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  NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 15, 2012 12:30 PMDavid S.R. Andreozzi AIA
  RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 16, 2012 11:52 AMKen S. Brogno AIA
  RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 19, 2012 8:28 AMEric Andrew Rawlings AIA
  RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 19, 2012 3:27 PMEdward J. Shannon III AIA
  RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 20, 2012 8:55 AMEric Andrew Rawlings AIA
  RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 21, 2012 5:54 AMKen S. Brogno AIA
  RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 22, 2012 8:21 AMEric Andrew Rawlings AIA
  RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 23, 2012 8:33 AMRand J. Soellner
  RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 26, 2012 12:15 PMMichael D. Chambers FAIA, FCSI
  RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 27, 2012 7:55 AMRand J. Soellner
  RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...Nov 20, 2012 9:43 AMGregory La Vardera
 

1.
NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: David S.R. Andreozzi AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 15, 2012 12:30 PM
Subject: NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:
This message has been cross posted to the following Discussion Forums: Housing Knowledge Community and Custom Residential Architects Network .
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This is response Perry's original post HERE   It is clearly thread drift so I decided to start a new thread. I agree with much of what Greg said on his November 15, 2012 8:10 AM post.  I will go further off the deep end.

I feel strongly that the requirement that one graduates from an NAAB accredited institution is obnoxious, exclusive, and sets our entire self fulfilling image of high brow exclusivity in place. It is the incubation of the exact cancer in the architecture process and paradigm.  The resulting malignant tumors are the starchitect designed projects (irrespective of style including the modern (I don't give a rat's ass about codes and proven technology) to some of my over the top Disney (not exactly green) crap (there Greg, I said it) that are built as trophies for the owner and the ego of the architect themselves.  The true meaning of our profession is not about the architect or the architecture; it is about celebrating the process to create good and sound architecture for a client. If someone decided to take night school and work in my office for 10-15 years to learn what I learned in 6 years of full time college and 3 years of internship.... they are a better man or woman than me. 

NCARB ' In my opinion, NCARB and the cost of ARE testing as it exists is our version of the architect's black hand. Rather than encouraging new young professionals into our career, they burden youth with a myriad of regulations, requirements, and charge criminally high costs for any young underpaid intern trying to reach the goal of Architect.  We are eating our young for dues to support bureaucratic organizations.  Young professionals can't afford to go through the process quickly, lose direction when the realities of family and life hits in the late 20's and decide the effort simply isn't worth it.  Good candidates leave the profession, don't get registered, and become disconnected to organizations like the AIA , that need them the most.  Our own organization is getting older and losing membership (income), but our bow-ties stay crisp and the antique Mont Blanc pens stay filled! How is that working out for us?

We were diseased, dying, and whining to anyone that will listen about our deteriorated respect and worth.  The truth is that we are living in a profession of self destined squalor. 

That was until CRAN was born from CORA. Now we stand for something different... CHANGE. Please realize, this is not going to happen in my lifetime, but we can work together to build the foundation to change this profession from the rectum up. This is why many around me in CRAN have dedicated our lives to a new and slowly changing AIA.  In six small years this genesis has begun. You are all part of it.  Get involved. Thank you.

Peace.
 
David Andreozzi CRAN AIA

Incoming CoChair of CRAN (the message comes from me personally, not CRAN)

Indian Name ' "Sine Qua Non" meaning Status Quo : Not so much!



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2.
RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: Ken S. Brogno AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 16, 2012 11:52 AM
Subject: RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:
First off, I must say that the format for these AIA forums baffles me.  I often don't know who is responding to whom, and the fact that messages get piled up upon each other seems like an archaic system to me.

That said, I agree with David (although not disagreeing with anyone else in particular) that what we really need to do to differentiate ourselves from others on the periphery is to do our jobs better.  One of the major hurdles that we need to overcome is the fact that some people that have hired architects have been disappointed with either the results, or the process, or both.  It seems like many of these discussions are premised on the notion that all architects perform well and always "do the right thing."  I don't live in a vacuum.  I have seen, worked with, been a party to, etc. architects involved in projects that have unraveled due in most part to their actions, inactions, or deficits in communication.  That is a sad fact.  If the public's perception of architects changed such that we had their trust on things that mattered to them, maybe we wouldn't whine so much about our plight.  How do we go about feeling respected?  I am not sure pushing the little guy off the edge of the earth would garner much respect.

