The big picture.
There are multiple professions involved in building a home at this level: architects, engineers, interior designers, decorators, landscape architects — too many to list. And each profession has an area of responsibility for decision-making and performing work. In addition, there are numerous trades, craftspeople, suppliers, and government entities who are also involved. It’s a huge undertaking that requires specialized skills and experience. For everything to work right, somebody must have a firm grasp of the big picture: timelines, deliverables, costs, and, most importantly, clear and constant communication. That somebody is us. We are the curators of the big picture.
At Brookes & Henderson, we constantly review data and feedback to perfect our processes and become the most effective and efficient builders we can be. Here’s what we’ve learned and why it matters:
- Before we build a home, we build a team. At this level, there is no standard approach. The kinds of projects we take on require specialized talents and experience that match the unique needs of each project. Therefore, we start building your home by bringing together the right artisans and tradespeople for the job, rather than adapting the job to a preexisting team.
- We clarify roles, responsibilities, and key contacts among our partners to ensure responsiveness and accountability.
- We undertake incredibly detailed planning and scheduling—and the earlier it begins, the better.
- We make the pricing simple and transparent.
- We become the central hub for clear, constant, and concise communication.
- We unburden our professional partners from specific tasks when and where appropriate to help them focus on what they do best.
- Quality is always the best value as it leads to increased satisfaction, durability, and reduced maintenance in the finished product.
We impanel a team of leaders from each of our partners, each of whom becomes the key contact for vital communication. We meet with this team on a regular schedule and communicate daily about the status of the project. As a part of this process, partners can navigate through the areas of shared or competing responsibilities, enhancing efficiency, accountability, and teamwork.
It’s important to note that the earlier this step takes place in a project, the more effective the relationships become. It’s one of the key reasons we suggest bringing BHB on board as early as possible.
Detailed planning is our secret sauce, except that it’s not secret. It’s completely transparent. Every step and nuance of the process—from permitting and utilities to the homeowners’ long-term vision for the property and structures—every bit of knowledge is taken into account, and reflected in the plan.
The budget, the timelines, the costs, and, what’s most important, their interdependencies are all brought together in our centralized system. Then, key information is made available to those who need it. The amount of detail we include in the plan is crucial for informed decision making, determining the true cost of changes and their impact on the timeline, etc.
We work on a cost-plus basis. No hidden fees. No kickbacks from suppliers. No separate pricing for change orders. It’s as straightforward and transparent as it gets. Here’s why:
- Fixed pricing creates an incentive to cut corners as a means of increasing profit. Our pricing, the cost-plus model, eliminates this incentive. It also makes it easier to respond to changes, ensuring the project remains open to creativity and innovation at every step.
- Some ask if the cost-plus model might incentivize overspending to boost our profits. To that, we can only say: please talk to those we’ve worked with in the past. We’re confident in our reputation as good stewards of our clients’ resources.
Being a curator of the big picture means transversing the silo walls that divide each professional discipline, so everyone views the project and its goals from the same perspective. For that, clear, constant, and concise communication is crucial.
- Our project management system is centralized and incorporates the schedule, drawings, budgets, and other important details. It can be accessed by our partners and is a key element of our communications and information flow.
- Our internal communications are also robust. For example, our leaders and project managers meet weekly to share information, skills, and knowledge with one another to maintain professional development and enhance institutional knowledge within our company.
There are many important yet unglamorous tasks that need to be accomplished on any project. Some of these tasks have traditionally been performed by architects, some by landscape architects, and many more by other partners. Our Project Development Department has become experienced in scheduling, coordinating, and executing such tasks where appropriate to unburden our partners, allowing them to concentrate on the tasks they find most important.
Such tasks include:
- Walking a vacant lot or a property with a house that needs to be torn down. Helping to assess an existing house for remodel and addition opportunities. Helping to determine if the property will meet the needs for the pending project through utility investigation, geotechnical investigation, septic analysis, etc.
- Help in choosing and coordinating professional consultants required to develop of a full and concise set of plans.
- Assist in the Site Plan Development and early permitting for underground utilities, septic layout, storm water detention, and mechanical unit placement.
- Permits and other related interactions with state and local governments.
- Offering an early “opinion of costs” to help ensure that plans match the budget. This saves time and cost by quickly identifying options that are likely to fall outside of a desired budget.
- Create a Project Development Schedule for early planning to ensure a timely start.
- Assist in coordinating structural members with mechanical items to ensure design intent is met.
