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When people know that no one else is taking any blame, they take ownership of everything


What if the contractor designed it? What if the contractor was an architect? What if the architect was a contractor? But, risk, liability, conflicts of interest! Yes, there can be multiple designers and contractors working on one project, all with their own business interests, but we all have one shared interest – the client and the project. To work collaboratively we need the whole team on board. A competitive market can help achieve lowest costs, but lowest costs are not always best value – we need to go back to the design stage to address that. It takes a lot of trust to jump straight into a complete D&B project with everyone on board, with one point of liability and risk. How do you manage your liability when you are the only one? You can’t limit or exclude from your scope. What you can do is manage. Manage your


supply chain, manage your consultants and sub-consultants, manage the construction process. Above all, manage your people. Foster trust, openness and respect in your team. When people know that no one else is taking any blame, they take ownership of everything. Everyone needs to know clearly what they are doing, and the standards expected of them, and the client needs to know what they are getting. It is important to remember the difference between employer’s requirements (ERs) and specification – an ER might be “a hard wearing, slip resistant vinyl floor” and the specification (or Contractor’s Proposal) could be “Gerflor Tarasafe Ultra H20”. ERs should not be specifications; they should be the requirements of the client, and it should be open for the contractor to meet those requirements with the specification he chooses.


The ER might be a little more specific;


e.g. “slip resistant vinyl floor – min 2 mm thick, slip resistant rating of R11,” to ensure a minimum standard. This massively increases of the range of quotes returned, because the contractors are not only being compared on profit margins, but on their ability to source and specify products and


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materials. They might not have big brand names on them, but they will fulfil the employer’s requirements. Surely, the role of the architect pre- tender has just shrunk dramatically? Yes, because in true Design & Build there isn’t a tender and the design and specification is carried out by the contractor. What if the contractor was an architect? What if the architect was a contractor? Design, as thoroughly and intricately understood by architects, is the heart of every construction project and architects could be the heart of the construction process, if they opened themselves up to the whole process. To use D&B how it was originally intended is a big ask of the construction industry. It requires clients to trust contractors and allow them opportunities to add value. architectural education needs a big shakeup. architects need to rethink their position in the construction industry. Most of all, we need to remember our shared purpose and break out of our silos, learning to trust and value each other to truly work collaboratively.


Katy Barker is an architect and the owner of Directline Structures


ADF OCTOBER 2019


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


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