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"I Just Wanted a Coupe, not Italian Leather!"

Sometimes when you make a purchase, you get what you get. There are little to no options to add or deduct, thus the price is what it is, like a shoelace. In these cases, you get a lot of options for a flat rate that can't be deleted for a cost savings. For instance:

Have you ever noticed on your smart phone, right from the factory, there are about 100 applications, tools, programs, you name it, already pre-loaded on the device? If you're anything like me, once a week you find something else that you didn't know was there, even after having the phone for over a year. What I take from that is simple: I have a bunch of stuff that I don't really need, built into a device that I purchased for a specific task (calling, text, email, connectivity. etc.).

What if afterwards, in a conversation with your mobile service provider, they tell you:

"By the way, you could've bought your phone with only the things you want for 75% of the price"

I'd be pretty upset about that. I might even feel like I was taken advantage of. Now, this of course is not the case with mobile phones. The fact of the matter is, you pay for the phone, and you get what you get whether you need it or not. We accept that fact and move on with our lives, never really knowing how much of the $600 we dropped on the newest coolest tech goes towards things we don't even want (that's a whole other topic!).

Now imagine that same thing happening to you on a much larger scale, where you actually did have input, like a car:

"This is a nice car, but I really just wanted a coupe, not Italian leather"

Let's say you just want a black coupe with a moon roof. You get sold a vehicle for $100,000 that has $60,000 worth of items you don't want or need (rear park assist, fancy interior, automatic door openers, blender, etc.). In actuality you could've easily spent $40,000 and gotten a product you like and that works for you. That would be infuriating, especially if afterwards the salesperson said:

"You said you wanted a black coupe with a moon roof, and had a $100,000 budget. So what's the issue?"

Now think on an even bigger scale, like a building...

Imagine finding out that 25% of the raw material and labor was never really needed based on YOUR criteria. This might apply to finishing, equipment capacity, control systems, lighting fixture types, plumbing fixture types, you name it.

The point is, your facility project (whether it be new or a renovation), is not a standardized product off of a manufacturing line (although some of the components within it are). The building as a whole, as well as each of its systems, has a specific purpose to serve which you define. As consumers, building owners have the right to receive a facility that serves the purpose they need it to serve, and no more. On the other hand, if you like bells and whistles, that's great and you should go for them!

The good news is that this can be easily avoided at the beginning of the project in 4 simple steps:

  1. Owners, develop a check list of your needs or requirements. What problem does this project need to solve?

  2. Design Professionals, analyze the list and generate a basis of design which provides solutions to the items on the the Owner's project requirements. List other items which your client may not have included but, you know based on experience, will add value.

  3. Meet and compare notes.

  4. Agree and execute.

Make sure to maintain strong communication throughout the process and you will also help grow and develop the relationships between all of the project team members. I think that's the best part!

You get to work with people you like, who have mutual respect for each other.


Over-specifying happens all the time for a number of reasons, but it's generally not done intentionally. More times than not, it's due to two slightly different interpretations of the desired project outcome. But, we as design professionals have a responsibility to avoid it at all costs. Part of our job is to make sure we guide our clients in the most cost effective direction while meeting their needs. We don't have the right to spend others' money when it's not really required (like grossly over-sized mechanical equipment). We DO have the responsibility to provide the right product or solution to our clients based on what they need and our professional expertise. It's as simple as that.

Provide a product your clients want. That's...

Building Systems, Smarter...

Visit our Services page to see what we can (not over) specify for you!

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