The fact is that the Design/Build process has gained great acceptance in residential construction over the last 20 years. This method emerged in the 1970’s as an alternative to Design/bid/build and now is used in a significant part of home projects. Even in commercial and public construction, nearly 40% of projects are being completed via the design/build process and that number is increasing.
There is of course a debate maintained by those who business is to only charge for drafting, design and supervision services vs. those whose primary goal is to build the project. It is also interesting that more and more Architects and designers are offering construction services as this approach to construction gains popularity. In fact, it is not uncommon for Design/Build oriented companies to partner with an independent architect to design and build a project, but this is most often done on very large and/or structurally complex projects where an architectural stamps are needed or where a client is very drawn to an individual architects design ideas and credentials. Yet, many experienced and qualified Design/Build companies prove day in and day out that they rival and can exceed many architects’ services in design ability and selections assistance.
Our experience has proven benefits to our clients, some of which are:
- It increases our time efficiency so that we can spend more time working with our clients on project development and project management and less time on “bidding” or doing “free work” for potential clients that may or may not become clients or may never even do a project.
- It allows us to design to a client’s budget parameters instead of playing the cat and mouse game of design retainer, review design, get bids, price shock, re-design, revised bids, still-price shock, pay more fees, more re-design.. now we lost the essence of why we’re doing the project…. maybe we should start over or just forget it.
- It saves monies being spent by the home owners to a third party that needs to make their living on drafting and designing vs. our fees that are applied to the project, as it just is a step in the process for the projects we build.
- It takes another party out of the picture eliminating some inefficiencies of more overall communications and chances for missed or not properly interpreted communications between the multiple parties.
- It speeds up the design to contract process by 50 percent or more.
- It makes for one accountable party so that the designer and the contractor are not pointing fingers as any mistakes that might be made. If an independent designer gets a measurement wrong and things get built wrong but to their spec, who pays for corrections or re-orders? We always have more change orders on 3 party projects.
- It decreases change orders. On architect/designer driven projects, if it’s not in the specs, it’s not included. As a contractor, we are incented to propose the bare minimum requirements and use minimum qualified subs and drive everything to the cheapest cost at the minimally accepted quality level in-order to “win the bid”. We often need to “bite our tongues”, at least until after we are awarded the contract before we share some alternative, more cost effective ideas. While it might not be how we would build our own projects, we know that we need to suppress sharing our experiences with products and methods in order to not step on toes so as to maintain relationships before we can worry about the best project. As the company who has to install and warrant the products, doesn’t it make sense to have that experience shared on the front end?
The single biggest, if not the ONLY, reason not to use a design/build process to complete your home building or remodeling project is due to the homeowners questions regarding pricing integrity. Most experienced Design/Build companies can explain how their pricing is arrived at why it is appropriate. Still, we would advise to establish an agreed upon project budget goal and prime scope of work in writing, before you write a check.