Week of March 18 - March 22, 2013

On Monday this week, I received a call from the owner wondering if the contractor needed to build a wall cutting off open attic space from an unfinished room in the apartment upstairs in the day care facility. This is something that we discussed in the pre-construction meeting, but had not brought up since. I told the owner and contractor that I believed it was going to be necessary, but would contact the MEP Engineer to verify. The contractor replied that he did not believe it was shown on the bid documents or included in what they bid, and the owner replied that he really did not want to have to pay anything additional for the wall. The MEP Engineer was also not entirely sure of the wall's necessity given the odd condition of the space, but noted that it was called out on his sprinkler plans as a one-hour firewall to be built by the general contractor. On Tuesday, I called the contractor to inform him of the note about this wall in the sprinkler plans. Before I could tell him about the note, he informed me that the fire inspector had just completed a lengthy inspection of the building (including the space in question) and raised no issues. Given that the only purpose of the wall if required would be for fire protection of the open attic space, we agreed to leave the wall out for now, and add it later if it was raised by the inspector as a necessary item. He conceded that it would be his responsibility to build the wall if the inspector raised the point. I explained all of this to the owner afterwards, and the owner is content with the outcome of the situation.

In a separate conversation in the same phone call as above, the contractor expressed concern to me that the owner's "friend" who is supposed to be installing new VCT throughout the facility, has been difficult to reach and has not yet come on-site. The contractor stated that this was not yet an issue for him, but that it could become one if the flooring continued to be a delay. We agreed to play it by ear, and I agreed to talk to the owner about the situation if such a conversation becomes necessary in the coming few weeks. The contractor noted that he could probably match the price and product the owner's friend is providing and complete the work faster. This outcome would be agreeable for me, especially from a quality-control standpoint, but I will let the situation play out before raising any concerns with the owner.

No more issues were brought up with the day care project this week. I did, on Friday evening, receive an email in regards to the renovation of a building in downtown Fayetteville. Details in the email were sparse, but it could be a very interesting project. Hopefully more details will be forthcoming after a discussion with the client next week.

As far as lessons go, from the beginning of this post it is key to take away the the importance of good note-taking and distribution of meeting minutes throughout a project. As I mentioned, the wall issue was covered in the pre-construction meeting, but I failed to take and send out minutes from that meeting. I could have saved myself, the contractor, and the owner the initial headache that accompanied dealing with the situation described if I had taken and sent out minutes as I should have.

Week of March 11 - March 15, 2013

I conducted a site visit of the project on Tuesday of this week. With the sprinkler contractor out of the building, things seem to be moving along quickly for the general contractor's crew in the day care facility renovation. Moving through the building, I saw no issues with the construction to this point. Only two minor questions arose during the meeting. First, the general contractor was wondering if it was necessary to box the riser for the sprinkler system as it rose through an unfinished portion of the apartment on the second level of the building. I informed him that the riser needed to carry one-hour protection, even and especially through the unfinished space, and therefore it did need to be boxed, with two layers of sheetrock. The second question was brought up by the owner. In order to make the existing restrooms in this facility handicapped accessible (all are the same layout), we pulled the toilets each forward two feet to clear the sink beside them and allow for access from the side. In boxing behind the toilets after moving them forward, the owner pointed out, we had created dead space that was inaccessible. With the plumbing located in the ground, his suggestion was to cut off the box-out at 4'0" in height, accomplishing the same handicapped accessible layout while creating a large shelf area to be used for the storage of toilet paper and paper towels. I discussed this idea with the general contractor and saw no reason why not to do it, so we elected to take the suggestion and cut the box-out at 4' in height.

Construction is on track to finish before scheduled, and owner and contractor seem to be coexisting happily in the facility. No further issues were brought up with this project this week.

