DESIGN AND BUILD FIRMS; A BETTER WAY TO DO BUSINESS.

Watching the vision of your dream home materialize before your eyes and the enthusiasm it provokes is second to none. It’s only natural when you consider that clients who choose to build a new home, renovate or restore their existing structure, or add to what they love have a vision and worked tirelessly to reach the opportunity to achieve it. Unfortunately, more often than not, your vision can be lost when the building process becomes overcomplicated. This outcome does not occur because of the inherent nature of the business—it is merely the result of poor project planning and execution. 

The complication I am referring to arises at the first course of action for anyone who is looking to build a new home or remodel their current home through a custom home builder. When using the traditional "over-the-wall" system, you will generally complete the following steps:  

1) Contract an architect to design the home. 

2) Hire a general contractor or project management consultant who will see the construction of the home through. 

3) Contract the services of an interior designer to help you achieve your final style goals. 

When you start to consider that you are dealing with three separate corporations who are only responsible for one portion of your new custom home or remodelling project, the situation can quickly become overwhelming. This compartmentalization of work results in a client struggling to collaborate with three different teams who inevitably have contentious relationships with one another. This adverse consequence of outsourcing can be attributed to each service provider's risk minimization tactics, putting them in a position where they become leery of communication with the other two teams. The hesitation that is caused by this over-the-wall method increases the risk of project failure considerably, as clients now have to walk a fine line when choosing these three service providers to ensure project success. Failure to do so can result in (translate to) a lack of completeness or functionality of what is often times the largest investment of the client’s financial life. 

In order to avoid the complications of the over-the-wall method, more and more people are choosing to contract the services of a design and build firm. In this scenario, you are not contracting the services of three or more separate service providers. Instead, you are able to employ one contract entity to meet all of your needs for the project. This design and construction delivery method has grown approximately 40% over the past 15 years, making it one of the most significant trends in the industry today. The driving force behind this growth are the numerous benefits to choosing a design and build firm for your project, including: 

Increased Responsibility for the Firm - Design and build firms provide both architecture/engineering and construction services under the same contract. Therefore, the design and build firm is in control of the project and has a handle on all of its intricacies and unique specifications from the preliminary design phase. Increased project involvement translates to design and build firms having no chance for blame deflection by pushing unreasonable risk burdens on one of the other two parties, a likely scenario when using the over-the-wall method. The design-builder then has the same goal as you—to work together to achieve project success. That way, when challenges are encountered, everyone will roll up their sleeves and push forward toward a solution. 

Total Accountability- Although this may sound the same as increased responsibility, total accountability comes from a larger scale perspective of success. The design-builder is accountable for the overall project success including the creation of a timeless design, a smooth construction process, and a project that meets your financial goals without compromising quality. This multi-faceted approach adds inherent efficiency to the project. The design-builder is able to plan all three aspects in relation to one another instead of blindly working alongside separate contracted service providers. This method reduces miscommunication where the largest risk of it is present. 

Professional Expertise- Design and build firms are experts in both the design and construction fields, reducing the chance for items to fall between the cracks. The owners are licensed architects with formal training. They also have professional experience in construction, cost estimation, and project management in order to employ tactics to successfully schedule and, if needed, fast track a project. There is a tremendous advantage to working with architects who have the ability to think like general contractors and vice versa in order to visualize the project completion goals.

Increased Client Collaboration- Employing a design-builder to complete a project implies that the clients often want to play an active role throughout the development of their home customization journey. Design-builders are able to provide a smooth, enjoyable and exciting experience for clients while allowing them to interactively share their thoughts and requests at every step of the way. Clients also benefit from the increased material knowledge that design-builders acquire from the architectural design and construction management experience they possess. Clients in this position have limitless possibilities for the finishing selections of their custom home or remodelling project at their disposal, making the design experience much more fulfilling. 

Increased Quality and Economic Efficiency- The removal of a conflict of interest to complete only one part of a project without care about its relation to the others motivates design- builders to maximize economic efficiency, and the quality of the build. Cost savings often ensues from this situation as construction time is reduced by avoiding rework after mistakes have been made. The design-builder can avoid this because they are heavily involved in the development and growth of the project design.  This fact also translates to an increased level of quality and craftsmanship as certain complicated design features that would usually be overlooked can be properly planned for and completed. 

Reduced Project Completion Time- Design-builders are able to start the construction planning phase sooner since they are involved in the project from its conception. These firms are also able to acquire partial permits for the work, allowing clients to start construction earlier. This fact reduces the stress of seasonal limitations on construction start dates that standard custom home builders using the over-the-wall method experience. Project completion time is also reduced by design-builders through the elimination of the tendering/bidding phase that many architects employ in hopes of putting their clients in contact with a reputable builder. 

As you can see, the key to successfully implementing a custom home or remodelling project is having a thorough plan and being well prepared for the construction phase. The design and build process allows everyone, including you as the client, to be a part of your project’s success through a smooth and well-designed regiment. This outcome can only be achieved by dealing with one contract entity that has the ability to see the project from all angles. For more information about the design and build process, or if you have any questions for us about your current project, you can give us a call at 416-931-1422, visit our website at www.sensusdesignbuild.ca, or follow us on Facebook and Houzz! Our team can help you turn your dream, into your home!