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Potholes in the Process

Directors’ Cut vs. Theatrical Cut—Striving Towards a Happily Ever After…

When we started this journey 12 months ago, the entire core team made a promise to each other. We promised that, no matter how ugly it may be or how hard we might fall, we would tell the full story of the Mosaic Centre build (or failure to build). With this post I believe I am the first to record one of the potholes in the process.

Part of the IPD process requires a great deal of calories to be burnt at the beginning of the project, even before engineering and design commences, to ensure that the owner has the same end product in his mind’s eye as the general contractor and the architect: the three amigos of the IPD tri-party agreement. With all parties playing the same movie in their heads, an accurate budget is calculated and used as the target cost upon which the build is based. To the uninitiated, this may appear to be lunacy and project suicide; how can you base a contract on the assumption that all three parties have the same vision in mind with no actual road map as a guide?

With a healthy dose of faith in the process and a steaming pant load of trust, we set sail towards an idea. It just so happens that the idea we were headed toward was a first-of-its-kind and, as such, budgeting our brainchild (LEED Platinum, heavy timber structure, Living Building Petal certified, Net-Zero, 100% day lit, 100% fresh air, air tight and highly glazed) was nearly impossible. Chandos estimators worked diligently to capture the script in as much detail as possible from Christy and me.

We are now at the 3-month mark of construction and as we project into the next six weeks, some questions have started to arise in our weekly site meetings. Diving into the more minute details, we’re starting to wonder which director has the correct script? I think all of the IPD core team knew that this day would eventually come, and it has. The real test for the process will be resolving the discrepancy and deciding how the movie gets its final cut.

The lesson to glean for those who follow: tour comparable buildings prior to setting the target cost to ensure that all parties can see what the owners’ expectations are. Furthermore, continue to tour sites until the team agrees on the desired end product considering variables such as quality, style and affordability. We did not do this and are now wishing we had.

I write this post with sureness that my next entry will be about how the IPD process and team effectiveness self-corrected this discrepancy.

Dennis Cuku

Dennis is a Mechanical Engineer with expertise in drilling rig design and is acting President of Oil Country Engineering. Paradoxically, his passion lies in the arena of sustainable building design and green building innovation. Dennis’ recent project, The Mosaic Centre, is slated for completion in May 2015 and aims to be the crown jewel of sustainable building in Edmonton becoming the first Net-Zero energy commercial office building in Alberta; an example of Alberta’s oil and gas abundance igniting innovative sustainable projects.

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