When you hire AV designers, or an AV integrator who does design and build, there is a very clear path that the design team will take. There are recognized steps for each area of a system design that need to be detailed, agreed to, and signed off on before moving to the next steps.
You may be wondering how hiring a design/build firm, or a design firm protects you as an owner in the process. That’s an excellent question!
Here are 3 important considerations to remember when engaging an AV designer to work for you:
You set the budget. This is critically important to the overall success of the project. If an AV designer lays out a system that you can’t afford, then it will be a waste of both time and money for both of you. Being upfront about your budget will allow a designer to craft a custom system that meets both your needs and your budget.
You are in charge. Many audio visual integrators have methods they have used over the years, whether that is a particular way of doing something or a particular brand of product they prefer. Remember that you are in charge of your AV systems integration and can weigh in when appropriate. Sometimes, asking the question of why a designer chooses a particular path can lead you to understand differing industry standards, how to “future-proof” your installation and how to maximize your budget. Your designer should be able to explain those choices to you in a way that you understand and that makes you feel that you’ve been heard.
Accountability. Let’s face it, we are all busy with a million details of our jobs and our lives. Had we unlimited time and resources, we could lay out and design our own audio, video and lighting systems (with enough time to research best practices, best equipment and best use cases). However, the reality is that AV designers are charged with delivering to you according to the time-table upon which you have agreed. This keeps your project on schedule. More than that, the designer is held accountable for designing projects in a complete and functioning manner. They take the blame when something goes wrong and will defend the integrity of the AV designs to the installing contractors.
So what sort of deliverables should you expect from your AV designer and what does each phase represent?
Design typically breaks down into a few phases that are universal among the design community.
Design Development Documents
During this phase, your designer will work with you to determine your needs and budget. This should consist of a series of meetings and conversations with all potential stakeholders to make sure you have conveyed to the design team all of the potential uses of the facility and the equipment you wish to purchase. It is the job of the designer to take all of this information in and determine the hierarchy of priorities (have to have) and options (nice to have). At the end of this process, the design team should turn over a written narrative of what components the system will have, how it will operate and how it will be used.
Construction Design Development
During this phase, the design team will take your feedback from the Design phase and incorporate any changes into a system design. They will interface with other contractors that may be affected by the work (structural, electrical, mechanical), and make sure that the requirements for the system are conveyed to those parties during this portion of the design phase.
At the end of this phase, your design team should be able to turn over to you actual construction drawings and written specifications for the project. These can be used to bid the work out to installing contractors if desired. In addition, there should be a written scope of work that conveys which parties will be doing which portion of the work. This clarifies the construction phase for everyone.
Too often, clients believe that once the Construction Design is completed, they no longer need to employ the design team. On the contrary, keeping the design team engaged throughout the construction process is critical to the overall success of the project.
During this phase, the design team will determine whether substitutions may be allowed (based on product availability or value engineering required for the project), maintain a watchful eye over the installing contractor you select and continue to coordinate with all other personnel on the jobsite to ensure that the work proceeds on schedule.
Finally, using your design team to commission the project is of equal importance. The system they designed, now installed by a contractor, is ready to be certified as working according to the design. The guidance they can provide during this phase is invaluable. They will make sure that no shortcuts were taken by the installation contractor and will assist you in determining the final punch list of items needing completion prior to final payments being issued to the installation contractors.
The overall value of a design team, whether an independent design firm, or a design/build systems integrator cannot be overstated. The amount of work they perform, meetings they attend, and details they oversee is often an overwhelming task.
The project could not be accomplished without their contributions.
Contact us to learn more about Procraft Media's design process.