WHAT IS THE DESIGN-BUILD CONSTRUCTION PROCESS?
The construction process of your home has many steps, but one that is often overlooked by companies who are trying to build their project on time and on budget is the design-build construction method. We will describe what it takes to execute the design-build method of construction and some of the benefits this approach can bring to your project.
Why does a homeowner choose this method?
The Design-Build (DB) Process generally has much faster project delivery than a more traditional method of construction contracting, where each element of work is contracted out to different contractors. This method is adopted when there are no suitable standard form contracts available. The DB process may involve only one Contractor or several contractors working in collaboration with a single designer on a collaborative team who jointly prepare a single performance specification. However, a more usual scenario involves many parties providing inputs into that specification, which provides both clarities of requirements and minimizes cost/time overruns by identifying any potential issues upfront before works commence. It also allows innovative working methods to be tried within realistic parameters without serious consequences if something goes wrong. While some consultants do offer specialist support in designing an ideal solution from scratch, usually, what happens is that a generic ‘off-the-shelf’ specification will already exist, which will have been developed by previous surveying instances of similar projects around the world. The main requirement for specifying engineers is to ensure they understand local specifics, so they know how best to adapt it – either through modification or substitution – to suit local conditions and circumstances.
The architect should look at your idea and either say yes, that’s doable or no, it won’t work. If they can see your vision, they should be able to draw up some rough plans—ideally in 3D—for you to take a look at. It can be a hugely important conversation—do make sure you choose an architect who understands your project and will give you useful advice about it. And remember, different architects have different specialties; if there are aspects of what you want to be done that aren’t within their remit, then it might not be worth getting them involved.
Engineers are professionally trained to evaluate what needs to be done, how it should be done, and how long it will take. The study building code requirements and local municipal laws and regulations, factors in energy efficiency standards, balance aesthetic considerations with usability needs, etc. An architect will typically work closely with engineers on a specific project but has a different set of skills. There may be overlap between their expertise; more likely, there won’t be enough overlap for one person to do both jobs alone. Generally speaking, architects focus more on aesthetics and draw up technical plans like structural drawings, plumbing schematics, electrical diagrams, etc. Although some states require that projects hire separate designers and builders (to preserve impartiality), many areas offer design-build solutions: combining those roles into one firm can be easier and faster than hiring two separate teams to handle each phase of construction separately.
Plan check (Design Development Phase)
You hire an architect and/or designer when you want a building constructed. Depending on your designer’s busy schedule, it can take a few weeks or even months to turn your raw space into a blueprint. After all of that hard work, though, one more step remains before any dirt can be moved. To ensure that nothing unexpected happens during installation and to help reduce costs, most contractors require that their clients get their designs checked by a Design Professional or Plan Checker. The Plan Checker reviews each detail in your plan and makes sure that it’s in accordance with all building codes, including residential (R), commercial (C), and multifamily (MF) codes. Additionally, they make sure that everything comes together if someone changes something later down the line. From there, they might also identify potential problems due to site conditions or new technology—even if your original designer didn’t think of them!
Bidding (Preconstruction Phase)
For a design-build project, most of your time during preconstruction will be focused on responding to bids and proposals from contractors. Design-Build projects allow contractors to compete for your business by submitting proposals (bids) based on your unique project requirements. Throughout preconstruction, we work with our clients to ensure each bidder’s proposal addresses their specific needs and budget. You’ll need to select one Contractor or team of contractors who you feel best meets your needs and vision. In many cases, you may have already selected a general contractor when first starting down the road of building ownership. If so, feel free to use them! Or consider interviewing some new candidates who offer services beyond general contracting but would still make good partners in creating a successful project.
Construction Administration (Construction Phase)
With a Design-Build contract, there will always be an Owner’s Representative (OR) who serves as a liaison between you and your Design-Build team. The OR ensures that all phases of your project are being completed following your vision and desired budget. He or she should be accessible throughout the entire building process to provide you with status updates on changes, unexpected occurrences, and cost overruns. It’s important to understand what services come with their job title so you can get the most out of them. For example, most firms offer financial analysis, scheduling services, and extended warranty programs; these add-ons often end up saving costs down the road by providing greater assurance that your building will perform exactly how it was intended—for years after it’s been built. It also helps ensure quality control measures are adhered to without fail during each phase of your project. This oversight also helps avoid any possible unforeseen delays that may hinder progress and put undue pressure on your schedule.
Post Construction Evaluation
The post-construction process evaluates whether or not everything has been done correctly and how satisfied you are with your new home. This can be a big opportunity to ask questions about materials and processes. Pay attention to how well your questions are answered, what kind of communication you have with your General Contractor, and whether you feel like things went as planned. Communication is one of the most important things when building a custom home, so make sure that you know who to talk to and what will happen if something goes wrong. It’s also worth noting that there may be changes that need to happen after construction wraps up – possibly even right before it’s time for occupancy (especially if you waited until close to move in). Talk through all of these issues during your post-construction meeting.
Designing and building a home is quite possibly one of the most important decisions you will make in your lifetime. You only get one shot at building a home that reflects your unique style, lifestyle, and dreams. So when it comes to hiring a contractor or designer/builder, don’t go with just anyone; do your homework first. It’s worth taking some time upfront to find someone who will share your vision of what you want to build and has the expertise necessary to deliver on it.