Week of March 04 - March 08, 2013

This week was Spring Break at NCSU, and I was out of town and unavailable for most of the week. Shortly before leaving town, however, I was contacted by the GC's superintendent with a question from the owner and the sprinkler contractor's underground subcontractor. They were wondering if there was any reason to run the pipe from the main at the street to the front of the building as we had shown instead of bringing it directly into the riser room on the side of the building, thus eliminating the need for a box-out for the pipe in a front office of the facility. I reminded the owner that we chose to run the pipe where it was shown to avoid associated complications in the event that he ever chose to add on to the facility, as the side where the pipe would be underground would be the only direction in which to add to the building. We discussed this for a few minutes, and ended up deciding to run it to the side after all. Adding onto the side of the building will still be possible, the pipe would just need to be protected when digging and pouring the footings. With this possibility being a ways off and not being a great concern anyway, I thought that avoiding a box-out in the office by bringing the pipe along the side of the building and into the closet where the riser is was a perfectly acceptable solution.

Upon returning from my trip, there were no new messages for me in regards to this project. I called the GC and the owner and both parties reported that everything was going smoothly.

Week of February 25 - March 01, 2013

We heard back on Monday of this week that the private school in Fayetteville who contacted us about enclosing a walkway between two of its buildings has decided not to go forward with the project based on the projected cost. Given the client and the importance placed on cost-cutting in previous discussions, I can't say that this is a surprising revelation.

On Tuesday I received a call from the owner informing me out of the blue that we would be needing an additional bathroom in the project. This caught me off-guard early in the morning, and I informed him that I would look into the issue and call him back. The owner's reasoning came from an occupancy calculation that he did himself for approval of the facility's changes and increased occupancy from the child care division of the Department of Health and Human Services. He told me that his calculation put the maximum number of children in the facility at 53, and that when he submitted this paperwork he was informed that the maximum number of children per toilet is 15 - this facility having 3 toilets. After this initial phone call I went back through my email to find a conversation with the director of Child Development Services at DHHS. I will relate this story below as an aside: _____________________________________
When we were initially calculating the maximum occupancy for this building and determining whether the existing toilet facilities would be sufficient, we first looked to the building code to determine the number of square feet per children for a day care, then looked to the DHHS NCAC's child care code to verify this number. What we found were conflicting numbers referring to the same type of facility - these numbers being 25 square feet per child in the Accessibility Code "10A NCAC 09 .0206 Capacity of the Center" and 35 square feet per occupant, net in the 2009 NCBC "Table 1004.1.1" for "Function of Space - Day Care".

These numbers, and determining which would apply, were very important to us for two reasons - the first being that the day care, as any business does, exists to make money, and the amount of money it is able to make is dependent on the capacity of the facility. Secondly, these numbers put us at either 53 or 42 children total capacity, which in turn affected the required count of toilets in the facility. If the 42 children number was correct, the facility's existing three toilets would suffice. If the 53 number was correct, a bathroom would have to be added as part of the renovations.

To find an answer to this question, I sent an email to the Regulatory Services Section of the DHHS Division of Child Development and Early Education. An initial exchange with the DCDEE Policy and Planning Consultant left my question forwarded to the DCDEE licensing supervisor for Cumberland County. This woman, in turn, informed me that the number of square feet per child for a developmental day care facility such as the one in question would be either 30SF or 35SF depending on the amount of outdoor play space available. The outdoor play space at the time left the requirement for this facility at 35SF, which meant that the toilet situation was okay without the addition of another bathroom. The existing restrooms were still retrofitted with easy-to-reach-fixture sinks and the toilets moved to meet current handicap accessibility code, but it was nice to avoid having to add another bathroom to satisfy occupancy requirements. __________________________________________________

Once I had time to replay the above exchanges in my head and recall them further via archived emails, I called the owner and related the situation. He resubmitted the form to DHHS with the proper occupancy calculation numbers and had no problems with it going through. This goes to show the importance of checking all your facts and getting numbers straight the first time around, as well as the importance of saving key email exchanges for later reference. In this case, because of the owner's knee-jerk reaction and the contractor's willingness to add anything and everything desired to the contract for a change-order, it may have saved the owner a substantial amount of money and time (given the city's history with this project so far) on the renovation. I like to think that this is a prime example of why hiring an architect makes sense, even for relatively small projects. While some people may see an additional fee, what they unfortunately do not see is the value added and money saved throughout the course of the project.