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Ken Brogno AIA
Architect AIA LEED AP
San Francisco CA
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3.
RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: Eric Andrew Rawlings AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 19, 2012 8:28 AM
Subject: RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:
It's all about efficiency. When we charge 2-10x more to get a building on the ground, than our amateur competitors, we raise expectations so high that it's often difficult to satisfy the average person. Average Joe can only afford so much and we simply aren't in their budget range. In those rare occasions when they fork over 1/2 their annual salary for an instruction manual, a theory, it better be miraculous! Rich people believe they're getting higher quality when paying a price that well exceeds an average person's means, so our designs are a form of status for them.

What you have to ask yourself is why can't we efficiently produce the same or similar quality houses sized for average folks without all the fluff and hours spent? We have backed ourselves into a small corner of the industry and rely on milking each project for the all the fee we can, yet ultimately this comes at a great expense to us in the form of dollars earned per hours worked. We don't need to figure out how to deliver great houses to rich people, we need to figure out how to deliver houses to everyone else! I'm going to keep beating the numbers into your heads...

According to 2006 Census:
1,600,000 houses were built total
1,300,000 houses built at spec
320,000 houses were commissioned by homeowners
50,000 houses were likely to have been designed by licensed Architects
170,000 Commercial Buildings designed by Architects

Out of 1,800,000 of all the buildings built in the US in 2006, we only designed 220,000. Think about that.

The Spec House is the most common building built of all buildings and many of us just ignore them. If we want to increase our numbers, our relevance in this society, we need to insert ourselves in to this market. How do you make yourself attractive to a good spec builder? EFFICIENCY! If you can produce consistent results quickly and affordably, they will work you into their business model. When their competitors are all offering mass quantities of the same box, a fresh new design can make the difference between them selling for a higher price. Good design isn't sourcing the most exotic materials, designing a $10,000 handrail that will never get built right, or providing 80 sheets of paper for a 4 bedroom house. Good design is using the same kit of pieces and parts available to your competition, while arranging them better with great efficiency. That's the key to enlightening the spec builders into building a unique spec house for each site. If our solution for better spec houses is more plan book designs, then we're doomed. We invented the plan books and they always get away from us. We can't require people to love and respect us. We have to earn it and we aren't  going to do that whining to each other.

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Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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4.
RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: Edward J. Shannon III AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 19, 2012 3:27 PM
Subject: RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:

David has made some good points.  While I gained a lot in my graduate education,  I too feel there should be alternate paths to licensure.  It should not be easier than getting a degree, tho.  As a rule:  1 year of architecture school = 2 years of work under a licensed architect.  Work for 10 years and you've now met the 5 year degree requirment.  3 more years til licensure!  Not, bad, and instead of spending moeny, you're making money.  Here's the rub.  How many architects are going to hire a high school grad todo their drafting, when they can hire someone with a B Arch or M Arch?  What is especially disconcerting is the number of non-licensed faculty at the so-called "professional" programs!  A recent survey revealed only 1/3 of faculty at NAAB accredited schools were licensed!  How has the AIA let this happen?  Are there any other professions that have made this compromise?  I doubt it!

Eric - I agree that we should be able to do an efficient set of drawings, more curtailed to a builder's needs. But, let's not let builders and home-owners dictate what is required for architectural services, based on their perceptions.  Let's not feel sorry for the poor homeowner or builder as they will gladly pay a Realtor a 6% commission.  The Realtors have held their ground in sticking to 6% commissions.  Price fixing? Maybe, but more importantly, people pay these high commissions because of a perceived value.

we need to convey the value of working WITH an architect, not just getting a set of plans.  Dave's thoughts on this are spot on!  Don't celebrate the architect.  Don't celebrate architecture.  Celebrate WORKING WITH AN ARCHITECT! 


