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  • rick9162

Precision vs. Accuracy


accuracy; exactness:

the degree of refinement with which an operation is performed


the condition or quality of being true, correct, or exact; freedom from error or defect

free from error especially as the result of care

going to, reaching, or hitting the intended target : not missing the target


something that greatly hinders accomplishment


Elder Creek's design studio rests upon a strong foundation of construction experience.

We spent the first 12 years with direct construction experience as a design/build construction company, the next 6 years offering design and independent project management for construction, and the last 5 operating Installation Support Services as supplemental to our complete design packages.

This is where we have honed in our understanding of what truly makes for quality construction details and support.

There are many factors that go into what we decide to detail. Desired outcomes, accurate pricing, and budget, are some factors to consider.

Here i'd like to speak strictly about the detail itself and the necessary thinking to create it well.

It is rarely the same mind that naturally envisions and creates a project design from schematic through Design Development that can also create useful and coherent details for the build teams. If you have such a mind, congratulations, you are part of a very small group of us. If you do not, you can likely train your mind or partner with the right people who excel in this portion of the work.

Why the distinction between precision and accuracy is important

When designing a detail, we place a strong emphasis on reducing the complexity of the construction practice we are demanding with our detail.

In order to do this you must either understand the construction process very intimately or have the right language and interpersonal skills to communicate with builders. we suggest developing both.

We always want our projects to be built with the highest accuracy. However, we want the construction practices to require the least amount of precision for the highest accuracy of execution to achieve our desired outcomes.

If precision is necessary, then precision construction practices are mandated. But obtaining the accurate desired outcome is the true goal, not creating details requiring unnecessary and oppressive levels of precision. The complexity of our detail does not determine its value.

We need to be careful not to create an albatross with our detailing process. Make it as easy to build with the least skill possible!

Unnecessary complexity hinders the project and shows your lack of understanding of the realities of the construction process.

The number 1, valid, complaint I have heard from contractors over the last 20 years is that the designers creating the details do not understand construction practices and therefore are not creating details that are useful.

They are absolutely correct in this general assessment. It is important to remember that our highest service to the client in the CD and CA phases is to provide the highest service to the contractor. They are the audience we are speaking to. Keep in mind, If you are working with skilled tradespeople, they know how to build better than you. Collaborate with them, as you have much to learn from them.


Collaborative Success

We encourage everyone to push somewhat beyond their comfort and skill zones. This is how we grow. However, we have a responsibility to create the best package possible and if we do not have the necessary skillset, then we need to collaborate.

Elder Creek finds that collaboration with contractors and engineers has been the most viable path forward. This path ensures that we are utilizing the sharpest and most specialized minds to create the most effective details possible. The learning styles and the minds of designers, builders, and engineers tend to be very different. These differences can inherently provide varied views into the issues at hand and can provide results faster and clearer than one of those minds working alone. Elder creek generally leads that collaboration, but it truly is a collaborative process.

I find the best way to lead a collaborative process is to come in with a solid plan for each meeting and then quickly shift myself into the student/facilitator mind and ask a lot of questions. Make sure you truly understand the how and why of the way they build and engineer, and then go build details to facilitate your desired outcome with the strategies they explained. If you think you have a better way, by all means, bring it to the table, but only after they have been heard.

We are not expected to know everything.

We are expected to be the link between the vision and the execution and that requires the ability to speak the language of construction and engineering as well as design. it requires facilitation and communication skills. It requires humility.

As one progresses in this field, more and more details can and should be handled without collaboration. But if your firm is like ours, we are constantly engaging in projects that challenge us. This keeps us in a near-constant state of learning and growing. We continue to engage with our engineers and contractors at higher and higher levels.

This positive feedback loop exponentially expands your firm's ability to provide top-tier details and to spot those which are not.

There is no shortcut here.


Rick Taylor


Elder Creek Design Studios



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