The rest of this week was relatively quiet. The sprinkler contractor was able to finish other than a few last touches that will occur after the GC has completed work, and the GC's work is reportedly running smoothly so far.

Week of February 18 - February 22, 2013

I received a call on Monday morning from the sprinkler company's underground contractor in regards to the tap at the water main along the street. It was his understanding for some reason that this had already been taken care of, but when he arrived on site he found that it had not (the work bid in this job was to the property line, which does not include tapping the main at the street). In talking to the owner in the preceding weeks, I described this as one of his responsibilities given the limited fee that I am working under and the fact that he has had contact with the underground contractor who the utility company indicated should be used to make the tap. Regardless of fault, the tap was not completed, so I apologized to the underground subcontractor and told him that instead of having him wait around all day, he should proceed to another job and I would get the tap done and notify him as soon as possible. I next called the owner, who stated that he had been unable to reach the utility company's recommended underground contractor the past few times he tried. I instructed the owner to try again, while I contacted the sprinkler contractor's underground contractor to get a price from him for the same work. On Tuesday, I received a price of $3,500 for this work from the sprinkler contractor's underground contractor. I was not sure what to think of this number, as the price previously given to us by the utility company's underground contractor was $500. By the end of the day on Tuesday, the owner notified me that he was able to get up with the utility company's underground contractor, who was still willing to honor the price of $500 and could come out to the site to complete the job on Thursday. I told the owner to give him the go-ahead for Thursday, then called the sprinkler company's underground contractor to notify him that the tap would be completed by the end of the day on Thursday. With his company's work schedule, he said it would make the most sense for them to get started on their portion of the work on the following Monday, February 25, and this was agreeable to me.

Also on Monday, I received a call from the general contractor saying that he went downtown to the inspections department to pick up the building permit and, after picking it up while headed for the door, he was notified that he would need to submit a phasing schedule for construction to the city before starting work if children were to remain in the building while work was to be completed. I was unsure of where this was coming from, as we discussed this issue and our plans for it at length with the chief building inspector for the city weeks previously and no mention of a phasing schedule submittal was made. After some further investigation, we realized that the source of this direction was a man unfamiliar with the project who actually works in the zoning department. With a building permit in-hand and no reason otherwise to further delay the process, I notified the general contractor to proceed as scheduled. They would start with patch-work in the upstairs portion of the building on Wednesday.

On Thursday, I received a call from the GC's superintendent, letting me know that the underground contractor was working on tapping the main at the street, and also informing me that the sprinkler contractor had begun installing heads in the downstairs area without consulting the GC on changes in wall locations and shifting ceiling grids. I immediately asked to speak with the sprinkler contractor's lead installer, who informed me that somehow he did not have a set of architectural plans showing the changes to be made in the layout of the building. I explained the changes to him over the phone, and luckily he had not yet moved past an area of the downstairs that is remaining unchanged. I told him to make sure he coordinated head locations with the GC, and arranged for a copy of the architectural plan set to be delivered to his crew immediately.

Lastly, I called the GC and the owner on Friday to inform them of the developments over the week.

Week of February 11 - February 15, 2013

This week, a contract was finally put in place between the owner and the general contractor for the day care renovation. After lengthy discussions with both parties, it was decided upon that the $6,000 increase on the electrical subcontract would be covered by way of the $5,000 miscellaneous allowance in the existing contract plus an additional $1,000 change order. This way, the original contract price is only increasing marginally - on the downside, however, this agreement leaves us without a cushion to fall back upon if any change orders or unforeseen additional work is needed. The contract was filled out with the new date and amount, and sent to the contractor via email to sign. The signed contract was then faxed to me. I verified that the contractor's information was correct and then forwarded the document to the owner to sign. I retained this original document and sent copies to both parties. In the meantime, the sprinkler contractor (who established his own contract with the owner before making an initial materials purchase months ago) has completed the sprinkler system installation on the second floor, and will be moving to the first floor next week.

