar segment of the construction industry is entrenched in this antiquated method of doing business.
Two completely separate entities for design and construction are usually what clients are urged towards using, and the client too often does not have the first idea how much the project will cost until the design and engineering is completed and permits are pulled. It just doesn’t make any sense; especially when the entire rest of the industry integrates costing and design together for buildings like hospitals, bridges, skyscrapers or schools.
It took years of developing our own software, incrementally improving on the process to ultimately achieve a 21st. century, client-facing business model, fully based on transparency and advocacy, creating a partnership of trust, collaboration, and open communication with our clients.
This business model delivers on the promise to not spend money on design unless we’re sure were going to build it. THAT’S a good idea…