When the house is under construction – everyone as usually is very clever. “That” is not necessary, and “this” is necessary . But life is life – it’s difficultly to foresee everything completely. However nevertheless it is possible. As the person connected with designing, I summarized some of the practical advice from my experience, how to avoid a habitual situation, when after development of the technical project and its statement there would be necessary to make the conclusion – everything that was planned in the project, significantly exceeds possibilities of the budget, and at the last moment or, quite often, even during construction the project should be overworked. Time is wasted, the funds invested before are also thrown out “with the wind’ and again it is necessary to pay for repeated designing. However the most essential – the quality of the processed project suffers– and it is rather painful for each concerned party.
For a start, it would be desirable to recommend to play deaf phones – already in kindergarten. What for? Often, apart from the customer, a lot of the involved parties – the general contractor, the architect, subcontractors, consultants, bodies coordinating on the project, etc. –participate in development of the project. You want – or you don’t want, there is an effect of deaf phone – one of them states, another supplements, the third – is perplexed, the fourth –doesn’t understand at all. Therefore it is very important that all persons involved in the project would be able to hear and – that is even more important – to understand each other.
To understand each other and in order that after completion of designing there would be no unpleasant surprises such as unplanned payments and delayed terms, my offer is following: to involve experts. In this case by the word “expert” I mean the person who is not neither the engineer- designer, nor the builder, but, on the one hand he will be competent in the sphere of technologies and world tendencies, and also he will know, how many it will cost and how it will work, and on the other hand he will be capable to penetrate deeply into specifics of business of the customer. In essence, he will be the client’s lawyer during development of the project. It is clear, that there are not exist many of such complex enterprises which can offer as service of designers, builders, and also services of the expert, however my experience confirms that it significantly saves means and time of the customer and allows to reach the qualitative results. If the project will be rather volume, it would be possible that the customer should remunerate such expert.
There is more. The expert will be better as possible to orientate himself in specifics of business of the customer. He is obliged to reveal that will be the most important for the customer in the specific project and that he wishes to reach. And then, according to technology, the expert will be able to understand, what are the major aspects and to find such technologies which are the most essential for needs of business activity of the client. If specific character of business activity assumes that recognition of the face of the person is essential, for example, in a casino, then cameras of high resolution will be very important. If guarding, of his territory directly at night is important for the client, then we will choose the technologies equipped with special infra-red beams or thermo- cameras. Technologies will be meant for business activity, and in no way otherwise.
There is one more useful idea – it is possible, already at the beginning of the project that it’s advisable to think of several variants of the project. Yes, it will be a little more expensive. However there will be such advantage that we will be ready to any scenarios. Eventually we will find the best result. It isn’t really popular in Latvia, however it is a way to come to the best result.
It is also very important to balance the value of the project with, for instance, the value of the protected property or the potential losses. It would not be wise to invest hundreds of thousands of euros in technology, which would prevent, for example, stealing a couple of cement sacks per month. So the things should be proportionate. It will allow us to avoid situations when, having presented the design, we would hear – oh, that exceeds the original budget! Sometimes that is the way it goes in life. Nevertheless, if the designed outcome is too expensive, very hectic attempts are made to redesign it to something cheaper, a lot of things are forgotten, and as a result the original concept is spoiled. Everyone is disappointed – the designer because of his concept getting spoiled, the client because of the result, etc.
Before you start designing something, you have to study the options. The good old saying “Do what you will but think of the outcome” is very well suited here. The expert has to inform the client of the gains and shortcomings of the first, the second and the third system in every single detail. It is crucial to define the design task at the beginning state of the design. What is it that you have to achieve by this design? If I am building a house, then I tell the architect that I will need a 20 m2 bedroom, the ceiling height will be like this and the colours like that. It is just as important as far as the systems are concerned. But the everyday user cannot define it so simply – he does not need to know what the resolution of the video camera must be, how the building management system (BMS) has to function, etc. That is why we have our wise expert at hand while preparing the design task and he will translate the wise technical language into terms that anyone can understand, thus helping the client to compose the work task.
Haste is sometimes what hinders us in preparing of the design tasks. As always we have tight deadlines. Often we spend three months to sign the contract, while we devote one week for the design task. This is not right, because the design task is just as important, if not even a more important process as the signing of the contract. The contract is the legal part, but the design task is what you reap, speaking in allegories of sowing. In real life the preparing of the design task is often limited to a couple of short discussions, which result in misunderstandings because one thought this and the other one understood something else. Such misunderstandings cause the project to become more expensive. And often it is put on a shelf like a paper roll only to be slowly covered in dust. Well, it is a pity; it is a pity for the work that was done, for the energy, money, time…
As the design process reaches the intermediate stage, it is important to ask the designers for the rough construction cost estimate well in advance. If the design process takes approximately half a year, then after the first two months you can estimate the total project costs rather accurately, within the limits of more or less 20% – the designer can provide quite accurate scopes and technologies, therefore it allows calculating the perspective project costs. We must not wait for the completion of the design. If you have some doubts at that moment – oh, this is too expensive, then you have to stop, you must not proceed any further. It does not matter that the deadline is approaching – perhaps, it has to be reconsidered at once. If you have even the slightest feeling that something is not right, then you should simply stop, think about it and talk it through. At that moment you can still change something, whereas five months into the design process, when it will be approved with other network designers, then – sorry, talking will get you nowhere anymore.
Just like at the beginning stage of the design process you must not forget about the maintenance of the completed systems. It can happen that implementation is very cheap, the design is simple, but the maintenance will be expensive and inefficient in the long run. We do not change major technologies like we do with phones every year. Life cycle of security systems or BMS systems is around 10-15 years. Therefore we come to the conclusion that we need an expert who is familiar with the latest technologies and knows what is going to be required in the nearest future. An expert who knows, who understand, who explains and who responds.
Miks Sturitis, chairman of the board of limited liability company Citrus Solutions, www.citrus.lv