Why Residential Design-Build Construction Is a Better Way To Build

A design-build firm simplifies the remodeling process, making it less expensive and faster by eliminating disputes between the architect and contractor.

In the traditional owner – architect – contractor arrangement, the architect designs the space and then oversees the construction process to make sure that the contractor is staying true to his or her vision and not cutting corners. The builder may have issues with some of the design aspects such as cost or impracticality and suggest alternatives to the owner. If the architect is still involved in the process and has a relationship with the builder, they may be able to resolve these issues without owner involvement.

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In the residential design-build process, there is no back and forth. The owner trusts the design-builder and is involved with every step of the construction process, from discussions and pre-planning before the design process, right through the final stages of home construction.

The residential design-build model offers homeowners several advantages over the traditional architect, general contractor system. Here are some of the top reasons residential design-build is the best choice for your next home remodeling project. 

Shared goals
The homeowner and contractor both have the same goal, to complete the project successfully and exceed the homeowner's expectations for their project. When issues or challenges are encountered on the project (and every project has challenges) there's no blame, just everyone rolling up their sleeves and working on solutions.

Accountability
One vendor means clear and easy communication. When you work with a single contractor through the entire process from design through construction, you have a single source responsible for every aspect of the process including budgets, timelines, and the final result. When the same firm is handling the design builds the project, there tends to be less back and forth over budgets and scheduling. The cost of every item is taken into account at the beginning of the process including fees, construction costs, utilities, landscaping, everything!

Design and Process Continuity
With a single contact involved in every phase of a project, it tends to be more efficient. There is less chance that something will fall through the cracks.

Experience and Expertise
Design-build firms are experts in both areas. Principals are often trained architects and also have experience in construction and an understanding of the pricing and sequencing of a residential project. 

Direct, Open and Honest Communication
Design-build tends to be an open process that keeps the client (you) involved in every element of the process. Clear communication helps to define budgets early and makes it easier to stick to timelines, budgets, and creative vision. 

The fact is, the design-build process tends not only to be smoother but because the entire project scope is handled by a single entity it can cost an average of 10% less than the traditional architect-general contractor approach. A design-build team is highly responsive and as a result, decisions can be revisited during the process often without formal change orders or additional fees. In the traditional architect-general contractor model, changes cost extra. This is often not the case when working with a design-build firm.

Choosing the right design-build firm

Because you are hiring both an architect/designer and a contractor when you hire a design-build firm, you should ask the same questions you would ask each separate entity during the vetting process. When evaluating a firm, keep the design side and the construction side separate.

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On the design side, you want a firm whose design aesthetic, and creative vision matches yours. Check out their portfolio and walk through some completed projects if possible. Talk to members of the design team to learn how they work during the design phase. Try to get a feel for how they work with clients and how they charge for design. 

On the construction side, ask the same questions you would ask any other contractor. What types of jobs have they completed, what are the square footage costs, do they have experience in any specialty construction, how much of the work is handled in-house and how much is subbed out, etc.

Always ask for references and speak with former clients about both the design phase and process and the building phase and process. Did the job run smoothly? Were there any surprises and how were they handled? Did they stick to the budget and if not, why not? The more information you can gather about your potential firm's process the better prepared, you will be to undertake a project with that firm.

Working with a design-build firm for your next project can bring many benefits to the process. From simplifying the process through a “one-stop-shop” approach, to cost savings, no disputes between the designer and contractor, fewer change orders and up-charges, and a more practical approach to design, since the design-builder is more likely to design with an eye towards the construction phase. Take your time when evaluating potential design-build firms and do your due diligence. It's worth the effort. Finding a competent, trustworthy and reasonable design-build company to work with will help make your next project run smoothly and will save you both time and money.

Contact Forward Design Build To Start Your Project


Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.