The Architect's Blog

The Value of Good Contractors and Subcontractors from a Long Beach Architect’s Perspective



As our architecture firm grows in experience, we like to think that we are getting wiser along the way. Now that we’ve been in business in Long Beach for more than a few years, we have become better able to discern and appreciate a truly good value, especially when it comes to recommending contractors, subcontractors, or sub consultants.

When our Long Beach architecture firm was young, we worked with several contractors and consultants who offered “cheap” services. We did so because we were anxious to give our clients the best deal possible, and because we mistakenly thought that the most inexpensive services were the best value. However, later, we came to find out that often these consultants and contractors were able to offer lower prices because they were either not providing full services or because they were passing along the cost to others involved in the project.

When it comes to inexpensive general contractors, they might be able to offer lower prices because they are skimping on important things like insurance. Or, they may expect the building owner or homeowner (you!) to do all of the legwork that is required to see a job through to completion.

Worst of all, an inexpensive general contractor may be unskilled in some or all areas of construction. An unskilled contractor may find himself constantly on the phone with the project’s architect or structural engineer because he will need to be guided, step-by-step, through the entire construction process. The frustrated client (again, you!) is left wondering why the process is so painfully long, and why they are getting billed for excessive construction administration time by their architect or structural engineer.

When it comes to hiring an architect, a “cheap” architect can also cost clients down the line. They may, for example, submit incomplete architectural drawings to city inspectors. Unfortunately, it is possible, and even common, for incomplete drawings to be approved by cities. This will be a huge problem down the road for the contractor, who will then have to spend an excessive amount of time revising layouts, talking to the city inspectors, and providing clarifying documentation to make up for what was missed in the drawing phase. All of this causes delays that impact the job schedule and frustrate owners. In addition, owners may incur additional, unanticipated costs for materials that are required, but that weren’t originally included in the plans.

As one of many architecture firms in the Long Beach area, we may not be the “cheapest,” but we do provide a great value to our clients. When we recommend a contractor or engage a sub consultant, you can be assured it is because they have repeatedly shown us that they can complete a job on time, produce quality work, are responsive, and do the work for a fair price. That is what we consider a great value!

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