The How & Why of Wheelhouse
The process of building a home is like a quintet.
It requires five key players working in concert: The architect, the client, the skilled trades, the vendors, and - conducting the group - the builder. And just like in music, the players must be well-coordinated and attuned to one another for the final product to be beautiful.
Our Background: Wheelhouse founder Andrew Gates brings more than 20 years of experience as a builder and project manager. He holds a Bachelors of Arts in Furniture Design . He has worked as a skilled tradesman as well as for a vendor. Finally, having built his own home, he understands the thrill and apprehension of the client experience. Thus, Andrew’s experience and education affords Wheelhouse a unique understanding of how the quintet is most effectively coordinated.
Our Approach to Homebuilding: In the final analysis, the success or failure of a building project hinges on the effective delivery of information. In architect-driven projects, delivery of information involves more than the obvious schedules, plans, and specs. The builder in an architect-driven project must ensure that trades and vendors can read and - most importantly - understand the architect’s vision as articulated by the plans. Most tradesmen and vendors are accustomed to anemic plan sets that lack detail and project managers who cannot or will not convey key details to them. Many trades and vendors simply decide for themselves how to address details that aren't obvious from glancing at floor plans and elevations. Miscues and errors in the building process are always the result of poor delivery of information. Wheelhouse’s primary function, therefore, is to effectively communicate the architect’s vision to those who will execute it. Wheelhouse staffs every project with a dedicated, full-time project manager to assure that tradesmen and vendors completely understand their part in the architect's vision and that they execute their work in precise unison with the plans. While prevailing mindsets in the industry aren't attuned to architect-driven plan sets and projects, we find that tradesmen and vendors adapt readily when they're effectively supported in finding and understanding the information they need to successfully execute their work.
Technology: In 1996, when founder Andrew Gates started his first superintendent job, the technologies available to manage large and ever-shifting sets of project information were limited to digital pagers, land line telephones, fax machines, copiers and highlighters. In 2001, Andrew was working as a project manager for publicly-traded national home builder Taylor Morrison. After several years of being persistently vocal about the challenges of managing dynamic information using paper, Mr. Gates was recruited to work on a four-year, $20 million project to design, develop, test and deploy an integrated home building software solution that eliminated paper from the sales office, the work site, and through the end of the warranty period, leveraging the internet and web pages to deliver information. Many in the industry were dismissive of the effort, though today, this is the de facto expectation for doing business. In the 16-year interim, integrated solutions have become inexpensive, readily available, off-the-shelf products. Wheelhouse prefers CoConstruct because we believe it is the most effective platform for easy sharing of information between architects, clients, project managers, tradesmen and vendors, and requires nothing more than web access on a smart phone or PC.
The Wheelhouse approach to home-building, then, is to combine effective technologies with continuous presence on-site to ensure that everyone in the quintet has and understands the information needed to realize the architect’s – and ultimately the client’s – creative vision.