Architects and contractors working togetherSometimes, in residential real estate development, the feud between the owner, the architects, and the contractors hosts more drama than the Kardashians. As a developer, you may have already experienced the down sides of hiring architects separately from construction managers on your new home or renovation project. It’s possible some details got lost, both sides played the blame game, and the project was delayed by weeks, if not months.

There is a proactive way to mitigate disputes and minimize delay: hire a firm that provides both architecture services and construction management. This is the design-build project delivery method—or simply, design-build.

Although there are a few different ways to implement design-build (particularly for larger commercial projects), across all sectors design-build means a developer hires only one company to design and manage the entire project from start to finish.

An Ancient Building Method, Reimagined

“Design-build” is a relatively new term for the real estate industry, yet the concept is ancient: many iconic structures, such as the Egyptian Pyramids, were built using a “master builder” approach. Until the 20th century, architects acted as both the designer and construction manager on building projects. In fact, early America was built by “architect builders'' who traveled through a region designing and building houses, churches, schools, and stores

When the Industrial Revolution came, it was necessary to separate the role of the architect and contractor, as buildings needed more technical expertise on both sides—and new higher learning institutions taught aspiring architects to focus on the planning portion of projects. In 1909, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) even adopted a code of ethics that forbade architects from engaging in building construction.

LOC Downtown construction 1919

Today, while architecture and construction are separate trades, it’s becoming increasingly common to find them both working under the same roof. 

Additionally, every type of developer (public, private, residential, commercial, and so on) is realizing that hiring an architect and contractor from one company is the more profitable choice. A 2018 FMI report indicated that the design-build method will deliver almost half of projects in the U.S. by 2021.

The Key Benefits of Hiring a Design-Build Firm

  1. Increased owner involvement and confidence

    Having only one team taking care of all facets of your project, from the budget to the schedule to the end result, makes it easier for developers to be kept in the loop at every step. Reputable design-build firms present regular progress reports, providing continual opportunities for input and feedback. This increases the likelihood that the project will meet or exceed expectations. 

    Additionally, there will be fewer surprises down the road, as this interdisciplinary team is consistently sharing their knowledge about the science of design and its constructability with each other. The project is vetted from the start on feasibility and cost. Then, as the project gets underway, frequent and insightful communication helps solve problems quickly, rather than going through more paperwork and delays.

    Related: Construction During COVID: How Design-Build Saved the Project

  2. Better budget management

    When hiring separate architects and contractors, there is no way of knowing what parts of the project will be cost-prohibitive until the design has been completed and gone through the bidding process. Design-build allows the architecture team to “design to a budget” rather than “budget a design.”

    Additionally, developers save on costs associated with construction administration, change order charges, and project delays. The design-build team will discuss and manage the budget from the design phase forward, and developers quickly receive detailed information about the cost implications of each decision related to the project.

  3. Faster project completion

From design through completion, design-build projects are delivered 102% faster than traditional design-bid-build, according to the Design-Build Institute of America.

Not only does design-build increase timely problem-solving when the unexpected occurs, but it also allows for construction to begin before the final design has been completed. Both the design and construction can be completed in stages rather than working from a complete design from the outset of the project.

Ardleigh Exterior

Design-Build is a No-Brainer

According to the FMI report from 2018, opportunities to innovate and “the ability to fast track a project” were identified by owners as the top benefits associated with design-build. It makes sense, as this project delivery method gets the developer, designer, and construction manager working together to achieve the same goal.

Interested in working with an experienced design-build firm with a collaborative approach and innovative ideas? Contact our team to explore how we can streamline your next real estate project.

About The Author

Samantha is the marketing manager at Designblendz. She is passionate about connecting real estate professionals with the stories that help them learn and succeed.