NDC Ranked as Top Design Build Firm in Chicago, but why Design Build?

Cortland

Cortland

Periscope

Periscope

Lorel Park

Lorel Park

Locust

Locust

Sawyer

Sawyer

Long House I

Long House I

Long House 2

Long House 2

We are pleased to report that NCA Build Ltd., the Design-Build entity of Nicholas Design Collaborative was ranked as the top Design-Build firm in Chicago by Buildzoom Magazine in this article published this month.

But what is Design Build, and why would a client want to build their home employing this construction delivery method?

TRADITIONAL DELIVERY: COMPETITIVE BID
Traditional delivery is when the property owner hires the architect to design the project under one contract and a general contractor to build that design under another, separate contract.  Contractually, under AIA form contracts, the architect acts as the Owner's agent during the course of construction, making sure the building is being constructed as designed.  The architect designs and details the drawings and the contractor builds the building, but the contractor may have different ideas on what they want to build and how they want to build it.  This means that the architect must ensure that the GC build the project the way it was designed which can lead to conflict.  Some contractors are architect friendly, others don't want to be told what to do, especially from a "know it all" architect.  The latter typically leads to architect and GC working against, not with each other.

Most clients I encounter these days want to "bid out" the drawings we produce in order to build their houses.  This means getting a collection of 4-6 GC's to go through the process of bidding out to their subcontractors, highly detailed drawings for a nuanced, one of a kind home.  Generally GC's are given 4-6 weeks to complete this task.  Its a lot of work, and it takes a lot of time.  Because of this, and without the guarantee of being awarded a contract, many GC's do not want to participate, which usually, eliminates most of the competing GC's.

Influencing this process is the fact that most of the good subcontractors are already busy and have little incentive to be competitive (or timely) with their bids.  This is because many of the contractors and subcontractors in the Chicagoland area who came here from other countries went back to their home countries during the great recession and have not returned to the US.  Presently, we are back to pre-recession levels, and the bulk of the of the departed contractors have not returned, creating greater demand for the contractors that remain, thus driving prices higher.  Typically, this means that the remaining GC's,  get inflated contractor pricing and they don't have time to get competing bids in the limited bid time frame. In some cases, they may not have received any bids for some trades, which means they will need to plug in a high number just to cover themselves.  This will generally result in inflated bids from the remaining GC's  The owner will need to choose one of them, most likely based solely on price.  The total cost of the bid or Guaranteed Maximum Price is what is binding in the contract that the Owner signs with the GC, with no ability to negotiate after signing. After the Owner signs the contract, the GC has the right to bid out all of the sub trades over the course of the project and potentially gain hundreds of thousands of dollars for their own benefit, NOT the Owners.  If the bid comes in well over budget, the owner does have the opportunity to "value engineer" with the architect and builder in order to come up with a lower budget prior to signing the construction contract. This means coming up with changes in scope that is painful for all involved.  The Owner must take out parts of the project that he or she originally wanted, the architect needs to make changes to the drawings and the contractor needs to re-bid to subcontractors in order to bring it to a reasonable budget.  This can delay the start of the project not to mention the Owner's disappointment of not getting what they wanted originally, and loss of revenue to the architect and contractor due to extra time spent

In the currently overheated construction climate, if an owner wants to traditional delivery, I would rather that they find a GC with a good reputation and engage that contractor in negotiated bid than putting the project out for bid because there is a commitment to that builder, who knows he/she will be getting the job and that their efforts will not be potentially futile.

DESIGN-BUILD IN GENERAL

Design-Build is a streamlined process that has become increasingly popular in large commercial, municipal and institutional projects as well as residential.  It saves time and money because the design and construction team are assembled early and utilize their collective knowledge to work together with the Owner and get the project to construction efficiently.  Architect and contractor are under contract with each other (one of which is the project leader) and the Owner signs a contract for construction with the design-build team. Because the pricing process begins early in the course of the design process, contractor and architect work together for several months prior to construction in order to determine the budget and details for the project.  This helps to give the Owner a good idea of the budget early in the process and avoiding "value engineering". By the time the drawings are complete and the permit approved, the Owner will have a clear idea of what the budget will be.  Any design changes and budget decision necessary will have already been done and a last minute budget crisis avoided.

Because the contractor and architect are under a single design-build entity, the Owner has one point of contact, and because the contractor and architect have a common interest, cooperation instead of conflict between the parties results. 

