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Taking A Stand | The Value of Advocating for Your Design During Value Engineering

Updated: Dec 12, 2023





 
TAKING A STAND |
ADVOCATING FOR YOUR DESIGN
DURING VALUE ENGINEERING
 

A client wouldn't hire a designer if they didn't feel they would benefit from one. As a professional, you know and understand how to design successful spaces for client's needs. Don't get caught having your design engineered out. This blog explains why it is important to fight for your design, and how to avoid having your design cut from the project.



WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO

FIGHT FOR YOUR DESIGN


Design plays a crucial role in various aspects of our lives, from the products we use to the websites we visit. It is not just about aesthetics; it encompasses functionality and user experience as well. Therefore, fighting for your design is important to ensure that it meets the desired objectives and delivers an exceptional user experience.


The design process involves making numerous decisions along the way. These decisions can range from choosing color schemes to determining layout and interaction patterns. Each decision has a direct impact on how users perceive and interact in the final space.

By fighting for your design choices, you are advocating for what you believe will create the best outcome. It allows you to defend your ideas and ensure that they align with the project goals and target audience needs. This commitment helps maintain consistency throughout the design process and prevents dilution of your original vision.


Advocating for your design encourages collaboration within a team or organization. It promotes discussions and debates where different perspectives can be shared, ultimately leading to more robust solutions. By actively participating in these discussions, you can articulate your rationale behind specific design choices and address any concerns or misconceptions.


A well-executed design enhances functionality, captures attention, fosters productivity, and creates memorable experiences. It sets apart successful projects from mediocre ones by not only creating an emotional connection between users and spaces, but also promoting production and efficiency. Fighting for your design is vital because it determines how users will interact within a space.






KNOWING HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES

AND WHEN TO ENGAGE IN A DEBATE


It is important to have logical and valid backup when defending your design. Fighting for a design aspect or specification with no reasoning or proof of benefit probably won’t get you very far. Revert to the programming documentation that backs up your design and why you chose what you did. Illustrate the importance of the design and what it provides for the client.

Imagine your design as a country under siege by design-related issues. You have limited resources, so you have to prioritize which cities to defend using a tiering system. For example:

  • Tier 1 city would be your capital. Spend all blood and sweat defending it at all costs. This is the hill to die for, DO NOT retreat!

  • Tier 2 cities are important. Put up a strong fight and only retreat when the casualty is too high.

  • Tier 3 cities are the outer-rim territories, you don’t want others to take over them too easily. Put up a decent fight then retreat when the attack is too strong to conserve energy.

Go into battle prepared. Understand that you may not win every debate. Prioritize your design choices and know which items you are willing to negotiate on, and which ones are pertinent to the overall design of the space and benefit of the client.





WHAT IS VALUE ENGINEERING

AND HOW TO AVOID HAVING YOUR DESIGN BE A PART OF IT.


Value engineering is a systematic, organized approach to providing necessary functions in a project at the lowest cost. But how do you determine what is “neccessary” and what is not? Having the information to defend your design is crucial to avoid having it be value-engineered out.

1. Programming - Understand the project needs.


Programming is the first and most important step in the design process. A good design stems from knowledge and information about what and who you are designing for. It sets the foundation for any successful project. (Read more about the importance of programming here.)


Work on gaining a deep understanding of the client’s needs in terms of work processes, spacial arrangements, workspace needs, and desired feel of the space. This will allow you to recommend the best possible solution for their needs from a functional perspective, reducing the likelihood of value engineering further down the line.

2. Be a key player in the specification process.


According to the AIA, manufacturers are the second-most-relied-upon influencers in the specification process after architects and designers; take advantage by offering your services. By helping to define the key performance criteria, operating costs and maintenance requirements, you can ensure your specifications align with the needs of all of these factors, providing the client with an optimized solution.

3. Start the conversation early.


Wherever possible, designers should aim to engage with their clients and help consult on project specifications throughout the early stages, from concept design to technical design. Be proactive — bring up the issue of value engineering before it has occurred, explaining its potential benefits and risks. By being transparent, clients are more likely to heed advice from you.

4. Highlight the consequences of selecting substitutions.


If after taking all of these steps, it still appears likely that your design is going to be value-engineered out of the project, make sure that every party understands the consequences of that decision. Remind architects under pressure from thrifty contractors that specification is not just about basic performance but also functionality.






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