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Thinking about becoming a member? Join us at our next meeting (lunch is on us). Contact Matt Barrick for the meeting location: mbarrick@beisserlumber.com.

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Q: What is a Building Designer?


A: A Building Designer is first and foremost a professional familiar with all facets of the building trade, whose plans and designs represent the particular needs, style and budget of the client.

The work of a Building Designer is varied and may consist of residential, both single and multi-unit, and commercial structures as permitted by the architectural statutes of each state. A Building Designer’s approach to any problem is based on the practical, functional and economical solutions that will best fulfill the client’s requirements, while translating these factors into a concept that is both aesthetic and utilitarian.

A qualified Building Designer offers a complete array of professional services. The Building Designer’s prime task is to furnish preliminary and detailed designs for the proposed structure, ranging from the initial concept to complete working drawings and specifications that will comply with all applicable building codes and regulations.

A member of the American Institute of Building Design has met the requirements of the AIBD By-Laws and the work experience standards deemed necessary to gain comprehensive knowledge of the profession of building design.

The American Institute of Building Design maintains a registry of Building Designers who have demonstrated outstanding competence in the field. Those persons so certified are permitted to use the title of Certified Professional Building Designer, which can only be appointed by the National Council of Building Designer Certification. Certified members deemed qualified to perform services required in any portion of planning, design and construction, as permitted in their state of residence or practice.

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Q: Why Should You Use a Professional Building Designer?


A: Building a home incurs the greatest financial burden most people will face in a lifetime and few envision how complex the process is until they are tangled in a jungle of restrictive covenants, building codes, zoning ordinances, design options, vendor and contractor s and so on. Yet, most states do not have a licensing requirement for residential building designers. When a new home or addition is in the future, a specialist in the discipline of residential design is your best choice to guide you through the design/building experience. Accordingly, it makes sense to secure design services from a qualified, experienced source – a professional member of the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD).

Since 1950, AIBD has provided building designers with educational resources, and has developed nationwide design standards and a code of ethics for the building design profession. Today, AIBD is a nationally recognized association with professional and associate members in 46 states and throughout Canada. Its chartered state societies are active in their respective legislative arenas and work to promote public awareness of the building design profession.

AIBD is also meeting the challenge of the future by educating members about new and improved building materials and 21st century technology that will impact how we live in the future. In response to the ever changing needs of the design profession, the AIBD Board of Directors has recently established the National Council of Building Designer Certification (NCBDC), and has charged its leadership with overseeing the Designer Certification Program. For those who have chosen the profession of building design, there is no greater evidence of competency than achieving the status of Certified Professional Building Designer (CPBD). Application of this credential is available to building designers – both professional members of the AIBD and non-AIBD members – who qualify.

Alternately, the credential of Professional Building Designer is the highest classification level which a professional member of the AIBD can attain. To qualify, an individual must first possess a minimum of five years of educational and professional design experience. As with the CPBD credential, a Professional Building Designer must subscribe to a scrupulous code of professional ethics. Equally significant, both require a commitment to professional development through a continuing education policy.

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Q: How to Find the Right Building Designer?


A: You need more living space and have decided it’s time to get serious about a second-level addition. Or perhaps you’ve purchased a lot with an eye toward building your “dream home” in the near future. As you sit back and consider the scope of the project, you’re besieged with a whirl of questions. A professional member of AIBD can guide you through this maze. They are specialists in the discipline of residential building design. From planning and design, through construction, to eventual occupancy, a Professional Building Designer can help your dreams become reality in ways you never thought possible.

No two construction projects are wholly alike. The same is true for building designers. Each have their own approach to design – a unique “signature” style, if you will – and a preferred method of operation. Some will limit their practice strictly to the planning and design of buildings, while others may offer construction administration services, as well. So, how do you determine which building designer is right for your project?

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Q: Your Role in the Design


A: Hiring a professional member of AIBD was your best decision thus far, but work on your new home or addition has only just begun. As the project owner, you’ll play an important role in reviewing and approving design proposals and revisions. The materials selection process is equally important – cabinets, carpets, doors, plumbing fixtures, hardware, windows and much more. Don’t be overwhelmed. Your Professional Building Designer is there for advice and will guide you each step of the way.

Perhaps the most telling time spent with a building designer is in the first few meetings. Your needs, budget, taste, life-style and goals will be discussed in depth. The information garnered from these conversations will become the source inspiration for which a building designer will prepare preliminary design sketches. So, it’s a good idea for you, and others who live with you to do some “homework” first.

