Is Design-build the Right Method for Your Remodeling Project?

Architects and designers planning design-build project

Project delivery methods have evolved over the last several decades. Regardless of which one you choose, it’s likely going to involve a comprehensive planning process that considers design, materials, budgets and more. Some of the more common methods are construction management at risk (CMR), multi-prime (MP), design-bid-build and design build. The one that has been getting a lot of attention as of late is the design-build method, the advantages of which will be discussed below.

What is design-build?

What separates design-build from other methods is that it includes a team of professionals working together through every phase of the project under one entity. Homeowners have a single point of responsibility, meaning they have only one entity to work with on design and construction services. They also only work under one contract. Even if the design-build company hires subcontractors for portions of the job, the homeowner still deals with the single point of contact.

Why the design-build delivery method works

It’s a method of construction delivery that offers homeowners the advantage of having a single point of contact throughout the design and construction phases. In the traditional model where the homeowner works with a general contractor, the homeowner must communicate separately with the architect/engineer, designer, the contractor and subcontractors, which can lead to errors, questionable quality, increased costs and time delays. The design-build delivery method works, in large part, because it’s an integrated process.

The advantages of working with a design-build company

According to a study from the University of Penn State, there are several advantages of working with a design-build company over construction management bid or design-bid-build companies. With the design-build method, homeowners can realize a 5.2 percent overall cost savings and up to 33 percent faster delivery of the overall project. Furthermore, the study concludes that this method offers more scheduled control and fewer change orders.

Construction projects can include a measure of ambiguity when it comes to construction and material specifications, which can affect quality. These ambiguities are erased in the design-build delivery method. Furthermore, a design-build team approaches quality in such a way that they consider all the performance needs to meet and exceed design requirements.

What are the disadvantages of using design and build project delivery

One of the reasons the design-build option has grown so fast is that there are relatively few disadvantages in this project delivery method. Some homeowners find comfort in having an architect/engineer act as their agent throughout a project, which is not going to be available under the design-build method. This can lead some to believe that they lose some control of the design process. And because it takes a lot of resources to put together a design-build company, there is less competition. However, design-build companies include individuals who are excellent communicators, which should negate some of these fears.

The design-build process

The design-build process is rather simple. Other methods require you to start the process by choosing an architect/engineer, but as you will see below, there are only a few steps involved in the overall process.

Selecting a Design-Builder

It’s important to select a company that has the credentials to back up their promises. They should have a lot of experience in work similar to what your project requires and they should have a team of experts doing the work. A reputable company will evaluate all budget solutions early in the project and provide price estimates through each phase.

Pre-construction Assessments

This important step is where financial assessments will be made, design wants and needs will be discussed and architectural elements, such as mechanical and electrical requirements, will be determined. The design-build experts will take a full assessment of your property and flag any problem areas.

Architectural Design

It’s likely that the design-build company will have one or more architects working at their company. If they are subcontracted, they will still be under the same contract that you have with your design-build company. It’s during this phase that the project schedule will be established, costs known and architectural elements laid out.

Construction

Construction will begin promptly after the architecture phase, which isn’t always the case with other project delivery methods where a time-consuming bid process is required to find the right construction company. In the design-build model, the design and construction actually overlap, which is a great time saver.

Post-Construction

This is basically wrapping a bow on the freshly wrapped present. It includes a walk through with the project leaders and making sure that everything is to your specification.

As you can see, the ease and seamless flow of the design-build process is part of the reason this project delivery style has turned heads and has more homeowners considering this method.

Design-build firms vs. general contractors

You have options when you decide you’re going to take on a construction project. One of them is to go with a general contractor, who will manage the construction part of the project. The designer, working separately from the general contractor and often with an architect, will hand off the designs to the general contractor after the design has been completed. The general contractor will then bring in subcontractors to do the carpentry, plumbing and electrical work. Almost all of these entities will require different contracts.

With a design-build form of project delivery, you don’t have all these separate entities, because they’re all working under one contract. While all the builders have the same responsibilities as those working under a general contractor, a design-build company oversees the entire project in all of its phases, including the final walkthrough.

Choose the right design-build company for your remodeling project

If you’ve done your research, you know how important it is to select the right design and build company for your project. When you get down to your list of finalists, call around and find out how they’ve performed for previous customers. Make sure your design-build company is willing to listen to you about your vision for your remodeling project, because your input is crucial. If you have questions about what is possible and what is not, they should have the expertise to answer.

At New Concept 180, we are a design-build company that approaches every project as a custom job. We have the expertise to bring your vision to life. Our design team will put together a solid blueprint of your vision before passing it on to the construction experts who work hand-in-hand with designers to make sure every detail is considered. We’ll draft a schedule, which you can follow as the work progresses. Check out our recently completed projects so you can see for yourself what we’ve accomplished for other clients. When you’re ready to get the ball rolling, contact us and let’s talk about your vision for your remodeling project.

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