Collaborative Cost Control: How to do it
We designed this special home for a special couple with a clearly defined budget. We kept our eye on cost continually as the design evolved. How did that work?
The most critical element of cost control is to create a design that minimizes disturbance to the site, reflects the client’s lifestyle and honors the client's budget
The clients and I created a custom Lindal specification, selecting from an extensive menu of pre-priced Lindal options and knowing the cost of each on their specific design
Lindal priced the materials with every iteration of sketches and permit plans
We worked with the builder from early in the design process to obtain a line-item estimate and then refined it as we refined the design
The process described above requires a deep understanding of how various organizational concepts affect cost, a building system with a well-defined cost for each component and its alternative specs (options), and a working knowledge of local on-site building costs.
In addition, for this project:
The clients aggressively shopped local sources and the internet for great finish material (flooring, cabinets, appliances, lighting etc.) prices
The clients volunteered to install the pre-finished hickory flooring and to stain the interior trim
I have worked in this industry for forty years and have met way too many people who have been heartbroken by architects and custom builders who consider cost as an afterthought or by pre—fab producers whose only method of controlling cost is to force a pre-planned design on the client, and that often fits the site and client like a poorly-sized suit.
In my experience, the Lindal modern design process that I created with Lindal’s caring design and engineering team a decade ago and that I utilize today as a Lindal rep is the most effective approach to creating custom designs on budget because it treats cost as a primary design criterion, along with compatibility with site and lifestyle.
Warmmodern Living manages this process for every client and prepares written estimates regularly throughout the iterative design process, including a detailed value engineering process for projects where cost must be reduced.
The reward for good planning
In this case, this collaborative process was successful enough so that we were able to add a barn-like shed dormer to one side of the barn and still be on-budget.
Clad in corrugated steel to stand distinct from the elemental barn form, this added 300 square feet to the house’s square footage. On the ground level, the dormer forms a covered entry porch and an enlarged interior entry, a working laundry room, and a sunlit reading room for one, a long-time wish list item for the client. On the upper level, the dormer contains a generous walk- through dressing area lined with closets and a private office that overlooks the great room and the approach to the house outside.
The bottom line
Nearing completion, our collaborative effort has been built for the lowest cost per square foot of any home we’ve done in the last few years. Over 2500 square feet of living area on three sunny levels built for $225 per square foot (exclusive of permits and site preparation costs) in the Seattle area.
The beautiful Lindal materials and exciting interior spaces suggest a significantly higher cost.
See in pictures how this Warmmodern Lindal barn took shape:
(If you are unable to view slideshow below click here to open in new window)