Design/Build Advantage

The Definition of Design/Build

Design/Build construction is the process where a company (design/build firm) provides a project with three essential components:

  • The initial design
  • The financial basis or budget
  • The performance

The design/build firm provides the owner with the design and construction. By giving the client what is in his or her best interest, the entire process is able to go much smoother.

What Design/Build is Not

Design/Build is not the only way that a construction project may initiate and proceed. Another way is the plan and bid procedure. Separate groups perform these two completely intertwined parts of the process. An architect or designer creates a set of plans and specifications. These are then provided to several general contractors. One of these contractors is then selected by the owner based on various unrelated circumstances. This method of selection often places the interests of the bidders ahead of those of the owners; it can result in short cuts, minimal construction method, low quality materials and possible change orders for future revenues.

The plan and bid method also means two separate contracts for the design and construction. Responsibility and cause always become a clouded issue between designer and contractor when they are separate. This also has the architect and contractor each having their own ideas concerning the plans, methods and specifications. Finally, it is the slowest way to complete a project. By separating the design from the construction, the time line is greatly expanded.

Design/Build Essentials

Design/Build has some very essential points that all reflect a better overall project for the owner. Budget is first determined by the general scope of the concept and comparing to similarly completed projects. With knowledge of costs early and budgets set, unexpected elevated costs cannot occur. More often than not, a set of independent plans that are designed with little realistic thought or knowledge of true construction costs can exceed an owner's expected costs. This, unfortunately, is not found out until the plans are put out for bid. With design/build the design and construction come under one contract, another plus for the owner. The designer and the construction manager are more unified and work together in recommendations to the owner, another plus. Finally, this is usually the fastest method of completing a project.

Advantages of Design/Build

The advantages of design/build are clearly evident. A reduction in the overall time is very important. Less time and fewer meetings are required. Owners need not spend as many meetings first with their designer and then another set of meetings with their selected contractor. Budgets are set early and costs are not an uncertainty during the design. And finally, the best projects are those that have the owners involved in the decision-making. Fewer problems arise because the project is so well defined. This also relates to no change orders unless there is a legitimate change in the scope. All these advantages help the owner receive a project on time and within projected budget.

Our View

It is our philosophy and perspective that homebuyers have a greater advantage when they select a design-build company to build their home. By selecting the builder of choice and qualification, rather than putting out a plan for bidding purposes, puts the homebuyer in the driver’s seat right from the start. Smithome also works with several builders who have their homebuyers commit to their building company, with Smithome providing the designing aspects.

The advantage of having a design-build company design your house plan is so that hidden cost factors, associated with design changes, can be manifested right from the beginning. Some of our clients ask that we design in accordance their budget. We are able to get them as close as we can by efficiently designing areas of importance, including those that receive highest consideration on their “wish list”. We believe in keeping the homeowner apprised as to the cost of their home and we can actually price out the cost of the home after the preliminary plans are completed. In the end, we believe that this is a more viable option for the homebuyer, and will eliminate any unwelcome surprises within the process.

One of the biggest misconceptions of home purchasers is their belief that the standard cost per square foot is the same for all home plans, and that any cost difference is a direct profit for the builder. This is not true, as costing out a house is like asking how much a bag of groceries costs. The answer is a result of what is placed in the bag. The same is true in designing a home, as it will depend on the design, the specifications, the allowances, and the skill of the subcontractor.

Smithome Designs will guide you toward making the best decisions possible, so that your home stays within budget. Designing and building a home that has never been built, is not an exact science. Changing materials and labor costs is sometimes like shooting a moving target at best, which is why so many builders/designers miss their mark. The biggest advantage with having Monte Smith as your designer is you will have someone who has been a framing contractor, builder and designer which allows better explanations to the home buyer during the design phase. The design-build advantage includes one point of contact, from project conception, to project completion. This ensures that client’s building plans are executed with maximum precisions and consistency, minimizes cost overages and unexpected expenditures, avoids costly errors, saves time, minimizes client stress, maximizes client’s creative input, and eliminates finger-pointing between subcontractors.

I often ask a homebuyer, who is looking to put their home out to bid, if they are going to hire the builder with the lowest bid. Their answer is typically “no”. I also ask them to consider what would happen if all bids came in close to the same and they liked all the builders, and their answer is usually “I don’t know”.

Interviewing builders before starting the design process is important in finding out how the builder services their products, and the need of researching their previous track record. Remember that your house is a service product when it is being built, and the house becomes a home, as well as a commodity, when it is sold.