Category: Home Building

Barry Shaw
February 21, 2018
LVL vs Steel

Owner’s Advocate – A Resource For Savings

A friend of mine took his car into the shop for work that he knew needed to be performed and was also advised that a ‘check-up’ should be done regarding other parts of the vehicle; he said ok.

A couple days later, a very large estimate was given to him with the explanation that his car needed additional work done and that there was only one way to accomplish this; or was there?

Similar situations can and do occur, in the construction industry with hundreds of options and decisions needed throughout the project.

An Owner’s Advocate, independent Architect, and/or General Contractor who’s fiduciary is directly to the Owner and independent from the Owner’s hired Architect and General Contractor, can provide the Owner with a separate pair of eyes, experience, and options that could benefit the Owner immensely.

For instance, lets say that during the architectural design phase of a new building project, that the engineer designs a structure with steel beams and posts, to achieve an open floor plan effect.

Well, the Owner is not likely experienced to know there is an alterntive to the steel framing. Glue laminate wood beams for instance, will save a significant amount of money and time and still accomplish the clear span request.

The steel structure will require certified welders, cranes to erect and set in place, an additional/different subcontractor and material supplier from the framer, and will require additional carpentry work when integrating with the standard wood framing members.

If the Owner had an independent Advocate/Consultant that provided a well seasoned amount of design and construction experience, he would be advised to explore the above suggested alternative, with the following benefits:

In an average size new two story home project, that we actually just completed, the cost saving differential, from not using steel, would be about: $4,500 in material + $3,000 in initial labor installation + about $2,500 in framing detailing + $1,250 in welder services + $2,500 in crane and erection + about $1,250 in special inspector services, or an additional $15,000!, just in this trade alone (imagine the additional savings available for the other 20 trades in the project!).

Actually not much different either from having an ‘insurance advocate’ on your side, independent of your insurance company and looking out for your best interest exclusively.

If you would like to explore this and other options available for your project, please send us an Inquiry and we’ll get back with you within (24) hours.


Best Always!
Barry R. Shaw AIA, GC

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Barry Shaw
December 22, 2014

Out-Of-State Building with an In-State Team

Haven’t had much time to update my Blog, with out of State projects requiring much coordination time.

Our Design-Build project in Erie, Colorado consisted of a major design and construction remodel to the existing 3,500 sq. ft. single family home, as well as outdoor amenity upgrades inclusive of:
barbecues; landscape design; stereo speakers and new lighting.

The labor and material requirements are similar to a project that is ‘local,’ but necessitates a different format of ‘flexible structure.’

Since I’m licensed as an Architect and General Contractor in Colorado, we designed and built the home remodel utilizing our Design-Build system, but integrated local subcontractors and material suppliers with our Team, to optimize a timely, cost-effective and quality project.

We used our significant depth of resources, some of which I developed from my early building years in Santa Monica, along with my cabinet maker in Los Angeles; CAD drafting from our Brentwood site; supplier from Pacific Palisades and plumbing distributor from West Los Angeles. After field surveying, designing, specifying and coordinating with the on-site conditions, we had products shipped directly to this Colorado job site, thus our material supplier Team worked simultaneously with our new construction Team, alleviating the time commitment from our job site supervisor and at the same time optimizing the construction schedule.

When it came to finish work requirements, we provided two finish carpenters to further assist with the quality detailing and refinements of this custom home. Additionally, my on-site coordination for eight day periods at a time, provided the necessary alignment for continuation of a cohesive project schedule, with future goals and milestones being established, with subcontractors and material suppliers. Also, my strategic intersection with Building Inspector walk-throughs and obtaining progress Approvals, was influential to the continuous and seamless flow of work from all of the Trades.

Obviously there are many other important considerations, strategies and proactive initiatives that were implemented as well, in order to complete this substantial out-of-State remodel project in just 3 1/2 months, but for the most part, we relied on our considerable experience of designing and building for (32) years, as the foundation to the success of this job.

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Barry Shaw
February 26, 2014

Build During Winter Or Wait?

The timing of when remodel construction actually starts is actually one month after submittal of the architectural and engineering plans to the Building Department for a One Story Home Addition, or two months in the case of a Second Story Addition.  Therefore, this ‘readjustment’ time frame within the Design-Build package of services, is actually an opportunity to be utilized, with regard to Homeowner’s who choose to stay in the home and relocate within, as well as for Homeowner’s who choose to move out into a rental unit for the duration of construction.

Obviously rain water and moisture are considerations to be peppered for and abate, during ‘typical’ Winter months. Unfortunately here in Los Angeles, we are part of a CA State drought and not much rain to be concerned about, especially if the Design-Build Project is a One Story Addition. In this case, the openings or connections between the existing home and new One Story Addition/Major Remodel, should be covered with heavy plastic or tarps starting from the eave of one side of the existing house, going over the ridge/highest point of the roof and down the ‘opening’ to the ground, along with extending over the Addition part. Battening down with long wood planks and as few nails as possible, should withstand common wind pressures that could rip up this protective membrane. Simply covering the opening vertically with plastic will not protect the home, as water will find its way into the existing roof framing system and likely traverse down the rafters/ridge and into the house.

On the other hand, a Second Story Home Addition, one of which we are currently building in West Los Angeles, will involve removing much of the existing One Story roof structure, will pose a greater concern to be addressed, but will not negate construction during these months. In this case, there are many more ‘vulnerable’ parts of the existing home that need to be protected such as; the existing wood floor; dry-walled walls and existing spaces that may not be part of the overall remodel like the Kitchen.


