Discussion: View Thread

Subject: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Kimberley Frederick RA, NCA...

1.  Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 13 days ago
I'm deciding between 2 consultants to hire for a specialized aspect of my project. Which consultant would you hire if these were your options?

Consultant A:
  • Recommended by a professional organization
  • Fees are on a little above your budget but still affordable
  • Seems empathetic to the project
  • Area of expertise touches on specialization you're looking for but not active in it for a number of years
  • Clean professional record although has some bad reviews from a former client whose project he worked on was unsuccessful

Consultant B:
  • Recommended by a fellow consultant who you have not worked with
  • Fees are within your target budget
  • Advocates specifically to the type of project you're doing
  • Area of expertise is the exact specialization you're looking for and experience on it is current
  • Has received 2 disciplinary action/s from a State licensing board unrelated to the project type you're doing but has proven success in the specialization you need

Any insight to help me make an informed decision, I would really appreciate.

------------------------------
Lira Luis, AIA, RIBA, NCARB, CeM, LEED AP BD+C
Chair
AIA Practice Management Knowledge Community
------------------------------


2.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 12 days ago
Hi Lira,

This is a tough one. Essentially, the question boils down to giving someone a chance who has been away from the field a while vs using someone who's perfect for the job but has had some ethical issues unrelated to this specific project type.

I think the client would prefer someone who's had a track record of success in the project area and therefore Consultant B would be the best choice. Although, if an ethical violation occurs (and maybe this could be addressed up front or in the contract to prevent such), you might regret having chosen them.

Consultant A needs to lower fees to capture this job.

Respectfully,

Tara Imani, AIA, NCIDQ, ASID, CSI
Registered Architect + Interior Designer

Tara Imani Designs, LLC
10333 Richmond Avenue, Suite 170
Houston, TX 77042

Work/Mobile Ph: 832-723-1798

www.taraimanidesigns.com




3.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 12 days ago
"Essentially, the question boils down to giving someone a chance who has been away from the field a while vs using someone who's perfect for the job but has had some ethical issues unrelated to this specific project type." <--- You hit the nail on the head with this statement.

This is the debate going on in my mind...

------------------------------
Lira Luis, AIA, RIBA, NCARB, CeM, LEED AP BD+C
Chair
AIA Practice Management Knowledge Community
------------------------------



4.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 11 days ago

Lira, it is a difficult decision.  If I were in your shoes, I'd get as much information as I could about the disciplinary actions, and try to determine if they'd pose a risk to your client or your own practice.  It strikes me that we're all likely to have an unhappy client or two in our lifetimes, in spite of our best efforts.  However, the Board is likely to take a hard and pragmatic look into whether a complaint results from an oversight which might not affect a client (such as forgetting to send in a renewal on time) or behavior that might put a client, the public, or you at risk.  If you find circumstances that look like the latter, I'd select the other consultant.  The suggestion that you consider making your client a part of this decision is a good one. 

 

 

Jim Fitzhugh AIA, NCARB

Principal

RSP

Design

that

works.

Jim.fitzhugh@rsparch.com

612.677.7176 direct

612.360.1515 mobile

612.677.7100 main

1220 Marshall Street NE

Minneapolis, MN 55413

rsparch.com

 

 






5.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 11 days ago
We all have had clients that are unhappy, whether for our under performance or their over expectations is never easy to determine. However, I think the ethical lapses are over the line. They cast us all in a bad light, and to have not one but two, is troubling, and would be a no go for me.

You don't know this person, or the person referring them: you should interview them. Then if you want to have them aboard clear it with your client...

--
F. Joseph Butler, AIA
324 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA
94133
(415) 990 6021






6.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 11 days ago
​Hi Lira,

You have recommendations, but were you given any references? I would give more weight to what past clients have to say, including ease of working with them and the unhappy client would be good to talk to. You can judge from a conversation who or what the problem was. Of course finding out what and why the disciplinary actions were would be very helpful and would probably be the tipping point for me. You don't mention the type of specialization, but is it in an area that has seen rapid change or methodologies? If the experience is a question, it would depend for me on whether it's something that old experience is completely outdated or have design elements only, but not the technology changed?

Just some thoughts.



------------------------------
Mary Myers AIA
Architect/Specifier
RMW Architecture & Interiors
San Francisco CA
------------------------------



7.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 10 days ago
  |   view attached
I am a Regional Manager of DC/ MD/ VA and do Plan and Cost Reviews, Monthly Construction Monitoring Services, Construction Risk Mitigation, and Property Condition Assessments on commercial and residential properties ranging from $10-$550 million for the lending institutions. My largest project right now is The Wharf, Phase 1 https://www.wharfdc.com/. I have done design for over 25 years, before coming into this arena, so know the players. In helping the Lenders choose the project team during the Property Condition Assessment phase where every aspect of the project is reviewed through specialized consultant reports, we also develop lists of great, good, and not so good consultant services. For instance, if the geotech report states at the PCA phase it's silty/ sandy soil with good bearing capacity, but over 90% of the site ends up being marine clay, that consultant goes on our record, and if we don't recommend that firm if it comes across on another project.