DESIGNER LED DESIGN-BUILD VS. CONTRACTOR LED DESIGN-BUILD

Design build, either designer or  contractor led,  is essentially putting the responsibility of the entire project with one entity that handles the entire project from the beginning of design until the end of construction.  Some people call it "turn-key".  The owner signs one contract with the Design Build Entity and if something isn't right about the project, that entity must resolve it to the owner's satisfaction.  

With contractor led design-build, the GC is in charge and will hire an architect as a subcontractor.  Although not necessarily in all cases, my experience with single family residential projects, as an architect hired by the contractor, price can be the sole determining factor.  The architect is often treated as commodity, and our services are limited to producing enough to get a permit and nothing more.  This gives the contractor the ability to build it however he/she sees fit without any architect oversight during the course of construction.  The contractor will pick finishes with the owner during the construction process. In most cases, the contractor does not have any design training.  

At NCA, we produce one of a kind, high quality, durable homes. Clients hire us because of our ability to execute our buildings the way they were designed.  With Designer Led Design-Build, design execution and quality are paramount.  Because we have the construction team in place early, bidding starts early in the design process and continues until the construction starts, and during the course of construction.  During that bidding process, competition is created by bidding out to multiple subcontractors, sometimes 3 or more per trade.  There are exceptions to this, such as when a GC is self-performing some of the trades or the subcontractor selected is someone with a long track record of quality and value with architect or contractor.  When building a custom house , getting details precise and correct is the difference between a "builder quality" house and a "custom" house.  It is even more important when building a modern house because there is not trim to hide errors. Everything is exposed, lines are often continuous and long and if something isn't straight, it is very obvious.  With designer led design build, the architect is embedded as part of the design team and will be on site daily in order to make sure that the details are being executed as drawn.  Responsibility is shared between architect and contractor.  At NDC/NCA Build, we handle the relationship with the client, pick and order finishes, and handle construction administration including payout requests, change orders and schedule management.  The contractor is relieved of those responsibilities and left to focus on managing subcontractors and building the project.  We are able to select contractors that we have had a long relationship with, who we know can produce the quality that we expect.  They in turn understand what we expect and are not surprised with that expectation.  They understand our details from past projects, which streamlines our drawing process.  We draw less because they know more, which results in savings for the owner.  In summary, the contractors are able to focus on building, while the architect is most deeply involved in the design from start to finish.

We have had great success in producing superior results when delivering project using the design-build  delivery method and we have many clients that will attest to these positive outcomes. Award winning design deserves award winning construction and we have been recognized to have the ability to do both.

Peter Nicholas
President
NDC+/NCA Build

peter@nicholasdc.com

Highland Park Modern approved unanimously by City Council

The Highland Park City Council voted unanimously to approve the development of our four house single family development at 2107-13 St. Johns Avenue. The project has received unanimous approval at every level of government scrutiny and no public opposition.  We can now move forward with building permits and ultimately the start of construction, which is expected to start this fall.  

Private Courtyard at each residence

Private Courtyard at each residence

House Entries

House Entries

Livning/Dining

Livning/Dining

Accessible Master Bath

Accessible Master Bath

The sales team has been busy with inquiries and as pre-construction sales are in full swing. Buying pre-construction assures that the design team will work with buyers to select finishes that exactly meet their tastes.  These are custom level houses designed and built by a company that primarily designs custom houses for individual clients.  Buyers have been maneuvering for position, and we expect to sell out before the start of construction.  Several people, including members of the Highland Park Zoning Commission have commented that this highly unusual and distinctive design will one day "be on the historic register".  It combines privacy, accessibility, energy efficiency with manageable indoor and outdoor space with award winning California influenced design that cannot be found in the area.

Peter Nicholas

peter@nicholasdc.com

 

Interviews can be scheduled with architect/developer Peter Nicholas along with the sales team, Linda Levin.

Inside out in Highland Park

Bringing a California style project to a place like Highland Park may seem like a bit of a non-sequitur, however, I have found that maximizing outdoor space and integrating that space with the indoor spaces makes sense whether you live in the Chicagoland area, or California.  We design houses that embrace the outdoors and the outdoor spaces are as carefully designed as the indoor spaces.  Highland Park Modern was intentionally designed to have private, manageable outdoor spaces with dining, lounging and gardening areas.  Houses still available for under $1.2 million, close to downtown Highland Park, beaches.  For full information, go to HPModernhomes.com

Access to outdoor dining and green space at Highland Park Modern

Access to outdoor dining and green space at Highland Park Modern

Roof deck overlooking private garden space below at Highland Park Modern

Roof deck overlooking private garden space below at Highland Park Modern

Other projects by Nicholas Design Collaborative in and around Chicago take full advantage of outdoor space whenever possible.