In this case, situations could occur where half of the existing roof is totally removed, preface to framing for the Second Story Addition and thus with an impending storm on its way, temporary rafters on a slope (preferably with plywood tacked down over them) and then heavy plastic installed as mentioned above, should shed the majority of rain and protect the existing home.

Also of importance, is the wood/lumber that is installed outside the home (i.e. if on the lawn, laid on top of wood ‘sleepers’), which should be covered with heavy plastic as well, in an effort to reduce the amount of moisture content that will thus be ‘contained’ within the walls of the home during construction. The Code allows a moisture content of 19% already, so additional moisture is certainly unwanted and should be avoided when possible.

Either way, the positive and rewarding result of building during Winter, is the fact that by the time Summer and the Holidays arrive, construction will likely have been completed and you will be living in and enjoying your new One or Two Story Master Suite Addition, Great Room and Remodeled Kitchen, or New Home.

Best Always!, Barry R. Shaw AIA, GC

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Barry Shaw
July 16, 2013

Home Construction Management

Typically a project such as a large new home or commercial building, could involve the Owner’s request for Construction Management (CM) services. Also, on occasion, a substantial home addition project may receive the services of Construction Management, whereby the Owner pulls the permit as Owner-Builder.
In either case, the CM firm is positioned between the Owner and the Design-Build firm or the Prime General Contractor. Their main function is to monitor and manage the project so that it is built in a timely, cost effective and quality manner.
Depending on the size of the construction project, an on-site Superintendent and/or off-site CM firm that observes the construction process once or twice a week, would handle the ‘field’ work.
In the office, support personnel regarding scheduling, budgeting, lien releases and payment requests, would round out the typical scope of services for a project.
With the above services and data, the CM would then be able to act as the Owner’s Representative in pertinent meetings with the Architect, Engineer, General Contractor and Subcontractors. In this manner, an Owner who is out of State from the project; has multiple project’s under construction; requests a single point of contact for job summaries; and likely comprises many different corporations, can streamline the massive amount of details and processes, significantly.
Adapting this service to single family dwelling construction for resort, vacation or second home projects, can be quite helpful to an Owner as well.
For example, we have design plans for construction of an Austin, Texas luxury home underway for an Owner who primarily develops commercial properties and has requested our residential design and construction expertise, in the capacity of Construction Management.
In this instance, we will hire, coordinate and provide on-site supervision for all Trades needed for this construction project. Our Design-Build system will be utilized for this part of the project, ensuring that a timely, quality and cost effective job is realized.
His in-house accounting and operations departments will in turn interrelate with us as the CM, thus freeing up the Owner’s time and availability to his other projects, as well as saving him the expense of a full general contractor fee, as he will pull his own permits with related responsibilities.
To learn more, don’t forget about our new Online Design and Construction Consulting-let us know about your Project questions and within (24) hours you’ll receive professional guidance!
Best Regards Always, Barry R. Shaw AIA, GC

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Barry Shaw
June 2, 2013

Design Build Firm’s Presence Signifies Stability

A design-build firm’s years of practice in a particular city likely signifies stability on many levels. Firstly, it substantiates ‘acceptable practice’ for delivering a Project on time, on budget and with quality.

Also, a professional understanding of permit processing, inspector approvals and client satisfaction is evidenced, whether it be a Luxury Home, Remodel or Addition.

As well, an amenable working relationship with subcontractors and material suppliers is thus part of the Team package, working to the client’s benefit.

It’s also worthy to note, that after the project is completed, the general contractor’s proximity to the home site can be quite valuable. Our 24/7 construction management support is available for very timely responses. Repeat client’s are coveted with special interest upgrades and continuity with the same seasoned, quality minded and cost-effective Trades.

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Barry Shaw
June 2, 2013

When Building a House

When building a house, don’t forget to consider the big picture first, regarding the type of ‘business structure’ that will include the design and construction requirements needed.

Past methods of hiring a separate architect and separate general contractor, that inherently could result in ‘disconnections’ causing cost overruns and delays, can likely be avoided with a design-build contract format.

With this system, the Principle of the firm is most often the licensed architect and the licensed general contractor, thus the very important cost, quality and schedule parameters can be monitored on a daily basis, in-house.

Therefore, in lieu of the traditional method of designing plans first and then going out to bid and hoping it will meet a client’s budget (which rarely occurs), we take the overall budget first and then back it into properly designed plans, so that at the end of the job, the cost of construction is ensured.

There are huge advantages for the homeowner if a design-build firm is selected to perform your home addition and the principle of the firm submitting the plans for approval is also both the architect and general contractor of record.

For instance, when the plans are being processed through the many entities of the Los Angeles Building and Zoning Code Departments, quite often ‘on the spot’ decisions are made that have a significant impact on the Project’s costs. When the principle is experienced and licensed in both professions, an intelligent ‘on the spot’ adjustment to the plans can be made with regard to ensuring that the overall budget remains in tact, without sacrificing quality.

Also, successful approvals from Design Review Boards and Public Hearings will result in timely plan processing, thus relieving unwanted client anxiety.

Adjunct to these basic services that an experienced design-build firm will be able to provide, is the feeling of a confident, trusting and fun atmosphere during the process.

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