Traditionally, homeowners undertaking an addition, renovation, or construction project would first appoint an architect to design the project. The design would be developed during months of interaction between the owner and the architect. Once the final drawings were completed and paid for by the owner, they would be given to several different builders, who would bid on the project. The owner would select one to build the project. This delivery method is known as “design-bid-build” (not to be confused with “design-build,” which we will elaborate on in the second half of this article).
There are several shortcomings with this method of hiring the architect and the builder separately:
This method works best for people who have an unlimited budget. Realistically, most homeowners do have a budget. They cannot afford to find out that their project is above budget, after they have spent months finalizing the plans and have paid for them. Unfortunately, this happens all too often—homeowners will receive several bids from different builders which confirm that the project is above budget. They will have no choice but to return to the architect and spend more valuable time and money to re-draw the project and then have it re-priced. Any yet, there is no guarantee that the revised drawings will fit their budget either.
Additionally, a big project can be bogged down by delays as you wait for one step to finish before you can schedule the next to begin. Applying for permits, ordering materials, and scheduling crews can each take a long time, but these steps are often not initiated until the construction stage. If you are planning a project during a busy season, you will face further delays, price hikes, and competition for desirable materials and crews.
Last but not least, if you have any questions or concerns about the process or final product, it can be difficult to know who to turn to for answers. Each party may defer responsibility to the other. You may be left to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility and advocate for yourself, which can be daunting if construction is not your full-time job.
In short, design-bid-build risks being a longer and more costly process, one that puts more responsibility on the homeowner, and which may not produce an optimal product.
With the design-build delivery method, both the design and construction are handled by a single entity, a design-build firm such as Leader Builders. As the homeowner, you’ll have access to all the professionals you’ll need to take your vision from concept to completion—all in one place.
The whole process starts with a good construction budget. An initial meeting between the homeowner and builder helps establish the type of project, its scale, and the types of finishes required to accomplish your goals. We then develop a detailed project budget and project description for your review, before you sign a contract. This budget includes the cost of architecture and design, labor and materials, allowances for purchasing of finished materials (for example kitchen cabinets and counters), and lists items which are not included (homeowners typically provide their own appliances for builder installation).
In Leader Builders’ case, we guarantee not to exceed the costs estimated unless the owner wishes to make a change to the original scope of work contracted. We require owner approval after each step of the design, and we will update the design accordingly. In fact, we encourage our clients not to approve the design until it works perfectly for them. We stress that changing the design on paper is much less costly than changes later on. This approach gives us happy clients and beautiful projects to photograph after completion.
We minimize delays by planning ahead: while the design is being developed, the project is being prescheduled for the construction trades. So as soon as the design is completed and building permits obtained, we can ensure that the construction crews are available to start. Similarly, we apply for permits and order materials as soon as we get your approval.
We are the one point of contact for any questions you may have. Our project managers will visit the construction site regularly to ensure that everything is running smoothly. We advocate for you throughout the process, translating your vision between the architect and construction crews to make sure everyone is on the same page. By working with one firm from start to finish, you can be confident that we understand your vision and are invested in seeing it materialize.
In conclusion, the design-build method aims to take the burden off of you while giving you a voice, saving you time and money, and resulting in a home that best meets your goals and reflects your vision. If you would like to learn more about the design-build method or find out how we can help with a project you have a mind, please get in touch!