South Exterior Elevation - Airstream Port - New Modern House 1 (Copperwood) - Zionsville, IN
About Our Practice

WERK | Building Modern

Indianapolis Custom Builders

What are we?

WERK | Building Modern is a group of Indianapolis Custom Builders offering a clearly-defined construction process designed around client priorities with a heightened focus on achieving the design vision; undeniably, we are a direct extension of the creative process.

Who are we?

We are the Architects at HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles, and we started building our client projects in 2004.

Elevated breezeway connects house to freestanding studio/garage. Bridge/balcony above provides direct access from master suite to studio and expansive views while providing shade/shelter for deck below - Classic Irvington Tudor Remodel - Indianapolis, IN
Carriage House Stair to Studio - LUMAsite acrylic, steel handrail, Pine treads - winder stair - Classic Irvington Tudor Remodel - Indianapolis, IN

Why do we prefer building the projects that we designed?

Simply, we want HAUS projects built to client and architect specifications.  To that end, building allows us to make that happen with oversight of every aspect of the project.  It helps enhance our client relationships and simplify the design + build process with one point-of-contact.

So, what’s the backstory?

Having apprenticed at commercial, design-focused architectural firms, we became accustomed to a process of design and construction that was comprehensive and well-documented, with all design decisions going through the Architect.  When we began working in the residential design marketplace in the late 1990’s, we quickly learned some important differences.  In Central Indiana at that time, Architect involvement on residential projects appeared to be relatively rare.  The market was dominated by custom builders who often led the process with or without design professionals involved, and we observed what appeared to be a general lack of design sophistication and documentation.

Although we are seeing industry-wide improvements, we must keep pushing to do better.  Our most prevalent ongoing professional concern over the last 20 years on residential projects is the frequent lack of architect involvement + deviations from design-intent that continue to occur during the construction phase.  For this reason, we created WERK | Building Modern to ensure Architect involvement during the construction phase and protect the design vision with seamless professional leadership + execution.

Why do construction-phase deviations happen and why would owners and builders not correct them?

In commercial construction, it’s expected that the Architect be engaged during the bidding and construction phases of the project.  In particular, the Architect is available to answer questions, provide supplementary details, and provide regular site visits (COMMUNICATION).  This preventative maintenance helps to ensure that construction meets the design-intent (ie, protect the interests of the client).  It’s important to note that design + construction drawings don’t stand on their own and usually don’t illustrate every detail needed to build the project.  Also, perfection is not an industry expectation (standard of care).

For these reasons, it’s really important that the originator of the design (the Architect and design team), be available to interpret design-intent and answer questions during the construction phase.  But in the residential marketplace where Architect involvement is less common, the client may choose not to involve the Architect during bidding + construction phases.  This is when problems can occur, as mistakes may not be noticed and questions not answered either at all, or until it is too late.  Or client may have agreed to suggested alternates without the benefit of Architect review.

CMU Stair + Elevator Tower (sunrise) - G BLOC MIXED USE Development - Broad Ripple North Village - Urban Infill - Indianapolis
Original doors are incorporated into the new design - Broad Ripple Modern Craftsman Dwelling on Carrollton Avenue - Indianapolis, Indiana

What about high-performance building and environmental sustainability?

We’re glad you asked!  High performance building and environmental sustainability have always been important to us as architects.  And now, low-impact environmental solutions are becoming a mainstream consideration in all areas of life, but particularly the design + build industry.  In fact, we are happy to report that is has become unusual if a new client is not requesting smart, sustainable design/build solutions.

WERK team members are versed in many aspects of sustainability.  To that end, we continue to seek new information and learn from/document our case studies in the field.  In our business model, the Architect leads the design process from beginning-to-end in collaboration with the Client. That initial visioning process includes a review of goals and opportunities related to all aspects of the project. Importantly, it includes high-performance, environmental sustainability, and overall resiliency concepts.

As we identify priorities and these design concepts advance forward, the Architect continues to develop passive and active strategies.  The Architect does this work in collaboration with Client, Consultants and Trade Partners (via WERK) to a level of detail ready for construction.  Check-out some of the Architect’s background on high-performance building here.  WERK assists the process with trade contractor coordination + real world budgeting.  This collaborative effort coincides with the Architect’s current design to help keep the project on track from a budgeting and scheduling standpoint.

What are the advantages of having WERK lead the building process?

