House Design: Benefits of Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build

Designer hand drafting a modern house design.

For those in the market for new house design and construction, there are several delivery methods available. The two most common methods are design-build and design-bid-build. Those are the two that we’ll be discussing today.

Design-bid-build is the older way of doing things. Design-build came about in response to the demand for better quality, reduced cost, and faster completion times. Understanding the difference between these two delivery methods can have a significant impact on your satisfaction with the house design. In this post, we’ll break down what the two delivery methods are. And the benefits that design-build has brought to the construction industry.

What is Design-Bid-Build?

This is the most traditional way to perform construction. A house designer and a house builder have two fundamentally different skill sets. So traditionally, someone wanting custom house design would hire an architect or design firm to provide a set of design documents that are 100% complete and ready for construction. Then, construction companies would be presented with those design documents and asked to place a bid for the job of building them. 

Under this method, the two areas of specialty are completely separate from one another. If there is something wrong with the house design documents, the construction company has no responsibility to fix them. They might not even have the skill to fix it. The owner must then act as a middle man, go back to the design firm, and have the problems resolved.

What is Design-Build?

The design-build delivery method is based on the realization that two specialties can be brought together under one roof. Combining the design firm and the construction firm forms an all-in-one solution that prevents the owner from having to play middle man on his project. This method is less about simply making things easier for the owner. It’s more about taking advantage of the fact that by working collaboratively, the people doing the house design and the people who will have to build that design can provide better outcomes. With this method, representatives across construction disciplines can work with designers to provide the most efficient design.

The Benefits of Design-Build

Just by virtue of describing the two delivery methods, some of the benefits provided by the design-build paradigm become clear. Let’s step back and take a closer look at exactly what those benefits are. And what it is about the design-build process that facilitates them. 

Construction workers working on a modern wooden house.

Lower Cost

There are several areas that can contribute to increased cost in a construction project. One study looking at the costs involved with errors, omissions, and design modifications concluded that collaborative construction was the more cost-friendly. When you think about how the process works, it’s easy to understand why. Input from the construction side can help guide the design toward more efficient and cost-friendly methods. And eliminate the types of problems with the design that add time and costly labour and materials to a project. 

Faster Schedule

The same study that found costs saving in collaborative construction also found time savings. One way design-build realizes time savings is obvious. The entire process of waiting on bids is removed. Work begins immediately after the design is finalized, rather than needing an extra step. It’s also clear how not needing a middle man to coordinate between the design and the construction crew when the design needs to be modified can save time. Also, the collaborative nature of the process allows the construction side to make suggestions to the design team. That will allow the build process to go smoother.

Higher Quality

It’s reasonably intuitive how removing the people who must take part in and sign off on changes can improve the cost and delivery schedule of a construction project. But it may be less clear how higher quality can come from the design-build process versus the design-bid-build method. While the constant communication with the design team does allow construction crews to make suggestions that better suit their capabilities and resources, the biggest benefit here comes from removing the bidding process. A bidding war is great for getting prices that are affordable. But in order to secure the job, many companies will lower their standards, so they can provide the winning bid. This means the price is cheap, but often, so is the work.

Greater Flexibility

We’ve talked several times about how problems may arise with the design. Sometimes this may simply be down to an error on the part of the designer. More often, it is a result of the design firm not being familiar with local building codes and regulations. In those cases, having the design firm and the construction company all-in-one is a clear benefit. Design problems are caught before it’s even finalized. And problems that crop up after the fact can be fixed quickly.

But some problems are due to changing requirements. This happens most frequently in fast-moving industries, where construction needs may change in the middle of the project. It can also happen with custom home design, however. If a property owner discovers a building feature they’d like to add to the project, it’s much easier when the design team and construction crew are integrated. 

Increased Accountability and Less Risk

When you use a design-bid-build process, there are multiple independent people involved. The construction crew isn’t responsible for problems caused by the design firm. And the design firm isn’t responsible for problems caused by the construction crew. When the problems are clear, and everyone agrees whose fault they are, this isn’t a problem. But as soon as conflicts arise, the owner of the property is the one who is left sorting out the mess. With everything done under one banner, accountability for any problems that arise is clear. Greater accountability means less of a risk that problems will arise that complicate and stall the project. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re one of the people who frequently wonder, “How can I design my own house?” or you just want something more unique that pre-made blueprints allow for, you’re going to need to work with both a designer and a builder. Some improvements to existing homes may also require both sets of skills. Whenever that need arises, the design-build services of Carlyle Construction are the answer to getting the home of your dreams. Staffed with expert designers and builders, we’ll work with you to create and build a design that fits your goals. For more information about our services, please feel free to contact us.

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