How Can a Supplier Play a Larger Role in Design?

I had a great lunch today with Tom Glossa and Denny Rogstad with the Breckenridge Building Center and we discussed the importance of an integrated team approach to design, which would involve a wide variety of team members. The traditional approach to design is for the Architect to design the plans and elevations, then for the engineer to engineer the structure, then for the contractor to price it out, select subcontractors and suppliers, permit the project and then build.

Because we have always provided engineering in-house, we have always been doing it differently (architecture and engineering happening concurrently), however, we are finding more and more that an integrated team earlier in the process results in a more successful and efficient design and construction process. This means that even suppliers can, and should  play a role as early on as schematic design to help validate initial estimates of construction cost. The best part is that in most cases, this valuable information is offered for free by the suppliers.

Also, with the advent (at least in Colorado) of the additional permit submittal requirements, namely truss shop drawings, Manual J, Manual D and Rescheck energy analysis tools, contractors can no longer wait until construction has begun to specify many of the building’s requirements. These things have to be identified at permitting, which, as a result is changing the base set of construction documents. We are even working with suppliers often times before a contractor has been selected. While this may seem to put the cart before the horse compared to the traditional approach, it is in direct response to the permitting requirements that are changing the landscape of the design scope.

So, in an integrated team approach, we like to have discussions with folks from the lumber and truss suppliers, window suppliers, mechanical contractors, etc. early on in order to value engineer the project and get the very best design solution that is not only elegant, but that can also be sourced economically and locally.


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