Having originated the design, the Architect with client has already dreamed it, drawn it, detailed it, and virtually walked-through it before construction begins.  With Architect as Master Builder, execution of design concepts and alternatives along the way (ie, value engineering) receive the benefit of daily Architect oversight and clear communication at each step of the process, which is a major benefit of direct collaboration between Architect, trade contractors, and client.  Clear communication by less parties may also translate into less time, less cost, and higher quality.  With WERK, our clients get a 2-for-1 and better outcomes.

Check out what our colleagues at GLUCK+ are doing and how they explain the benefits of Architect Led Design-Build.

What do you care about?

Do you care about excellent design, great communication, and protecting the vision during the construction phase? If so, then WERK may be the perfect partner in the oversight of your building process from beginning-to-end.

Obviously, we collaborate regularly with our sister company, HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles, in a design-build arrangement.

Please contact WERK to begin a conversation and learn if we seem a good fit for one another!

New back stair leads directly from Family Room/Kitchen area to Bedroom Suites upstairs. Oak details integrate with built-in shelves above and below - Butler Tarkington Modern Tudor - Indianapolis, IN
TEAM

Professionals ready to serve.

Chris Short

Owner/Principal
AIA, LEED AP BD&C, NCARB

Derek Mills

Project Management/Trade Collaboration

Paul Reynolds

Project Management/Trade Collaboration

Richard J. Smith

Project Management/Trade Collaboration

Erika Rogers

Project Management/Trade Collaboration

Ross Burgan

Project Management/Trade Collaboration

TESTIMONIALS

We have great clients.

Since the plans for our new home were very modern, we wanted to work with a company that specialized in modern architecture. Werk's portfolio was a great match for our style, and their fees were very reasonable. Werk knows their stuff, especially if your project is modern. You'll want their expertise on your side when you're taking on something like a new home or remodel! Highly recommended.

KS

It was important for us that the construction outcome be consistent with the ours and the Architect's design vison for the project. Thus, it seemed natural to choose a construction management company that would work directly with the Architect in coordinating the trades on a daily basis. What better way to do this than via the Architect’s sister construction management company, WERK | Building Modern. Because of this connection, communication is much easier because the Architect actively engages daily to address ongoing details and design issues that come-up in a major remodeling project such as ours. As design decisions don't necessarily end at the Construction Documents stage, HAUS + WERK's engagement throughout the life of the project allowed us an ongoing, free-flowing design + construction dialogue from beginning-to-end. We were also able to take advantage of additional design opportunities that arose during construction. We have enjoyed our long-standing relationship with the team at WERK!

JL

In looking to remodel our newly purchased home in Indianapolis (after moving here from San Francisco), we needed a construction management firm to take us through the remodel process that we were about to begin. We could not be happier to have worked with WERK! From beginning-to-end, WERK has shown professionalism, punctuality and knowledge in the field. Derek Mills was a pleasure to have on site! Always respectful of our home and lives while getting the job done. WERK was always there to help guide us through the process with expert advice, experience and knowledge. Staying on budget was of high importance to us and WERK worked patiently with us in balancing any “unexpected extras” with “scope reductions” in other areas. WERK exceeded our expectations. We highly recommend them to anyone looking for excellence and reliability in a construction management firm.

DL

WERK served as our Construction Manager to renovate our condo after sprinkler heads burst destroying our ceiling, hardwood flooring, walls, and doors. WERK was able to source contractors who were experts in their particular fields and WERK managed those contractors to allow us to return to our condo in the shortest amount of time. WERK also helped us make decisions and provided recommendations on several things that came up during our renovation. process. The team displayed remarkable poise and their experience and attitude convinced us that we would be back in our condo on time, within budget, and it would be better than it was before. All WERK personnel were very knowledgeable and completed their tasks efficiently and were willing to assist us in anything we needed while they were here. We are grateful to WERK for what they did for us and would recommend them highly to anyone in need of a Construction Manager or for the completion of other construction projects.

GS

WERK was great at guiding us through all aspects of our project. From beginning stages of master planning to project and construction management, HAUS and WERK maintained a high level of professionalism, an ability to effectively communicate with anyone from the structural engineer to subs, to me without excess jargon. The team captured what was desired in the project in both design and construction. The team respected the historical aspects of the home we renovated while introducing contemporary design and features; all of which are enjoyed to this day. We are glad our project was one they took on. It is one that has left a positive impact in our neighborhood and provided a great home to raise a family.

JR

WERK managed a complex multi-faceted demolition, addition and remodel of a 1930 traditional brick home situated in a compact neighborhood. WERK successfully managed all the details, removed pressure from us, and continually presented multiple options to spark decision-making. In particular, the firm always considered and presented options and areas for decisions in the context of the overarching design, our preferences, and the budget. The completed project is exceptional!

NS