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Edward Shannon
Waterloo IA
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5.
RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: Eric Andrew Rawlings AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 20, 2012 8:55 AM
Subject: RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:
Trust me, I'm not happy about Realtors making 6% commissions off my houses that sell themselves, but a sales fee is quite different from a design fee. We design the house once and it could sell 4-5 times within it's economic life span before a renovation design or a new design is needed to extend the economic life of the property. It's not the Realtor's fault that we have managed to maneuver ourselves into this position we're in. We made this bed we sleep in. Agents do more than just sell the house. They find the properties for the builder to build the next project on. They tell the builder about the current trends when it comes to what is selling and what isn't. They bring the people with money in their pockets to buy the finished product. Realtors have made themselves necessary.

So what have we done to make ourselves necessary? We invented Pattern Books to get Architecture out to the masses around 1900 or so and encouraged builders to look at designs as something that they can mass produce. We removed ourselves from the experience of building each and every house for each and every site. We did this to ourselves, in part because the lack of Architects vs the need for houses. We devalued design and now a builder can pay about $1000 or less for a plan book design that gets used at least 100x, so design is only worth $10 per building to them. There is nothing cheaper than can go into a building, no product, not even removing the rat poo is that cheap. In my neighborhood an average 5 bedroom cookie cutter spec houses sells for $700K, so the Realtor fee is $42,000, while the design isn't even worth the price of the guy's time who scoops up the rat poo. The same exact house down the street on a cheaper lot is $600K, so the Realtor fee is $36,000, yet the design price doesn't change. Realtors get paid by the total price of the land and the improvements, we get paid by the building itself since we don't design the land. It's not an equivalent comparison and this society is always going to value sales over design. That's America for ya.

How do we change this? I tell you how it won't happen. We aren't going to simply demand that the entire home building industry start paying us $42,000 per house design, per site at around 1.6 million houses per year at the snap of our fingers! We have to make ourselves valuable. I have created real value for my designs in the eyes of the builders in my area because my spec houses sell faster and for more money. That's valuable to them. They are willing to spend more than $10 per house design when their houses sell for $100K more. Eventually, we should be able to get these builders hooked on design if more of us could figure out how to make ourselves affordable and valuable to the spec builders in our areas while encouraging them to think of designs as being specific to each site. Green Design is part of this concept, since a true Green Building cannot be a prototype. Of course we won't change them all, but I've had my cookie cutter competitors calling me asking for a little help with their elevations and I tell politely tell them the same thing. I only design whole buildings and my designs are only used once per lot. As much as I'd like to believe my designs are so amazing that they always sell faster and for more, the reality is that unique designs create an urgency in a buyer. There is no urgency to buy a mass produced copy. When someone falls in love with a one of a kind item, they will pay more and pay faster. I have proven that no one wants to live in the same house as their neighbor with sales results and no matter what I think about my own designs, they are the ones selling and that data is hard to deny.

When we are the consistency behind the builders making money, that's when we create value for design and this is why I urge all of you to get out there and start designing spec houses. WE CAN'T EXPECT TO START OUT ON TOP AFTER WHAT WE'VE DONE TO OURSELVES, SO QUIT YOUR WHINING PEOPLE! We have to accept our reality and claw our way to the top one project at a time. Put the squeeze on the cookie cutters in your area. Raise the appraisal values in your area by designing the houses that are selling, not just the custom houses that don't contribute to property values. Value is based on sales and sales only! When we prove we're behind the success of the higher sales we become valuable. The longer we hide from regular people and the spec houses most of them buy, the longer the whole profession suffers. More plan books are not the answer! We've been on that ride for the past 100 years. We need more one on one experiences. We need to illustrate the value of houses designed specifically for the lot they grow up from. We will simultaneously create the need for more Architects this way. VALUE IS ALL ABOUT THE SALES AND WE MOSTLY DESIGN THE HOUSES THAT AREN'T FOR SALE!!! That's why Architectural design has little to no value for most of the 1.6 MILLION houses built per year. 

-------------------------------------------
Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
-------------------------------------------






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6.
RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: Ken S. Brogno AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 21, 2012 5:54 AM
Subject: RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:
Eric, I, too, appreciate the encouragement.  I also think that it is great that your approach has had success in your area.

