Design-build is a common delivery method in construction and a popular buzz word in the industry. What it generally means is that you hire a single person or company who both designs your project and builds your project. Design-build can be great and it can be a real mistake. What is important is to know who the players are behind the design-build label.
Just to admit bias to new readers, EVstudio is an architecture and engineering company, we participate in many projects titled “design-build”.
Design-build can be a great setup where you have a company that has experts and licensed professionals working on both the architecture and construction portions of the project. They can typically deliver a project on budget and they may be able to reduce your upfront design fees because they bury them in your total project cost.
Unfortunately, what often happens is that the design-build team is an outgrowth of only one profession. You frequently have a general contractor who has decided that they can do the design work as well. Suddenly you are hiring someone to design your home who is only marginally qualified and yet you are paying enough for the service to hire a full time architect. With this approach you are also hiring someone to design the project who is often most concerned about the simplest details and is likely to give you reasons that you can’t have something more complex.
What I would advise all clients entering a design-build setup to do is make sure that you know who is actually doing the designing on the project. You should be meeting with the architect directly and be pleased with the design work that you are receiving. When we participate in design-build we meet with clients directly for the design and the contractor meets directly for the build. They only pay one bill but it is distributed according to the work involved. The architect is your advocate and more able to provide solutions based on years of full time design experience rather than excuses.
Another solution that works well for the client is hiring an architect and a contractor at the same time and working as a team throughout the project. We do this with many of our favorite contractors and it is a rewarding way to bring experienced professionals and still give the client an integrated project. While it is not truly design-build it offers many of the advantages.
There are a large number of project delivery methods in architecture and construction, please ask questions or give us a call.