Given that, I am going to say definitely without a doubt go with Candidate A: years more experience, and never had a State misconduct (dead giveaway) slap on the wrist.



------------------------------
Kimberley Frederick, R.A., AIA, NCARB
Regional Manager
Construction Risk Mitigation/ Engineering Division

Hillmann Consulting LLC
5252 Cherokee Avenue, Suite #215
Alexandria, Virginia 22312

kfrederick@hillmanngroup.com
http://www.hillmanngroup.com
------------------------------

Attachment(s)



8.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 10 days ago
"For instance, if the geotech report states at the PCA phase it's silty/ sandy soil with good bearing capacity, but over 90% of the site ends up being marine clay, that consultant goes on our record, and if we don't recommend that firm if it comes across on another project."

In my opinion the above stated reason is a due to a question of competence, not integrity-- unless you're implying the geo-tech company just guessed what the soils were without doing any samples or other due diligence.


Regards,


Tara Imani, AIA, NCIDQ, ASID, CSI
Registered Architect + Interior Designer

Tara Imani Designs, LLC
10333 Richmond Avenue, Suite 170
Houston, TX 77042

Work/Mobile Ph: 832-723-1798

www.taraimanidesigns.com




9.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 6 days ago
​I vote for option C

Find another consultant!

I cannot imagine this task is so specialized that you cannot find someone who is an expert, is current with the issues in the field, and has no strikes against them. Ask around to your colleagues for other consultants.

------------------------------
Jerry Roller AIA
JKRP Architects
Philadelphia PA
------------------------------



10.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 6 days ago

ov 10, 2017 11:28 AM

Tara L. Imani AIA



"For instance, if the geotech report states at the PCA phase it's silty/ sandy soil with good bearing capacity, but over 90% of the site ends up being marine clay, that consultant goes on our record, and if we don't recommend that firm if it comes across on another project." -Frederick

"In my opinion the above stated reason is a due to a question of competence, not integrity-- unless you're implying the geo-tech company just guessed what the soils were without doing any samples or other due diligence."- Imani

I would say it is not our role to judge the competence of anyone on the project team, as there are always 100 mitigating factors and variables, and that is the role of the trade board, as well as reputation in the region.
For instance, the geotech may have been selected by the developer as it came in as the lowest bidder, and the developer is always looking to reduce cost outlay at the research stage. It is for this reason the Lenders require PCA reports prior to extending a loan for development, to ascertain the risk. So we review all of the reports, the environmental reports for contamination, the geotech for soil condition, the ALTA survey for site conditions, utility availability, local permit process, tax credits if affordable housing, the General Contractor's hard cost and projected Schedule, and most importantly, the Architect's and all Engineer drawings to see what is missing that may cause the General Contractor's hard cost to have omissions, as well, which in turn uses the developers hard cost contingency through Change Orders. The PCA is designed specifically to mitigate this last item.

Therefore, the trade boards records of disciplinary action against anyone on the project team at the research stage is a clear sign their work may cost the developer and/ or GC profit.


------------------------------
Kimberley Frederick, R.A., AIA, NCARB
Regional Manager
Construction Risk Mitigation/ Engineering Division

Hillmann Consulting LLC
5252 Cherokee Avenue, Suite #215
Alexandria, Virginia 22312

kfrederick@hillmanngroup.com
http://www.hillmanngroup.com
------------------------------



11.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 6 days ago
I guess I need to revisit reasons for disciplinary actions by the Board. Filing one's continuing education after the due date is vastly different than "holding one's self out as an architect" or "failing to complete construction documents per contract," etc.

And competence is readily apparent during the project at all phases, imo.

Best regards,

Tara Imani, AIA, NCIDQ, ASID, CSI
Registered Architect + Interior Designer

Tara Imani Designs, LLC
10333 Richmond Avenue, Suite 170
Houston, TX 77042

Work/Mobile Ph: 832-723-1798

www.taraimanidesigns.com




12.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 3 days ago
Lira;
Good reactions to your initial request.   

I work as a consultant and have for many years hired consultants to augment my staff/capabilities.  Not an easy task.

First and foremost, always engage a consultant who you would be comfortable working with and presenting to your client as a member of your own team.  Their performance will be a direct reflection on your capabilities to manage a project and bring the right players to the game.

Always prepare an RFP for consulting services.  This may sound like a tedious task, but is essential when trying to compare consultants, especially when you may not be personally aware of them.  

You have done a fairly good evaluation in your initial query, but I would suggest reorganizing the thought process a bit.  Never compare on fees until you are sure they can perform on the project.  I use four major categories to assess the strengths of a consultant and how they "fit" my projects:

1.  The Company:  What is the history, longevity, and continuity of business performance for the company/individual?  Do they have a web site?  Do they carry insurance?  Are they steeped in litigation?  Do they have additional staff, and, if so, who are they?  Just a general awareness of who the company is.  (I would immediately eliminate a firm that had "disciplinary judgements" against it).   

2.  Experience with Project Type:  Do they have current and extensive experience in the specific skills you are looking for?   Do they have good and recent references for the specific project type?  