However, I am trying to wrap my head around the implications of your approach on the large scale that is developer housing.  It seems as though if someone is to gain any kind of traction with a model of minimal documentation, the lawsuits will abound.

As I see it, the expectations for architectural services range from "quick and dirty" to "every 'i' needs to be dotted" and "every 't' needs to be crossed."  I think given the potential for very large volumes with developer housing, an architect could find himself, or herself, intertwined in situations that most of us cannot afford to be in.

I know that you have said that things need to be designed site (and market) specific in the most efficient ways possible.  What is left out in this type of efficient documentation for a large housing development?  Are some roof, wall, opening, foundation conditions detailed, but not others?  Do some roof, wall, opening, foundation conditions perform well, while others fail?

I think that there are reasons why an architect's involvement in large housing developments is mostly conceptual.  While most developers want to cut costs at every corner by not having architects involved in the process, it also helps remove architects from the kinds of liabilities that one might have in other types of work.  Your talk about a "one on one" approach seems to conflict with how big developments are rolled out.   I am not talking about spec houses here or there.  I don't see architects running away from that type of work.  However, anytime I have had someone approach me and say "We plan to roll these out everywhere" I start thinking cautiously.  There are other architects that may have the resources and don't think twice.  I'm good with that.

Years ago I was involved in a very large scale housing development here in SF by Candlestick Park.  As I recall it was over 2000 units.  There were to be new roads and all kinds of new infrastructure all winding up down a hill. The lead designer wanted a good 75% of the units to be unique from each other, although they couldn't personally document the differences themselves because of the complexity.  My team did, however.  We got entitlements and construction began.  They got as far as the superstructure for the first building of maybe a half dozen units immediately inside the main entrance roadway.  Then more than one person woke up and the project evaporated.  The condition of the general economy was not a factor.  In fact, about a year later construction began again.  Only this time every player was different and the eventual result was much more homogeneous in nature.

-------------------------------------------
Ken Brogno AIA
Architect AIA LEED AP
San Francisco CA
-------------------------------------------






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7.
RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: Eric Andrew Rawlings AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 22, 2012 8:21 AM
Subject: RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:
Let's not confuse limited scope and efficiency with negligence. I would argue that more Architects end up in lawsuits because their specs didn't match the drawings, they reinvented the window detail 19x on a single project and got it wrong once, they specified items they've never installed personally that ended up not being compatible with other products they specified that they've never had hands on experience installing. The more we try to take control of the installation aspects, the more we accept liability the installer should be held accountable for. In Europe, the tradesmen are far more educated and responsible for their portion of the process, while in this country the laziness of the builder and lack of education of the tradesmen has put us in a position of being over worked and overly liable. How many plan book companies get sued over a window detail on a house? I would argue that more information can be just as dangerous as less information. If you reinvent the wheel and put a bad detail out there that gets built and fails, you're likely to get nailed. If the detail isn't in the drawings and the builder takes it upon themselves to build something wrong, is that automatically the Architect's fault? I'm not advocating negligence, I'm saying that it is impossible for us to detail every single nook and cranny of our buildings. At some point we have to issue the drawings. 

At what point does it end? If you have the time you could produce 80 sheets of paper for a 4 bedroom house and does this guarantee you will be protected? We're scared of our own shadows. I will not criticize an individual's designs or their ideas of what is appealing to them, but if you need 19 different window conditions on a 4 bedroom house, then what can I say? I believe you can create an exciting 4 bedroom house with 1 or 2 window conditions.

I already had this discussion with Rand and we found that the documents I produce for a spec builder are pretty close to what he's producing for (what I assume is) a custom house for the home owner. The main difference is that I don't give them cabinet elevations, finish schedules, specifications, and CA is an optional hourly service. This cuts out a huge amount of my time spent per project. Again, a spec house is different than a homeowner house. The builder is the owner, so who are we protecting other than ourselves? It's the builder's investment, it's up to them how they want to present the house. If they think pink is going to sell, then I may not photograph that one, but it's their house until it sells. They're taking all the risk. My job is to provide the designs that sell and if they want my input on a paint color, tile, cabinet choice, I meet them at the job site...on the clock. Believe it or not, there are good builders out there that are very capable of selecting finishes. You have to choose your teammates well.

