DESIGN-BUILD VS TRADITIONAL GENERAL CONTRACTORS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

There are two primary methods of delivering buildings in today’s construction industry. The traditional method, also known as the design-bid-build method, has dominated the industry for decades, but in recent years, the design-build method has gained significant traction, giving the old method a run for its money (and time).

WHAT'S THE TRADITIONAL METHOD?

The traditional or design-bid-build method goes something like this. Let’s say you want to build a second office downtown. The traditional or design-bid-build method goes something like this. First, you must find an architect to design your idea. Once you have your design, the architect prepares a complete set of drawings that you’ll send out to multiple general contractors who will each submit a bid. The low bid typically wins and a contract is then signed. But if the bids are too high, it’s back to the drawing board. The architect will have to redesign your project and it will be bid out again. Only when a bid is accepted can construction begin. 

ADVANTAGES & RISKS OF THE TRADITIONAL METHOD

The two primary reasons a customer chooses to stick with the traditional method are the promises of competitive bids and creative control. You’ll play a larger role in design decisions, but the more time you spend redesigning and rebidding, the longer your project will take, which could easily cost you more in the long run.

 

Because the general contractor and architect are separate entities, the risk of miscommunication and confusion is higher too. And since the general contractor singed a contract with you and not the architect, you may find yourself playing middleman between them when issues arise during construction.

WHAT'S THE DESIGN-BUILD METHOD?

The design-build method is a way of streamlining the construction process by keeping all the operations under one roof. Instead of working with two companies — the architect and the general contractor — you only work with one.

ADVANTAGES & RISKS OF THE DESIGN-BUILD METHOD

When you choose design-build, you choose efficiency. Overall, you’ll have easier communication, a shorter timeline, and a more consistent budget. The downside? You’ll have less creative control in terms of design, and since you didn’t bid out the project, the initial cost might be higher than you expected.

 

Design-build projects are built on trust. If you trust your general contractor to fulfill their promises, all you have to do is sit back and watch your project come to life.

WHICH METHOD IS RIGHT FOR ME?

If you’re looking to simplify and optimize the construction process, design-build is the way to go. If you’d prefer to take your time and prioritize design, you might want to consider the traditional method. When it comes to cost, both methods are comparable. What you might save with the competitive bids in the traditional method, you’ll most likely make up for in change orders and time spent later on.

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