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Q: The Design Process


A: Working with a Professional Building Designer, your dreams and ideas are transformed into a refined set of construction documents which accurately reflect the scope of the project. This step-by-step process is outlined below.

  • Establish Goals and Prepare a Program: The building designer and client meet to discuss and outline the client’s expectations, needs and construction budget.
  • Preliminary Design Phase: The building designer will present rough sketches of floor plans, site plans and usually, exterior elevation studies for the client’s review and approval. The time needed to work through this phase depends on the complexity of the proposed design. At the request of a client, exterior and interior perspective renderings can be prepared, or even a scale study model of the design. The goal here is for a client to fully understand a proposed design and to make any possible alterations.
  • Design Development Phase: Scaled drawings are created and revised as necessary; specifications are outlined. The client “sees” the project pull together as the design evolves. Now’s the time to address any lingering questions you may have relating to the layout, size or function of the space.
  • Construction Document Phase: Final drawings and specifications are prepared for client approval. Door, window and cabinet selections have been made; detailed drawings of floor, wall and ceiling treatments are prepared. It’s at this point that budgets must be carefully monitored. Carpet, tile, hardwood, plumbing and electrical fixtures, cabinets, moldings, etc. – all are available in a wide price/quality range. It’s important that the building designer supplies detailed specifications for specific construction products/brands that will be used to keep the construction budget intact and to ensure the quality materials are used.
  • The Bidding Process: Some building designers may offer services to oversee the bidding process. First, this involves the preparation of bidding instructions – a set of guidelines to contractors, the intent of which is to secure an “apples-for-apples” quote within an allotted time from each bidder.

Next, a select group of potential contractors are given an opportunity to bid on your project. Each is issued a complete set of drawings, specifications and bid instructions. Unfortunately, things can get confusing from this point on.

Clients can find themselves in a sea of unintelligible jargon as each contractor attempts to woo them into their camp. And furthermore, a low bid doesn’t necessarily mean a contractor is best suited to do the job. Making sense out of all this is where a Professional Building Designer can prove to be your best ally. As an experienced construction councilor, a designer’s comments and recommendations will better prepare you to select the best contractor for the job.

  • Construction Phase: May building designers also provide project administration services for their clients during construction. Project administration typically involves monitoring the work in progress, approving contractor shop drawings, and coordinating specially consultants such as engineers or interior decorators – in general, acting as their client’s agent during construction.

The contractor awarded the bid is in charge of construction and accordingly, is responsible for the work, which includes accountability for workmanship and materials. A building designer providing project administration services will observe the contractor’s methods and progress and report back to his or her client.

Additionally, when the client receives a request for payment from the contractor, the building designer will be dispatched to inspect the work before a check is issued. They will certify that work has been completed as indicated on the requisition for payment; that any conditions spelled out in the contract documents relating to this particular payment have been satisfied; and that a progress payment can be released to the contractor.

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Q: What 10 Things Should I Look for When Hiring a Design Professional?


1) EXPERIENCE: You have heard it a million times, and it’s true. There is no substitute for experience. This is especially true for design professionals.

2) AN OFFICE: Your first meeting should be in a professional’s office. That office may be in the designer’s home, but should be in a designated area. Remember, use caution if you are dealing with a part-time draftsperson conducting business form the kitchen table.

3) EXAMPLES OF WORK: While in a designer’s office, ask to see some of their latest work. This will allow you to compare designer’s work and styles as you interview various design professionals.

4) REFERENCE MATERIALS: Look around their office. Today’s design professionals must stay on the cutting edge of their profession to compete. This requires a great deal of reference material, such as books, manuals, code text, catalogs and samples of materials.

5) FINISHED PROJECTS: Ask to see photographs and request addresses of actual homes that have been built in a design similar to the one you are considering.

6) REFERENCES: Obtain a current list of former clients who you may contact to discuss the designer’s past performance.

7) CONTRACT: A professional building designer always has a contract or agreement for your review that covers such items as the fee and terms of payment, as well as the specific services that will be rendered for specified fees.

8) PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATION: Membership in a professional organization such as AIBD (American Institute of Building Design) or AIA (American Institute of Architects) makes the statement that this individual maintains high moral and professional standards within the building design profession.

9) SEALS ON DRAWINGS: This indicates that the design professional is either a state licensed architect or a CPBD (Certified Professional Building Designer) through the National Council of Building Designer Certification.

10) CONTINUING EDUCATION: This is a requirement for a Certified Professional Building Designer. CEU’s (Continuing Education Units) are vital for building designers to improve their professionalism and to stay informed of the many advances in the building and design industries.

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