Are you a property owner looking for new home construction or major renovation of an existing house?You can reap many advantages if you break away from traditional construction and choose a design-build method. Among all the construction delivery methods, Design-Build is the most popular these days.
Experts shared that the design-build method will save you an average of 6.1% in total cost. Most of all, your project is slated to finish 33.5% faster with design-build than traditional construction. To illustrate, a traditional $1MM project will cost you an average of $61,000 less. That money can be used for other things, such as furniture and decorations in the new space.
With significant savings and shortened completion time, opting for design-build seems to make a lot of sense. But how exactly does this work? Keep reading to find out what you can expect from traditional general construction versus the more modern design-build method.
What to Expect in Traditional Construction?
Another name for this method is “Design-Bid-Build.” It lives up to its name by offering the most traditional or classic process for construction projects. In this approach, the owner will hire and have separate contracts with a building contractor and a designer. Look at its nuances below:
1. Owner hires designer and contractor separately
The property owner collaborates with a design firm. The team has a task to deliver a design plan, whether ready-to-use or customized. Once they draw up the blueprints and other design details, the owner will solicit bids from several general contractors to bring the plans to life.
2. The building contractor must complete the project
The building contractor will now be responsible for completing the project. As such, there is no obligation between the designer and the builder. Instead, the property owner will bear all responsibilities to ensure the completeness of the design plans and handle the flow of information between all parties.
3. The burden on the owner as a middleman
This means that the owner must have some technical knowledge to understand the suitability and constructability of the designs and serve as a liaison between the design team and the general contractor. In addition, the owner must spend time and effort managing the construction project to ensure materials and other details are within budget and under the right time frame.
What to Expect in a Design-Build?
This delivery method means a single entity will be responsible for the design and the construction of the project. As such, there will only be one contract for all the services; thereby, streamlining the process and offering one source of accountability. Look at the details below:
1. One service for the whole project
If you opt for deisgn-build, the company you hire will perform all services in-house. Alternatively, they may subcontract specialized services like kitchen tiling or plumbing to other companies. However, they will bear the responsibility for everything until they finish the entire project.
2. Collaboration of experts
This approach is characterized by intensive collaboration between design and construction professionals. Unlike the traditional method where you hire and manage your contractor, architect, and designer separately, the design-build approach means you are not a manager or middleman of the project.
3. Cutting costs and inefficiencies
When multiple professionals can receive input or feedback on the project’s progress, you cut costs and inefficiencies. Besides, with so many experts collaborating on the project, owners can expect enhanced quality and communication between the design-build team members.
For these compelling reasons, the design-build method of construction has become widely used. Design-build meets the needs of property owners who want to minimize costs and shorten the timeline to project completion.
What Construction Method to Choose?
When choosing between the design-build and traditional construction project delivery methods, you must read up on their comparison. Knowing the facts wil help you make a sound choice. After all, a home construction project is a major decision that will affect your budget and overall financial health.
Three research studies conducted by Texas A&M University, Construction Industry Institute, and the University of Texas at Austin all assert that the design-build method provides superior results. These studies concluded that among all other construction project delivery methods, the design-build option performs better in terms of the following:
All three studies compared various construction delivery methods, and the final verdict is that the design-build costs less. Cost growth as the project progresses costs 5.2% less with the design-build. By the same token, design-build costs 6.1% less overall.
One of the primary advantages of the design-build is time savings. Remember, time is a non-renewable resource that equates to money. Thus, when your design and construction service teams are working as one unit, you can expect a more streamlined schedule for your project.
With their collaboration, you should expect fewer bottlenecks that can delay the project.
Moreover, concurrent work means they can address problems that crop up more swiftly and efficiently. For this reason, design-build projects are up to 33% faster in completion than traditional projects.
When teams collaborate, you can expect better outcomes as everyone adapts to change efficiently. Building projects are complex, and some amount of change is inevitable. However, you can reduce potential delays if the design and construction teams work together.
Since there is no disconnect between teams, you can expect better outcomes. You can also expect fewer change orders with experts cooperating from start to finish. It is satisfying to work with a cohesive team that works towards one goal.
Project Workmanship and Quality
When you engage in construction, you have expectations as the property owner. You want to meet design goals and project requirements within budget and within the right time frame. However, some traditional construction projects do not meet set goals.
The lack of communication between the design team and contractor often leads to delays. Sadly, any setback equates to more expenses for the homeowner. It can also create bigger issues when people do not agree with one another.
Hence, a design-build approach typically yields better outcomes. Apart from reducing delays, experts who come together to ensure your project’s success deliver higher work quality. Therefore, it is not surprising that the three studies mentioned above all agree that a design-build reduces risks and produces better workmanship.
How to Pick the Right Design-Build Team?