3.  Current Work Load:  Can they meet your schedule expectations with the "right" people?  Many firms parade a lot of expertise in front of you, but then pull a bait and switch and introduce other people into the project.  You want up-front commitments on personnel slated for your project.  You want up-front commitments that they can meet your schedule.  

4.  Proximity to the Project:  Travel costs money and time.  Having a local presence assures you that a lot dollars won't be allocated to travel, etc.  Also, a local presence provides some additional assurance that they can respond to issues with a "history" of local conditions that could affect a project.  

Once a consultant or supplier can meet these criteria, I dig into costs.  Fees are fairly competitive today, and those who charge more can probably perform faster on a project, evening out a higher fee schedule.  That is why an RFP is a good idea.  You get a better gauge of how to negotiate this final variable in the decision making process.

I hope this is helpful and that you are able to augment your own capabilities with a good consultant.  Good luck.

Mike
  
Michael Pusich, AIA
Senior Design Consultant
pusichmm@hotmail.com

630-962-4093 M







13.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 5 days ago
I would suggest find someone else, hiring the lesser of two poor choices is not a great way to start a project and could lead to far more than you Nathan for.

It also difficult to make a decision/risk assessment with the limited information provided 
--
Cheers,

Peter





14.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 11 days ago
​Lira:

If the specialized aspect of your project is a major key to the overall success of the project and I had the time, then I would likely keep looking. If not, then personally speaking, I would probably rank your two options as equals and begin to evaluate other factors. Who would I enjoy working with most? Which consultant had the project that most closely resembles my project? Who seems most accessible to you right now? Where are they located in proximity to the project? What is their current workload, firm size and capacity to perform?

One exception: If Consultant B's violations are recent, I would probably RUN (right after calling the plaintiff to find out more detail). I had a situation where a consultant had recent violations that I ignored and I got stung to the tune of having to write a check for $10K.

I wish you all the best. These types of decisions can be difficult. Trust your instincts and intuition.

Best,

------------------------------
Gordon Rogers AIA, NCARB, DBIA, CFM, LEED AP
Director of Facilities Management
Kitchell CEM, Inc.
Rocklin CA
------------------------------



15.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 11 days ago
Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

For me, the first question is what is the risk that you are trying to assess?  There are a number of questions that need to be addressed first.
  • Project Summary:
    • What project type is this, scope, schedule and budget
    • What is your relationship with the client
    • What type of contract do you have
  • Consultants
    • What was your experience like when you interviewed them?
    • Have you called any of there references?
    • Have you visited any of there projects?
I typical base my selection of consultants on value.  A good consultant can be worth the additional fee and may actually save the project money or create greater value to the client.  That said from what I have read, I would not hire either.  Selecting between the lesser of two evils is not the real answer.  The real answer is that you need to find another consultant.  Contracts are like a marriage, if you really don't want to be in the relationship, don't do.  In this day and age you can use almost any consultant in the world. If it does not feel right, don't do it.

------------------------------
Peter Leoschke AIA
Senior Design Manager
Gensler - Chicago
Mount Prospect IL
------------------------------



16.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 11 days ago
​Hi Lira,

One useful decision making trick that can give insight is to assign an importance value of 1 to 5 to each item, then 0 or 1, or 1 to 5 in order of success with that item, multiply those together for each item and add up the totals for each item and for each consultant.  When I tried it, I got 16 points in favor of A and 9 points for B.

------------------------------
Lester Lloyd AIA
Principal
Lloyd Architects
Plymouth MA
------------------------------



17.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 11 days ago
This all sounds wonderful and very textbook. I think we all know what often happens in "the real world."

It all depends on the nature of the "ethics violations." Lira described them as: "2 disciplinary action/s from a State licensing board unrelated to the project type you're doing but has proven success in the specialization you need."

Playing devil's advocate, I ask: If the licensing board did not take away the person's license, why should that be a consideration?

On the recent NCIDQ exam (2013), my highest test score was in the Ethics section.

A similar question was posed on Twitter a while back and a few of us architects were talking about hiring employees with good character and weak CAD/Revit skills vs someone who might be a bit "sketchy" (for lack of a better word) but could quickly get the job done. A prominent architect said (paraphrased): "who cares about character when you've got a project to get out?" I was irritated by this answer but I understand that no one's perfect. And if you've mastered Autocad or Revit, you must be doing something right!

In the end, we need current experience, strong competence, and good character.

Kind regards,

Tara Imani, AIA, NCIDQ, ASID, CSI
Registered Architect + Interior Designer

Tara Imani Designs, LLC
10333 Richmond Avenue, Suite 170
Houston, TX 77042

Work/Mobile Ph: 832-723-1798

www.taraimanidesigns.com




18.  RE: Need Opinions: Which consultant would you hire in this situation?

Posted 10 days ago
Once you compromise on ethics, or on partnering with someone who has compromised theirs, the bar is reset at that lower level.

If you aren't totally satisfied with option A find another one.

------------------------------
Robin Miller AIA
MSH Architects
Sioux Falls SD
------------------------------