Why Design-Build for Your Home Building Project?

It used to be that the traditional “design-bid-build” approach was the only option for any type of residential or commercial construction project. That is quickly changing with the Design-Build methodology, which has been gaining in popularity and delivering positive results. Recent studies conducted by the Design-Build Institute of America found that design-build is one of the most significant changes to date for the construction industry in the current century. While this method may not be advantageous for all projects, for many it certainly should be considered.

Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build

In a Design-Build structured project, the general contractor uses a team approach comprised of designers, architects and builders who work together under one contract to provide all construction services, from initial concept and design to building and finishing work. As one entity, workflow is unified under a single-source responsibility and everyone is on the same page. As a home owner, that means you deal with a single point-of-contact, as well.

With the Design-Bid-Build approach, separate entities handle different phases of a project under separate contracts. Designers and construction contractors are hired separately and perform their work independent of each other, which could lead to miscommunication, tasks falling between the cracks and different interpretations of the project.

Design-Build Advantages

Design-build can be applied to numerous projects, from office buildings and car dealerships to stadiums and infrastructure projects, and deliver significant advantages. A study entitled “Selecting Project Delivery Systems” by Penn State University researchers finds that design-build projects are completed 33.5% faster and have a unit cost that is 6.1% less than design-bid-build projects.

Clients who have used the design-build method indicate the importance of keeping the entire project under one roof, giving them one point of contact from concept to completion. However, the design-build process provides many more advantages, including:

• One-stop shopping for project designer/architect and construction.
• Better collaboration between designers and builders fosters innovative thinking.
• Streamlined communications results in fewer problems.
• Reduced client risks since the client is no longer in the middle of the architect, engineer and general contractor.
• Eliminates disputes between the designer and contractor over interpretations, design mistakes, etc.
• Reduces errors and omissions and shifts the responsibility from the client to the design-builder.
• Eliminates change orders and upcharges due to incomplete or unclear plans and specs.
• Accountability for costs, schedule and performance is under one entity.
• Better adherence to the project’s scope, requirements, schedule, quality materials, workmanship and budget.
• Significant savings in money and time.
• Faster project completion.

Questions You Should Be Asking a Design-Build Contractor

As more and more contractors offer the design-build option, it’s important for clients to select a design-builder that is a good fit for their project. These questions should be addressed when searching for a design-build firm:

Questions to Ask Prospective Builders:
1. Does your firm have experience with projects of this scope? – Ask for a portfolio and references specific to your industry and project size. Determine if their design style is compatible to yours and ask former clients how their projects went.
2. What is your design-build process?
3. Will you be able to build to my specific style and needs?
4. Will I be able to meet with the architect/engineer and contribute my ideas?
5. What is your communication style? – Determine whether the design-build contractor will update you regularly or if you need to check in for updates.
6. What are my responsibilities under a design-build approach and what are yours?
7. What is your fee structure? – Inquire whether there is a guaranteed maximum cap, additional fees if the scope of the project changes and how you will be billed.
8. How much of the construction work will be done by your employees and how much by subcontractors?
9. What is your time frame for this project? Discuss what compensation you can expect if the contractor doesn’t meet the project completion date.
10. Will you provide a construction schedule? This outlines how soon your project will get started, how long each phase will take and whether the contractor foresees anything causing a delay.

With any commercial project, the best course of action is to contact a professional to discuss the project and your expectations. Of course, Xavier Builders welcomes the opportunity to be your design-build firm and ensure your project’s success. Feel free to contact Xavier Builders with any questions and to get the conversation started.