We also sent a proposal to the private school in Fayetteville this week for creating plans for their requested enclosure between two buildings. We have not yet heard back from them regarding the proposal.

Week of February 04 - February 08, 2013

The general contractor has, this week, received prices from three other electrical subcontractors for the Child Care Center Renovation. As mentioned in previous entries, the electrical subcontractor's price jumped $6,000 (on a $14,000 contract) after the 60 day price guarantee on bids for this project expired as the plans had not yet been approved by the city. Unfortunately, this situation is being described to us as a jump in the price of copper, and after getting prices from three other electrical subcontractors, two of these new prices fall above the $20,000 mark (what the original subcontractor's price jumped to), and one falls less than $400 below it, which we do not consider a great enough difference to justify leaving the subcontractor who first won the project. I am still waiting to hear back from the general contractor about a discussion he was supposed to have with this original electrical subcontractor about a reduction in price.

I have talked to the owner a number of times this week. As the sprinkler contractor has gotten started, and will finish with the apartment portion of the work at the end of this week, he is understandably antsy about the general contractor starting work and about the $6,000 that is currently hanging in the balance price-wise on the electrical sub-contract. We were supposed to reach an agreement on the electrical subcontractor front by yesterday (Wednesday the 6th), but as of yet it remains unresolved. I plan to make calls about this tomorrow (Friday) morning.

On a separate note, I have received two calls this week about new projects. Neither is a "home-run project" but both represent work that we are perfectly capable of executing and billing for.

The first call, received on Monday, was from a gentleman who was interested in buying some house plans online and having us make some slight modifications to them before submitting them to the city for approval. This is not any designer's favorite thing to do, but it was apparent from talking to the gentleman that he was set on buying the "book plans" so we decided to accept the project on an hourly rate for changes. Changes made included widening the garage from 21 feet to 23 feet, and removing a covered porch from the plans. For this we billed 5 hours plus printing charges - a deal which was more than acceptable to the client.

The second call, received on Tuesday, was from a contractor who is working with a small private school in Fayetteville. This school has recently moved from a previous location to a new building in a commercial area of Fayetteville. More recently, they have expanded to include two prefab units - one small unit and one large one. After installing the units, an open deck was built between them. This deck is 11.5 feet wide, and meets a set of stairs on one side and a ramp on the other. The deck as described is built and in use, but the project as proposed to up will involve enclosing this deck and turning it into conditioned space. so that kids can move between the prefab units without getting cold or wet. This will be a tricky situation for a number of reasons. First, a 5 foot landing is required outside of the classroom door before the start of a ramp. Though the deck plans as shown to us were drawn correctly by their original designer, the deck was not built according to plans. Because of this, the landing outside of the units' door is not to code. Secondly, the foundation and structure of the deck are designed to support just that - a deck - so more structure will be needed to support walls and a roof, and it is not clear at this point whether the existing foundation will be sufficient.

Week of January 28 - February 01, 2013

This week was mostly concerned with assuring the owner that the project was moving forward whilst the contractor dealt with the previously described issue with the electrical subcontractor's price. It was determined that we would discuss the increase in price with the electrical subcontractor while looking for prices from other electrical subcontractors to compare. We agreed to try to make a decision by Wednesday February 06, 2013. The owner is understandably anxious to start the project, though he is not pleased at the thought of a $6,000 change order due to the increase in the electrical contractor's price. We do have, in the existing contract, a $5,000 miscellaneous allowance. All of part of this $5,000 sum may be used to cover this price increase if necessary, though if we use this entire allowance we leave ourselves more vulnerable to change orders further into the construction. We will follow up on this issue more in the coming week. The MEP Engineer has also taken time this week to look over the contract the owner signed with the Sprinkler Contractor, and has found it to be reasonably fair to both parties. As mentioned in last week's entry, he will be overseeing the installation of the sprinkler system through regular site visits, as I have not performed CA on a project with a sprinkler system up to this point.