Alignment with the front entrance and incorporation of water elements create clues to what is next in the Cortland Residence

Alignment with the front entrance and incorporation of water elements create clues to what is next in the Cortland Residence

Where water is the theme of one courtyard, fire activates another at the Cortland Residence

Where water is the theme of one courtyard, fire activates another at the Cortland Residence

Periscope House extends living space of family room to the outdoors

Periscope House extends living space of family room to the outdoors

Folding glass wall opens the family room to outdoor seating pool access at the Cortland Residence

Folding glass wall opens the family room to outdoor seating pool access at the Cortland Residence

Sun, water and outdoor living at the Sawyer Pool House in Michigan

Sun, water and outdoor living at the Sawyer Pool House in Michigan

Mystery Project 03 - New Urban House takes shape

Having been in the architecture and building business for over 30 years, it is nice to have a portfolio of work that draws customers to the style of work that I prefer to do.  More and more, clients are discovering our work through online searches.  The clients for the featured custom single family house we are calling "Mystery Project 03"  came to us from an online search.  The house is now under construction.  There are several reasons why we are guarding the location of the project, but we will reveal more details about it as it progresses.  

My clients are a young family who were living for a time in my native California who came to Chicago to take advantage of a professional opportunity.  They recognized the modernist architecture that we are producing, and the similarity what has been designed in Southern California for over a century. 

We have been blessed to have people with good taste and a property that is larger than the standard 25' x 125 lot in Chicago.  As in all of our projects, we have done our best at bringing in an abundance of natural light and the warmth of the sun, while at the same time, protecting the privacy of the occupants. Our intent to create a house that fits its surroundings in terms of its scale, material and repose.  Our manner of design is different than that of the neighboring buildings but we are respectful to the history of the neighborhood.  The neighborhood is which it sits, and most neighborhoods in Chicago are eclectic and we feel that the  of this house is our expression of the diversity of the neighborhood and the  continuum of that diversity moving forward.

The house will be light filled but private, spacious with a hierarchy of scale and a sense of procession as one moves through the spaces.  It will weaving interior spaces with outdoor spaces.  It is designed is modern spatially but there will be a warmth and comfort to the spaces that are created.  

We look forward to reporting on the construction as it progresses.

Peter Nicholas

peter@nicholasdc.com

Highland Park Modern Website up and running

The website for Highland Park Modern, our 4 house single family courtyard enclave designed and developed by Peter Nicholas of NDC is up and running with all relevant information including pricing, floor plans, images, descriptions and specification. Homes are comfortable, Interest has been high since we announced sales 2 weeks ago, and there are only 4 units available.

Go to the website at  HPModernhomes.com

Sales appointments can be made with Linda Levin of Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, 
312.320.6741
llevin@jamesonir.com

Peter Nicholas
Nicholas Design Collaborative
peter@nicholasdc.com
nicholasdc.com

Nicholas Design Collaborative Awarded Best of Houzz 2017 for design

NICHOLAS DESIGN COLLABORATIVE has won “Best Of Design” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The 29 year old Architectural Design and Construction Company led by Peter Nicholas was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 40 million monthly users on Houzz.

“We’re so pleased to award Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including Peter Nicholas,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

Follow Nicholas Design Collaborative on Houzz http://www.houzz.com/pro/petermnicholas

MARKET TRANSFORMS CASE STUDY HOUSES 2111 INTO HIGHLAND PARK MODERN

Case Study Houses 2111 

Case Study Houses 2111 

Within the shifting and sometime unpredictable business of real estate development, we sometimes have what seems to be a well thought out beautifully conceived idea and we are convinced that people will fall in love because they cannot resisting envisioning themselves living there. This is what we had hoped for our Case Study Houses 2111 project, a four house single family enclave near the heart of downtown Highland Park.  The design won a 2015 Association for Licensed Architects (ALA) Design Award in the unbuilt category and we were excited to see it built.  

It takes a lot more than a design award to get people to invest in a new single family home.  When we started the process, the economy and home sales were emerging from the great recession and seemed ripe for this kind of project. The construction industry has recovered to pre-recession levels, however, the work force has far less people to meet the increased demand.  Due to this increase in demand, I have found that over the past two years, the cost of construction has gone up, in many cases, 33-50%. As a result, we have decided to redesign the project to a smaller unit size and to a more affordable price point.

