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Why do we do site visits during construction?

Here at FHA, when any of our projects start on site, we make sure we are on hand to visit them during the course of the build. Not every single day or even every single week, but at intervals appropriate to the stage of construction. Sounds straight forward enough, no?

However, we are often amazed when we hear of some architecture practices handing off drawings and not wanting to be involved once the shovel goes in the ground. (And we say amazed in the multitudinous British sense...) Its quite impressive if they can maintain a good reputation by only doing the drawings and handing them off - our hats go off to them. To be honest, we would probably be more profitable as a business if we only did drawings and nothing else. But for us, a client who loves their end result is more important. In our experience, that means we are on hand during construction to act as a helpful guide. Because as we know, the journey of construction can often get turbulent.

Our process is like a road map where we stay on as a collaborative navigator. One can have the best plans in the world, but there are always going to be those few things which come at you by surprise and require some spontaneous quick thinking. (By the way, you still need the best plans you can get because you want to keep those spontaneous moments to a minimum - which can get needlessly expensive.)

Case in point - on one of our current builds, the structural engineer specified the steel components which seemed to be all there on paper as shown here:

However, when the builder was having trouble understanding how all the pieces would fit together, we could see it was a more complicated 3-dimensional puzzle than would first appear. Trying to figure out -

- which steel plates get welded to which beams

- where and how the bolts could be fitted

- in a quite congested intersection with different levels

was not the most straightforward thing to work out and explain. So we did a drawing sketch:

A bit more clear now? Thankfully it was for the builders, who used this drawing to explain to the steel fabricators what was needed and they got it made and installed. At some point, we'll post more about this project to explain what all this steel was for.

In summary, building can be stressful. Once a build gets started, it is literally thousands if not tens of thousands of pounds leaving your bank account on a regular basis. In fact, given how much stress it can be, we as design professionals don't even particularly enjoy it. (If you really knew how much grief and hot-headedness we often have to put up with, would you?) But we accept it as a necessary part of what we do. To those architecture offices out there who choose not to stick around during construction - are you sure you are doing the right thing by your clients?



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