Design on the Cheap? Think Again.

by Cynthia Kemper. Originally published in the June 2015 issue of Colorado Real Estate Journal’s Building Dialogue, Cynthia Kemper’s Colorado Pulse column. A response from Paul Wember can be found after Ms. Kemper's blog. Earlier this year, I read an editorial comparing selecting architectural services to bargain shopping for cars, homes, and, believe it or not, toothpaste. The author's rather strange premise seemed ripe for a counterpoint, or at least an honest look at what can happen when a client opts for low bid architectural or design services. Since we all prefer to make informed choices when it comes to such important decisions, this month I'm going to pull back the curtain with a candid look at the reality of bargain basement design. For starters, serious architects do much more than draw plans for structures with four walls that hold up a roof and keep the weather out. They are highly

Ask An Owner’s Rep

Our staff is frequently asked for our opinion or insight on various industry matters, from the latest technology to best practices in securing work from specific client types. We encourage you to post a question in this blog or email me directly at Our knowledge is yours. ~ Paul Wember, Owner's Representative

What I am Not Thankful for This Year

To have good, you must have bad; up must have down, and to be thankful, you need to have the unthankful.  As we come into the season of giving thanks, there is so much I am thankful for, a sustainable business, a healthy family, my soft bed.  That said, there are a few things this I am not thankful for, I suggest you state the following, as Jimmy Fallon does in his bit, thank you…. Thank you AEC Marketing professionals for all the emails telling us how thankful you are for having clients that make you great. Are you great or thankful? It gets a bit blurry. I’d be thankful for having you remove me from your email list. Thank you to the company that our client didn’t select to serve on the team.  I understand that it’s frustrating to lose a project that you thought you were

Your Building Smells Like Crap

We often focus on the aesthetic of our buildings, but unless the rendering comes with a scratch and sniff component, sometimes we are only seeing the pretty picture. Odors can ruin the quality of occupant experience, no matter how beautiful the building. Water, gas, and other elements can be sources of foul smells, haunting a building as they are very hard to trace. We have had two instances where this has been a project challenge. In the first situation, the building would randomly smell like gas. There was no consistency to the situation, making it hard to resolve. We applied cognitive thinking and deductive reasoning: Determine if there was a gas leak. There was no pressure loss, so that was ruled out. Determined where the smell was coming from. The odor was coming through the vents. Analyze the mechanical intakes. It turned out that there was a gas

I Wish My Design Team Would _________.

We recently had a team meeting to discuss many topics, from writing better RFP’s to project frustrations. The design team that joined us ended the meeting by asking each of our team members to fill in the blank “I wish my design team (architect and engineers) would ______.”  Below were some of the responses from our diverse team of professionals. Be more up front As Owners Representatives we are put in the position of gathering information and providing updates to the stakeholders.  It’s not unheard of for us to propose a schedule to the team, discuss it and agree to it only to find out later that the design team (architect or engineer) didn’t have the horsepower to meet the schedule. We feel betrayed as we made the effort to work together to define the goal and it look as if we are not effectively working together. Things happen

ConsensusDOCS vs. AIA Construction Forms

It has long been a contention in the construction industry that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Construction forms have been biased towards design professionals and they place too heavy a burden of liability on the shoulders of contractors and owners. To that end, in 2007, a new set of construction and design forms were developed called ConsensusDOCS. While AIA Construction Forms and ConsensusDOCS share many more similarities than differences, there are some key differentiating factors that your firm should be aware of before you choose one over the other. It’s a common perception in the engineering, design and construction realms that AIA Construction forms favor architects, and to some degree, this is true. It lacks a specific definition of the relationship between the design professional and the owner and it places less responsibility on the architect/engineer with regards to the interpretation of the architectural plans during construction.