Step 7: Monitor bids and review any material, system, finish or hardware substitutions to ensure that design objectives, especially the “built to last” goal, are not compromised. Monitor construction to ensure the all key design, construction and finish goals are being met.
“In a perfect world, construction bids would come in at - or even under - your construction budget. Unfortunately, the world is rarely perfect and you will probably be forced to make some substitutions and trade-offs to bring the bids in line with your budget. It is essential at this stage that the most important design components in your project aren't compromised by these trade-offs. Fighting hard for these components now will ensure that the final product - even with some trade-offs and substitutions - will achieve the design quality you are aiming for.”
National Institute of building Sciences,
“The construction phase is when all your design dreams meet the real world of ‘bricks and mortar.’ It can be a hectic and confusing time, especially when you are asked to authorize changes that might impact the overall look and feel of your project. If you know what your top priorities are - in design, construction systems and finishes - you are in a strong position to fight for them as the inevitable requests for ‘change orders’ come in. Aggressively defending these priorities during construction will help ensure that a great design actually becomes a great development.”
New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal,
Why is this step important?
During the bid process contractors may propose substitutions to the systems and materials listed on the working drawings and in the specifications. If the cost estimates up to and during the contract documents phase are accurate, such substitutions should not be significant or numerous. Nonetheless, some substitutions can be expected over the course of bidding. It is important to closely evaluate these substitutions to ensure that key components of the project - the components that you have already identified as critical to design quality - are not compromised. This will help ensure that the project is built "as designed" and that the quality fought for so hard over the course of development is achieved.
Even during the course of construction contractors may propose substitutions to the systems, materials, hardware and finishes listed on the working drawings and in the specifications. If you've gone through all the previous Steps, then the contractor's bids should be pretty accurate and such substitutions should be minimal. Nonetheless, some substitutions - and even elimination of specific components - may occur due to the unavailability of specific products, unanticipated price increases, unforeseen delays or other problems with the project.
It is important to closely evaluate any substitutions/eliminations to ensure that key components of the project - the components that you have already identified as critical to design quality - are not compromised. The clearer your priorities are, the more effectively you can look for workable alternatives and still maintain the quality fought for so hard over the course of design and development.
When should this step be done?
During the Bidding and Construction phases.
Who should do this step?
The owner/developer and the design team (with the contractor during Construction), and with input from the property manager.
What should be done?
- Review all bids received and note all proposed substitutions.Work closely with the design team and the contractor to monitor construction as it proceeds.Carefully note all proposed substitutions and/or eliminations.
- Cross reference the substitutions during Bidding and Construction with the prioritized lists of design components, materials and systems, and finishes and hardware.
- Determine whether the proposed substitutions compromise any of the prioritized components and, if so, develop strategies for either accommodating these compromises or reinstating the component as originally designed or specified.
- If compromise is inevitable, consider favoring the public realm over the private. In other words, consider trade-offs that help the more permanent, "public" face of the development truly enhance its neighborhood, even at the expense of interior items which are less visible and more easily replaced or modified.
- Print the Key Bid Substitutions Form and list the key proposed substitutions in the final bid - those that impact your prioritized design, construction and finish components - together with a description of how the substitutions meet the design intent of the project or, if they do not, why this is acceptable. Add the completed form to the Project Book.
- Print Key Construction Substitutions Form and list key substitution/eliminations that are proposed during construction - those that impact your prioritized design, construction and finish components - together with a description of how the substitutions/eliminations meet the design intent of the project or, if they do not, why this is acceptable. Add the completed form to the Project Book.
How can doing this help move my project forward?
Using previously developed lists of prioritized items - design components, materials and systems, finishes and hardware - will make the decision-making process concerning substitutions simpler and more systematic. The result will be a clearer and speedier bid process. It will also put you in a stronger position in discussions with your contractor, and will allow the construction process to proceed more smoothly.