KnowledgeNet Material & "snake-bit" project

Is it my imagination or is gathering information off KnowledgeNet a little hard to do?  I'm having a hard time searching for past SPP Journals; are they still on the old system?

Anyway - I've got a project for a long term client that is just snake-bit.  Now that the project is 'over' (user group has moved into the space, and is asking for minor changes and we're waiting for contractor close out documents) I'm spending some time on an analysis of 'what happened here'.

here's what I've come up with so far, I wanted to bounce this off of the blog-world to see if anyone is experiencing anything similar.
1) Project was stopped/started 3 times over 2 years before going to bid (it was a renovation in an existing building constructed in the early '60's... with numerous modifications over time and no as-built).
2) Direct client (owner's PM) handled majority of design decisions on behalf of the user group (we didn't have any pre-design meetings).
3) Limited or incomplete information was provided by PM to our team on which to design the project; requests for additional information were met with "it's ok, we'll just work it out in the field and use the contingency".
4) Apparently the facility users didn't understand their directions or decisions from 3 years ago and were 'suprised' when they walked in (not the good kind of surprise either).
5) PM limited site visits (and CCA fee) by our design team during construction 'to control costs'
6) Contractor tired to do a really good job of letting us know what was going on (but rarely sent photos until something didn't work right).
7) PM grumbles to contractor that designers 'should have known what we wanted'.

Ok - so I'm taking a look at this list and some only ways I see to 'do better' is:
* Insist we're involved in pre-design meeting(s)
* Insist on weekly photos from GC if owner is limiting site visits
* we've make a list of "for next time" design related issues that were changed after drawings were completed, and we're planning on sharing with the owner.

What else?
Are you guys finding that owners are cutting your service in an effort to reduce fees?
Has anyone done a comparison of project 'adds' or 'contingency' usage to cost of the fees saved?




09-11-2010 13:45

I think every architect has a story like this one. We had a client once that had architects working on staff that were our direct contact. Mr. Decision Maker was always one step removed from direction or feedback. It was like driving a car from the backseat, and unsatisfying for both parties.
You've identified problems in both scope management and communications management in your "snake bit" project. I'd add some risk management to that as well. Point out to the client that risk of things going wrong increases with bad record drawings, with no re-examination of the program over the length of time the project stopped and started, and most importantly, the risk of costs going up as design decisions are delayed to be made in the field.
These types of projects also show the need to keep good records.

08-20-2010 16:04

If you are looking for past newsletters and journals head on over to AIA KnowledgeNet and will soon cross-search -- leveraging institutional knowledge and member created content on both sites!