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remodeling 101 part 4 - transition from design to construction
In our previous post, we explained the 5 phases of the design process: pre design - schematic design - design development - permit documents - construction documents.

There are 3 main paths through which design will transition to construction:

1. design-build done in-house by the same firm
2. architect-contractor by negotiated bid
3. architect-contractor by competitive bid

If you suspect we prefer #1, you would have been correct. Ok, so we're a little biased, but here's our completely objective take on the pros and cons of each option: 
results of a design-build process: clean lines and elegant details
1. design-build
The design-build model offers clients the benefits of a fully consolidated and seamless project execution by a team invested in common purpose from the outset. It is a one-stop destination with designers and builders under the same roof. The involvement of the lead carpenter, project manager, and key sub-contractors early in the design sequence informs and refines the design process (see bottom portion of diagram below). It also enables an increasingly accurate cost estimation during design development and pre-construction phases. In short, a good design-builder delivers extraordinary results while working with clients’ budgets by being knowledgeable, creative, and efficient.
 
2. architect-contractor by negotiated bid

Sometimes, clients select a contractor when design has been initiated by their architect. Very often, the architect brought in a trusted general contractor early on in the design process, typically around the end of schematic design. In each of these cases, the contractor can offer invaluable insights regarding technical details, as well as material and labor costs which contribute significantly to the finalization of the design and specifications. This is an approximation of the design-build model which results in a negotiated construction bid. 

3. architect-contractor by competitive bid
In this traditional relationship, the architect completes the design and then solicits a competitive construction bid. Together with the client, the architect selects a contractor based on the reputation, management style, references, estimated cost, and availability, etc. While it is not impossible to find a contractor with a very high commitment to quality and a low bid, there are also risks that some design and construction details will be lost in translation. It is also entirely human that a contractor would present the low end of a price range when he/she is under competitive pressure. In reality, most discerning clients will want quality products and great craftsmanship. The inevitable change orders may cause costly delays and compromises.
 
diagram showing increasingly accurate cost estimation
So, what are the main takeaways?
  • The modern design-build we practice at building Lab is not a shortcut for projects that "don't require an architect". Within this model, we pride ourselves in our dedication to great design. We are a design driven building firm.
  • If you choose to hire an architect, you will save time (and money) and end up with superior results by having your architect and contractor work together in a negotiated bid. We frequently serve as general contractor for many Bay area architects.
  • You could be comparing apples to oranges in a competitive bid. A truly accurate cost estimate is labor intensive and is most likely not feasible in a free-of-charge bidding process.
schematic design
design development
built
The next episode: tips for homeowners to get ready for construction + the construction contract
Something to brag about: bL is the first place winner in 4 categories in the annual NARI awards:

Entire House 250k-500k
Residential Interior under $100k
Residential Exterior $100k and over
Residential Kitchen over 120k
Thanks to the Houzz community!
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