How architects can generate support from contractors and material specialists
In a previous blog, we described how architects can defend their design successfully by generating support from clients. As mentioned in that article, convincing a contractor or material specialist to implement a design is equally important. Contractors and material specialists, however, have slightly different motives when it comes to implementing an architect’s design: in general, the aesthetic aspect is less important to them.
In this article, we therefore address the two aspects that are specifically relevant to these parties: material specifications and sustainability. We’d like to suggest how architects can defend their design through these two angles.
1) Defending a design through material specifications
When an architect selects a certain material/product — let’s use tiles as an example here — and adds it to the tendering document, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this product will be implemented in the construction. The contractor or tiler may opt to select another product. This switch often has to do with pricing, availability, or a relationship — meaning that the contractor or tiler has worked with a certain manufacturer for many years and wants to do continue doing so.
Architects can prevent this switch by being highly specific about the properties of the tile: the more specific the material is described, the harder it is for a tiler or contractor to propose a similar alternative. Think about describing length, width, thickness, flip/wear resistance, as well as sustainability product information.
An illustrating example is how a floor tile of the same size, thickness, and even color may differ in its breaking strength or wear resistance. Even if some properties are similar, others may make a huge difference. Not specifying these properties may lead to a material choice that does not fit the intended application area, for example high traffic areas.
2) Defending a design through sustainability
We talked about the importance of sustainability and green buildings labels for clients already. It is that same importance that will help convince contractors to implement the sustainable design of architects. Here’s why: if sustainability is important for the client, it’s important for the contractor. As a matter of fact, the contractor has most likely received sustainability requirements from the client, so it’s in their best interest to produce a building that’s eligible for a green building label as well.
If a contractor switches a certified green building material for a material that is not, (s)he decreases the chances of acquiring a green building label. Why? Because certified building materials earn green building label points — and non-certified materials do not. This difference represents a valid argument for architects looking to convince a contractor to use the materials defined in the specification.
Even more so, green building certification institutions randomly carry out checks to see if materials included in the specification are actually used during construction. This poses a real risk for contractors looking to swap products.
Also on the matter of sustainability and green building labels (and a bit on material specifications as well): if materials own the respective certifications and are listed in sustainable material databases, it’s easier for executing firms to use them if a green building label is intended. Providing a contractor or tile material specialist with this information will reduce their workload for collecting the necessary documents, thus reducing the risk that another material will be used. For instance, architects can specify that a tile is Cradle to Cradle® certified and that it contributes to the acquisition of a green building label.
If you would like to learn more as to why green building labels are highly relevant to architects we would like to suggest our new whitepaper on the topic. You can download a free copy here.