Planning With Green Designs
Our experience has shown us that it is vital to plan and budget every build that we work upon. Working without a plan or budget is a recipe for disaster leading to significant budget and time overrun. We do not believe in per square meter estimates or providing fixed price bids. These estimates do not encourage proper planning and estimation. Building and construction is a very stressful experience for all concerned. Without plans or budgets clients (and builders) get stressed and hassled, when this happens we have seen things going seriously wrong and mistakes happening.
Excellent project planning and execution will make sure you get the building you want, at cost and on time. We see project management as one of our core skills. The planning process itemized below is the most important first step in our client-builder relationship.
What to expect
Step 1: Get to know one another
A critical step to understand what the clients’ wants and needs. During this time prospective clients meet our team, see how we work and we can share our previous works and advice. Communication is crucial at this stage.
Key questions for us at this juncture are:
- What type of leadership do you expect from us?
- What kind of support do each party provide in the build?
- How do you like to communicate?
- What type of project management do you expect, financial, reporting, etc.
Once we understand this, we can then begin to customize our project management system to meet your needs.
Step 2: Dream Time
Once we know what our role will be, it is now time for the client to do some research and prepare a scrapbook of “cut and pastes” from the internet and other sources.
We then ask you to draw up a 1-2 page “briefer” document that outlines the key features of the build. Questions you will need to answer: how big? how many floors? how many bedrooms? bathrooms? how large is the building envelope?
Tropical living and house design often intersect, so questions to ponder are: Do you want an open plan, inside-outside living, traditional house design, modern tropical (sleek and simple edges), etc.?
The Green Designs team will readily share their experiences with similar builds, what has and has not worked in the past, but we want you first to imagine what you want based on a realistic budget estimate.
Step 3: Site Visit
We would then conduct a series of site visits. Things to consider at this point:
Access (is the road wide enough), legal check (title, sitemap), what local materials are available, what are the landscaping requirements, are there any trees to save, building aspect (balancing views with heat gain), local microclimate considerations, winds etc. Also, do you have access to services such as water, and electricity?
We also check to see if there are any other possible issues on the site that we need to consider: Pests (termites), low-lying land prone to flooding, locations close to the sea (quickly erodes electrics and roofing materials) or other problems that we may encounter.
Step 4: Bring in a Designer / Architect (Dream Time Part II)
Green Designs may bring in-house designer or recommend someone from a pool of local architects that best fits the needs of the build. You will ultimately decide if you like the architect (client is also very welcome to bring their own!).
This is the stage where we capture your wants and needs on paper and start to prepare the configuration of your home and budget which takes a bit of back and forth to achieve.
We would advise you to shoot for a budget of 20% below your maximum allocated money from the start. Then during the build, if you want additional items like high-class finishing, chandeliers, a fantastic stove or even a gym or a yoga studio, you still have some resources still available to make that happen.
Step 5: Design Phase
There is usually a lot of back and forth and decisions to be made at this stage. We begin to sketch out the main heart of the build. What materials will be used, what type of windows, what type of doors, what is the final floor plan, what amenities and outhouse features (garage), how to integrate insulation, cooling, and security into the design.
We also like to bring you to local hardware stores to discuss tiles, paints, colors and other aspects of the build as well as point you to stores where we have a preferred customer relationship and can get discounts that we pass on to you. If you want a higher end finish, then we suggest you try Cebu hardware stores or even Manila where there are more choices and the highest quality fittings and tiles.
The Green Designs team has experience with implementing and operating all the “Green Technologies” that are available in the Philippine market. We would be happy to show you any of the technologies in place and working. We can install solar water, solar electricity, rainwater collection, and options for black and greywater treatment (free plant and tree watering!). We also can do vegetable gardens and aquaponic systems design, installation and operation.
Step 6: Budgeting Phase
Here we lay out the estimates for all the costs of the build, from labor to materials and excavation and site preparation costs. It is at this stage that we have to go into the details and find a way to produce the home that you want on a budget. If the budget becomes too high, then we need to go back to the design phase to adjust the house to the budget.
We also identify any subcontractors we may need for specialist works. We only work with thoroughly vetted contractors with whom we have experience and who have delivered what the promised.
All of this information then becomes integrated into a project management plan that will guide the work on site day by day and week by week for the build. We will manage the project management system for you, but update you weekly on progress to date (financials and work plan) to ensure you are hands-on in touch with progress every step of the way.
Step 7: Implementation Phase
The first thing we need to do is get the permits done for the house. A good set of blueprints will enable us to move ahead quickly. Fencing permits are the usual starting point and then we work from there and get temporary water and electricity lines installed as well as voltage regulators if we need to do welding on site. You do not want to upset your new neighbors by fusing all their electronics before you have even moved in.
We then assemble a team of excellent craftsmen and the tools needed to deliver your build. We have our extensive set of in-house equipment (grinders, compactors, electric drills, etc.), and we can rent anything else that we do not have (at contractor rates).
Step 8: On-site Monitoring
We offer daily, weekly and monthly updates to the client. We believe that keeping track of the build day by day ensures that problems are identified early on and resolved. It also provides the most efficient use of the workforce and materials used. Good project management means fewer headaches, quick and efficient troubleshooting (before problems get too big), thereby ensuring we keep costs down. That includes regular financial updates and consolidation of all official receipts being supplied to the clients at regular intervals during the build.
Step 9: Finishing and Turnover
This is the final and most exciting stage. It can be complicated but is enjoyable if executed well. If there is work that needs to be redone, we will do it at this point (at no cost to you if it is due to poor workmanship or our mistakes).
We will also ensure we support your move in if needed (install kitchen items, aircon, gas tank, as needed) and ensure you have detailed maps of the electrics and water systems. We can also help give you a boost with your landscaping and garden if needed and we can offer you some cuttings to get you going!