Integrated Design Process (IDP) for Homeowners

0409-tn-1The Department of Energy (DOE) defines Integrated Design Process as “[a] process of design in which multiple disciplines and seemingly unrelated aspects of design are integrated in a manner that permits synergistic benefits to be realized. The goal is to achieve high performance and multiple benefits at a lower cost than the total for all the components combined.”

The Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) describes Integrated Project Delivery as “an approach to the design and construction process that is based on shared risk and reward, and open exchange of information that is intended to optimize project results. IPD unifies the Project Delivery Team at the beginning of the project with the shared goal of project success.”

While in the public’s mind IDP is generally associated with larger, multi-million dollar projects, such are the benefits of Integrated Project Delivery that in our firm’s practice it’s now the norm rather than the exception, with applications for all our clients, whether institutional, corporate, or residential.

In the case of the homeowner planning a new custom home, a second unit (ADU), or simply a substantial addition, the philosophy and mindset of IDP has important practical benefits.

IP-compared-2

Diagram: the traditional design process.

First and foremost, the IDP mindset entails bringing an experienced builder onto the project team as early as practicable in the design process. Involving a builder in the capacity of professional estimator allows early and accurate tracking of project construction costs. This eliminates guesswork, reducing the uncertainty surrounding the most important factor in construction, the Project Budget.

IP-compared-1

Diagram: the integrated design process.

As importantly, factoring costs-benefits as early as possible into the design decision process eliminates uninformed design decisions, re-thinking of previous design assumptions, backtracking, and associated wasted effort.

Regulatory requirements in California are such that the Project Team for anything but the most modest residential project can typically include not only the Owner-Architect partnership but also geotechnical engineer, civil engineer, wastewater specialist, structural engineer, and energy analyst.

With this many professionals working in coordinated fashion towards a common goal, one can see that targeting those resources towards an uninformed goal, without clear comprehension of the construction costs attached to that goal, can be disastrous.

For this reason in our practice for all but the most modest residential projects we typically recommend that the homeowner engage a professional estimator and incorporate them as part of Project Team formation. Thus we collectively target the design objective from an informed position as to construction costs, and not shoot for that objective twice.

In other words, quoting the carpenter’s aphorism, “measure twice, cut once”.

For further reading:

http://www.wbdg.org/project/deliveryteams.php

http://www.wbdg.org/design/engage_process.php

http://www.aia.org/about/initiatives/AIAS076981

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