Have you ever read a recipe that left you with more questions than answers? Grandma’s goose recipe above leaves out a few details: is that a can or cans of “Cream of Mushroom” soup? What do we do with the apples and how many? Do we fry the goose in vegetable oil, lard, butter? For someone who was familiar with Grandma and her cuisine, these directions might be enough. For another person, they might be woefully inadequate.
Architectural drawings are not that different from a recipe: they are a set of instructions and can be organized and illustrated in an infinite number of ways and degrees of detail. Why should an architectural client care how an architect writes the “recipe” if he/she is not the one doing the cooking…err construction? Well, the way an architect approaches the drawings can make a big difference in the overall cost of a project, for one.
LEVEL OF DETAIL: Grandma’s recipe probably didn’t take her much time to jot down. Likewise, a simple set of Construction Documents (aka blueprints) is faster and cheaper for an architect to draw than a complex and detailed set. Simple drawings may be totally appropriate for a client that has a favorite contractor and years of experience together. However, for a project that intends to be competitively bid, the more detail the better! That way, very little is open to interpretation (or misinterpretation and misestimation).
PHASING: Maybe you’ve got a little time now to make cookies for a future event. Well, a recipe that outlined a phase for making and freezing dough, followed by a phase for baking and then applying icing might be perfect! Architecturally, phasing inherently adds complexity and cost, both to the processes of drawing and building the building. But for client that is concerned they cannot build their entire building in one fell swoop, organizing the project into phases may be worth it.
BID ALTERNATES: You’ve probably seen a recipe that had a few optional ingredients (i.e. “Optional: dried cherries instead of raisins”). It’s understood that the recipe can be made with cherries or raisins, but if you like and can afford dried cherries, then throw ‘em in. Blueprints can also have optional components – they are called “alternates.” Usually, an alternate is a way of pricing a specific building material (say, brick) and asking the contractor to bid that separately as compared to a base bid (say, vinyl siding). Without identifying an alternate on the drawings in advance it would be impossible to extract that cost from a contractor’s bid. Again, alternates add some complexity and cost to creation of the drawings, but in the end provide a client with more information to make informed decisions.
If you’re wondering what type of recipe is right for your project, talk to SOA! We can help you assess where your project falls on the spectrum of Grandma to Gourmet.