Coming up with a design concept quickly and seamlessly translating that into a set of CDs is a skill you learn with experience and as a BIM nerd, I take advantage of the tools I use to be more efficient and that is the key. I'm able to keep my time spent to a minimum, especially with spec builders. I can design a spec house in 40-50 hours from beginning to final drawings. This makes me affordable to the spec builder while not compromising my worth. They see value in hiring me to design each house as a unique item, but these are not big box Walmart builders. These are small companies that build a higher level spec house for inner city properties in older, established neighborhoods, not giant developments. I wish I had a solution for the big box problem, but I believe it is the basic concept of their business model that's the problem. We'll never eliminate the big box guy, but if enough Architects started teaming up with builders like I have, we could provide a quality alternative with more sustainable and aesthetically appealing solutions that will attract people back to the cities. There are plenty of people out there that wish these alternatives were more available. 

The majority of the problems associated with the housing crash center around the big box builders in the suburbs. We often hear how it was all because of that poor guy who used Fannie for assistance and his irresponsibility of buying an $80K house brought the whole system down. No one ever mentions the builders like the guys here in the north Atlanta suburbs who had entire subdivisions of $500K houses go into foreclosure to the tune of 100's of millions of dollars. ONE GUY and he wasn't the irresponsible one? In 2005 every builder, agent, supplier, even the mason who barely speaks English was talking about this housing crash coming. These big box builders rely on building massive numbers of houses regardless of the actual demand. In the inner city area we have smaller versions of the same mentality and they relied on building at least 10 houses at a time. By 2007 we all saw the suburbs on fire. We could see the crash coming like Sherman burning his way into Atlanta. These big box guys were starting new developments, knowing they were taking a huge risk and they got burned. We all saw it happen. I was working with a builder who was building maybe 5 houses that year total and she scaled it back to one at a time. What did her competitors do? The guys who normally built 10 cookie cutter houses at a time rushed out and got 15 houses started. When the crash made it to the inner city, they were all stuck with 15 houses and couldn't give them away. Arlene sold each house she built. One at a time. It was the classic case of the Tortoise and the Hare. She was the only builder in the area to sell a new spec house in 2009 and it sold for about $800K. We did several spec renovations and started working for homeowners on small renovations after that and survived when the others went belly up. It turns out that wealthy people don't buy carbon copies if something unique and nicer is available and it wasn't likely you were going to sell a house to someone in 2009 unless they had enough money to not be affected by the Great Recession. 

Big box development is not sustainable. The Suburbs are not a sustainable development model. All the macro planners say the same thing. The future trends are indicating the suburbs will be the slums and people will be moving back to the cities. This trend is already happening in Atlanta as well as other areas with record commute times. The Suburbs were hit the hardest in terms of property value loss. Many want to leave and are trapped in underwater mortgages. Atlanta has about 60% of the homeowners underwater. My team of builders are offering an in-town alternative that seems to be gaining much popularity. We don't just build new spec houses. We Renovate, Repurpose, and then we Replace old tired housing stock in that order. Some are building directly for the owner while some are still building at spec. The nice thing is that the builder's agents bring them the clients and in turn bring me the work. Building a good relationship with a good builder is key to this business model. When the builder is your teammate and the owner (until it sells), all of this fear of over documenting the design resides a bit. Most of us have no idea who the builder is and we're working for the homeowner. That's a completely different scenario that has a much greater potential for lawsuits. When you get to know the strengths and weakness of your teammates, you learn to design within those parameters and you push the envelope in ways that are less risky and more reliable in terms of getting what you want. 

-------------------------------------------
Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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8.
RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: Rand J. Soellner
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 23, 2012 8:33 AM
Subject: RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:
Actually, neither you nor I include cabinet elevations, color choices, or Construction Administration, unless those are paid for as an additional optional service.  And there are other things I do not include, either, unless someone wants to pay for them, like electrical schematics, 3D work and more.  And I suspect that you probably do include some of that, because of your ArchiCad software.  So: you in fact, may, under certain circumstances, may provide more than I do, for some smaller projects. Good for you.  But on the whole, it appears, at least from our previous discussions, that you do not actually appear to be providing what I would call a "minimal" or even "less than minimal" package at all.  And I appreciate that.  Your continued discussions that appear to indicate that you do, I wouldn't agree with, because, based on what you have indicated in this forum,  actually sounds like a reasonable job. 