Now that you know the differences, it can be easy to work with a design-build team. However, if this is your first project, you’ll want to choose the right partner. Aligning yourself with a good design-build firm can make a big difference in how your construction project runs from beginning to end.
It is vital to select a team that can deliver both stylish and functional designs. Of course, all the details and selections must be compatible with your project budget and timetable. Doing your research upfront can save you from a lot of headaches down the line. Keep the following suggestions in mind during the team selection phase:
Get Word-of-Mouth Recommendations
Ask for referrals from family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues. If they are happy with a contractor, they will give glowing recommendations. Besides, you can see the finished product by visiting their properties.
You can also cross-check their suggestions with the Associated General Contractors of America and the Better Business Bureau to see which contractors have high ratings, meet code requirements, pay their dues, patronize quality materials, and settle any dispute amicably. Alternatively, you can also look at online ratings and reviews to see which prospective firms live up to the recommendations.
Vet Prospects Via a Phone Interview
Once you have narrowed down your prospects, give them a call to assess how communicative they are. Ask your potential firms the following questions:
- Will they take on a project of your size?
- Can they provide financial references from banks and suppliers?
- Will they give you a list of past clients?
- How many other projects do they have at the same time as yours?
- Do they use subcontractors, and how long have they worked together?
The replies to your questions should give you insight into the firm’s expertise, reliability and availability. In addition, it will reveal whether they feel confident about performing your project.
Ask for References
Ask your prospects for a list of references. Moreover, you’ll want to speak with other property owners who have worked with the design-build firm. Make sure you ask them about:
- Costs: Did they offer reasonable rates? Did they stay within your budget? Were there any unexpected expenses?
- Timeliness: Did they finish the project on schedule? Were there any unreasonable delays? Is the team on time at the construction site?
- Communication: Was it easy to speak with the team? Did you feel informed about the project phases? How did they handle change orders?
- Project Quality: Are they happy with the overall results and quality? Were there any workmanship issues that needed repairs? Is it possible to look at the work to see real-life examples?
- Work Ethics: Did the team pay close attention to details, or were they rushing? Were they clean and orderly? How did they dispose of construction waste? Did the team take a lot of breaks?
Most of all, to ask the person if they would hire the design-build contractor again. If the answer is yes, you can feel assured that the team is a good candidate for your own project.
Meet at a Project Site
After the initial steps of vetting the right firm, shortlist three and meet them at one of their active construction sites to show their work.. Survey the site for organization, cleanliness and safety. Ask them to bring a project portfolio so you can review other past projects, or review their portfolio on their website.
Remember, a reputable contractor can readily meet you in person and answer your questions in a way that makes you feel at ease. It is crucial to feel comfortable with the team because you will be spending a lot of time with them. Moreover, take the time to explore the job site and note the following details:
- Is the job site orderly?
- Does it look safe for the workers and visitors?
- Are the workers courteous?
- How do they take care of the materials?
Ask About Plans and Project Costs
Now that you have prospects with a good track record and excellent work ethics, it is time to zero in on your project. A meticulous design-build contractor will weigh what you want versus how much you plan to spend and offer realistic expectations. Costs usually include materials, labor, profit margins, and other expenses.
Notably, the cheapest option is not always the best choice. ‘Lowballers’ offering pricing far below the going industry rates are either desperate for work or cutting corners somehow. Remember, you often get what you pay for, so go with a firm that exemplifies technical competence while offering premium quality materials and craftsmanship. In addition, you’llbe using your property for the long haul, so you want durability and longevity.
Put Everything in Black and White
Examine the contract details and leave no questions unanswered. It may be helpful to get the input of a real estate attorney to make sure that you are protected. The contract should cover the following details:
- Payment schedule (percentage upon signing and succeeding payments until final payment upon completion)
- Timetable of the entire project
- Proof of insurance in case of property damage
- Worker’s compensation in case of accidents and injuries at the site
- Specific materials to be used
- Specific people on the team, including subcontractors and suppliers
- Proof that the contractor can obtain lien releases (your protection in case the firm is remiss in bills)
Keep in mind; ironing out the contract before the work begins offers protection for you and the design-build contractor to manage expectations and have a successful construction project. The most important factor in choosing the right firm is trust. If you feel comfortable with the team and find it easy to communicate with everyone, that is a good sign.
Find a Reputable Design-Build Firm You Can Trust
When reviewing a design-build team, evaluate the design and construction elements to ensure your satisfaction. Understanding the contractor’s skills and experience is critical to your project’s success. If you need help with a design-build project, our team at Eco-Minded Solutions can help.
We have been serving this niche for decades, and we have a long list of happy clients to prove it. We collaborate with our partners through each phase of your project development, ensuring we can mitigate conflicts, avoid delays, and prevent added expenses. Give us a call for a free consultation.
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