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Corporeal Visions is here to handle your small construction projects. While we have extensive experience working on larger jobs like new building construction, we also are experts at completing smaller jobs like remodels.

Design-Build Construction Model for Small Jobs

The traditional approach to commercial construction relies on a design-bid-build project delivery method. While it has its strengths, suitability for smaller projects is not among them.

Remodeling a single restaurant, retail store, or dental office is not the same as building a massive shopping complex or sports arena. In the latter, economies of scale matter and the time frame is much longer. You have the freedom to spend additional time inviting bids from different contractors to get the lowest price.

With most small jobs, time is of the essence for the project schedule. This is why we suggest a design-build method as an alternative.

What Is Design-Build in Construction?

In traditional construction, the client orders separate contracts for the building design and construction. Once you have the design you like, you invite bids from different contractors and pick one based on various factors like experience, cost, timeframe, etc. Hence the term, design-bid-build.

As the name suggests, the design-build project removes the bidding phase from this equation. Instead of picking a contractor from a pool of bidders, the client selects a single firm with proven project delivery methods to handle both design and construction.

Firms specializing in design-build have a complete project team, made up of designers, engineers, and architects for the design side, and general contractors, construction managers, and sub-contractors for the building side.

Different Types of Design-Build Firms

While all firms using the design-build deliver model have different teams working together, how these teams are arranged from a management perspective can differ significantly. The main issue is the nature of the relationship between the two main sides – the architects and engineers (A/E) and the general contractor/builder.

Broadly speaking, we can see three main types of management structures in design-build firms based on how the design team is positioned:

  • As Employees: The design team, made up of architects, engineers, interior designers, and compliance specialists, all work under the direct employment of a general contractor/builder.
  • As Sub-Contractors: The main contract for the design-build construction will be signed between a general contractor and the client. The contractor will then hire an A/E team as subcontractors.
  • As a Joint Venture: Working largely as equal partners, the design team and builder will work as a joint venture, collaborating to complete the project for a client.

We cannot state with authority that one of these arrangements is superior to the other two. You may pick a design-build team following any of these models and get good results. It all depends on finding a firm that has the capability and experience to handle the proposed construction project.

Beyond these classifications, we can further divide design-build firms based on which side plays the dominant role. This is usually determined by the complexity and intricacy of a project.

  • A/E-Led Design-Build Construction: In such firms, the design team will play the leading role. This is necessary when you are trying to build a healthcare facility, hospitality buildings (resorts, hotels, restaurants), large-scale retail centers, and so on. In these projects, the design, aesthetics, and code compliance play a far greater role.
  • Contractor-Led Design-Build Construction: Industrial buildings and other large-scale infrastructure projects often pay less attention to design/aesthetics and are more about pure functionality and safety/reliability. In these design-build projects, the builders will play the leading hand.

The Different Phases of a Design-Build Process

In the traditional design-bid-build model, there are separate contracts and multiple parties involved throughout the construction process. Depicting the schematics of the entire process would require distinct lines and phases, usually with minimal overlap.

In contrast, the design-build process has only two main participants – the owner/client and the design-build firm. Here, we can split the entire process into four major phases, with some overlap between the different phases:

Selecting a Firm

This is the first and most critical step in the entire process. You have to carefully vet the available firms in your locality and pick one that has relevant experience and a good track record in the type of project you want to complete.

While cost is always a major factor, it should probably not be the deciding factor when picking a design-build firm. Experience and skills matter a lot more since this approach is usually preferred in specialized building projects like hospitals and museums.

Pre-Construction

This is a relatively short phase where the design team collaborates with the owner to learn about the specific goals, requirements, and challenges involved in the project. They will conduct a thorough analysis of the construction, as well as any existing structures, and plan the best course of action.

The design team has to pay close attention to the details received from the client, as well as the analysis of the sites. The owner should make it a point to communicate openly with the design team in order to get all parties on the same page.

Design

Based on the inputs gathered from the pre-construction phase, the design team will develop architectural blueprints for the project. They will consider factors like cost savings, compliance, sustainability, building safety, and more during the design phase.

With these on one hand and the owner’s vision/project requirements on the other, the design-build team will try to balance both sides into a functional design. Preliminary drawings will be submitted to the owner for approval and any suggested alterations.

Construction

As soon as the owner gives the final green light to the design (and authorities grant the appropriate permits), the construction phase begins. The unique selling proposition of the design-build model is that construction can begin almost immediately once the design is finalized.

Advantages of the Design-Build Approach

  • Speed – Projects take much less time from pre-construction to design and completion, since everything is handled by a single entity.
  • Convenience – The project owner doesn’t have to spend additional time coordinating things between separate A/E firms, general contractors, and sub-contractors.
  • Accountability – The full responsibility for the success of the project falls on the design-build firm. There is no blame game between different firms as often seen in design-bid-build models.

Limitations of the Design-Build Approach

  • Cost – Lack of a bidding process removes the chance to make cost savings by picking contractors willing to get the job done for less money.
  • Single Point of Failure – If the owner picks a weak firm to handle the entire project, it could result in huge losses due to a combination of sub-par design AND construction.

Maximize the Benefits of Design-Build with Corporeal Visions, Inc.

Corporeal Visions has extensive experience designing and building a wide array of commercial construction projects, including dentist offices, restaurants, office buildings, and other retail buildings. We have expert designers, veteran general contractors, and a reliable construction team working together to deliver projects in the shortest possible timeframes.

Over the years, we have developed a network of highly satisfied clients in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and neighboring states. We have built an excellent reputation for success in the design and construction industry. If you want to know more about our design and construction services and how we can tackle your small job construction project, give us a call today at (703) 909-4193 or reach out online.

If you have questions, concerns, or you’re ready to begin the process, we can’t wait to hear from you. Contact us today via phone or online.