I do include Finish Schedules in an abbreviated form, because, as I mentioned previously, that is one of the things I have seen other architects nailed for by various State Boards of Architecture for negligence in their "rogue's galleries" where other architect's licenses are being suspended, revoked or questioned. Once again: this is one of those things that various states are questioning; I am not making these things up.  You appear to believe that you think that I am.  I can assure you that these are things that I have seen from different state boards. Tell you what: the next time I receive some of these, I will copy and paste them into this forum, for the benefit of all CRAN folks, okay? 

I do counsel my brother & sister architects to always include, in some form, however abbreviated, a specification, covering each of your projects.  I have not seen State Boards jumping on architects for not doing this yet.  However, I have been doing this for a very long time and may have experienced some things that others whom have not practiced as long, or in as varied a practice, may not have yet experienced and I am trying to post here the benefit of my experience, as I would appreciate from others here whom have experienced and learned things that I do not know. 

I can assure other architects that they will likely have happier projects for themselves, their client and the builder, if they learn from any previous problems they may have had and put such things into their specifications, to hopefully prevent them from happening again.  And: to hopefully get the right materials and get things built properly.  For instance: in Div. 6 having a requirement that all dimension lumber used outside is to be pressure treated and that any such wood contacting the earth must be certified for ground contact. 

Are such things covered by minimum code: yes, some are.  However, having the simple, unequivocal spec statement clears up such matters before they can become real problems.  Because: even though we do learn many valuable things from builders, they also learn from architects and specs are one of those gold mines of useful information that helps them to do a better job for our mutual clients.  Just my 2 cents worth. 

And having a standard short form specification does not really add much time to an architect's project; it typically is a process of editing master text.  I have my specs as an A15 series of drawing sheets, so there is no spec book for anyone to conveniently forget.  Once in awhile, there may be something unique to a project incorporating something that one may not already have in their specs, for instance, I recently designed a home for a structural engineer and he wanted me to include ICF for his foundation walls and some of the main level walls. So; I went online and phoned ARXX and talked to them and in a short period of time, was able to compose a short form spec for that item.  I learned, during that process, that my typical window details didn't account for and ICF, because they don't have any nailable surfaces around their openings for flashings and other consistently solid materials.  So, I created a revised detail to cover those circumstances.  I did not create 19 different conditions.  I just made sure that I had good direction indicated on my documents. 

Does this mean that architects have to detail every condition?  No. In my Div.1 specs, I have  a statement that covers this, that instructs builders to refer to similar conditions to resolve other conditions that are not detailed and these notes state that not every condition is detailed.  The point here is that any prudent architect would likely detail at least one of a type of detail (like the ICF), to give direction to similar conditions; that's all.

I am glad for you, Eric, that you appear to have such a positive relationship with a certain builder and that you have managed to apparently pattern the bulk of your business around this.  Good for you.  I hope that continues for you.  For many of the rest of us, we do not have as much choice in the others members of the team in which we participate.  For instance: our clients usually choose us, not the other way around.  And often, despite our counsel, our clients will select their own builder.  So, despite our best efforts, many of us have to deal with what we have.  And having good drawings, and at least a minimal specifications should help the rest of us to deal with those unknowns.  You and your builder friend/client obviously have a very clear understanding of what your scope of work includes, over the course of many projects.  That is fortunate for you.  For the rest of us, our clients are unfamiliar with the architectural process and we have to educate them as we go along.  They typically assume that whatever they happen to dream up today will be included for no additional fee, despite previous directions.  That will not get covered in the surprisingly brief period of time normally covered by your services for what must be an explicit scope of services from a trusted repeat client-builder whom you know well and trust. 

