Property owners interested in building a new home, renovating or putting an addition on an old home will need professionals to do the design work and the construction. Some people will hire two separate companies to do this work, while others sign one contract with a “design-build” firm to complete the work.
So which option is better?
In the two-firm approach, the owner hires an engineer or architect to draft plans for the project. The owner then uses the plan to solicit bids from builders. Once a builder is selected, a second contract is signed. If there are problems with the design plans, or there is a dispute between the builder and the designer, the owner is forced to serve as the mediator, slowing down the process and driving up costs.
Design-build construction reduces the likelihood of this problem by having both designer and builder under one contract, working together to finish the project. When owners use a reliable and well-organized design-build team, change orders and disputes are rare and the responsibility of managing the contract is solely placed on the head of the design-build team.
Know your liability
When investing in a new home or major renovation, the last thing any owner wants is added costs and errors. Using a design-build team moves the responsibility of managing these problems off of the owner, eliminating the liability gap caused by two separate design and construction contracts.
Architects and engineers provide design services under the legal concept of a Standard of Care. They take your vision as an owner and prepare plans and specifications to the best of their abilities. However, there is no warrantee those plans will be perfect when handed over to the owner, and eventually to the builder.
When an owner takes those plans and opens the bidding process in search of builders, the legal concept of the Spearin Doctrine goes into effect. When the owners give the design documents to the contractor and the work begins, they are doing so with the understanding that the plans and specifications are correct and entirely sufficient for the project. Of course, there are occasions when the plans aren’t sufficient and a dispute between builder and designer arises, leaving the owner in the middle to work it out.
Design-build means efficiency and cost savings
In the commercial construction and real estate industry, design-build has been a growing share of the market for the past 15 years. Companies and government agencies appreciate the advantages of a single contract and limited liability because it means less management on their end, and a faster outcome.
The design-build model also works well in residential construction. Typically, local builders and designers who work under one contract do so either as part of one company or have formed a long-term relationship. This relationship increases trust in the workplace and efficiency, as builders become familiar with designers’ work and vice versa. Studies show these efficiencies result in finishing projects on time and under budget.
According to Penn State Research, design-build projects are built 12 percent faster and are completed from design to finish 33 percent faster than projects that use the design-bid-build method. The overall cost of design-build projects is 6.1 percent less than design-bid-build projects and the cost over-runs are 5.2 percent less.
Using the design-build method for constructing a project is not new. The “Master Builder” concept of having one person overseeing both design and construction is an ancient model, used for centuries before it was dismantled during the Industrial Revolution. Businesses and homeowners are coming back to the design-build concept again for its simplicity and efficiency.
If you have questions about Dube Plus and our design-build capabilities, please contact us today at (603) 329-5077 or if you're ready to go, click here to start a project.