Should I Hire a Design-Build Contractor or an Architect?

The first important decision of your commercial project is choosing the right construction strategy. You will need to evaluate if the standard Architect Design-Bid-Build method suits your needs or if a Design-Build collaborative approach is the way to go. At FDC, we believe that both the Architect and Contractor are capable of being the lead consultant in charge of the process, however, both need to be involved at the very beginning.  

Understanding the difference between the design-build approach and the traditional architect design-bid-build method comes down to a few key factors.

Design-Build Construction Vs. Architect-Design-Bid-Build

Design-Build Construction

A design-build team will consist of industry professionals including architects, engineers, and builders. All of whom collaborate to optimize every aspect of your project including budgeting and timelines to provide you with accurate cost and scheduling estimates. The design-build process is all managed by either the Contractor or Architect and includes pre-construction planning, design, construction, and post-construction management. You will have a single point of contact throughout the entire process and your team will even handle all the permitting and inspection requirements.

Architect Design-Bid-Build

The more traditional design-bid-build method includes contracting an architect to draw up your design plans. Architect service fees can vary dramatically depending on project scope, and whether they charge an hourly or percentage rate. Once the plans are created, they will then be bid-out to contractors and subcontractors to review and submit their pricing. The bid-out process can present you the opportunity to select from multiple third-party builders, but usually entails lengthy contract negotiations between you, the architect, and the build team.

4 Benefits of Hiring a Design-Build Contractor and an Architect for Your Commercial Construction Project

If you are a business owner looking to break ground on a new construction project, you will surely want to navigate the process as smoothly as possible. Choosing a construction method that best suits your unique needs is an essential part of ensuring the success of your project.

At FDC, we understand that different commercial construction methods come with their own unique pros and cons and choosing the best approach for your needs can be overwhelming. Below we take a closer look at some of the key differences between these construction methods and the benefits of hiring a design-build contractor for your commercial project.

1.   Clear Communication is Key for Commercial Construction Projects

Miscommunication in the commercial construction process can result in design or building delays, or even full-blown mistakes – all of which present costly corrections.

 In fact, a 2018 study by PlanGrid and FMI shows workers lose almost two days per week trying to solve avoidable issues due to miscommunication, and nearly half of all construction rework is due to communication breakdowns.

Design-build contractors mitigate communication issues like these with in-house processes that cut out common barriers between the designers and the builder. This allows our team to focus on your construction project rather than solving unnecessary problems or accumulating costly change orders.

2.   Streamline Commercial Construction Timelines

The old adage “time is money” holds exceptionally true through the commercial construction process. Without proper organization, construction projects can face many delays due to mismanagement of time and resources.

Traditional construction methods work in a linear fashion, completing a design before it can be handed off for construction bids. Then it’s up to the build team to review the design, which will probably result in some back-and-forth questions, all before they even determine when the work can start.

At FDC our design-build team considers timelines and design decisions from the beginning. During the pre-construction planning phase of our commercial projects, we review and evaluate every aspect of the job to minimize delays and maximize our efficiency as a team. Before building has even started, our team has already outlined the project timeline to ensure key milestones are completed on time and construction on your establishment can begin as soon as you have approved the designs.

3.   Commercial Construction Budget Considerations

The only thing more difficult than budgeting a large construction project is sticking to it.

If you hire an architect to design your project you will want to critically review your contract with them to see if the service fee you’re paying includes the cost of drawing up plans. In some cases, you may need to hire a separate draftsperson which will affect your initial budgeting. Additionally, when architects put design plans out to bid to builders, oftentimes changes will need to be made to scale back a design to fit a budget, or budget expansion will need to be negotiated to fulfill the initial design.

With a design-build contractor, you will only need to manage a single contract that represents an integrated team, all of whom are taking your budget into account from the start. This allows us to reflect all design choices with an accurate cost and mitigates potential budgeting surprises throughout the process. With the design-build construction method, there are no conflicting contracts, just one team sharing the same goal: a timely, budget-friendly construction project everyone can be proud of.

4.   Value Engineering in Commercial Construction Projects

Value engineering is the practice of maximizing a construction project’s value while minimizing the cost to do so. This means your team is putting your project’s success at the forefront of the process while emphasizing economic efficiency.

While an Architect can create beautiful project plans, some may overlook practical engineering and prioritize preserving their design over the value and material costs required to complete your build. This can increase budget requirements while simultaneously devaluing the completed project’s true value and functionalities.

A design-build contractor will view the project scope end-to-end, and efficiently merge the best design options with cost-benefit opportunities. At FDC, our team understands the functionality and value of your construction project is just as important as your final product, and we make sure you’re happy with both.

Contact the Design-Build Contractor Experts at FDC to Learn More About Our Commercial Construction Services

As a leader in the industry, FDC has 40 years of hands-on experience in the design-build commercial construction process. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality services and working alongside you to bring your project to life. We invite you to browse our portfolio of past projects and to contact us about our design-build construction services.

You can get in touch with the Facility Development Company online, or by phone at (707) 523-1722.