I realize from our comments to each other that you and I are probably not going to be incorporating each other's viewpoints into our respective work models and that is actually unfortunate; because we could probably learn something from each other.  I do wish you well and hope that your unique practice continues to be positive for you.

-------------------------------------------
Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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9.
RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: Michael D. Chambers FAIA, FCSI
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 26, 2012 12:15 PM
Subject: RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:

I would like to commend and second, very strongly, Rand's comments on including specifications as part of a custom residential document package.  I have been providing short form and sheet specifications for custion residential for nearly 35 years.  Specifications are vastly superior to general notes and much more enforceable. 

Generally, sheet specifications are focused on quality but also provide process for submittals, mock-ups, and related quality control items.  Probably most important, is providing an enforceable Division 01 to deal with allowances, temporary facilities, cutting and patching, and a host of often overlooked issues that cannot be handled effectively by general notes.  Specifications are a much more professional and effective way of communication design intent than general notes.

I personally recommend finish schedules for two key reasons.  One, as Rand indicates, it is good practice, but I recommend a very complete and detailed Finish Schedule.  Second, I tell my clients to list products, finishes, and colors in the Finish Schedule while I focus on process and quality in the specifications.  This avoids duplication, keeps the specifications shorter, and a Finish Schedule is something most architects and contractors are comfortable handling.  I work this way with my interior architecture clients because they only know how to do Finish Schedules.  However, they keep getting spanked by lack of process and quality control.  A complete Finish Schedule coupled with effective specifications is a very powerful and enforable document.

Cheers,
Michael
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Michael Chambers FAIA, FCSI
Principal
MCA Specifications
Ukiah CA
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10.
RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: Rand J. Soellner
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 27, 2012 7:55 AM
Subject: RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:
Thanks Michael.  Agree completely.  It is nice to hear from someone as organized as you that stands for quality documents.

In addition to the specs (which are on my A15 sheets) I actually have a drawing notation system that uses the general "old" CSI Div 1-17 (17 being low voltage systems) on each drawing sheet.  For instance, drawing note 6-162 might refer to a 2x10 @ 16" o.c. floor system.  And drawing note 8-783 might refer to a casement window.  Then, these drawing notes are used on the drawing to point with leader arrows to the various items on the drawing. The definitions for these notes appears on those drawing sheets where they occur.  After builders get used to the CSI organization (which they should know by now), they have completed this notation system, as it helps each subcontractor to go right to his system's notes and to better understand what and where their items are in the project. 

And some of my drawing notes refer back to individual numbered paragraphs within the specs for an integrated approach, directly linking spec descriptions to various items in the drawings.  This keeps my drawings clean, in that mainly I am using numbered notes and it provides a more comprehensive linkage between specs and drawings, a typical weak point in architect's documents.

It does require some coordination, to keep all these notes straight, from drawing to drawing, but I keep all of my sheets on one big file and can zoom in and out to all of them, so that's not too much trouble.

I also use my specifications as a final Quality Control QC checklist.  Every project I have done has benefited from this.  Without fail, as I have gone through editing the specs for each project, I have discovered something that I have not shown on the drawings that I should have.  I make the correction, then move on through the specs.  Not very exciting, but it sure helps me to sleep at night.  This is part of my ISO 9000 method, which, simply put is: having a method of QC, doing it, then checking and verifying that you have done it.  My specs play a big role in my QC, and I suspect with other architects as well.  And I know, when I am done, that I have done everything I can to do a good job for my clients, builders, sub-contractors and others involved in bidding and constructing each of my projects.


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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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11.
RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
From: Gregory La Vardera
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Nov 20, 2012 9:43 AM
Subject: RE:NAAB, NCARB, and eating our young...
Message:
Edward said: "As a rule:  1 year of architecture school = 2 years of work under a licensed architect.  Work for 10 years and you've now met the 5 year degree requirement."

I just wanted to point out that NY State has a non-degree path, and it requires 10yrs of experience.

But the records of the state show that the average time for a degree candidate to satisfy IDP and sit for the exam, pass all parts - 12 years. DOH! How did that happen? Is there anybody flying this plane?

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Gregory La Vardera
Architect
Gregory La Vardera Architect
Merchantville NJ
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