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Not a question more of a rant than anything. Ive been with my current company for about 8 years. Sold about 2 years ago, my roll under the old ownership was one man show in the shop, cutting, machinig, edgeing, assembly, machine maintinence, you name it i did. Ive been moved into the office, no complaints love my job. Im constantly running into poorly put together drawings from architects(one we do lots of work for). Problems we have talked about on multiple occasions, no fillers, no counter overhang, drawer banks in really narrow cabinets, and on occasion no elevations at all, just floor plans. When I create drawings for submital, I have to comb through these drawings with a fine tooth comb to make sure it will all work in the end. No matter how many times we talk about it every drawing is the same. Im tempted to just build what they draw and when it doent work thow it back on them, I know I cant but would love to see the look on their faces. How do you guys deal with poorly drawn jobs, i thought it was their job to do all the thinking and just tell us what to build?
Welcome to engineering/drafting in a custom woodworking shop. Good to hear you came up from the shop floor, obviously that will help you a bunch. It took me longer than I care to admit, to realize that it IS our job to engineer our shop drawings how we plan to build it. It is a disservice to everyone to regurgitate the architect's drawings. Very few firms can draw a set of plans that will actually work, it is up to us to make them work. I still see 2D Drawings where the plan view doesn't flush with the Elevations or the sections. The quality has generally gone downhill in the last 2 decades. About 10 years ago I had a set of plans land on my desk that actually had the reception desk within the double doors before the vestibule. It was a huge firm, apparently, no one was checking the junior draftspeoples work.
Think of it this way, when you get all that work done upfront, the entire job flows (more) smoothly. Come up with some standards if you can for your company, and try to push them in where appropriate. Have blocks ready to go in AutoCAD, etc. It will make it much faster to create a set of quality submittals that are actually buildable.
Start back charging for your time. Explain to them what the error was and why it needed to be corrected and the charge.
Obviously you can't do this if a single mistake comes up. But if it's multiple mistakes or the same mistake over an over again I'd consider it.
Maybe start up with a warning invoice, charge the time and then cross it out with an NC, to see if this gets their attention.
There is a caveat here, they could stop sending you work.
Yes being in the shop for a number of years, and in the feild installing, has helped a lot, i remember the first side job i did....no fillers, install was a disaster, luckly it was a family thing. So I usually go about drawing a job how I would install it. I have just kind of accepted it as part of the job. I know first hand, having worked on both sides (I sneak into the shop every once and a while when i need a break from the screan), its worth every minute up here to see the product fly through the shop (mostly, you have to be pretty sharp to run screen to machine).
You are deffinately on to something here. The first thing the new owner and I did was look at old invoices and go over things that were never charged for, one big red flag was design/programming time was never chaged for. I was optimizing and programming the machines on the shop floor, leaving lots of room for opperator error. We are now a screen to machine shop, and putting a much more accurate better quality product out the door, and consistancy has skyrocketed. We started charging for my office time accordingly and most of our customers accepted the charge with no fuss because of the better product they are getting.
With my clients I'll draw up a concept in eCabs based on their input at the first meeting. I'll pass that onto them and tell them what they'd like changed because it's just the first render. Then resubmit it with their changes.
After that big changes get charged. Minor things like swapping cabinets I don't care about. But redesigns take time and we deserve to get compensated for it.
This isn't exactly the same thing, but it's time consuming and if you can reduce it at the source it makes them a better client to deal with.
Have you talked to the architects? I'm sure their response will be something like, "we don't want to tell you how to make the cabinets, we are just giving you guidelines." Doesn't your time get figured into the bid?
gA lot has changed, My older guys are always complaining about poor drawings, I keep telling them you are dealing with Cut and past juniors out of School rubber stamped by a guy on a Golf course.
Bad but that is the way it is
Been going through this steadily myself. Some drawings are spot on and very well drawn, others not so much and as already stated, I dont look to the drawings to accurately outline every aspect of the construction but when you get them that just wont work or necessary elements just arent there, its a pain.
Im not sure I'd get any traction with charging anything back.
The miserable solution for me in the bid stage has just been RFI's and then you either have a tentative architect/firm that answers quickly and clearly or one that is late/slow or never to answer at all.
Drawing the job to what you feel would work best is fine in certain situations but the problem we run into is when things are not shown that you know need to be there or pretty much know for sure will be added, but they have a cost associated, and another shop will just bid to the drawings while you draw and bid the job correctly. The contractor does not take the time to review, and you lose, the other shop gets it, and adds in the changes later. Its a cat and mouse game. It seems you can note your corrections all you want but in the end the number at the bottom of the page sets the tone. It'd be great if you had a relationship where your bid carries the weight of them knowing you cover all the bases by default but in our world its generally going to be about the bottom line on the bid for the most part.