- Source sample materials to aid in design decisions for both exterior and interior items and pursue early-on materials procurement.
- Centralized scheduling to ensure various disciplines have tasks completed along a coordinated and efficient timeline.
It often seems completing the project and celebrating a successful move-in are the project’s true goals. Yet we think that’s a bit shortsighted. When we break ground on a project, we’re not just focused on successfully completing the construction. Our true goal is to build a house that will last for generations and be easy and efficient to maintain throughout its lifespan. Some of the things we do to ensure this include:
- We never cut corners on quality; we choose materials based on function and durability.
- We properly acclimate all climate-sensitive materials to the environment before construction to ensure proper fit and finish.
- We employ site-wide precision laser measurement and alignment to keep all construction true, square and plumb—not just room by room, but across the entire project.
- We collaborate closely with sound engineers to ensure peace and privacy in all areas— something that’s often overlooked by other builders.
- We coordinate the placement of all utilities for optimum efficiency, ease of maintenance, and esthetics.
How we work.
When building homes at this level, there’s so much more to consider as compared to ordinary home construction. Not only do our customers receive a higher level of personal service and interaction, but building structures like these also requires considerably more interaction between the builder, architects, interior designers, landscape architects, artisans, craftspeople, and myriad others involved.
Overall, we think of this process as cyclical, a circle that repeats itself several times a day through:
- Collaboration with owners and key partners to define, plan, and budget specific tasks
- Execution through construction and finishing with a strong focus on quality and accountability, and
- Review through inspection and feedback from property owners and partners
At which point the process begins again, addressing feedback and moving forward toward completion.
Simply put, partnering is building the team. It’s gathering the talent and skills necessary to achieve the homeowners’ vision.
- Vision Partners – Architect, Interior Design, Landscape Architect, Artists
- Management Partners – Brookes & Henderson Building Co.
- Process Partners – Engineers, Technical, Government
- Execution Partners – Artisans, Craftspeople, Tradespeople
- Resource Partners – Suppliers, etc.
By bringing us on early in a project, we can serve as curators of the big picture, helping to communicate with and coordinate the efforts of all the partners for greater efficiency.
Planning is our forte. Well, actually building magnificent homes is our forte, but it’s our approach to planning that makes that possible. Unlike other builders, we’ve created a Project Development Department that begins gathering all the details relevant to cost, scheduling, workforce, and resources right from the very start. We incorporate all of this data into our integrated planning system which becomes a key resource for solving problems and considering options. Need to know how a change might affect the budget or timeline? Since key interdependencies are accounted for in our system, finding the answer to “what ifs” is something we’re prepared for and we can respond quickly with clear, accurate answers.
Because we work on a simple cost-plus basis, knowing all the costs beforehand is crucial for maintaining responsiveness and transparency. And knowing the cost of everything beforehand makes understanding how changes affect the budget much easier.
Construction starts the moment we break ground. From this point on, we serve as a central communications hub, ensuring vital information—such as progress updates, change orders, scheduling alterations—flows freely among our project partners, subcontractors, and tradespeople. Our leaders remain actively involved, working closely with the project managers and partners on-site. Our project managers perform regular inspections to maintain a safe environment, monitor quality, and ensure adherence to schedules.
Many important aspects of finishing begin near the start of construction, because at this level, finishing requires experience with rare and valuable woods, stone, metals, and other finishes—how to store them, how to acclimate them before use, specialized tools and processes for installation, etc. Once the structure is complete and the infrastructure is in place, the detailed work of finishing begins and the final vision of the project come to fruition. As the last touches are put on the interior and exterior details, we complete detailed inspections to identify and schedule any necessary corrections or alterations. And then final inspections with our partners and the property owners are conducted.
While it may seem, on the surface, that the move-in date and handing over of the keys is the final goal, the true finish line, in our eyes, lies decades or even generations into the future. From the moment we become involved in a project, our goal is to make the finished structures as durable and easy to maintain as possible. To that end, we thoughtfully weave ease-of-maintenance into our detailed planning right from the start. We also provide ongoing maintenance services to our clients—services that leverage our knowledge of the property, the materials used in its construction, and the various equipment and amenities installed.
From project development to building, to post-project review, our approach relies on careful planning to make sure all interdependencies are addressed and accounted for. It also relies on effective communication and constant feedback to ensure efficiency and quality every step of the way. That’s why, when you choose to build with Brookes & Henderson, you’re choosing a proven process for building that, simply put, just works.