Quality Control? What’s that, you may ask. And why in something like architectural house design? Well, lots of people, most in fact, probably receive little to no quality control in their architectural house design documents. It is simple: if you want quality in your house, you need a quality set of design documents.
And just how to you get a set of quality house design documents? By having an Architect (a registered, licensed, real architect) design your residence. Someone that cares that the thousands of lines, notes, dimensions, materials and specifications are coordinated and inspired. Creativity is expected. Most people probably assume that quality is built in and that everything is coordinated. It is not, unless you have an architect with a quality control (QC) program built into his/her design and documentation procedures.
Both ArCH (Architects Creating Homes: a National professional society of licensed Architects practicing residential architecture) and the AIA (American Institute of Architects) describes the architectural design of a house as one of the most detailed, technically demanding and difficult of architectural project types: about the same as complex hospital laboratories.
Why would that be the case you may ask? Because there is more happening per square foot in a house than in an office building. And because people having Architects design their house have detailed, specific requests for features. They are living there, not just visiting.
Interestingly enough, architects learn their own Quality Control procedures as they practice, make errors, do things correctly, and have positive experiences about what works and what does not. What is starting to become obvious to you is that the more time an architect has been practicing, the more he or she has learned and the better documents they produce. Frank Lloyd Wright said that architects don’t even start to get good until they reach 50. So, architects older than 50 probably have attained a level of experience that is more detailed and comprehensive than others with less life experience.
HOME ARCHITECTS ® employs a modified ISO 9000 system right on their computerized drawing files in the form of a detailed checklist. The Architect can easily see this checklist next to his/her drawings, and for each project, he/she verifies that these technical items have been accomplished. The ISO 9001 standards for certification can become much too exhaustive for most companies and that is not the standard utilized herein. However, the simplified ISO 9000 practice of having a checklist of requirements and verifying that they have been accomplished, incorporated and checked, are sensible and can be easily woven into an architectural practice. Such is the case with this firm’s practice. Not many firms do this; trying instead to rely on what they can remember the procedure was previously. However, this architectural firm has learned, through decades of practice, that no one can remember all of the important lessons taught to them in life, particularly in one as complex as architecture, and in particular in one of the most detailed aspects of architecture: the design of custom houses.
In addition to the firm’s “lessons learned” checklist, that requires the Architect to place an “X” (or date) in a blank next to each line item task reminder for coordination, the company also uses specifications to coordinate hundreds, if not thousands of specification items directly with the drawings. In fact, the company invented a Drawing Numbered Note System that uses the identical paragraph numbers from their specifications. So, if you are looking at their drawings, and see a number that points to a door, that number is the same number as a paragraph in the specification Division 8 specs that clearly describes that door. This makes their drawings clear and explicit for contractors and lets clients know what they should be receiving in the built house.