Week of January 21 - January 25, 2013.

This week and the preceding week primarily revolved around a reacquainting myself with project developments in my absence and preparing for a pre-construction meeting for the Day Care Facility Renovation project on January 23. In preparation for the pre-construction meeting, I called the General Contractor, the Fire Sprinkler System Contractor, and the owner to arrange a time which would work for all parties. The owner was only available on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and given my schedule with school it was deemed that Wednesday morning would be most appropriate. The day before the meeting, I prepared notes for myself regarding topics to cover with all parties present and created a sign-up document, as well as making sure I had all of the most recent plan pages together in one set. The morning of the meeting I arrived early and spoke with the owner, then greeted the representatives from the GC and the Sprinkler Contractor as they arrived at the building. We went into an unused room with a table and chairs, signed the sign-up sheet with name and contact information, then proceeded to discuss the topics which I had written down in preparation for the meeting. These topics and the appropriate response are as follows:

_- Self-explanitory

Delay explanation
_- This project took an inexplicably long time to clear the planning and inspections department in the city, so this note just covers a general apology and explanation of the delays involved in that process.

Electrical re-bid
_- Because the permits were not approved by the city until more than 60 days after the bid date, the subcontractors were no longer legally bound to their prices. The electrical subcontractor's price increased $6,000 (from an original bid number of $14,000). This was left unexplained and was too radical a change to be attributed to material price fluctuation, so the GC decided (and rightfully so) to speak with other electrical subcontractors about pricing this job. During the meeting we were told that they would have prices from two other electrical subcontractors by the end of the next day.

Coordination between GC and Sprinkler Contractor
_- Because the owner on this project was trying to accomplish a lot on a shoestring budget, we decided to bid the sprinkler system (> 50% of the total project cost) separately from the rest of the renovation project. We feel that saved the owner a fair amount of money in eliminating a markup from the GC, but this means that the GC and the Sprinkler Contractor will need to coordinate without the Sprinkler Contractor being under the GC's contract with the owner. Coordination had been touched on in phone calls before this meeting, but having all parties present (including the owner, who is operating a day care facility in part of the building) was an essential part of this meeting. The representatives from the GC and Sprinkler Contractor were able to hash out what their level of time involvement would be in each quadrant of the building and determine with the help of the owner what the best schedule would be moving forward.

Brief Project Description
This project is a renovation of a metal building erected in the early 1990s in Fayetteville, NC. This building is composed of four separate units, two each on two levels. The downstairs contains a child care facility and a newly vacant space which used to house offices for a home-care business. The upstairs contains a therapy center for developmentally handicapped children on one side and an apartment on the other. The premise of the project is combining the two sides of the building downstairs into one larger childcare facility. Because the building is 3/4 occupied, there will be some inherent "shuffling around" of the businesses in these spaces while the renovations occur. Because each unit is separated by a firewall and uses a separate HVAC system, this should not present too much of a problem. It was, however, very important to discuss "order-of-operations" with the owner, GC, and Sprinkler Contractor present so that all parties would be on the same page.

Decorum on site
_- The next thing we discussed was decorum - a point that always comes up in pre-construction meetings, but one that is particularly important in this case, as there will be young children present on site. Representatives from the GC and Sprinkler Contractor were told that their workers on site follow the rules below:
--- Wear plain clothing with no profanity, inappropriate images, etc.
--- Absolutely no fraternization with children or employees on site.
--- No alcohol, tobacco, or drugs whatsoever on the site.
--- Keep messes contained and clean up immediately when work in an area is finished for the day, particularly in the apartment.
--- There are to be no felons among the workers for GC or subcontractors whatsoever. Not worth the risk on this project.

