Project Direction Map

            For larger condominium and apartment projects, the builder should consider installing a direction map board at the main entrance into the project.

            This activity should be completed about the same time as the sales models grand opening, installed concurrent with the sales models complex landscaping.

            On a particular 282-unit condominium project, the U-shaped buildings had their entry doors and address numbers on the outside perimeter of each 12-unit building, one floor level above a central motor courtyard and above street level.

            People driving into the project had no way of finding the house address numbers without getting out of their cars and walking around the buildings. 

            Not only was it difficult for visitors to find their way around the project, but delivery companies had problems as well. 

From Lessons-Learned for Builders, Architects, and Interior Designers in Housing Construction, Book 6.

Common Area Lighting

            Common area lighting for clubhouse exteriors, swimming pools, and tennis courts should be switched using a photovoltaic sensor rather than a time-clock.

            A photocell can sense when it is dark and light, and switch the lighting on and off accordingly.

            The homeowners or the HOA maintenance person then does not need to periodically change the time-clock setting to match the seasonal and daylight savings changes in exterior natural lighting.

From Lessons-Learned for Builders, Architects, and Interior Designers in Housing Construction, Book 6.

Sales Office Views & Tree Placement

            For projects with panoramic views of golf courses, mountains, hillsides, rivers, streams, and ocean views, the builder should physically lay-out the placement of new trees using visual line-of-sights out through the windows of the sales office and the model units.

            In coordination with the landscaping plans for the sales office and the sales models, the views out each individual window can thus be maximized in terms of actual placement and sizes of trees. 

            Following the landscaping plan precisely without visual confirmation may produce tree placements that are slightly off and not optimum for a particular view.

            One method to achieve optimum placements of the trees is to have someone stand outside at the approximate location of a tree or large shrub per the landscape plans, and hold up a push broom or a cardboard mock-up of a tree.

            The decision-maker then stands at the particular window, moves the person holding the broom to the best location to maximize the view, and then the exact spot chosen is marked.

            This simple operation can add a subtle but important benefit to the project, getting the most out of a particular view.   

From Lessons-Learned for Builders, Architects, and Interior Designers in Housing Construction, Book 6.

Resolve Questions During Models Phase

            The construction of the sales models should be used as a trial-run to identify and solve problems before starting construction of the production units.  The sales model construction is the time to investigate and solve design, scheduling, and coordination problems.

            Equally important is the cooperation of the city building inspectors in anticipating and identifying building code and engineering questions on the plans. 

            The builder should encourage the raising of any questions and issues the inspector may have during the construction of the four or five sales models, so that these are resolved once the construction starts on the 50, 100, or 200 production units.

            The builder should take the lead and encourage the debugging of the models through the use of requests for information (RFIs) to the architect and structural engineer, constructability analysis of the plans, and the input of the city building inspector.

            If the builder instead rushes through the sales model construction to get into the start of the production units, any unresolved problems only multiply over several units rather than a single sales model floor plan. 

            If unresolved problems still exist in the plans, a change of building inspectors midway through the production units only exposes some latent/hidden issue that could and should have been identified and resolved earlier during the sales model construction.

            The production schedule can then be held up resolving problems on several repeating units, sometimes affecting several trades…creating a ripple effect of debugging part-way through the production phase rather than problem resolution confined to a single sales model unit.

            Finally, for multi-unit production tract housing and condominiums, changes to the sales models in terms of problems identification and resolution, and owner’s changes to the floor plans should be memorialized in revised sets of plans re-submitted to the city or county plan checking department.

            These revised plans reflect the changes and corrections before the production phase begins. 

            Some cities and counties will not allow the production construction to begin until revised plans are complete, so that their inspectors are looking at the revised plans rather than old plans plus a number of architectural or engineering field memos or “cut-sheets.”

            Old, outdated plans plus addendums, cut-sheets, and memos get to be too confusing for the building construction and the building inspectors to follow.

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