Design / Build

WhyDesign-Build is So Good

We’reoften asked about the advantages of design-build over the conventional systemof architect and general contractor. It’s a great question and with over adecade of design-build experience under our belts, we feel like it’s a goodtime to call out our topten reasons why the design-build system is so good.
1. Everybody is on the same team: We’reall in this together and we all have the same goal –to arrive at a successfulproject that meets or exceeds the client’s expectations for their project. Whenchallenges are encountered on a project (and there are always challenges),pointing fingers is not an option, everyone rolls up their sleeves and works onsolutions.
2. Total accountability: One entity isaccountable for everything –including how the end result looks, how much itcosts and the timeline of completion. When the same group that designs theproject also builds the project, there tends to be much more attention given topricing and scheduling in the design phase. The cost of everything is takeninto account early on in the process; all fees, construction costs, utilities,landscaping allowances –everything.
Unfortunately,it’s not unusual for us to hear from people that “their remodel cost twice asmuch as the architect said it would” –such a scenario is entirely unacceptablein the design-build world. Design-build focuses on results, not excuses.
3. Continuity: A design-build firm is involvedfrom start to finish, which adds an inherent efficiency. The chance for thingsto fall through the cracks is greatly diminished.
4. Expertise: Design-build firms are expertsin both fields. The principals should be licensed architects with formalarchitectural training and experience in the architecture field. They shouldalso have professional experience in construction and understand pricing, sequencingand how buildings go together. If they’re anything like us, they haveprofessional structural engineering experience to boot.
Inthe new economy we’re noticing architects trying a bit too hard to look likedesign-build operations without having any field training. Likewise, we’veraised our eyebrows at a few general contractors who claim to, all the sudden,be accomplished designers.
Thereis a tremendous advantage to working with architects that can think likebuilders and builders who can think like architects, but design-build is acommitment, something you dedicate yourself to for an entire career –not justwhen it’s convenient.
5. Professional guides: We’ve all heard thestories that design and construction can get out of hand and messy. Design andconstruction shouldn’t be chaotic or stressful. A design-build firm is a beaconto clients throughout the process, guiding the way to the best possibleoutcome. Design-build refines a system from beginning to end and manages thechaos into orderly steps.
6. Involvement: Design-build operates underthe assumption that the client actually wantsto be an active participant in the design and construction of their home. Bytaking an involvement they’re guaranteeing that they get the outcome andsatisfaction of their goals – what they want is going to be achieved. We’vefound that such an involvement is inspiring and gives people a lasting sense ofpride about their home.
7. Collaboration: Design-build cuts out the bigegos so common in the design industry. In design-build the client retains totalcontrol over the project and the team is there to empower them.
8. The best kind of communication is open, honest and often:Design-build is transparent because we want clients to understand the processand to know what’s going on. The best partnerships work, not because people saywhat everyone wants to hear, but because they say what everyone needs to hear. Throughclear communication the budget is defined early on and it becomes the agreementfor the entire project.
9. Time is of the essence: Designand construction involves managing hundreds of timelines that need tocoordinate in lockstep. Design-build creates opportunities for clients to sitwith big decisions, ask questions, and consider their options. Anything theteam can do to avoid taking steps backwards is going to lead to better, fasterand more cost-effective results. The design-build system is highly adaptive andresponsive in the field. Big decisions can be revisited during constructionwithout change orders or additional fees. The conventional story is that if youmake changes it will cost you money – not necessarily so in design-build.
10. Cost savings: Inherent to the design-buildmodel is a savings of approximately 10% of the project costs. We’ll save thedetails for a future post but here’s the quick hit: