Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™
Pools as an art form - the way it should be!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Architects' & General Building Contractors' construction budgets

Volume builders will freely provide quotes to build a project, based upon a flat "square feet" or "perimeter foot" calculation. They are usually provided a "flat plan" or "architectural rendering" (pretty picture) from which to prepare a bid. Keep in mind that these builders construct to the lowest standards that the markets will tolerate.

Architects and Custom Home Builders then rely on these figures when preparing construction budgets for the client. No structural engineering has been performed. No hydraulic calculations or plumbing schematics have been designed. No equipment has been defined. The finish materials & installation practices to be employed have not been specified. Tile and material mock-ups have not been approved. The fine details have not been worked out, nor has any scope of work been defined.

Show a custom home builder a picture of a house & ask him EXACTLY how much to build it... THEY WILL LAUGH HYSTERICALLY!! Then they'll rattle off a small portion of a larger list of questions... at best they can provide a price range - say, $100 to $1,000 per square foot. Or they may graciously provide "allowances" for line items. This is great for the budget, that is, until the property owners realize that they must shop at flea markets and second-hand stores to stay within the "allowances."

Because the property owners are insisting on a budgetary figure for the pool, these false and arbitrary figures get placed into the construction budget. These fictitious figures are then quoted to the property owner. This is how they become the gospel. The property owners are relying on it & think that they can actually have the vessels built for that price. Never mind that they were envisioning hand cut imported glass tile mosaic murals inside the vessels and Bellagio Hotel style interactive water features that dance to music.

Only later, as the change orders pile up, does everyone involved realize that the figures are invalid. Sometimes the property owner NEVER comes to grip with this reality. Reality usually starts to set in once the structural engineering & geotechnical reports are completed, and the finish materials start to be defined. Suddenly the pool is "way over budget." And, it it always the pool contractor's fault.

So guess what??? The lowest bidder wins again. The Home Builder only has a limited amount budgeted for the pool (based upon those invalid budgetary figures). They award the project to the lowest bidder to maintain their profit margins. And in the end, the project gets built by the pool contractor who can degrade the project the most, to satisfy these fictitious budgetary constraints.

It is best to get an aquatic designer involved during the design phase of the home. They will know the correct questions to ask, usually working around a "predefined budget." After all doesn't the architect start & work around this premise? How much do you want to spend? What do you expect for that money & can we get there from here? Before contacting a general contractor to price the construction of the buildings, all of the engineering & preliminary specifications have been determined.

All of the general contractor's subcontractors are bidding on SPECIFICATIONS... XYZ roofing materials, ABC wall veneers, etc. So why then, is the swimming pool contractor being asked to provide construction pricing based upon a pretty picture or flat plan? Why aren't detailed structural engineering, plumbing schematics, equipment specifications, finish materials, and installation specifications defined for the bidders?

Again, it is the "alignment of reality with the clients' expectations," that is the most important in keeping these projects on budget. Quoting invalid or fictitious budgetary construction figures only serves to undermine the clients faith in the Architect or General Building Contractor. It also gives the appearance that the valid construction figures from the competent pool builders are just "gold diggers," who are padding their bids. When, in fact these are the very builders that the clients needs to hire! Honest, forthright, and not willing to partake in the degradation of swimming pool construction as an art form.

Another method to "find" additional funds, is for the property owner to remove the pool construction from the General Contractors' "scope of work." This frees up the additional profit margin that the General Contractor would charge on top of the pool construction costs, as funds for the construction of the pool. But oftentimes this is still not enough to build what the property owners were envisioning.

This is another positive argument for "cost plus % gross mark-up" construction.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™

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