So here we are, but we are not done yet!  We still love the location and we love the new product even more than the original,  but this time with more private and usable outdoor space, huge south facing floor to ceiling glass and best of all, for less money.

HP Modern - Private courtyard garden

HP Modern - Private courtyard garden

HP Modern - Site Plan

HP Modern - Site Plan

Meet HP Modern.  Our initial thought was that our market would be empty nesters from Highland Park and other communities in the North Shore and young families that may be looking for a more contemporary house in a suburban location with excellent public schools,convenient transportation to Chicago and goods & services within walking distance. We still believe in our market and our pricing is significantly less than before.

 

HP Modern - birdseye

HP Modern - birdseye

The new design is still true to the work of the great Southern California modernists from the mid 20th century, but with a more compact plan and consolidated private outdoor space.  The quality of the construction and architectural design remains the same, but in a smaller package.  The indoor-outdoor living spaces are even better and more private and we have re-positioned the spaces in such a way that all units have tremendous access to south light and complete privacy from the other houses on site as well as the neighboring structures.  

We are committed to accommodating empty-nesters and the aging in place by placing the master bedroom and laundry on the main level with easy access to exterior spaces and the possibility of full accessibility for the disabled to the master bedroom and bathroom, kitchen and living spaces. On the first floor, all clearances meet ADA convertibility requirements and can easily be made fully accessible if the need arises.  These houses are 4,100 square feet including a built out basement and have 4 bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths.  The second floor contains 2 generous bedrooms and a shared bath.  The basement has an expansive recreation room with plumbing roughed in a full bathroom, a bedroom, large storage space and a location for a wet bar if the buyer chooses to do so. There will also be 4 guest parking spaces on site.  First floor living and master bedroom spaces have floor to ceiling glass and face onto a 1,200 square foot private courtyard garden which includes a raised outdoor living/dining space at the same level of the interior spaces on the main level.  In addition, there is a second floor roof deck with a beautiful steel stair down to the first floor patio as well as a direct connection from the second floor.

Pre-Construction Sales Start on February 22nd!

Prices range from $1,150,000 to $1,199,000

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT THE PROJECT WEBSITE!  WWW.HPMODERNHOMES.COM

For Sales information contact:

Linda Levin
312.320.5741

llevin@jamesonir.com    

HP Modern - Living/Dining

HP Modern - Living/Dining

                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                             

FLITE SERIES UPDATE - 2 units under contract

Entry Hall

Entry Hall

The Flite Series, The NDC designed 4 unit townhouse development located on the banks of the Illinois River in the Heritage Harbor boating resort in Ottawa, IL has contracted two of the four units offered.  The two end units which have 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths including two master suites and a loft space are under contract, leaving the two interior units, one with 2 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths ($399,000) and the other with 3 bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths ($405,000).  Sales have been brisk over the past several weeks at Heritage Harbor.  In addition to these units being sold, 3 lots to the west of the Flite Series recently went under contract in the past 2 weeks.

For sales information contact Diane Karpman of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services at (847) 636-0200,  or dianekarpman@gmail.com

Kitchen/Living

Kitchen/Living

Kitchen/Living, Master Bedroom beyond

Kitchen/Living, Master Bedroom beyond

Dining/Entrytrs

Dining/Entrytrs

Street View

Street View

Waterside Elevation

Waterside Elevation

Peter Nicholas

peter@nicholasdc.com

FAMOUS FLAME BAR TO BE RESURRECTED

Current Condition

Current Condition

If you are familiar with Park Boulevard in San Diego, you no doubt have noticed the iconic Mondrian-esque bar located at 3780 Park Boulevard named THE FLAME.  Its hard to miss with its colorful facade and neon sign, but for the past several years it has been vacant while the district surrounding it has developed into a much higher density mix of residential and commercial projects.  The once vibrant facade has been painted black with red accents, undoubtedly in an unsuccessful attempt to brand it as "Goth".