_- Because the facility's existing single-access paved lot will need to be cut just about down the middle for the installation of the new pipe for the sprinkler system. This means that parking will be tight during construction. As such, we ruled that there are to be no construction-related vehicles parked in the facility's paved lot. Luckily, the existing building is located on a large site, so space will not be an issue. It was determined that building staff would circle around the back of the building (grass/dirt) and park on the grass facing the paved lot. Construction vehicles will park behind the building in an open dirt area. This will free up 100% of the facility's paved surface parking for patrons of its businesses and the upstairs apartment tenant. Even with the reduction in available parking because of the required underground work, this remaining surface parking should be sufficient.

Lay-down space
_- At the time of this pre-construction meeting, the required supplies for the sprinkler system were already purchased and stored in a metal shipping container on-site at the rear of the building in an open dirt area. Any additional required material storage should be in the immediate vicinity of this container. This open dirt area at the back of the site is the same area where construction vehicle parking is set to be. Space should not be an issue.

Environmental safety
_- Each of the four units in this building have a separate HVAC system, so environmental contamination should not be a difficult issue to solve. The contractors have been instructed to cover any openings between units with sheet plastic, and to turn the HVAC system in the unit they are working in off completely while cutting drywall or otherwise creating dust. They have also been instructed to place an additional filter over any return air duct for the duration of construction. Any mess from dust is to be cleaned up at the end of the work day.

General safety and insurance
All OSHA and State regulations are to be followed in the execution of the work. Before work is started, both the GC and the Sprinkler Contractor are to submit documentation of their Liability Insurance and Worker's Comp.

Interruption of work
It will be beneficial to all parties involved if work is scheduled in such a way that it is continuous from start to finish. That is, no delays for materials, subcontractors, waiting for another party to finish work etc. After discussing coordination, we do not expect this to be an issue.

This topic was the lengthiest discussion at the meeting, and perhaps the most important as well. The owner, the General Contractor, and the Sprinkler contractor participated in a discussion involving their needs in terms of time and space for the project. Based on this discussion, we are scheduling construction so that it has minimal impact on the building owner's operations. As a part of this, the contractors will be required to give at least 48hrs notice to the owner when they are close to completing one quadrant of the building and preparing to move on to the next.

Regular meetings and site visits
_- It was decided that the day of the month and time used for the pre-construction meeting would be acceptable to all parties for use in subsequent progress meetings. This means that progress meetings will be held on the third Wednesday of the month at 10:00am. Site visits will occur at random based on updates from the contractor about current operations. The MEP Engineer will also be making site visits to check on the installation of the sprinkler system.

Site walkaround
_- Only two small issues were raised during a walkaround of the site at the close of the meeting. First, we instructed the sprinkler contractor to tell his underground subcontractor that he should extend his cut through the parking lot asphalt one foot laterally beyond where it is marked to coincide with an existing asphalt change from where the parking lot was previously extended. This should help with a cleaner appearance. Secondly, we asked the general contractor to reattach a loose piece of metal siding at the side of the building at some point during construction work. The general contractor agreed to take care of this issue.

Overall I feel that the meeting went quite well and accomplished what it needed to in terms of getting the owner, architect, general contractor and sprinkler contractor on the same page in terms of scheduling and procedure.

Redefine Design

This post will mark the start of the use of this blog for the purpose of documenting my experiences as co-founder and designer at Redefine Design. In this post I will briefly run through the story behind starting this business and my experiences with it to date.

I grew up in Fayetteville North Carolina, the son of local architect Walter Vick of The LSV Partnership Architects/Planners, AIA. I developed an interest in architecture at a young age, and in high school began dating Jeanne Beasley, with the shared bond of aspiring to become architects one day in the future. Jeanne began her freshman year in the 'Bachelor of Environmental Design in Architecture' program at NC State while I was a senior in high school. I entered the BEDA program the following year. Fast-forwarding to the close of the Spring 2010 semester at NC State, Jeanne walked across the stage with a Bachelor of Architecture after her 5th Year program and I graduated with my BEDA, but felt a desire to gain some workplace experience in the architecture field before continuing my education. After graduation, Jeanne and I both moved home to Fayetteville without any promise of employment to begin considering what 'the next step' would be for each of us. Shortly after coming home, my dad requested to speak with us at his office, and thus began the idea that turned into Redefine Design.

