"rform makes it possible to do in ten minutes what used to take one hour... this makes it possible for me to be more productive" — Toon Dreessen, B.Arch, OAA, MRAIC, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Dreessen Architect Inc.
Listen to Toon Dreessen speak about his work, and his passion for architecture is obvious. Mr. Dreessen, principal architect of Dreessen Architect Inc., started active work in the field during his third year of studies at the Carleton School of Architecture, Ottawa, Ontario. At this time, and until graduation, he worked in the student's design clinic doing mainly residential work. By completion of his degree, he had a solid foundation to begin his career. Before starting his own practice in 2007, Dreessen worked for some larger architectural firms in Ottawa. The scope of this work ranged from residential, to commercial, to heritage projects. Dreessen Architect Inc. has grown steadily since its inception. The firm's design focus is varied – from single-dwelling renovations to mid-rise condominiums – and its work, plentiful.
Dreessen was introduced to rform a few years ago at a conference in Toronto. A colleague had been using the program and encouraged him to attend a rform seminar. Dreessen immediately saw the potential benefits of an on-line contract administrative (CA) tool such as rform. In the early years of his practice, he had painfully gone through the task of developing templates of word documents to electronically keep track of his projects. While this worked to keep things organized, it required a lot of time and effort – time that Dreessen would have preferred to spend designing. rform, essentially, has given him this time back. "rform makes it possible to do in ten minutes what used to take one hour," says Dreessen, "this makes it possible for me to be more productive. I get to be happier about my job and enjoy doing the things I love (being an architect) and less of the things I don’t like (being an administrator)."
rform ensures they don't get behind; CA can be done efficiently and effectively allowing the company's central focus to be on creativity and design rather than administrative tasks.
Dreessen has been faithfully using rform on projects since learning about it. He has used it with small projects, like home renovations, and larger projects, like a $2,500,000 transformation of an old bar in Ottawa to an office complex. His use of rform varies: sometimes it's a tool he uses himself to keep track of a project's CA. Other times, all parties involved are on board with the use of rform. Either way, according to Dreessen, it has been a valuable addition to the way he does business.
A more-recent project for which he used rform to assist with CA was a renovation to St. Martin's de Porres Catholic Church in Nepean, Ontario. The $500,000 project was spearheaded by a volunteer committee made up of the church's congregation. rform allowed the committee members to follow the project's progress, in terms of CA, along with Dreessen. Due to its inherent accessibility, rform encouraged an open-line of communication between Dreessen and the client which added to a positive working relationship. Dreessen recalled a conversation he had with a retired engineer who sat on the committee. The engineer was impressed with rform's efficiency and ease-of-use. He lamented not having a similar type program to use during his working-life.
Dreessen is a firm believer in rform's ability to translate to a financial benefit for his company. Like so many of his colleagues, he does not want to be bogged down tracking pennies and doing paperwork. Yet, he acknowledges, they are necessary evils for a successful practice. He feels CA is a bigger challenge for a small firm like his. Time is a valuable commodity for Dreessen and his team and, as he suggests, time wasted is money lost. Without the manpower of a larger practice, keeping on top of CA can often be a challenge for a firm like Dreessen Architect Inc. rform ensures they don't get behind; CA can be done efficiently and effectively allowing the company's central focus to be on creativity and design rather than administrative tasks. And, as Dreessen makes clear, architecture is what he wants to do. This, of course, is where he is professionally most content.