One project that has not changed is the building to the south of The Flame, the Egyptian Court.  My brother Jim Nicholas of Clownfish Properties bought this predominately one story apartment building in the 1980's amidst much controversy as the previous Owner, in an effort to obliterate its architectural significant attempted to jack hammer all of the plaster Egyptian Revival ornament off of the building with the intention of replacing the building with a higher density project.  He was stopped as the tenants wouldn't allow it and an uproar erupted in the local community and media.  The previous Owner was so maligned that he decided to sell the the project.  At this point brother Jim stepped in, and being the steward of good architecture that he is, recast and replaced all the destroyed ornament and brought it back to its original glory.  He also replanted the landscaped courtyard with lush plantings consistent with Egyptian Architecture and making the environment complete.  He was nominated and won an "Orchid" at the annual design competition, "Orchids and Onions" which judges the best and worst of architecture and public art in San Diego.  Needless to say he was celebrated for his efforts.

Over the past couple of years he has been talking (obsessing) over The Flame, which sits next door, he could not stop considering what could be done with this property.  In actuality, the architecturally significant part of the project is the facade and the neon sign.  The rest of the building is a one story, 6,000 sf concrete box.  Jim's idea was to keep the bar, which would be reduced from 6,000 sf to 2,000 sf and building up behind the facade and distinctive neon sign in a respectful and complimentary way.  The sign would be repaired and brought back to its original state and the facade which although distinctive, had no windows facing the street.  The new design would enhance the existing facade by installing roll up "garage doors" with translucent glass to match the existing color of the existing painted wood panels and would open the space to the street during days with good weather.  Everything else about it would be faithful to the original design.  The residential portion of the project will have 6 apartment units, 4 of which will be two level duplexes.  Two of the units will face the street, while the other 4 units will face a private, internal courtyard. After a somewhat arduous entitlement process, the Historic Resources Board unanimously approved the project and we expect it to be submitted for permit in July and with any luck, construction will start before the end of the year.

NDC was the Design Architect on the project and is working with local architect Scot Frontis, who will be the executive architect.   

New Design

New Design

Preliminary Front with Duplex Units above

Preliminary Front with Duplex Units above

Birdseye view from the south-east

Birdseye view from the south-east

Residential court from east

Residential court from east

Residential court from west

Residential court from west

EDGEBOX UPDATE: OLD HOUSE DOWN, SIGN UP, NEW HOUSE COMING SOON

Demolition is complete and we are talking to a couple of interested parties about purchase, but nobody has yet come to the table to purchase. Take advantage of the opportunity to work with our skilled and committed team in making this house your own. The interior is an open book for you to select finishes. The house is permitted and ready to build as soon as a buyer steps up.

New front

New front

New rear

New rear

Entry Foyer

Entry Foyer

EDGEBOX UPDATE - DEMOLITION HAS BEGUN

We are making progress on the demolition of the dilapidated single family residence that currently exists at 5945 N. Mangolia Avenue in Chicago.  Never on a project that I have been involved has the neighborhood been so glad to see an old house go away.  

Before

Before

After

After

image3.jpeg

There has been alot of interest in the new construction home that we have designed, but it is still available for purchase.  For complete information, go to 5945magnolia.com

CASE STUDY HOUSES 2111 SHOWROOM OPENING TOMORROW

Our sales showroom for Case Study Houses 2111 is open to Brokers tomorrow May 3rd at 607 Elm Place in downtown Highland Park, a few blocks from the building site.  General Public Grand Opening will be May 5 - 8 from 12-5.  Showroom will be open weekly Thursday through Sundary from 12-5.

CASE STUDY HOUSES 2111 FEATURED IN TWO TRIBUNE ARTICLES

Case Study Houses 2111, our award winning 4 house single family enclave to be built near downtown Highland Park, IL was featured online on February 29th in the Chicago Tribune Highland Park News and another article, published online on March 16 and in print tomorrow, March 24th, also in the Chicago Tribune Highland Park News

Construction planned to start this summer.  Award winning design of these new construction houses stands out in a market with seemingly stagnant and aging houses with little appeal.

Visit our new website CaseStudyHouses2111.com 

For sales information contact Diane Karpman of Bershire-Hathaway (847) 636-0200 and dianekarpman@gmail.com

Front unit from Autocourt

Front unit from Autocourt

Front Unit Kitchen/Dining

Front Unit Kitchen/Dining

Front Unit Entry Court

Front Unit Entry Court

NDC BLOWING UP IN MEDIA AND AWARDS

The Periscope House, a project that transformed a dark neglected house into a light filled urban oasis has been getting lots of attention lately along with its future neighbor, EDGEBOX and Case Study Houses 2111 coming soon to Highland Park, Ilinois. Construction is planned on both EDGEBOX and Case Study Houses 2111 this summer and pre-construction sales are underway.  Follow the links in the individual project websites for sales information