My dad's point was simple; with the architecture and construction markets struggling after the downturn of 2008, jobs were scarce. He could not afford to hire us at the time, but presented us with an idea we had not considered - that being to start our own small business with his mentorship, effectively challenging us to learn business operations and begin to look for clients instead of jobs. Though wary of the notion at first given our inexperience, after a few days of deliberation we decided to dive in head-first. My dad offered us a small vacant building in downtown Fayetteville to use as an office, and two weeks later we had come up with a name for the business, obtained a business license, designed stationary and ordered business cards, created a website and email accounts, put a custom vinyl sign on in the storefront window, built our own long desk down the center of the space and purchased what little furniture we needed to complete the space otherwise.

To start, we took over a project that was effectively 'too small' for The LSV Partnership to handle cost-effectively. This project was essentially a permanent canopy for the rooftop terrace of a new downtown Fayetteville building's penthouse suite. The suite owner was both a local surgeon and co-developer of this new building, so the project presented us with a unique opportunity to showcase our abilities to an individual who could spread our names through the community.

After an impressive showing on this first project, we began working on a house addition for the client's friend and an office renovation project we were recommended for by a family friend. As more projects came, we began to pay closer attention to managing our time for both efficiency and billing purposes - we also increased our hourly rates in response to the demand. In addition, we started to develop marketing strategies in order to ensure another project would come along before we became unoccupied. We handed out business cards for card trays in local businesses, tacked cards to cork boards where it was appropriate, attended and contributed to local charity events, started a Google AdWords campaign for our website, and - perhaps most importantly for walk-in business - we became an 'official event stop' for downtown Fayetteville's Fourth Friday arts celebration, hosting a show of music, drinks, hors d'ourves and our own photography at our office on a semi-monthly basis. This last technique brought us our 'Downtown Fayetteville Hay Street Apartment Renovation' job and a couple of kitchen renovations, which we ended up doing a number of over the next two years.

Through this process, we maintained weekly meetings with my dad after-hours at his firm, for purposes of discussing everything from business and professional relationship advice to critiquing designs and red-lining construction documents. I must note that this mentorship was critical to our success.

After a little over a year, Jeanne and I began to discuss an exit strategy by way of which I would eventually be able to return to school to complete the 5th Year B.Arch program. It was decided that when the time came, The LSV Partnership would take over our larger project operations and we would see the smaller ones to a close. At this point, I updated my portfolio and sent in my application to NC State. Jeanne updated her own portfolio as well. When I heard of my acceptance into the B.Arch program, she began applying for jobs elsewhere, not wanting to continue to run the operation on her own. To our surprise or credit, she was offered three jobs within a month of the onset of her search - one each in Atlanta, Charleston, and Richmond. She accepted the offer in Richmond, starting work shortly after I moved back to Raleigh to start the Fall 2012 semester. By this time, 26 months after starting Redefine Design, we had worked on nearly 30 projects at various levels of size, scale, and involvement.

Business-wise, since this time I have maintained contact with a number of our previous clients, and The LSV Partnership has even picked up a few new jobs through the Redefine Design name. It is my intention through this independent study to become reacquainted with our business operations and projects once again, including seeing through to the close of construction a couple of the projects which I started before coming back to NC State. I will use this blog to document my activity and the things I am learning along the way, of which I am sure there will be plenty. As it is my notion not to restrict the viewing of this blog but rather to promote it among fellow students as a potential learning opportunity, I will remain available for contact at thomas [at] redefinedesignnc [dot] com.

Thanks to all involved in this project,

Thomas Vick