The expertise of architect and contractor is not exclusive – it’s a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. That, according to Berkeley-based contractor Michael McCutcheon, can make or break a project.
Michael has been working with Colleen Mahoney for over ten years, and together, they’ve completed projects that range from smaller remodels to complete home design and build.
“Mutual respect is important because if you don’t have that it is very damaging.”
“We respect Colleen as a designer.” says Michael. “She will consider our ideas respectfully and offer suggestions.”
McCutcheon says ideally, the contractor and architect should both be involved early on in the project, working out the best approach and listening to the clients’ needs and desires, while being considerate of the proposed budget.
“It’s an interdependent relationship,” he says, “that requires a savvy architect who can be creative and doesn’t get discouraged under constraints such as budget, timing or planning permits, combined with a contractor who can accurately estimate the scope of a project.”
This house in Orinda was a perfect example – Mahoney Architects worked with the client to come up with a schematic design but a change in direction meant the budget was going to be significantly higher than originally planned. Michael and Colleen worked together to modify the plans, requiring flexibility on both sides. Together, they helped the client focus on what was really important, scaling back on some things and reallocating the budget to enhance the designs.
Ideally, the design and construction professionals present a unified front to the owners. “Part of that is to protect the owner’s psychology,” says McCutcheon. “The process can be stressful and people get confused.”
“Colleen is committed to really trying to help her clients get what they want within their budget and she’s happy to work with us in this way. Her philosophy is compatible with what we do.”
Colleen admires Michael and his leadership and feels that the two companies have much in common: experience, integrity, a commitment to design excellence and to environmental sensitivity. Colleen and Michael are both leaders in the “green” building movement and they both see each project as a unique opportunity to help clients to make their dreams a reality. For Colleen, “It is a gift to work with a builder like Michael McCutcheon – I know that I am placing our plans and vision into the best of hands.”