Having worked on both private schools and churches with limited budgets, we are successful at helping the client set priorities for the initial phase and future phases of work so the project is in line with their budget.
Incorporating flexibility and adaptability in the design is important (because functions evolve and change over time). We also consider multi-use of spaces to get the most out of the facility for the best value, and we encourage the use of durable materials and techniques that provide good life cycle cost benefit. We recognize the budget is extremely important because the school and church clients have to answer to the stakeholders for the wise use of funds, and we take that very seriously.
Budget conscious design starts as early as the programming and master planning phase where we can build in flexibility in the project budget through contingencies, phasing (possible unfinished shell space), alternates, etc. And this same awareness of the budget carries through the construction documents phase where we get valuable input from the consultants on what systems will be the most cost-effective. For example, we can have the structural engineer provide multiple structural concepts for steel frame, wood frame or others and get comparative prices for each.
We also find that high-quality and well-coordinated construction documents can minimize change orders during construction. We accomplish this through the sharing of AutoCAD files where the systems from the various disciplines can be overlaid. We also have a series of coordination meetings where all the consultants and subcontractors sit around the table and brainstorm the project at critical points in the process.