This a story to illustrate how you can save money and time.
Our office got a call a few months ago from a general contractor (GC). He was referred to us from another subcontractor that we worked with on another project. He was a friend of our client-to-be and needed our office to draw up the plans of a small renovation that the client asked him to build. Although it is not uncommon that we get referrals this way, it is still the wrong way to find an architect. It is not different than getting the cart before the horse. There are several reasons that this is not the best way to pick your team. One reason is because the GC will never be able to get permits for the renovation work before receiving the approved application for the building permit that cannot be obtained without a set of drawings signed and sealed by an architect (or an engineer). Another reason is because the client is locked into using a GC at their possibly inflated cost because they did not have 3 or 4 GC’s bid the job.
During our first meeting with the GC and the client, we learned that the GC was unfamiliar with the process that he should already know in order to obtain permits in NYC. One major item that was missing was the GC’s tracking number. (Call us to explain a tracking number at 212-594-2007 if you need to know. Hint – it is a number that the New York City Department of Buildings “DOB” issues when they are removed from almost all liabilities).
Throughout the design process, our office “coached” the GC along the way to get his tracking number. We also referred him to other people that could obtain it for him. It would be good for this GC to do the work because they already have the client's trust and because it would be difficult to convince any GC in our roladex to bid this project since it is so small in scope.
After the application for the construction permit has been approved and it is now time for the GC to use his tracking number to “pull” the permits and get starting with the construction, our office got a call from the client saying that they have “contractor problems” because the GC still does not have a tracking number. Now they are asking us to offer names of other GC’s (with tracking numbers) so the construction does not need to be delayed any longer. The process of finding a GC to build this small project, walking them through the site, waiting for their bids to be returned, analyze the bids, make recommendations to the client, and choosing the GC will take at least 3 more weeks. This would not have happened if the client did not start choosing their GC and then the rest of their team at the beginning.
Moral of this story, find your architect first, let the architect help you find 3 or 4 GC’s earlier in the process to bid the job while the architect’s drawings are being reviewed for a building permit – not afterwards. You will save a lot of time and money.