Design/Build versus Design/Bid

Written by: Julie Rossi

Many people hear the phrase Design/Build but I don’t think everyone knows exactly what it means or what advantage it has over Design/Bid. People who use a design/build process for the home renovation project work simultaneously with an architect or designer and a contractor. As they develop the design ideas with the architect, the contractor provides budget information so the homeowner knows right away if what they are designing fits within their budget. The contractor can also provide “value engineering ” to allow the homeowner to stretch their dollars further by suggesting design modifications that are more economical. Typically a contractor will charge a small fee for this service that can be applied to the cost of the project if the homeowner ends up building the project with them. If the homeowner selects a different contractor, then the contractor at least got paid for his consulting time.

In the traditional design/build model, the homeowner hires an architect to design their home or renovation project. The architect draws up the plans and hands them over to the homeowner. The homeowner then seeks out contractors to bid the project off of the plans. Once receiving back multiple bids, homeowners often find out that they cannot afford the plans the architect drew up. At this point, it is not only costly and time consuming to go back to the architect and scale down the design, but it also yields a lot of frustration. The design/bid process carries a high risk of rework and rework costs money. The design/build model may take a little more time upfront, but in the long run it takes less time overall, the homeowner knows they can afford the project they designed. Many people the design/bid because they like the idea of shopping around the project with contractors to get the lowest price. However, wouldn’t you rather have an expert in the construction industry consulting with you all along the way to make sure it’s a project you can afford? It is in the contractor’s best interest to make sure you can afford the project so they can do the actual construction work. If they price it too high, they know they will not be able to build the project.