I think you hit the nail on the head James, I have asked for a DXF or DWG in a few situations I need to get complex curves off of, and off in space is an old job that we did a couple years ago with bubbles around things they wanted to copy to make the new drawings from.
Good points Mark. We have been on both sides, the architect in question has awarded us jobs we were high on because we are upfront about how do things ad change when we but, knowing that they get what they want at the price we give them and it will work. Ive also lost a job, from a different firm, because we were 60K to high. When the job was all said and done they came back begging us to add what the other shop left out, we did it but it cost them more than the 60K they "SAVED"
Embrace The Void.
The fact is, you are the expert, the one most qualified to put together competent drawings - your current job. Your customers are not experts at this, though they may think they are.
Track your time and charge for it. Roll it into the whole, or give it a line item if you wish to whip 'em with it. Quit your cryin' and charge 'em.
Many of us have spent considerable time establishing ourselves as experts in our field. Take control of the situation by exercising that expertise and selling it back to your clients. That is why they are sitting in front of you.
I get terrible, almost non-existant architecturals where "we had to put something in there, but that is not what we want." Fine. This is now my opportunity to sell what I make, to have influence, to add to the overall. Tell me what you like.... Yes, you can have that. We can do that.
Always yes, always positive. Don't ever whine about drawings or design time or anything to do with their job or the work in general.
I now charge for design time, and talk time, and blabber time, and for all the incidentals we used to think we had to give away. It is not a line item, unless that is the way they want to see it. I have never had a complaint about the charges.
I feel your pain Nathan, but don't expect things to change any time soon. The general consensus among architects is it that it is not their job to do our shop drawings for us. I do not disagree, all I need is what it is supposed to look like, where it goes, and how big it needs to be - unfortunately even that information seems to be lacking lately. The rule of thumb is the largest scale drawing should be the most correct, but I have noticed that section drawings are most often recycled from past projects so they seem to be most likely to be incorrect. And then there are the things that get drawn that just aren't going to work. I thought my job was to engineer things so that they would work, which cost us a lot of money because there was nothing in the bid to cover the extra costs - and if you draw it without a change order, good luck charging for it. My mantra now is "Submitted is committed." So here's how I handle it - I draw things exactly as they have been bid. If more is needed I put a note on the drawings saying (Insert Company Name) recommends (narrative of what I want to do). I will usually include the relevant AWI Standards section, if applicable I DO NOT draw it though. When the redlines come back, if they accept the solution, I draw it and send it back - along with the change order and pricing. When it is the case that there are details lacking, I draw my best guess and put a note on the elevation "Architect, please confirm (detail). Don't forget the please. If it is so horrible you are totally in WAG territory, send an RFI. The reason I put the RFI into third place is it can take forever to get an answer - but even if they are slow in responding, they expect you to have your shops completed the next day. These aren't perfect solutions, but it is the best I have come up with so far. Hope this helps.
Great topic of discussion.
My issues with regards to much of this pertains to being in the bid stage behind a GC. The architect is of course going to put an eyeball on the shops just as the GC is but your in the bid stage, and trying to get an accurate bid out with as little time invested.
I would love to be in the space David speaks of being able to charge for drawing or having anyone from the owner, to the architect, or GC, give us the latitude to put something in the space that we know there customer will like. Thats a luxurious position that seems rarely afforded in the commercial world and very rare behind an architect unless your spec'd as the sole supplier of something odd.
My tact for most everything that doesnt require, or isnt worth annoying the architect with, an RFI is pretty much spot on with Expat. I note everything in my bid, nothing is drawn at that point other than any drawings Ive done for bidding purposes. I note everything that doesnt look right or looks overlooked, but my bid is for whats in the drawings supplied. Recently bid one with uber long unsupported plastic laminate counter top spans. No call out for metal or laminate supports on "x" centers. No call outs for built in shelving details. Zip. It was all clearly noted. Had I added all those elements in because it was the right thing to do I'd likely have landed in the same situation Nathan mentions, losing the job and then hearing later that they paid the other shop to add it all in after the fact.
Good relationships are great and always the goal for sure. Please and thank you, humility, are always the name of the game.
Then of course there are the issues of being the one in the bid process that gets on the drawings early and brings up many of the issues that land in the next addendum and you've educated your competition bringing to their attention all the things that were missed. Its a slippery slope.